Re: A Glimps of Cohousing in 2060
From: David Heimann (
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2015 08:17:12 -0800 (PST)


One key part of consensus is that it be given the time it needs to develop. Most of the few times there's been a block at JP Cohousing has been where a proposal has been pushed to a call for consensus because of a feeling that "time is of the essence". At that point others felt they were being railroaded when they weren't ready to make a decision so that they blocked in self-defense, as it were, with the intention of making sure the discussion continued.

With respect to people coming in for the first time at the end of the discussion with last-minute objections, we have a process where it takes at least three meetings to discuss and pass a proposal, the first being a discussion and collection of inputs, the second being a discussion of a specific proposal, and the third being a final discussion and call for consensus. In between the first/second meetings and the second/third meetings, we provide opportunities to comment and discuss, either through e-mail, community conversations (an informal non-decison-making get-together where the proposal is the sole topic), or other public or private means. If someone raises a new objection at the third meeting, they had better have a good reason why they found their voice only that late.

David Heimann
Jamaica Plain Cohousing

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2015 07:49:52 -0500
From: Patricia Lautner <lautnerp [at]>
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ A Glimps of Cohousing in 2060
        <CAAVukW=OhKcR8X4n+ZbSoUrNBeYEHHvt7w8Hn4LezBeTYMTBYA [at]>
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Blocking is a tool that must be available when making decisions by
consensus.  However, sometimes someone will block to push a personal agenda
forward or because something about the process is not working well and the
member wants to block - which is another way of saying, "STOP".  These are
dynamics that can usually be handled by a skilled facilitator.  However,
there needs to be some guidelines that a member must follow before
preventing a decison that has the support of the group to go forward.  We
use the values list.

We site our common values during the process of writing and presenting
proposals.  Although there is always room for improvement, we are very
careful to make sure that we look to the common values with all community
decisions.  Personally, this feels very safe to me.  When I signed up for
cohousing, I was agreeing to these values (that we developed together) and
nothing more - nothing less.

All the best,

Patti Lautner
JPCohousing - Boston

On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 8:00 PM, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]>

Well, I'm not sure why we want to "avoid a blocker scenario". Presumably
blocks are because a person is concerned that it is a good decision? I'd
like to see us more willing to work through the objections than to find
ways to avoid having blocks.

In my experience the question "what is the community value you are
protecting" can be used as well as any other question to pressure a blocker
to conform with the group.

Do you ask all presenting proposals to describe what community value they
are protecting?

(Writing this makes me realize that I'm certainly holding a grudge that I
need to get over, but if you can try to see through my tone--I do think
that we need to see blocking as contributing to decision making, not
conflicting with decision making.)

(The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill

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