Re: Cohousing communities with Sociocracy enshrined in Declaration / Bylaws?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2021 11:10:04 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 31, 2021, at 12:45 PM, Abe Ross <cohoyote [at]> wrote:
> I think the issue was not Sociocracy per se.  It was about incorporating it 
> into the bylaws or declaration, etc.

I realize that and I was awkward in explaining the problem. What is important 
is that the bylaws specify requirements for policy decisions — not to outline 
operational details. These can change. There may be developed a better way for 
some organizations to make decisions than in small circles, or example, or the 
linking of circles. Small circles are important when each circle has a unique 
aim and a defined set of members. But if many people have the same role, as in 
call centers, the circles might be much larger. Having small groups for the 
sake of small groups only fragments the membership.

The important concept of a circle is that it is where all members make 
decisions as equals. This is rare. That people meet in small groups is not 
rare. That all levels of the organization make policy decisions is rare. It 
isn’t rare that the Operations Leader implements policies.

Having an accepted authority is something I think will happen in the next few 
years. The original global authority in the Netherlands was very Dutch and very 
based in the engineering mindset. Every action had a solution expressed as a 
physics diagram. Americans, in particular, but many other cultures as well said 
this doesn’t feel like consent. Some groups split off from the global group and 
and some formed completely independently of the global group.

So there are now several nodes of people who are developing new vocabularies 
and new examples that could be interpreted as contradicting each other. All 
call what they teach sociocracy.

When writing bylaws, you don’t want to set up a situation where community 
members can cite different requirements of 'sociocracy.’

This has already happened with a homeowner in a community that was trying to 
adopting sociocratic methods, who said the bylaws say “consensus" 
decision-making, not  sociocracy. All efforts to assure her that the 
distinction wasn’t meaningful failed to convince her that a lawsuit was not 
going to be productive.  (I don’t know how it was resolved but at one point she 
was adamant and shopping around for authorities who would testify on her 
behalf. A personal grievance was at the base of the issue but personal 
grievances frequently hook onto technicalities that lead to court cases.)

So how you include sociocracy depends on how you include it. Include the basic 
3 principles or include the whole ball of wax in some form? According to this 
book? This teacher? This institute?

Our just the “sociocratic principles and methods that support consent 
decision-making in policy decisions, egalitarian participation in policy 
decisions, distribution of power to all levels of the organization, etc.”  The 
more general statement then allows you to modify day to day practices as long 
as they meet these requirements.

Sharon Villines, Editor & Publisher
Affordable Housing means 30% of household income
Cohousing means self-developed, self-governed, self-managed

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