Re: Re David Clement's concern about two members of the same household in a General Circle
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2019 07:03:21 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 21, 2019, at 8:47 PM, Diana Leafe Christian <diana [at]> wrote:

>        I also agree that it doesn’t matter if two people from the same 
> household are in a circle because in Sociocracy decisions are made with 
> Consent Decision-Making, not majority-rule voting or consensus.

This depends on when you think a decision is made. In fact most decisions have 
been made before the consent round is even started. The arguments determine how 
people see the wind blowing. Arguments can be unbalanced. That is why diversity 
is important in policy making. If the board has a limited number of people, 
having a couple on the board, for example, will take up at least one seat that 
might be filled be filled with someone who represents a more diverse point of 
view. 6-8 people can only represent so many points on the star — younger, 
older, male, female, gay, straight, small units on the street, large units on 
the west side, pro social action, conservative, etc. Policies should be 
designed to address the concerns that any of those groups might have.

> In Sociocracy their contributions to policymaking are, to quote Jerry again, 
> ideally are “persuasive rather than arm-twisting,” and General Circle members 
> chosen for their ability to serve the big picture, not those simply with free 
> time to attend meetings.

This is the ideal, certainly, but is it true in fact? Do communities have their 
choice of people to serve on the board or is it a more limited number of people 
willing to do so?

We’re having a discussion now on the sociocracy [at] email lisit 
about how a sociocratic structure would prevent a Donald Trump, or get rid of 
him faster if he did get elected.  Sociocracy is only as good as the people who 
are willing to stand up and do what it allows or enables.

>         To ask a community’s General Circle to serve as its main governing 
> and policy-making circle could concentrate too much decision-making power in 
> the center, rather than, as I understand Sociocracy is designed, for 
> “distributed leadership,” spreading decision-making and leadership out to 
> each functional and daughter circle. I’ll be happy to talk with anyone about 
> this further, if interested.

I don’t know what “in the center” means. A full circle would be more like a 
circle that encompasses all other circles within it. By law, depending on local 
laws, some decisions must be made by all the owners. Annual Budget, election of 
the board, etc.

When we first started discussing sociocracy in cohousing, some people were 
resistant to having all the decisions made in small groups and also thought 
sociocracy prevented meetings as a whole. The sense of the community as a  
whole was important and they didn’t want to lose that. I raised this issue with 
Gerard. He said there is no reason except efficiency that a group can’t meet as 
a full circle and not have any sub-circles at all. But they must have an 
elected leader. In other words, function clearly and not have a leaderless 
group or make things up as you go.

Most cohousing communities are the size that full circle meetings would be 
20-30 people. Not everyone would attend every meeting. In my community we run 
about 60 adult members and would have more than 30-35 people in a meeting only 
if we were making a big difficult policy decision. (Ann may remember that 
differently.) In large organizations many circles would be that size.

There aren’t absolute rules in sociocracy. There are various principles and 
practices that have been proven to work. If one of those doesn’t work in your 
group, using an alternative that produces the same effect and protects the 
equal valuing of each member of the group may work just as well. 

The principles are (1) consent governs policy decisions, (2) policies decisions 
are decided in teams or circles where everyone participates as an equal, and 
(3) circles are double-linked to create a circular hierarchy of feedback loops.

Consent and a feedback structure are vital—not sure how these could be dropped 
and produce the same effect. But is everything else necessary for your group? 
Not if you can achieve the same results in a different way. The principles are 
principles because they work. They produce harmonious organizations that are 
effective in achieving their aims.

I do think it is best to adopt all the principles and practices so you can see 
how they work before you decide this piece works better for our situation.

Sharon Villines
Sociocracy: A Deeper Democracy

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.