Re: Participation Agreement
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 08:29:08 -0700 (PDT)

On Jun 17, 2007, at 4:32 PM, Dave and Diane wrote:

Hi all you folks in coho-land,

On Fri, 15 Jun 2007 08:48:44 -0400, Sharon Villines wrote:

The people who say "we can't do this because there is no  law that
says we can" stayed home. Since there was no agenda, in their view,
nothing could be done. That meant they weren't in the room to dampen

On the face of it, this might seem like an excellent way to be
efficient and "get things done," but it essentially short-circuits the process of achieving group buy-in and does not produce agreements that the community will

If people had been making binding decisions, it would not have been good. We've had the same problem with people making decisions at meals, for example, and saying later, "Well, everyone agreed." Well, everyone who was there agreed and no one else was even told you had made a decision.

But what happened in the open agenda meeting, is that people were energized by being able to discuss what was on their mind rather than what a team had decided they were going to discuss. Our process for getting items on a formal agenda is laborious (in my opinion) and completely controlled by the point person for the issue or the team. If they don't want to bring it forward, they don't. Nothing happens. People seethe.

By having an open agenda meeting, the hot issues were discussed and a plan of action made -- "plan of action" is a better description than "decision." We had decided many years ago to do certain things that never got done. The plan of action essentially said this is what needs to be done -- including consulting the person who was supposedly in charge.

In fact one hot issue on which no progress had been made in two years never actually got discussed but got quick action. When we left the meeting, the person in charge (who did not attend the meeting) had put out an email with a list of actions to be done in the next week, not all by her. Others needed to act.

Sometimes you have to add grease to the slow wheels of governance and just go for it. It's the cohousing way of demonstrating. No signs or marches -- you just hold another meeting.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing

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