Re: Moving back from concensus?
From: R Philip Dowds (rphilipdowdsme.com)
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2020 11:44:07 -0800 (PST)
Our formally-defined, written-out consensus process has a minimum of four 
stages:  Proposal first appearance at plenary, with questions and suggestions; 
first plenary attempt at solidarity (all objections resolved); individual and 
small group solution discovery meetings, if there are unresolved objections; 
and then a third and final appearance at plenary, with objection resolution as 
the primary aim, but with an option to call for a super-majority vote.  So 
officially, it’s a maximum two month, three plenary process.

But and however:  The proponents are in charge of scheduling all meetings and 
maybe calling the vote (which does not happen until and unless the proponents 
feel like they’ve given it their best shot).  So in practice, some things will 
take longer, and involve many more meetings.  For instance, we recently did the 
consensus process for a highly controversial capital reserve savings plan.  
Proponents met weekly for more than a year (sorry, it’s true), and the issue 
appeared in plenary maybe six different times.  The proponents might have 
forced the issue to vote much sooner than that … but we all knew that even if 
the vote were successful (no guarantee), extreme community trauma would be a 
very high price to pay for a roof replacement fund.

For lesser issues and proposals, we’re pretty good at getting the job done with 
three plenaries, sometimes even two.

Please keep in mind that consensus is a process, not an outcome.  That is, 
consensus is a series of steps performed in an environment of attitudes.  This 
process may lead to unanimity, and that’s always desired — but additionally, if 
done well, it can conclude with a vote that need not damage personal relations 
or community cohesion.  Unresolved disagreements can be a problem.  But so can 
be paralysis.

Thanks,
Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA 02140

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rphilipdowds [at] me.com

> On Dec 13, 2020, at 12:39 PM, Lyn Deardorff <lynpeachtree [at] outlook.com> 
> wrote:
> 
> To Philip Dowds,
> Thanks for the informative answer.  May I ask at what point you invoked the 
> supermajority rule?  After a certain number of meetings?  Do you have a 
> particular ruling on this?
>  
> Thanks (again)!
> Lyn Deardorff
>  
> Sent from Mail <https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986> for Windows 10
>  
> From: R Philip Dowds via Cohousing-L <mailto:cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
> Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2020 9:18 AM
> To: Cohousing-L <mailto:cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
> Cc: R Philip Dowds <mailto:rphilipdowds [at] me.com>
> Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Moving back from concensus?
>  
> I agree that consensus in cohousing works best when everyone is on board with 
> a viable formal process and an expectation of compromise.  It also helps to 
> implement a structure of delegation such that only major issues and decisions 
> arrive at plenary / full circle, and only after they’ve been well-baked by 
> smaller groups.
> 
> Even so, at Cornerstone, we now allow for a well-defined consensus process to 
> conclude with one of two outcomes: (1) Ideally, with resolution of all 
> objections, and solidarity/unanimity on the (revised and evolved) proposal; 
> or, if solidarity is unfindable even after an arduous good-father effort, 
> then (2) a super-majority vote (75% affirmation threshold).
> 
> So have we abandoned consensus?  What’s interesting is that now we find it’s 
> actually easier to attain consensus agreement.  We almost never go to 
> super-majority vote.  I think what’s happened is that those who are most in 
> opposition discover that their own needs and interests are better served by 
> participation in a consensus agreement than by adamant “blocking” that leads 
> to a voting outcome.  Compromise works better, I think, when everyone has a 
> good reason to compromise.
> 
> Thanks,
> Philip Dowds
> Cornerstone Village Cohousing
> Cambridge, MA 02140
> 
> mobile: 617.460.4549
> email:   rphilipdowds [at] me.com <mailto:rphilipdowds [at] me.com>
> 
> > On Dec 13, 2020, at 9:47 AM, Martie Weatherly <mhweatherly [at] 
> > earthlink.net <mailto:mhweatherly [at] earthlink.net>> wrote:
> > 
> > Re moving back from consensus: I suggest that you investigate what problems 
> > you are having with consensus. It is not easy and it is different from the 
> > competitive and individualistic culture we live in. But it does work if the 
> > community is educated in how to use it. 
> > 
> > In our twenty year old community, we have more challenges now than we did 
> > at the beginning, mainly because we have not kept up with educating our 
> > newer people and re-educating ourselves. There is nothing like taking two 
> > emotional opposing points of view and working out a solution that works for 
> > everyone. It is possible and it is more important than ever that we learn 
> > how to work things out. together. 
> > 
> > Martie Weatherly
> > Liberty Village
> > Frederick MD
> > 
> > 
> > Health and Wellness Coach
> > Facilitation Coach
> > coachmartie.com <http://coachmartie.com/>
> > 
> > 
> > -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Lyn Deardorff <lynpeachtree [at] outlook.com <mailto:lynpeachtree 
> >> [at] outlook.com>>
> >> Sent: Dec 12, 2020 8:11 PM
> >> To: "cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org <mailto:cohousing-l [at] 
> >> cohousing.org>" <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org <mailto:cohousing-l [at] 
> >> cohousing.org>>
> >> Subject: [C-L]_ Moving back from concensus?
> >> 
> >> Hi Everyone,
> >> I would like to hear from Co-Housing communities that have in any way 
> >> moved back from Consensus.  Did you adopt a Hybrid Consensus (move to a 
> >> supermajority vote for example) or even abandoning it all together for a 
> >> more traditional majority vote?
> >> 
> >> If you wish to reply privately, understood:  lynpeachtree [at] hotmail.com 
> >> <mailto:lynpeachtree [at] hotmail.com>
> >> 
> >> Thanks so much for any sharing you can do!
> >> 
> >> Lyn Deardorff 
> >> Sand River Co-Housing
> >> 404 377 8010
> >> lynpeachtree [at] hotmail.com <mailto:lynpeachtree [at] hotmail.com>
> >> _________________________________________________________________
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