Re: We ditched consensus
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 2013 07:03:19 -0700 (PDT)
On Sep 13, 2013, at 5:50 PM, Sharon Villines wrote:

> So we are now at the point where majority vote is considered revolutionary 
> and democratizing.

The "revolutionary" term was applied, I believe,  to deciding on GM agendas 
directly by the membership, rather than by a team or committee.  This can be a 
democratizing (and so can majority voting) when consensus doesn't work.  And it 
didn't work, for a long time in our case, and efforts to fix it didn't really 
work (in the view of the overwhelming majority of those who came to the 
meetings where we considered a proposal to move away from it.)
A minority of members was extremely upset, and didn't see a reason to change 
our process.  

A few thoughts/questions to ponder:

*  How many need to feel that consensus doesn't work before a change to 
something else can be considered?  In other words: Does any group have a 
process for moving away from consensus if/when it's deemed not to be working?  

*What does a group do if the stipulation is that moving away from consensus is 
a decision that needs to be made by consensus, but the basis for doing 
consensus (sufficient level of sharing common goals; reasonable level of mutual 
trust, ...) has disintegrated?  

*  When the basis for doing consensus has fallen apart, one of the things that 
becomes apparent is that people's understanding what consensus is differs, 
which means that the grasp of what the rules of the game are varies in crucial 
ways.  Can one play chess when the players use different sets of rules?  Can 
one do consensus when there is no agreement what the basic rules are?  


> It sounds like people have not been using consensus successfully, for no 
> fault necessarily of consensus, but they weren't able to make it work for 
> them. The test is to measure and ensure that when majority vote doesn't 
> produce the result that people both successful and included another option is 
> considered. Like consensus.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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