Re: Question about Consent Governance
From: Patti Lautner (
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 04:37:34 -0700 (PDT)
The important piece that seems to be missing in the story described by Philip 
is the REASON for the block. In a true consensus model, a block may only happen 
if the blocker can show that they are protecting one of the community’s 
commonly held values. The blocker must describe convincingly to the plenary 
that it is in the best interest of the community to block and that the common 
value must be protected above what might seem like popular opinion. If the 
blocker can not convince the community that the decision goes against a common 
value, then the block is simply not allowed. Even mature communities like ours, 
(13+ years since move in, 18 years since starting), need to be reminded 
occasionally that conensues means to give permission, not total agreement, and 
that blocks may only happen to protect a commonly held value.

We have our values list lovingly displayed in our common house and we confirm, 
ratify, and consider changing this list annually at one of our retreats.

I would love to discuss more should anyone want to reach out.

JPCohousing Boston 

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jul 17, 2018, at 7:17 AM, Dick Margulis <dick [at]> wrote:
> The issue Philip identifies is what had our group in nearly complete 
> paralysis for a couple of years, trying mightily but unsuccessfully to move 
> forward using formal consensus.
> Sociocracy set us free.
> Strip away all of the specific procedures and processes and structures of 
> sociocracy and just focus on the concept of consent that it embodies:
> 1. The proposal belongs to the circle with the authority to act on it, not to 
> the individual or circle that brings it.
> 2. The proposal includes what amounts to a sunset clause: when will we review 
> it to see if it's working as planned or needs further tweaking, and by what 
> explicit criteria will we make that judgment?
> 3. To decide whether to object, you ask yourself whether the proposal is safe 
> enough to try and good enough for now, whether it is consistent with agreed 
> community values, and whether you can live with it. You don't ask whether the 
> proposal is perfect, because you know we will revisit it later (see number 2).
> 4. If you don't have a reasoned objection but still feel that something is 
> amiss that needs to be resolved, the circle's job is to help you put your 
> finger on the problem and articulate it so that it can be examined in light 
> of those decision criteria. If your initially inchoate objection has been 
> developed into a reasoned objection, then more work is needed on the proposal 
> to resolve that objection, and good for you for bringing it. If not, then the 
> facilitator will likely ask you to stand aside.
> The better we get at using sociocracy--especially the better we get at 
> internalizing number 1, above--the more efficient our meetings become and the 
> faster we can get to a decision on a proposal. And the active listening 
> involved in number 4 has kept us honest: people who are not necessarily very 
> articulate nonetheless feel heard; we've had any number of instances where a 
> little niggle that's bothering one quiet person has resulted in major 
> reshaping of a proposal once the group teased out the real nature of the 
> objection.
> Dick
>> On 7/17/2018 6:26 AM, Philip Dowds via Cohousing-L wrote:
>> 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.
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