Re: consensus blocking
From: Patricia Lautner (
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2013 05:14:18 -0700 (PDT)

It looks like you may have two issues: 1) no clear understanding of the
blocking process and, 2) a difficult member.

1)  At JPCohousing in Boston our policy is clear: you may not block
consensus unless you are protecting one of the community's Common Values.
Our common values list was derived from our vision statement developed 10
years ago pre-construction.  We've revisited our values list a few times
over the years to re-commit add/or delete from the list.  When a member
threatens to block (and when it's clear that the member is the only person
in the room who doesn't like the proposal), the facilitator should
recognize the strong desire or emotion in the room and then ask the blocker
to explain how going forward with the decision would violate one of the
community's commonly held values.  If the member isn't able to do this, the
facilitator should skillfully (this is hard but possible) tell the member
they aren't allowed to block and continue with the decision.  Feel free to
contact me off line to discuss further.

2) Difficult member - when you have one member who predictably tries to
block most proposals you need to pull that person aside and have a chat.
What needs does the member have that are not being met?  Does the member
agree that they are blocking the needs of the rest of her neighbors and how
does she feel about that?  I recommend that you identify two 'elders'
(experienced, process-oriented, wise, and generally respected members) to
take on the task for meeting with the member outside of plenary.  Also, the
facilitator's group should practice their skills on how to deal with
blocking and emotion or frustration during decision making.  Often a
skilled facilitator can make the member feel safe and heard while also
getting through the topic without blocking.

JPCohousing - Boston

On Sun, Sep 8, 2013 at 10:53 PM, Fern Selzer <fernselzer [at]> wrote:

> I know this topic has been around before, but our community is
> experiencing frequent blocking by an individual who  explains it in
> terms of her own wants and needs, not the needs of the community.  We
> have been working around this and it has been taking a lot of extra
> time and creating frustrations in our attempts to make decisions.
> Yes, consensus takes extra time, but when one person predictably
> blocks almost every proposal unless it doesn't affect her at all, our
> community is wanting to clarify the "blocking" choice in our decision
> making.
> I am asking for direction from any groups who have clear (written)
> policies about how to handle blocking or determine whether the block
> is legitimate when a group is getting bogged down with a lot of
> blocking.  Could you please send this part of your policy to me, or
> tell me where to find it if it's posted somewhere?
> I am familiar with the article on blocking on the cohousing website
> and our community has already worked a lot on this, including
> professional facilitation, now, we are trying to develop a policy.
> Thanks to any one who can help us in developing our guidelines.
> Fern Selzer
> New Brighton Cohousing
> Aptos, CA
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.