Re: Question about selection/election processes
From: Jessie Kome (
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2009 04:25:43 -0800 (PST)

At Eastern Village, we have used the sociocratic process for selection of our 
board since the first one in 2002.  We hire an outside facilitator, John Buck, 
who has a solid grounding in sociocracy.  He has been very patient with us over 
the years and the community has gotten better at it as we go on.  At first, we 
had a lot of people who either left the meeting with their concerns 
unexpressed, or expressed their concerns too harshly or in an uncaring way.  
Relationships have been strained and strengthened. None of our boards have been 
perfect, but all have definitely been "good enough" or quite a bit better than 
that. And we have gotten much better at the process over the years.

The trick, for me, is emphasize that when you are listening, you are assuming 
positive intent.  Period. Even if the person raising a concern doesn't get the 
perfect words or tone, they are trying to bring a matter to the community's 
attention with the good of the community in mind.  I know this can be difficult 
- I nominated my husband two years running and had to listen to the concerns 
raised - which were all true, BTW - while holding the speakers' positive intent 
in my heart.   I have also raised concerns and felt that hesitation, the worry 
that what I had to say carried unintended damage.  And I think it is right to 
think hard, because most members of most cohousing communities can serve well 
if they have the time to put into it.

So, I think the selection process can work.  But maybe it is not the right 
process for your community?  The level of discomfort you describe might be best 
served by another path.  Maybe you could have one group that cycles through the 
treasurer job, another group that cycles through the secretary job, and so on.  
Each person in the community joins the group whose skill needs best match their 
skill set and, when their year comes up, they take a turn on the board.  There 
are skill assessment tools out there you could adapt as guides.   Or maybe you 
could invent another path that works for you all?

Jessie Handforth Kome
Eastern Village Cohousing
Silver Spring, MD
"Where my husband is the first person to serve on the board three years 
running.  Clearly a fiend for meetings. . ."


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