Consensus, Majority Vote, "Blocks" [was Report on Survey of Cohousing Communities 2011. Just released. A must read!
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2011 18:26:40 -0700 (PDT)
I think the word "block" is destructive in fundamentally important ways and I 
hope it will be stomped into oblivion soon. 

I know it feels like a block when a person(s) will not consent — I find myself 
thinking it too. After hours of discussion, we are still in the same place and 
I am sick of listening to that person.  But "block" is what _I_ feel. It's my 
label. I create the block.

The image of a block is something fixed and hard. A cement block. A blockhead. 
It's used in economics, medicine, game theory, sports, sailing, politics, etc., 
to mean an obstruction. Even when admired for its success as blocking a move in 
cricket or bridge, a block evokes preparation for war. Winning and losing. A 
block has to be destroyed or it will destroy you.

Although we've had people walk out because they were upset, I've never heard 
person with objections say, "I'm blocking so forget it" or "I'm a blocker." Or 
wear a T-shirt that says "World Record 2011. Blocked 12 Decisions." 

"Block" is often used an epithet and however suppressed, slathered with emotion.

In dynamic governance/sociocracy, what people experience as a "block" would be 
considered a veto. Vetoes don't have to be explained and are absolute. They are 
done. No discussion. Someone who vetoes an action is acting as an outsider, not 
as part of the group. They are taking all power for themselves. Everyone else 
is powerless. So they aren't allowed at any level. The organization would move 
forward working around and excluding the objector. (They do fire people.)

Unresolved objections are simply objections for which no one has found a 

An objection must be based on one's personal ability to work enthusiastically 
and energetically toward the aim of the group. An objector is saying "if you 
make this decision, it will negatively affect my ability to be fully committed 
the community."

Any person who has an objection must explain it so it can be addressed and must 
participate in the process of resolving it. What will fix this? Participation 
in that process is what distinguishes an objection from a veto. And the aim of 
everyone is to resolve it if it can be resolved.  If there is no shared aim, 
however, it is unlikely that it will be resolved in any meaningful or lasting 

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
Coauthor with John Buck of
"We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy"
ISBN: 9780979282706

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