Question about Consent Governance
From: Chris Terbrueggen (
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 21:44:24 -0700 (PDT)
I really appreciate everyone’s thoughtful and sincere feedback on my
question about objections. I will share your responses with committee
members.  There is definitely a wealth of knowledge on this list serve and
I really appreciate you all sharing your experiences.   I especially
thought Karen hit the theoretical nail on the head when she said the

“Being clear about how decisions are made is vital. Rules and processes, when
well written and understood, can bring that clarity. What they can't do is
create a community or consensus mindset. Consensus or consent
decision-making is about culture, communication and relationship. At the
end of the day, if any person wants to use rules as the power to stop (or
start) something, it is a sign that the culture of consensus needs

some help.  Good consensus or consent is driven by foundational
beliefs and values.
It requires a sense of safety, the experience of being fully heard and
understood, trust in the community as a whole. It's hard for us Americans
to live that.  We need help reminding ourselves from time to time.  Also,
new members will need orientation on this and help settling

in.” Karen Gimnig

 I would appreciate if we would focus on the committee level and not drift
off to plenary or membership meetings.   I am really trying to understand
and focus on why members would need a second person to validate or support
an objection before the objection is seen as valid, especially at the
committee level. At first glance, I see this objection as a blocking our
ability to fully practice the consent process of understand, explore and
decide how to resolve objections without a fall back. From your experience
with consent governance, Is it helpful or destructive for new cohousing
communities to create these fall back rules until members build a strong
sense of trust and communication with each other in a committee?

Personally, I feel that these fallback rules are keeping us from building
that strong communication glue and trust that is needed in a new community.
I have been reading *Many Voices One Song *and it was interesting to read
the following two paragraphs.

“It is not the objector who has to prove that the objection is a valid; it
is the circle as a whole (including the objector as circle member) that
will explore the objection in relationship to the circle’s aim.”

“Consent is not a mechanism that separates objections from preferences in a
clear-cut manner. Lack of skill in dealing with objections, like dismissing
someone’s objection by saying *“your objection is not valid” *and
social-emotional backlash can actually *cause *dysfunction and decrease the
circle’s ability to achieve its aim. It will not help us to have been
“right” about the personal preference. If people know they are heard and
trust is built, it will be easier to cooperate. To avoid dynamics of
people-pleasing, train everyone both on the definition of consent and on
communication skills.”

Thanks, Chris Terbrueggen

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