Re: Examples of Consensus Success (Was:[C-L] … Survey of Cohousing ...
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 08:21:30 -0700 (PDT)
On 25 Sep 2011, at 7:46 AM, R Philip Dowds wrote:

> By consensus.  First try! 

You've described a process that must have taken years to sort out — should we 
have reserve funds or not, and if so, how much and covering what period of 
time. And then you said you got consensus in "one try"!

Obtaining or developing consensus is a process that includes first 
identification of the issue. It goes from Uh Oh! or Hey what if? to a policy or 
a plan of action. Consent may be to something temporary or a stage in the 
development of a more permanent solution.

Our decision-making policy says that consensus is our decision-making method. 
It defines 3 levels of decisions. Routine decisions can be announced in team 
minutes and posted to our internal list. No objections in 4-5 days and they can 
be implemented. Significant decisions have to be announced in a separate email 
specifically asking for objections. Major decisions have to come to a meeting — 
big conflict, money, or policies. 

The whole policy is posted here.

Some of our members are identifying consensus only as the formal process of 
reaching consensus at a Membership Meeting. They believe that unless something 
has come to a membership meeting and consensus is formally declared by the 
facilitator, it isn't consensus.

Viewing consensus this way makes it analogous to majority vote. You know it's 
over when the votes are declared legal.

I think this is death to consensus. Why bother? Consensus as an expectation, as 
a fundamental attitude in interactions, is what makes a consensus decision 
possible. In a consensus community, everyone knows that all decisions will be 
discussed and resolved only with their consent. 

Consensus is ensures that no one in the community can be ignored. Feedback has 
to be taken seriously. Objections have to be resolved in order for systems to 
work optimally — whether they are lawnmowers or organizations. 

Consent can only be granted by an individual. 

Consent is a two-layer decision. First, is this best for me? Second, given what 
is good for me and what is good for every other individual in the group, what 
is the best decision?

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"Behavior is determined by the prevailing form of decision making." Gerard 

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