Re: A Glimps of Cohousing in 2060
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2014 07:20:33 -0800 (PST)
On Dec 23, 2014, at 8:23 AM, Tom Smyth <tom [at]> wrote:

> I sure hope and believe consensus decision making is not a fad.

Since it's been around since the dawn of civilization, I doubt if it can ever 
be considered a fad. Majority vote as a governance method is much more recent.

> I think a
> key part of our evolution as a species is to stop being so oppressive
> toward everyone who isn't exactly like us. This is exactly what consensus
> decision making is for, and it seems far more natural than its
> alternatives. In the grand scheme of things I hope majority rule is the
> passing fad.

We have an Arab member who believes that majority vote has saved civilization 
because he has lived under autocracies in which various groups are always at 
war. "You have thrown out the greatest invention people have ever known." In 
the western world we have political battles but the mayor of NYC doesn't call 
out the National Guard on a whim to enforce his rules about 8oz sodas or make 
life and death decisions about teachers who use the wrong textbook or destroy 
schools that allow girls.

Consensus decision-making requires that all the people concerned have the same 
aim. And that can be just as oppressive as majority vote. What about people who 
don't want to consent but the group requires consent. In my community those who 
don't want to consent or to be seen as consenting to decisions they aren't 
comfortable with, just don't show up for the decision-making meeting. They 
don't want to consent, but they also want to move on. To stop arguing about it 
and to be out of the position of everyone wanting to make things right so they 
can all be on the same side. 

Majority vote has its place in decision-making, and can be less oppressive than 
coercive consensus. In sociocracy, the group consents to various 
decision-making methods. Each one is better for certain situations than others. 
Consensus requires a common aim. That doesn't always exist. 

>  Cohousing in Michigan seems to be extremely white. I honestly
> am not really sure why this is. I have a few theories. Anybody have any
> insight? What can we do to make it more diverse? Has this topic come up on
> this list before?

Having worked with collaborative, progressive efforts since the 1970s, I've 
learned that minorities do not want to compound their minority status. 
Cohousers are a distinct a minority. If I have the only green family in town, I 
don't want to them also live in the only purple striped house or the only set 
of purple striped houses. One distinctive feature is enough. Even very 
privileged people feel that privilege when they are the only privileged person 

The "socio" in sociocracy means "social". Governance by social groups, people 
in communities, those who associate with each other. A community forms circles 
of people with common aims within the larger community aim. Cohousing 
communities are too small to include many circles of any size.

People like to share what they enjoy. They don't want to feel as if they have 
to adjust, change, or hide things that make them comfortable. It isn't sharing 
if you are the only one who likes it. Who wants to sit around and drink beer 
and watch football with a bunch of people who don't like beer and don't 
understand football? It isn't relaxing no matter how "tolerant" the other 
people are or how hard they try.

How many Republicans live in cohousing? How many billionaires? Practicing 
Muslims? Army Majors? Do we beat ourselves up about not including them?

(We actually do have one Major but I'm guessing she is the only one in any 
cohousing community anywhere. It may sound like I'm ranting but I just haven't 
had breakfast yet so I'm writing fast.)

Sharon Villines
Sociocracy: A Deeper Democracy

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