Re: Creative Consensus Solutions
From: Wayne Tyson (
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2011 13:07:26 -0800 (PST)
Frances and CoHo:

This issue is of much broader implication than cohousing, of course (e.g., governance at all levels, foreign relations). Coincidentally I just watched Robert Remini's lecture about his book, "At the Edge of Precipice: Henry Clay and the Compromise That Saved the Union" on C-SPAN 2. Those interested can watch it on the website.

I may have mentioned previously the work of Laura Nader on conflict resolution (Mexican villages). Of course A. H. Maslow's "Politics III," an all-too-obscure paper published by the Stanford Research Institute is one of the great "sleepers" of all time on the subject.

I hope to hear more from the various cohousing units about the kinds of conflicts that arise, how their resolution is accomplished, and ideas from anyone about how creative consensus solutions might be reached. One of the main issues that gives me a bit of pause in considering cohousing is that they might turn out to be little more than glorified condominiums in hip clothing, and my experience with HOA's has been horrifying. Nonetheless, I continue to hold out hope that I will someday fall into a place and group that quite naturally has a level of social cohesion that will set an example for the world--or at least one that has the elementary characteristics that will continue to head in that direction.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Frances Freewater" <freedoan [at]>
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2011 10:31 AM
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Creative Consensus Solutions



On Feb 13, 2011, at 12:28 PM, Wayne Tyson wrote:

Hi y'all:

By definition, you must look outside of consensus for a creative
"solution" that did not "exist" prior to the consensus process
(e.g., manipulation through (friendly) persuasion or intimidation or
authority. More than that, you must be dedicated to a continuous
process of questioning of all assumptions.

Many people do not like this, and will object, because they seek
power, and this process frustrates the concentration of power--it is
more "powerful" than authority because it is flexible, resilient,
adaptive. It embraces change rather than resists it. That's why
peaceful resistance disarms the armed.

The root of this cultural phenomenon is egocentrism, a
characteristic which once was recognized for its corrosive effect
upon social cohesion and was isolated or modulated by social mores.
It may have peaked in the recent "me" generation although evidence
of its persistence is glaringly present in media, and it is
increasingly "uncool" amongst the twenty- and thirty-somethings whom
I know.

Consensus may certainly be a useful, even necessary or vital bridge
upon which to transition to an Age of Reconciliation from the Age of
Exploitation, so it is natural and encouraging to see a question of
this level of intellectual integration arise. To "answer" it
requires a confession of ignorance; I hereby confess.

One possible way of keeping the door open for creative solutions
might be to "require" that all consensus statements include all
alternative points, ideas, analyses, etc. That could be a fairly
simple starting point, especially when looking back after a period
of consensus-statement testing in action.

But the most important mental state of all might be something like
"The suspension of judgment is the highest exercise in intellectual
discipline." --Raymond Gilmore


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ann Zabaldo" <ZABALDO [at] EARTHLINK.NET>
To: "Cohousing-L Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2011 8:20 AM
Subject: [C-L]_ Creative Consensus Solutions

Hi all --

Can you recount an issue/situation that any group you belong to
used consensus to achieve a creative solution to what looked like a
deadlocked black or white choice?  That is, by staying in the
consensus process you were able to achieve a solution that did not
exist prior?

I'm looking for examples of using consensus that resulted in the
surfacing of a creative third or fourth choice.

Many thanks!

Best --

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

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