Re: Consensus as primrary decision-making method w/voting back-up
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 07:49:29 -0800 (PST)
On Jan 12, 2013, at 11:24 AM, Diana Leafe Christian <diana [at]> wrote:

> Each time someone proposed they create an ad hoc committee to draft a pet 
> policy  
> proposal, one member always blocked the creation of the committee, saying she 
> didn't want her four dogs to have any limits on their freedom, so she  
> adamantly opposed their even being a committee to talk about it! And  the  
> community let her get away with this.

This is something that kills communities and convinces people they don't want 
to live in cohousing. 

A block is a veto.

Vetoes are absolute. They don't have to be explained. The President of the 
United States has veto power which was given to him by the government. Who gave 
 your members veto power?

Objections are things you discuss. They have context and nuance. They are 
raised by people who are rational and can explain them. Not "explain" like an 
expert in logic but enough to understand and resolve them. A person raising an 
objection can sit down with people and examine their own feelings and 
understand their objection better. Then you can decide if you share a common 
aim. If you don't you won't be able to reach consensus until you find one.

Unless your community has given someone veto power, they don't have it. Why 
would you allow them to get away with it? 

This is a rhetorical question because I know why. People are intimidated and 
afraid to confront the reality that on this issue they don't share a common 
aim. This person is not thinking of the physical or emotional welfare of her 
neighbors and in fact is not thinking of the physical or emotional welfare of 
her dogs. To allow her to continue this is to endanger her dogs as well as 
everyone else. Should dogs have more freedom than her neighbors who are afraid 
of dogs or who have young children who cannot play when her dogs are out 
roaming around?

This kind of situation can be dealt with by voting, but better to get expert 
help. Who knows if the vote will produce an intelligent decision either? We 
finally broke this chain in our community by looking at local laws and it was 
resolved in two minutes -- well, two weeks, but quick considering it had been 
13 years. Since before move-in.

Get a grip. No vetoes.

Sharon Villines
Co-author with John Buck of We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy, a 
Guide to Sociocratic Principles and Methods

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