Re: Report on Survey of Cohousing Communities 2011. Just released. A must read!
From: bonnie Fergusson (
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2011 18:13:58 -0700 (PDT)
     In my experience, both in Cohousing and out of it (Quaker meeting, 
political affinity groups) people often get frustrated with how much time it 
takes to reach consensus compared to the more familiar majority vote.  But the 
quality of the solution is almost always superior in the consensus process.  
Also hearing what everyone thinks and feels about an issue may be time 
consuming but it contributes to knowing each other really well which is better 
for the community.  I doubt very much that "requiring less personal investment 
from each member in the decision making process" is an appropriate goal for a 
Cohousing community.  Usually we are reaching for more personal investment in 
the process.  When people don't engage is when trouble insues.           
       Trusting our committees (which usually include the folk who feel 
passionately about those issues) to make all the smaller less controversial 
decisions in their area of expertise helps some.  The longer we live together, 
the better we know each other, the easier it is to trust our committees to make 
good decisions.  The big stuff still needs to come to the community as a whole 
for final approval.
       I do think size matters in this context however.  I suspect as the 
number of households rises so too the frustration with the amount of time it 
takes to reach consensus must rise.  I notice that the average size of 
Cohousing communities is 35 households.  We might have more trouble sticking 
with consensus decision making if our average size were 70 or 100 households.
                               Bonnie Fergusson
                               Swans Market Cohousing (20 households)
                               Oakland, CA
Sent from my iPad

On Sep 24, 2011, at 10:44 AM, Dane Laverty <danelaverty [at]> wrote:

> This is a wonderful read. I'm about halfway through it right now, and I'm
> surprised to learn that 0% of the communities make decisions by simple
> majority vote. I'm new to the cohousing concept and have no direct
> experience with any cohousing community, but it sounds like the
> consensus-based decision making process is the cause of a lot of frustration
> in communities. While I understand that a simple majority approach might
> result in less satisfaction with any given decision, I wonder if that would
> be balanced out by requiring less personal investment from each member in
> the decision making process.
> On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 10:51 AM, Neil Planchon CPCC <neil [at] 
>> Greetings all
>> Report on Survey of Cohousing Communities 2011: Created
>> collaboratively by Cohousers all over the country. Yay! A herculean
>> effort of great value which will help us better understand who we are
>> and which will complement the McCamant and Durrett Cohousing books for
>> many years to come.
>> Blog entry:
>> Direct to survey (13 pages PDF):
>> McCamant and Durrett Cohousing Books:
>> Cohousing Association or the United States:
>> Simply outstanding.
>> Thank you so much Diane, David, Lisa, Laura, the Cohousing Association
>> and all the volunteers!
>> May you be well...
>> Neil Planchon CPCC
>> Certified Life and Business Coach, Website Design and Technology
>> Solutions -
>> Founding Resident and Webmaster - Swan's Market Cohousing - Oakland CA
>> -
>> 'Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed citizens
>> to change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.'
>> Margaret Mead
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