Re: Consensus changing the world
From: Madeline Nelson (
Date: Sun, 16 Oct 2011 11:07:55 -0700 (PDT)
I am involved in OWS in NYC. As the general assemblies get ever bigger and the 
meetings very long, the NYC group is steering towards a spokes council model. 
This is being used within several working groups that have gotten large enough 
to break into sub-groups (affinity groups/task oriented) and is also used for a 
daily check-in amongst working groups. I believe at least one of the meetings 
shown in the film is actually the working group spokes council.

While many people in OWS are new to direct democracy and even to activism, 
there are quite a few others who have long experience with facilitation and 
consensus based process. There are daily trainings held for those who want to 
learn to facilitate or to brush up their skills. I'm in 2 working groups and 
both are pretty successful at rotating facilitation, which means lots of people 
are getting frequent practice. 

I've only seen 1 decision go to a "vote", and that was when a blocker 
misunderstood the rules or didn't want to play by them, and used the block to 
voice a personal grudge. (When the blocker left the group, we all felt badly-- 
but also somewhat relieved that a person who had routinely been disruptive 
chose to absent herself. If she comes back we will all need to work further to 
avoid another such breakdown of the process.)

We don't at this point foresee networks over a big geographical area that need 
to reach consensus, or any centralization of the movement. Each "Occupy" group 
is autonomous and there are informal means of simply informing each other of 
what we're doing.

Sharon, you can email me off-list with resources that I'll pass along to the 
NYC facilitation working group.


On Oct 16, 2011, at 1:17 PM, Sharon Villines wrote:

> On 15 Oct 2011, at 7:25 AM, Jessie Kome wrote:
>> The Occupy Wall Street folks are using consensus process.  Are there 
>> cohousers up there? Check this out: 
> This video also contains a definition of a "block" that I could support — it 
> means you would have to leave the group if this proposal is adopted.
> This definition also allows the group the option of adopting the proposed 
> action and the person leaving. And it doesn't have to be viewed as a 
> manipulative threat, just a statement of fact. There is an example in the 
> video in which a woman explained that she couldn't go back home and organize 
> her neighbors around the mission if a proposal passed — they wouldn't accept 
> it. The group was able to modify the proposal to be more inclusive.
> The hand signals I really liked to the extent that they are not referred to 
> as votes or used to intimidate the minority. We have a nominating committee 
> for board positions and its very hard for them to not count the number of 
> nominations as justification for one person being chosen for the board. The 
> only way to stop this was to prevent them from reporting the number of 
> nominations except as a total with no editorializing (Detailed 
> recommendations or no reasons given, etc.)
> L-shape for louder is one I will introduce next Sunday. We have several 
> mumblers who tend to talk to the facilitator and no one else can hear what 
> they are saying.
> C-shape for clarifying question.
> Triangle using both hands — process alert, off topic, etc.
> Pointed Finger — point of information.
> Hands fluttering by ears/head. Twinkle for like. We used the Twinkle from 
> move-in because we had a member who taught at a university for the deaf where 
> applause has little meaning. We've gotten away from it as our population has 
> changed.
> Hands level for okay, but not really.
> Hands drooping, not good.
> One issue that they will run into soon is the need for decision-making that 
> can allow specialization/expertise and participation with out being able to 
> attend all the meetings — particularly if they require traveling. This will 
> limit participation to those with the time and money to do it. Immediately 
> eliminates people with jobs and children. Sociocracy/dynamic governance is 
> the only method that ensures consensus at all levels. 
> Representatives would be chosen by consensus to represent local groups in a 
> larger coordinating body and teams or task forces would be chosen by 
> consensus. As many representatives as desired can be chosen — in consensus, 
> one person can represent a group. Another group that has sent 25 people has 
> no more authority than the one.
> So if anyone is involved in this, let them know. If they contact me I can 
> point them to someone who consults and can help them.
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at: 

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.