Re: consensus process - decisions/changes
From: Michael Barrett (
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 12:03:04 -0800 (PST)
In the cohousing context I think the parliamentary proceduralists often will do well to step back and defer to the "warm fuzzies". If there are unhappy people after a decision, it is often because they don't feel "heard" or they feel they were "rushed". Just because a defined process was followed doesn't mean all folks are happy. Some of us grasp things and see the far out consequences slower than others.

In our actual experience we had a long debate, stretched over more than one meeting, on a divisive issue, then all reached and consensed on a conclusion. During the week or two following we realized that there was a lot of unhappiness both about the decision and how it was made. So we went back and did it all over again - and came up with a modified decision. Timewise very inefficient. Satisfactionwise still not perfect for all (Is it ever?), but much much better.

On other occasions we have added an "escape clause" to the end of a proposal like "This decision may be reviewed in 90 days (or whatever) and changed as found advisable". Of course this can't help with contractual agreements made with outsiders or a decision to cut down a 50 foot tree, but it can facilitate reaching a consensus. To my recollection we have never yet gone back and changed a proposal that was passed with an escape clause added.

Michael Barrett
Liberty Village Cohousing, Maryland

----- Original Message ----- From: <JSutcliffe2005 [at]>
To: <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 1:48 PM
Subject: [C-L]_ consensus process - decisions/changes

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