RE: decision circles
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 20:16:53 -0700 (MST)
Here is the Sharingwood Criteria

Small group decision making should not be used when:

·       The decision involves spending community money that is not in a 
budget, or otherwise budgeted, or is outside the general parameters of a
committees budget. (For example if the commonhouse committee wanted to
donate $100 to the Kara clothing fund)

·       The decision changes the use of, or significantly alters a common area.
(For example building a storage shed on the island)

·       The decision affects the property of one or more lot owners. (For 
lets raise pigs in the back of the commonhouse).

·       There is a conflict between individual self interest and the best 
of the group. (For example I want to sell the commonhouse tables and buy
camping gear)

·       In your best judgment the decision should have input from everybody at a
general meeting.

Rob Sandelin
South Snohomish County at the headwaters of Ricci Creek
Sky Valley Environments  <>
Field skills training for student naturalists
Floriferous [at]

-----Original Message-----
From: cohousing-l-bounces [at]
[mailto:cohousing-l-bounces [at]]On Behalf Of Lynn Nadeau
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2004 11:06 PM
To: cohousing L
Subject: [C-L]_ decision circles

Years ago, Rob Sandelin gave a very useful process workshop here at
RoseWind. As a result, we added Discussion Circles (on issue-oriented
matters, usually) and Sharing Circles (on feelings or personal matters,
usually) to our repertory. Both have been useful, and discussion circles
often happen a couple times a month.

There was one other sort of circle, a Decision Circle. The idea was that
there were decisions which were of interest only to a sub group and/or
weren't big enough to need whole-group consensus. At the same time, they
weren't clearly something that an individual or committee was empowered
to do. The matter was to be posted and a time and place set for a
Decision Circle. If you didn't show up for the circle, or convince some
other attender to present your concern, you got to live with whatever was
decided by those who did show up. At least that's my vague memory. Seems
it could be a useful tool.

If you have used this tool, what are your criteria? We have already
decided that certain Really Big decision types are "class one": changing
the governing documents, passing the annual budget, and such. But all
others are "class two", meaning they go through process, but don't need a
quorum present, and don't require ten days notice. Those are the
decisions that need further winnowing here: which ones can be done by a
Decision Circle?

Defining eligible decisions.
Any minimum number who can effect such a decision?
Can one circle attender prevent such a decision?
How much notice needs to be given?
Is proxy input, like email, a factor is considering you have agreement?
I assume it's required to report back to the whole group after the circle.
What else?

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature) (very active peace movement here- see our
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  • decision circles Lynn Nadeau, January 21 2004
    • RE: decision circles Rob Sandelin, January 21 2004

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