Re: Moving back from concensus?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2020 13:30:22 -0800 (PST)
> On Dec 14, 2020, at 7:00 PM, R Philip Dowds <rphilipdowds [at]> wrote:

> Yes, I know that some consensus professionals maintain that if you invest 
> enough time and good will, you can always find the compromise that everyone 
> can “live with”.  But that investment of time and empathy may be unaffordable 
> to many ordinary members — the ones who are unwilling to meet each week, 
> month after month, to find a place to build a bicycle shed.

I suspect that the reason some advocates of consensus believe that it can 
always be achieved are working with groups that are self-selected and thus 
share common goals. If everyone has chosen the same direction and share ideas 
about strategy, then working out tactics or best ways to express them might 
always be possible.

The first group I worked with that consciously made a commitment to consensus 
decision-making was a group starting a cooperative school. We just couldn’t 
figure out a curriculum solution that one woman in particular would accept. 
Finally someone realized that we were talking about "sexism" in terms of 
discrimination by gender and she defined “sexism” as sexualization of children, 
particularly pre-teens and teens.

At Takoma Village we have recently started using preference voting to choose 
colors for furniture fabrics and metal railings. I don’t think we have worked 
out a smooth and transparent process but it seems to be the best way to choose 
quickly and consider each person’s preferences, even if in the end we go with 
the majority.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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