Re: process
From: Buzz Burrell (72253.2101CompuServe.COM)
Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 12:20:31 -0500
Randy Tyler wrote (in parts):

>I wonder if it would make sense, at the start of a group, to invite people to
>declare what's most important to them, and divide into a physical  action
>group, and a discussion group?

I've always thought the exact same thing.  Some people are "task 
orientated" and some are "process orientated".  The two speak different 
languages.  A large group in Boulder recently recognized this schism and 
decided to form two separate groups.  In my experience, if everyone 
*understands* that there are two different outlooks, and the other group 
isn't just an idiot to be tolerated, then that will suffice.

>Some thoughts on the consensus model.  As a developer, I'm in the physical
>action group, and I really want to help make something happen.  Not that I
>want to tromp on anyone else's feelings, but I want to keep things moving
>forward.  And when we make a decision, I hope we don't have to come back and
>completely rehash the decision when a new person joins the group.  One of the
>frustrations of the consensus model is that the process, by definition, can
>only move as fast as the most cautious member of the group will allow.  And
>if the group is expanding, with new members coming in, they all have to be
>brought up to speed, and given equal rights to participate.  The inherent
>frustrations which come with the consensus model no doubt frustrate a lot a
>creative, high energy people, who resist having to down-shift into low gear,
>and proceed at a snails pace.  

I think this accurately identifies some common issues, and I particularly 
resonate with the last sentance.   I call it the "Lowest Common 
Denominator" syndrom.  When the LCD syndrom in full force, what gets 
agreed upon is not a terrific plan or design, but what everyone has the 
least objections to, which is real different.  The LCD syndrom was 
postulated regarding american TV, because the shows on the air were not 
the best, they were the ones that the most number of people did not hate. 
 I sure hope people can see the difference.  Things that are outstanding 
are usually despised by a sizable portion of the population and will get 
shot down, if possible.  This is why Muzak is played in all public 
places, even while everyone thinks the music stinks.  Quite a paradox 
isn't it?  

This is also why if you want to experience great culture, do NOT go to a 
communist country.  There is a correlation here with cohousing, but I'll 
leave that alone for now.  Suffice to say, our group went with the LDM in 
part because we believe freedom of individual expression *contributes* to 
community, instead of detracting from it, which seems to be the 
unconscious archtype at work in our little industry.
 
>Question:  Would it make any sense to use consensus decision making only for
>the more social aspects of cohousing, like how often you prepare meals in the
>common house, or rules about pets, and use a 2/3 majority  (or some other
>majority) for issues related to site acquisition and project development?

Some groups do just that.  Or, the development corporation's board of 
directors can make the development decisions (using consensus or 
whatever), and this board could not be identical to the community, which 
makes as you suggest, all the other decisions.  I personally think 
consensus works wonderfully,  but only if the group is mature and at 
least some people are trained in its use.  For example, new members of 
our group are shown the Decision Log, and they agree to everything in it 
before they join.

>Some thoughts on design, value, and potential appreciation.  There have been
>many posts about building community support, and convincing lenders that
>cohousing is not too great a risk.  I submit that design by committee can be
>very risky.  A good developer or a good architect, understands how to include
>"character" in a new development; and how to repeat certain key design
>themes, to give the village a neighborly feeling.  A key is to have a balance
>between too much sameness and too much diversity.  Many of the coho designs
>I've seen are either too institutional, too cookie-cutter, or they are way
>off the other end the scale, with disharmony of design.  It is possible to
>have good design for moderately priced housing; and more good design in coho
>wound help with the acceptability and appreciation.
>
>Most developers would not be interested in working with coho groups because
>of the time involved in the decision making, and also because of the time in
>educating the group to the process and cost realities.  Residential builders
>are often frustrated just working with a husband and a wife on a custom home,
>and sometimes acting as a marriage counselor to facilitate all the decisions
>which go into one home.  When that is multiplied by several homes and a wide
>range of divergent interests, it gets pretty scary for a developer.
>
>In conclusion, I think involving a developer can expedite transforming the
>coho dream into reality, but only if some fast track decision making process
>can be implemented.

Makes sense to me.

Buzz Burrell
Geneva Community
Boulder, CO
(The community will be in Lyons, CO when its done)

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