Re: Moving back from concensus?
From: Lyn Deardorff (
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2020 09:39:52 -0800 (PST)
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<> for Windows 10

From: R Philip Dowds via Cohousing-L<mailto:cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2020 9:18 AM
To: Cohousing-L<mailto:cohousing-l [at]>
Cc: R Philip Dowds<mailto:rphilipdowds [at]>
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.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA 02140

mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rphilipdowds [at]

> On Dec 13, 2020, at 9:47 AM, Martie Weatherly <mhweatherly [at] 
>> 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
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Lyn Deardorff <lynpeachtree [at]>
>> Sent: Dec 12, 2020 8:11 PM
>> To: "cohousing-l [at]" <cohousing-l [at]>
>> 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]
>> Thanks so much for any sharing you can do!
>> Lyn Deardorff
>> Sand River Co-Housing
>> 404 377 8010
>> lynpeachtree [at]
>> _________________________________________________________________
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