Re: Consensus [was balance] - voting
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2010 12:57:07 -0800 (PST)
Brian --

Thank you for this very interesting glimpse at your experience in using a voting back up.

If you don't mind ... I have some additional questions?

Concerning the issue on which the vote was taken -- I'm assuming that you tried many avenues to reach consensus over a period of time but just want to check out your process so I'm not doing too much assuming ...

How many times did you meet as a party of the whole to discuss the proposal?

What other methods were tried to reach consensus? Small groups? One on one?

Who actually called for the voting process to be "activated?"

And once the vote was called for ... what was the process used to actually take the vote? Did you have to have Super Majority present to call the vote? Was the vote on the proposal done immediately?

When you say voting is less divisive than struggling for consensus this is because_______? Can you flesh this out a little? If it's truly less divisive I'm wondering why we don't simply vote? Just wondering out loud ... (there's nothing wrong w/ Robert's Rules of Order ... I think ... of course there's the Congress to think about ... but ...?)

Thanks for sharing all this, Brian! The more information we have about reality than theory ... the better!

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA
703 663 3911

On Feb 26, 2010, at 6:26 AM, Brian Tremback wrote:


We have resorted to voting once in our 2+ year history. Our bylaws allow
voting after failure to reach consensus twice. Voting on the issue can
only take place if a simple majority agrees to allow a vote. And again,
a simple majority rules when voting on the issue.

There was a mix of feelings expressed after the vote was resorted to.
One was that it became clear that there was a winner and a loser. There
was also a sense of failure that we weren't successful coming to
consensus. For some, there was a sense of relief that we got the issue
behind us.

Once the discussion of an issue develops "sides" that are for and
against, I think voting has the potential to be less divisive than
struggling for consensus. However, the failure of the consensus process
probably begins to occur at the moment of polarization, not later on
when voting is resorted to.

Brian Tremback
Burlington Cohousing

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