Re: Sociocracy
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2004 09:33:44 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 21, 2004, at 11:11 AM, Linda Gluck/Treehouse wrote:

Are other cohousing communities using the Sociocratic Method for goverance and decision-making? How do you resolve differences when minority objects?
What is there's a time pressure?

One of the most important things is to not think in terms of majority and minority. Groups are composed of individuals and individuals agree or disagree along a continuum. The majority will go along the majority of the time. This doesn't make them right or wrong. They just may not care about a particular issue enough to question reasoned authority.

Sociocratic thinking recommends two things:

1. Review your goals. A group must agree on a goal in order to make decisions by consensus. If the group does not agree on the goal, it won't be able to agree on a course of action to reach it.

2. Review the arguments. A goal allows individual members to present reasoned arguments in support of or against a decision. In view of the goal and the (always) limited options available to you, what is the most reasonable course of action at this time? What will allow you to move toward the agreed upon goal?

Moving forward is very important, but sometimes a negative decision is the best way to move forward. It bonds the group more clearly around their goal, but you have to be clear what your goal is and that everyone you are considering "your group" is both committed to the goal and can reasonably be expected to help you reach it.

For example, deciding not to buy a particular piece of land because three members do not want to be in that area means you also have to decide whether there is a realistic possibility of meeting those three members needs at another time without losing 3 other members? What are the members commitments to the project? Not to an idealistic idea of "the group" but to a realistic plan for building a community based in bricks and mortar?

Purchasing land is the first tangible BIG decision a group has to make. It's where the rubber hits the road. And it is where many groups split. This is probably unavoidable and one of the reasons many cohousing professionals suggest finding land earlier rather than later in the process. In real estate, location, location, and location are the most important factors. People know where they want to live and where in terms of jobs and schools (ie, money) they need to live. Some options are impossible for them. You want to know this as soon as possible.

And one necessary option may be to help those who disagree with the direction of this group to form another group that is going in a direction they want to go.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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