Re: Experiences in handling difficult issues
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:45:16 -0800 (PST)
Willow wrote:
> We'd like some ideas from other communities in how you have handled
> difficult or divisive issues within the consensus process.  We are
> especially concerned about times when some members have strong feelings
> concerns against a proposal and others have "facts" to support it, which
> have recently experienced.   This has brought up the tough issue of
> we value facts over what are believed to be legitimate concerns, or vice
> versa. Concerns may be devalued, because there aren't as many facts to
> them up.   The question of caring about our neighbors feelings came up,
> question of either group "forcing their will" on the other, the importance
> of saving money over health concerns or the reverse, and how to find what
> really IS best for the community as a whole?  In our case, we didn't
> proceed to the third meeting where a vote could have been called for.  The
> proposal was tabled by the proposer, but there is still frustration and
> some hard feelings about how our process with this didn't work well.  We
> use Butler's consensus guidelines.

First off, if  you are using consensus...drop the word "vote"! I know this
may sound petty, but words are powerful...and consensus is NOT voting...if
you keep SAYING "vote," you will keep THINKING "vote"!

>From your post, it's hard for me to know exactly what the challenge
is...because everything I am reading is, well, the very nature of consensus!
We all have feelings, and we have different understandings of "the facts"
and how we know what we think we know. We all like to think we are rational
and that we base our opinions on facts, but in reality I think most of us
base most of our opinions on emotions and then look at the facts that back
us up. Regardless, balancing all of this is just part of
consensus...continuing to talk, and listen, and talk, and listen for the
WHY...what problem are we trying to solve? What do we need this proposal to
do for us? What might be other ways to frame the question that might help us
discover different answers? Is there a small piece of this that we can agree

There is no way to "force" anything in consensus.

The more diverse the points of view on an issue, the longer it is going to
take to find a way through that meets the community's needs. Consensus is a
slow and conservative process.

What is "best" for the community...this is not always clear, because of
course the community is made up of diverse individuals. Sometimes the best
we can do is work toward a solution that everyone can live with, that meets
the needs of most even if it isn't anyone's first choice.
Eris Weaver, Graphic Facilitator & Group Process Consultant
FrogSong cohousing in Cotati, CA ~ celebrating ten years!
eris [at] . 707-338-8589 .

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