Re: Concerning Consensus and established CoHo communities
From: normangauss (normangausscharter.net)
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 17:07:12 -0800 (PST)
Here at Oak Creek Commons on the Central California Coast, we are battling
individual desires vs. community desires.  The first residents moved here
about a year ago and others moved in over the course of the following 6
months.  There are no  consensed accepted goals.  We consensed on one or two
loosely worded "agreements", but the newcomers do not accept these because
they were not here when these were consensed.  Also, there is little
interest in reviving these topics.

Some residents were promised a kids playground, but the one on the plans was
considered inadequate.  There is no kids playground to this date (although
one is in the planning stages) causing great unhappiness on the part of
residents with small children.  Other residents were promised a dog park and
there is none to this date, although a proposal is scheduled to be decided
upon soon.  There was a vegetable garden on the original plans but this is
now history because of the demands of the playground people who were somehow
able to overrule the veggie garden people.  As a result there remains
resentment and frustration because of promises made and never delivered on.

Because of the stalemate on community goals, there is now a concerted effort
on the part of certain members to achieve their personal goals.  Ours is a
condominium legal structure with no privately held land.  Nevertheless we
have had people arbitrarily build fences around certain plots of common area
ground and declare the land as theirs.  All of these people have dogs and
needed a place to keep their dogs when they moved in.  There was no
agreement on what size space was acceptable to the community.  Some have
tiny spaces and others have huge ones, and there is community resentment
about this landgrab that has been compared to the Great Oklahoma Land Rush
of 1889.  We have had people dig up community planted trees near their
condos without seeking permission by consensus.  Another resident built a
wooden cover over the automatic sprinkler valves serving her triplex
building without asking permission first.  Another, without permission from
the community, has decided to dig out our originally-planted tree and put in
a water-loving tree in our drought-tolerant landscape.

I would guess that until we decide on some goals, we will not be able to
have a sociocracy.  I doubt that, with the current state of animosity and
resentments that have built up over the way promises were made and not kept,
and the way people feel pressured to "go with the crowd", even though we may
reach consensus, our business meetings are poorly attended, and decisions
will be made without the whole community's input.  If we cannot arrive at
some goals to strive for, we will continue to argue over who's goals are we
are striving for, and whether those goals conflict with the community's
goals, which remain undefined.

Norm Gauss
Oak Creek Commons
Paso Robles, CA  93446



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rob Sandelin" <floriferous [at] msn.com>
To: <saille [at] swngrrl.com>; "'Cohousing-L'" <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2005 8:36 AM
Subject: RE: [C-L]_ Concerning Consensus and established CoHo communities


> Hi Saille,
>
> For most of the 1990's I was a group process consultant and I did group
> decision making and facilitation workshops at dozens of communities of all
> kinds, including about 25 or so cohousing groups. I regularly wrote about
> consensus and group process for Communities magazine and the now defunct
> cohousing journal. There are lots of types of communities, many do not use
> consensus since they are authoritarian based, e.g. many religious
> communities do not use consensus process.  In my travels and visits with
> over 150 communities, I watched, learned, and did some teaching about
> process. What I learned was that the most effective communities, cohousing
> or otherwise, use a variety of decision making approaches.
>
> For example my own community of Sharingwood uses consensus for some
things,
> voting for others, autocratic decisions for others (autocratic means one
> person decides).  These things blend together naturally based on many
years
> of living together, although sometimes we still trip up on some things.
>
> Consensus does NOT work well for some groups, and they hurt themselves by
> trying to force it when it obviously can not work. Much of my consulting
> work with communities was going in and pointing out their problems,
offering
> methods and ideas for solutions. In a few cases I recommended that they
stop
> using consensus because it could not work in their current environment.
For
> example, Greenpeach international was taken over by a socialist group for
> awhile, the group simply blocked all proposals, stopping the organization.
> In this case, consensus could not work because the members of that
subgroup
> did not support the organizations mission, nor did they care at all about
> the social connections of the group. In this case, the organization
changed
> to voting, the hostile group was no longer able to hold the organizations
> decision making hostage, and thus left the group.  I have also seen
similar
> things with individuals holding up consensus groups by inappropriately
> blocking all business. A simple voting over ride on consensus failure
fixes
> this. For example, after 3 tries at a consensus a proposal is
automatically
> put to a 3/4th majority vote.
>
> I have written a bit on my teachings of Consensus, you can find it on the
> web at:
>
> http://www.ic.org/nica/Process/Consensusbasics.htm
> http://www.ic.org/nica/book/cover.htm
>
>
> Good luck on your community endeavors,
>
> Rob Sandelin
> Sharingwood Cohousing
> Snohomish WA 98296
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Saille Warner Norton [mailto:saille [at] swngrrl.com]
> Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 12:08 PM
> To: Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org
> Subject: [C-L]_ Concerning Consensus and established CoHo communities
>
> Hello,
>
>
>
> I am looking for information concerning consensus practices in established

> CoHo groups. If anyone can provide information, I'd be very grateful.
>
>
>
> 1. Are there any established communities who do NOT use consensus?
> 2. Are there any long established communities (10+ years), using
> consensus, who are now "dying" because of using CP?
>
>
>
>
>
> I had another questions, but I've forgotten it now. Again, thanks for any
> info you may have. I'm a big supporter of CP, but have a few folks in our
> developing group who seem to have a negative view of consensus.
>
>
>
> Saille
>
>
>
> When a man moves from nature, his heart becomes hard.
>
> - Lakota Proverb
>
>
>
> In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In
> conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In
work,
> do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.
>
>
>
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