Re: Question about Consent Governance
From: Philip Dowds (
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 03:27:04 -0700 (PDT)
So here’s the issue, really:

Let’s say a controversial proposal has arrived at plenary.  The whole community 
has faithfully followed its formal consensus process.  After several months of 
hard work, inside and outside of plenary, the proposal has been significantly 
modified, and now almost everyone feels his/her concern or objection has been 
adequately addressed.  Except, maybe, for one person.

A classic analysis is, Sorry, not done yet, keep talking.  But now it seems 
pretty clear to nearly everyone that there is no way to satisfy this person’s 
objection, and still achieve the intent of the proposal.  Hardly anyone thinks 
it’s likely that more months of dialog effort will lead to a different place.  
Community interest in flogging this issue in plenary is starting to wane.  Some 
members who were planning to bring in some other proposal are reconsidering, 
worried that guiding a proposal to a successful conclusion is just too much 
effort.  Others are starting to wonder if consensus actually works.

Under these circumstances, what outcome is best for the community?  Failure of 
the proposal, and acceptance of the status quo?  Or, an over-ride of the 
remaining objection, such that the will of the (strong) majority is 
accommodated in the decision?  If it’s the latter — an over-ride of an 
objection — then what procedure(s) is(are) available for doing this?  And doing 
it in a way that minimizes damage to community cohesion?

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at]

> On Jul 16, 2018, at 11:01 PM, Chris Terbrueggen <christopher402 [at] 
>> wrote:
> Greetings, We are slowly developing our consent governance in one of our
> Linden Cohousing committees. There was an objection voiced by a member, who
> said a second committee member must support a member's objection for it to
> be a valid objection. They were concerned that one person would block the
> proposal. I would like to know if any cohousing communities require a
> second person's support at the committee level. Or, do you honor a single
> member's objection?  Do you work together to see if it's a valid objection
> based on the aim of the committee and find a solution to the objection?  Is
> there a way to merge the two ideas?
> We are new to the consent process. I am sure there is a learning curve
> present in this discussion. There may be personal perceptions of trusting a
> governance process that is new.  Maybe, it's being comfortable with Roberts
> Rules of Order, which requires a second for some decisions to be made.
> Thanks, Chris Terbrueggen
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