Re: Moving back from consensus?
From: Lyn Deardorff (
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2020 04:39:04 -0800 (PST)
To Bryan Syverson:  Yes, would very much like a copy of your policy.  We have 
received a great number of responses.  Many say just "keep working at it" with 
little guidance of input to problems.  Yours looks promising for a solution 
without actually abandoning Consensus.

Thanks!  My personal email is lynpeachtree [at], if this helps.


-----Original Message-----
From: Cohousing-L < [at]> On Behalf Of Bryan Syverson
Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2020 2:36 PM
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Moving back from consensus?

About 7 years ago, we here at La Querencia Fresno Cohousing had a painful and 
difficult experience with consensus on a relatively minor proposal:
installing a new path. The difficulty was focused on two families whose 
objections would shift from meeting to meeting so that accommodating their 
concerns in the proposal became impossible. Eventually, it became clear that 
one of the families was using consensus as a way of "blocking" the decision 
without making the commitment to actually block the decision. Lots of hurt 
feelings and bad blood.

Because of that, we underwent a rewrite of our decision-making policy to allow 
for 66% supermajority vote if, after 3 meetings, concerns could not be 
addressed and the decision was deadlocked. (I'd be happy to send you a copy of 
our policy if you'd like to see it.) We have lots of caveats in the process 
about how the decision should be important enough to override consensus and 
that it can harden conflicts and compromise the community. In other words, use 
of supermajority was supposed to be a big freakin' deal.

By the way, not once since we approved the new policy have we used it! I should 
point out, however, that the difficult couple moved out 3 years later. From 
what I understand, they moved out due to a job change out of the area. In other 
words, neither that one particular decision nor the change in the policy were a 
motivating factor for them leaving. In fact at our last meeting we reached 
consensus on a proposal to pave that once-contentious path without concerns or 
anyone standing aside; consensus worked beautifully! (The other family, in 
fact, moved out within a year because they couldn't stand the lengths we were 
going to.)

So my advice is to first search for the reason that consensus isn't working. We 
as a community tortured ourselves to try to accommodate folks who refused to be 
accommodated. If, like in our situation, there is one household that is driving 
everyone nuts perhaps there's an easier process.
Does the problem couple have another couple that they are particularly close 
to? If they can get them to commit to a compromise or even fessing up that 
they're blocking the decision, that might help. Our problem couple were not 
well integrated in the group so that wouldn't have worked for us; they always 
felt like we were teaming up on them.

Good Luck
-Bryan Syverson
President, La Querencia HOA
Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:;data=04%7C01%7C%7C5df70fb5e59a4f16e12a08d89faf3c04%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637434922277223719%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdata=ngo1PRvlkoL2p2WDNEStqaPyIK7gu2MBjYEvO6LE7iw%3D&amp;reserved=0

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.