Re: What do we mean when we say "like-minded"? (Sharon Villines)
From: Jane Harper (
Date: Sat, 9 May 2020 08:45:01 -0700 (PDT)

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Subject: Cohousing-L Digest, Vol 196, Issue 10

What about using the term "shared intention"?


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Date: Wed, 6 May 2020 14:48:10 -0400
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ What do we mean when we say "like-minded"?
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> On May 6, 2020, at 1:45 PM, Dick Margulis <dick [at]> wrote:

> One of the lessons that has stuck with us was that to have any sort of
consent-based governance, everyone in the community must subscribe to a set
of shared values. (Aside: without already having a written set of values on
which to base decision making, it took us a year to write the document, but
I digress).

About consent in sociocracy, Gerard Endenburg states this as "common aims."
You have to all be working toward the same outcome. If your aim is to
disrupt congress and my aim is to reform congress, it is unlikely that we
can use consensus decision-making very much of the time.

One of the things that confuses people when I?m making a consensus decision
is that I want to know just as much about why people consent as about why
they object. People are required to explain objections so they can be
resolved but what if people are consenting in order to produce a bad
decision that will bring about the opposite result? I want to know that. Or
consenting because they know they aren?t going to follow the decision and no
one will enforce it.

Something like this happened recently in relation to Jerusalem. Two
religious groups joined together to support an action in favor of a unified
Jerusalem. One was a Jewish organization and the other a conservative,
radical Christian organization. The Jewish organization supported it to
build a stronger Israel. The Christian organization was supporting it
because the bible says that when the Jews are united and rule the world,
they will all be smitten down. (My wording).

Why would these two organizations want to work together?

Gerard's other two conditions for consensus decision-making are ability and
willingness to spend the time required to develop a solution everyone can
accept, and an agreement to make decisions with all the members of the

He actually didn?t believe we could use consensus decision-making in
cohousing because we can?t choose who we make decisions with. So far this
hasn?t been a huge issue since the people who are interested in cohousing
have many values in common or they would never consider moving in. When
cohousing becomes more mainstream, this might change.

> The corollary, which he made crystal clear, is that whatever that set of
shared values is, individuals are still entitled to their personal values;
they just have to agree to behave in the group in a way that is consistent
with the shared values.

Gerard would link this to a cycle of deciding, doing, evaluating so
decisions are improved over time to produce results closer to their aim.

> As others before Oliver Wendell Holmes said, yes this is a free country,
and you have the right to swing your arm, but that right ends where the
other person's nose begins. If we all agree on that underlying principle and
use it to guide our own behavior, that goes a long way toward defining what
it means to be a community of like-minded individuals.

On ?like-minded?. I?ve tried to do research on this phrase but can?t find a
source. In the 1950-60s in the south ?like-minded? was a way to discuss
excluding blacks without saying it. I was a student in Kansas City in 1961
when I first heard this phrase. The museum ladies were meeting in the office
to discuss raising funds for the art school I was attending. They needed
more members. One lady said in her finishing school voice, "And what do we
do if a person with a sweet-southern voice calls to ask about membership?
Are we all like-minded about this?? 

I was compiling a mailing in the corner and stopped to wonder what this
meant. Kansas City like Washington DC is one of those places that talks
northern but acts southern but I didn?t know that yet. I was a Freshman. I
didn?t have to wait long, however. The Secretary of the School (like
Secretaries of Defense, Housing, etc.) stated with a New England finishing
school voice that the school had always been open to all students and would
continue to be. In words I don?t remember because I didn?t go to finishing
school, she said if they were not interested in being equally open they
could take their money and leave. They would not be missed. 

Whenever I hear ?like-minded,? I hear racism. A denied racism that all
like-minded people understand and do not talk about. I haven?t found
confirmation in the literature that this was a common practice but black
friends have said they hear it the same way. It?s an alert to stop and

So I like to say share common interests or purposes. 

Sharon Villines
sustainablecohousing [at]
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