Re: Is consensus holding back the cohousing movement?
From: Tom @ Gather (
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 2021 10:02:46 -0800 (PST)
One perspective on this:

Consensus *is difficult.* Why? Because our culture doesn't teach us to be
good at it. We are, on the whole, individualistic and terrified of conflict.

We also work *way too much*. Consensus takes time. Consensus plus way too
much work at your job can lead to not enough time for rest or family or

Are either of these things flaws of consensus? I don't think so. They're
flaws of our society, and they're flaws that are bad for humanity and for
the environment.

Re-learning how to do consensus is an ecological act. We're re-learning how
to live in harmony with ourselves and with the planet instead of always
dominating. It's hard work. It might burn people out and they may need a
break. Breaks are ok. They're not a sign of failure. They don't mean it's
not worth doing.

We'll get better at it, as a movement, and eventually as a society. But to
give up on it would be a big mistake. It would be losing sight of one of
the key purposes of this intentional communities movement.

*The answer is not to give up but to support each other in doing this very
hard thing. *

We need more resources for training, and more great trainers.

We need more time, which means more work to make cohousing affordable so we
don't all have to work so much to afford it.

People need to go to therapy more and work on their shit.

We also need to celebrate the fact that we do consensus, that it's hard,
and messy, and that it's a revolutionary, radical, liberatory act to engage
with it and figure it out and spread it around the world. Let's get pumped
about it. We're changing the world.

On Thu, Jan 21, 2021 at 11:10 AM Anna Amato <aamato216 [at]> wrote:

> Hello Fellow Cohousers!
> My name is Anna Amato and I live at Takoma Village Cohousing in Washington
> DC along with listserv regulars (and my friends) Sharon Villines and Ann
> Zabaldo.
> Something came up recently that got me wondering.
> One of our very active members has recently announced that she is moving
> for personal reasons. When I asked her if she is considering cohousing in
> the new state she is moving to, she quickly replied, "Oh no."  She said she
> found consensus decision-making and all of the process in cohousing very
> frustrating and emotionally exhausting. She loved the community spirit and
> fun events and knowing all her neighbors, but it wasn't enough.
> When I thought about it, I realized that of the over 25 households that
> have moved away in our 20 years of existence, only 3 had subsequently moved
> into cohousing.  "Wow," I thought. "That's only 12 percent." And I also
> thought that, at this rate, we won't be doubling the number of cohousing
> communities, for 40 years.
> So I have a question for other cohousing communities:
> How many of your member households who have moved have immediately, or
> eventually, moved into cohousing in their new locations?  Perhaps your
> experience has been different and I would be curious to find out.
> Thanks for your responses, and even just posting the number is enough (you
> don't have to write a treatise about it...unless you want to!)
> Perhaps this topic has been covered, if so, just direct me to it.
> Cohousingly yours,
> Anna
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Tom for the Gather Team

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