Re: Cohousing communities with Sociocracy enshrined in Declaration / Bylaws?
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2021 08:11:52 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 28, 2021, at 4:22 PM, Scott Drennan <scottd [at] pobox.com> wrote:
> 
> Are you aware of any cohousing communities which use Sociocracy / Dynamic
> Governance, are incorporated as a condominium and:
> 
>   1. who have included references to Sociocracy in the Condo Declaration,
>   CC&Rs, Bylaws and/or Strata Agreements; or
>   2. who use Sociocracy without referencing it in the Condo Declaration,
>   CC&Rs, Bylaws and/or Strata Agreements

I don’t think anyone has collected the documents for cohousing communities but 
there are sample bylaws. There are two sets in We the People: Consenting to a 
deeper democracy — a handbook on sociocratic principles and methods. One for 
businesses and one for non-profits.
https://amzn.to/3gO7PXH

They are also posted sociocracy.info:
https://www.sociocracy.info/sociocratic-bylaws/

An important thing to remember is that “sociocracy” itself is not a legal 
document —it isn’t codified to be used in a very specific way. There are the 
three principles and the circle-organization method but the principles have 
been applied in various ways by organizations of different sizes and types.

Coherence is important in your application so you need to understand what the 3 
principles mean — what are the intended to accomplish. 

1. Consent:  All policy decisions are made by the consent of the individuals 
and groups of individuals the policies affect. 

Policies include: role assignments (decisions about who does what, who leads, 
etc), resource allocation (money, people space, etc.), any decisions that 
affect how the individuals in the organization will function together in the 
future.

2. Circles: Policy decisions are made in groups of people who function as 
equals. The people in the circle make the decisions that guide them as members 
of the organization — their work/fun/living/playing, etc.

3. Double Links or Feedback loops — Circles are interconnected or overlapping, 
usually by at least one person from each of the two related circles 
participating in the decision-making of both circles. These feedback loops 
between circles form a stable structure for communications and governance 
throughout the organization. 

Day to day operations are conducted much as they are everywhere. The only 
difference is that how they are conducted has been decided by the whole circle. 
Everyone has consented to who does what and how. The operations leader follows 
these policies.

To include sociocracy in legal documents, think about distinctions that would 
be clear in a courtroom. “Sociocracy” needs to have a reference, I think. 
Sociocracy as taught (by teacher X or organization Y). Otherwise you have a 
wide open range as people define it differently. You might state the 3 
principles.

Vital is consent in policymaking. The purpose of the principles is to ensure 
that consent is maintained and respected throughout the organization.

We are just revising out bylaws and are following the lead of the DC 
Condominium Act. It frequently says, This _____ will be done thus and so, 
unless otherwise specified in the Community Rules. Or it will say "This will be 
considered ______ regardless of any Community Rule to the contrary.” 

The Bylaws need statements of legal protection — who owns what and how is that 
recorded? What rights does an owner have in the community in the use of space 
inside and outside their unit? If disagreements arise what is the 
decison-making process used to resolve it?

Read the laws governing the legal structure in your state that you will use. Go 
step by step translating the requirements using “consent" instead of "majority 
vote," using references to circles rather than THE BOARD. 

I’m in a small working group proposing revisions of our bylaws. We have taken 
many specific requirements out and replaced them with general policy statements 
and added as specified in "Community Rules.” Amounts of money, number of 
signatures, are specified in "Community Rules” because they are easier to 
change. We don’t have to record them with the government and pay a fee to 
change the insurance deductible from $50,000 to $100,000. 

> We are also exploring this with https://www.sociocracyforall.org but so far
> have not had any pointers to communities who have included Sociocracy in
> their legal documents.

In the past Jerry has had the longest list of communities using sociocracy in 
some form. Takoma Village doesn’t except that since I know sociocracy, I can 
say that we function sociocratically without formally recognizing it. We don’t 
have an external frame of reference. Our definitions for the consent process 
are the same — consent means no unresolved objections. We use  consent at all 
levels. It is the nature of cohousing to have overlapping representation in all 
the teams, pods, working groups, etc. 

Sharon
----
Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
http://www.takomavillage.org





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