Re: Making changes in our decisions
From: Elizabeth Stevenson (tamgoddessattbi.com)
Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 12:18:03 -0600 (MDT)
I have to disagree with this. It may work for one group, but another can
have a great deal of difficulty in keeping certain members from revisiting
things over and over, as we discussed just recently. During construction, it
could actually cost you a lot of money to not be able to make decisions
decisively and quickly, so I'd keep some sort of percentage or number of
households needed to revisit. This in itself can be flexible, since you can
make it any size minority or majority you feel comfortable with. And rules
can always be broken if people feel it's important to make a particular
member happy in a particular instance.

A solution that has worked for us is making decisions with a life span.
Sometimes this isn't appropriate, but when making decisions about
non-concrete things like work systems or policies, it works great. Let's say
we have a member who wants to use the common house as a giant peace sign
viewable from the sky, and drape a banner over the roof. A few members
aren't sure, so we decide to try it for three months and revisit the
decision later. In the end, we decide we love it and want to keep it
forever, so we paint it on the roof. Or, we decide it's ridiculous and take
it down. Flexible decision-making, and nobody can "hijack" the process and
go over the same decision again and again.

What we have found is that the vast majority of our provisional decisions
become permanent. We have folks who have difficulty envisioning something
until it's already in place, and those who have trouble committing to a
decision, and these people particularly benefit from this process.

This is a slightly different take on the original question. I hope it's
helpful.
-- 
Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento, California
tamgoddess [at] attbi.com
> 
> Hi David,
> 
> We received the same advice about past decisions, and we didn't follow
> it. We are very glad we didn't.
> 
> In our group it is always possible to reopen a decision. One person can
> do so by bringing a proposal that essentially negates the first
> decision. For example, if the group decided not to include offices in
> the design of our attached housing, then anybody could come to the next
> meeting and propose that we do include offices.
> 
> This policy makes it possible for members to relax about consenting to a
> decision. We know that going along with something now doesn't mean we
> have to go along with it two weeks from now. It's really easy,
> therefore, to give things a try. The stakes are lower.
> 
> The other advantage to doing it this way is that you don't have to wait
> for everybody to get to a meeting to make important decisions. For
> example, three of us in our executive committee made an important
> decision last week, and we felt reasonably comfortable doing so because
> the other three members could easily propose the opposite at our next
> meeting.
> 
> We haven't found it to be the slightest problem that our decisions are
> so easily re-examined. What's the harm in taking another look at a
> decision? It can only serve to improve it or confirm it, or even to get
> rid of it if it was a bad one to begin with. Yes, it can take time, but
> the reality is that it hardly ever does. People aren't that rude. And
> even if a proposal does come up again and again, it takes about 3
> minutes for the group to say to the person bringing it forward again,
> "No, actually, we don't want to change our minds because of this reason
> and that reason." The person bringing up the change is usually
> satisfied, and perhaps this was the only way they could have been.
> 
> Sheila Braun
> Project Coordinator
> Champlain Valley Cohousing
> 773 Greenbush Road
> Charlotte, VT 05445
> (802) 425-5030
> 
> 
> 
>> 
>> 
>> Hello,
>> 
>> I am looking for information on your experiences in changing
>> previously-made decisions.  We have a rule that to change a past
>> decision, 75% of the equity households first need to agree to
> reconsider
>> it, after which the normal consensus rules apply.  We were urged early
> on
>> in our history to adopt this so that an item such as a pet policy could
>> not be easily and often changed just because one or several
>> households in the community wanted to change it.  Recently, however, we
>> had a proposal to change the time of our general meeting, and some
> people
>> claimed we needed to get 75% of the membership to agree to reconsider
> the
>> decision first.  Eventually, though, we all agreed that changing a
> meeting
>> time was a routine administrative issue for which doing a
> reconsideration
>> vote was an unnecessary piece of bureaucracy, and we went ahead with a
>> direct proposal.
>> 
>> The question I have is twofold:
>> 
>> 1) What procedures do you have for changing past decisions?  Do
>> you simply pass a proposal for the change, or do you have to pass a
> motion
>> to reconsider first, or do you have some other process?
>> 
>> 2) If you have special procedures for changing past decisions,
>> when do you use them?  I presume that one wouldn't use them to change a
>> routine, administrative, or small-scale decision, but would use them to
>> change material decisions.  I also presume that changing the date/time
> of
>> the general meeting would be routine, while changing the pet policy
> would
>> be significant.  But what about ones that are "in between", like
> changing
>> the provision/reimbursement of childcare at general meetings, or
>> adding/changing/eliminating committees?  Are they "significant" or
>> "routine"?  Are they "material" or "administrative"?  Are my
> presumptions
>> correct?
>> 
>> 
>> Thank you very much for your help and information.
>> 
>> Regards,
>> David Heimann
>> Jamaica Plain Cohousing
>> 
>> 
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