Re: bibliography
From: Tree Bressen (
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 11:54:57 -0800 (PST)
Hi Lynne,

 We would like to include a bibliography on cohousing  in
our packet. Could any of you out there who have read a favorite book  on
cohousing or building community,(could also include books about building green
and sociocracy and consensus process) send me the name and  author and I will
include it in the biblio. Thanks, Lynne

(ps - also, if you have fevorite web sites pertaining to cohousing  other
than this one, could you send those as well. Thanks again,  Lynne)

Here is a list of my favorite books & websites in the areas of consensus, facilitation, and dialogue, for people involved with intentional communities (including cohousing).



Book List

<>Building United Judgment: A Handbook for Consensus Decision Making (1981) Michel Avery, et al. Explains why, when and how to use secular consensus process effectively. This book, originally published by the Center for Conflict Resolution, has been reprinted by the Fellowship for Intentional Community. $19 ppd.

Consensus Pocket Guide: How to Achieve High-Commitment Decisions. (2004) Larry Dressler. Straightforward information clearly presented; misses some nuance but its simplicity makes this short book very appealing as an overview. Blue Wing Consulting, 1209 Pearl St., Denver, CO 80302;

<>Introduction to Consensus. (2000) Beatrice Briggs. Set of basics for workshops. Also available in Spanish. $15 ppd.

<>On Conflict and Consensus: A Handbook on Formal Consensus Decisionmaking. (1987) CT Butler & Amy Rothstein. Formalizes procedural steps for decision-making method. Full text available for free on the internet. Food Not Bombs Publishing, PO Box 853, Burlington, VT 05402; 800-569-4054; <> $14 ppd.

Sharing Consensus: a handbook for consensus workshops. Sweet, homespun booklet filled with Quaker anecdotes, written by a man who uses no name. Available c/o Nova Land, 128 Hidden Springs Lane, Cookeville, TN 38501. $5.00 suggested donation for copying and postage.

<>The Art of Facilitation: How to Create Group Synergy. (1992) Dale Hunter, Anne Bailey & Bill Taylor. Good, solid nuts and bolts info on facilitation (including the importance of working on yourself and staying clear), though the short section on consensus is ill-informed. Fisher Books, $17.95.

<>Facilitator's<> Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. (1996) Sam Kaner. Lots of handouts, information presented visually. Community at Work, $24.95.

<>Great Meetings! Great Results. (1997) Dee Kelsey & Pam Plumb. Nice overview, very accessibly written. Hanson Park Press, $29.00.

<>A Manual for Group Facilitators. (1977) Brian Auvine, et al. Clear writing, practical approach, covers many key topics. This book, originally published by the Center for Conflict Resolution, has been reprinted by the Fellowship for Intentional Community. $19 ppd.

Meeting Facilitation: The No-Magic Method. Berit Lakey. The classic, excellent short treatment. Available for free download from

Meeting of the Minds: A Guide to Successful Meeting Facilitation. (2001) Daniel Iacofano. Nice overview of facilitation includes lovely multicultural illustrations, and a chapter on graphic recording (the art of creating great visual supplements to support a meeting). MIG Communications; 800-790-8444;

<>Playing Along: 37 Group Learning Activities Borrowed from Improvisational Theater. (1997) Izzy Gesell. In most books of this type i find only a few useful exercises for groups; in this book i marked over a dozen. PO Box 962, Northampton, MA 01061; 413-586-2634. $24.95.

Interpersonal Conflict Resolution
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. (1999) Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen. Clear information for laypeople, variety of examples, realistic­highly recommended. Penguin, $14.00.

Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities. (2003) Diana Christian. The most extensive book out there on how to start an intentional community (including cohousing). New Society, $22.95.

<>Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World. (1993) Carolyn Shaffer & Kristin Anundsen. Chapters 14-16 on communication, governance and conflict provide useful information and examples. Tarcher/Putnam, $15.95.

Head, Heart, and Hands: Lessons in Community Building. (2004) Shari Leach. Covers a bunch of the group process elements involved in starting a cohousing community, from a practical perspective. Wonderland Hill, $20.00.


Consensus Manuals Available Online

CT Butler & Amy Rothstein's Formal Consensus method

Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Handbook from the Alliance to Stop First Strike, Santa Cruz, CA, 1987

The consensus "fingerbook" written by organizers of the Direct Action Conference in Berlin in 1995 is online at last, courtesy of the European facilitators' collective Zhaba.

ACT-UP New York Civil Disobedience handbook

Rob Sandelin's paper on Consensus Basics. Written for cohousers, but applicable to other groups.

Kevin Wolf's The Makings of a Good Meeting, based on the classic booklet by Berit Lakey of Movement for a New Society with a bunch of other stuff added:

Champlain Valley Cohousing Sociocracy Manual. Sociocracy is a version of consensus designed to prove that the method could be used successfully for business. This extensive manual includes information on organizational structure as well as decision-making.

Favorite Resource Websites

Co-Intelligence Institute. Tom Atlee's fabulous website on how our society can work more wisely for the good of all. As just one sample, the Co-Intelligence Practices page at offers dozens of methods for dialogue and exploration.

National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD)
Do you want to build a world based on dialogue? So do the people at NCDD, and they are providing networking and resources to make it possible.

Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA). Maintains resource pages on meetings and group process. Contact NICA at 22110 East Lost Lake Rd., Snohomish, WA 98296; floriferous [at]

Randy Schutt?s fabulous website includes a dozen short papers (1-12 pages each) on cooperative decision-making from an activist perspective, many downloadable as PDF documents over the web and the rest available for the cost of copying and postage. See the list at Contact him at PO Box 608867, Cleveland, OH 44108; rschutt [at]

Tree Bressen?s website has a bunch of articles and tools, plus links to lots more resources.

Descriptions Of Consensus In Use At Various Organizations

Burning Man
Consensus, Hierarchy, Authority and Power

Caspar, California
This town on the California coast makes its decisions by consensus! Read about it on their website, or stop by to see a meeting.

Heartwood Cohousing
Excellent documentation of policies on decision-making, facilitator's guidelines, and so on.

Quakers (Religious Society of Friends)
Intriguing description of how the effort to discern a Sense of the Meeting in harmony with God's will makes Quaker process different from secular consensus practice.


Tree Bressen
1680 Walnut St.
Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 484-1156
tree [at]

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