Re: Consensus decision making
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 07:30:00 -0700 (PDT)
It seems to me to be important to define what is meant by the term "effective":
Is an effective community one which makes decision fast? Is it one where
decisions, once reached, are embraced by the whole community and therefore
are carried out effectively, or? ...

I think that a high level of trust is a precondition for high level of delegation (so that decision are seen as supporting the whole community, not this or that
faction).  If this is missing, delegating becomes very problematic.

Racheli (Sonora Cohousing, Tucson).

On Aug 4, 2008, at 7:18 PM, Craig Ragland wrote:

Here Here Joani!

My opinion is that more effective cohousing groups using consensus do
delegate LOTS of decision-making - especially ones requiring detailed study and understanding. I believe a common misunderstanding about consensus is
that ALL decisions MUST involve EVERYBODY in decision-making process.

When individuals and sub-groups are appropriately empowered, they increase their effectiveness as they create plans that are both (1) consistent with their mandate and (2) that truly serve the broader group - including those
with minority views.


On Mon, Aug 4, 2008 at 6:49 PM, Joani Blank <joani [at]> wrote:


Here's part of an email exchange I had with Tim Mensch about his
recent post on this subject:

A good agenda or steering committee will only put on the table/agenda
for general community meetings, items of some significance that
really need community buy-in to be effective.  In the example you
gave (leaky roof damaging some of the common property), a committee
(Maintenance, perhaps) can have blanket authorization in advance to
arrange a repair in such an emergency.

Here at Swan's Market Cohousing (Oakland, CA), individuals and
committees are authorized (by consensus) to make decisions about all
manner of things after there has been an opportunity in the general
community meeting for a variety of views on the proposal to be
presented, and sometimes a straw vote to get the "sense of the
meeting."  This seems to work fine, giving everyone who has an
opinion, a chance to have their say on the matter (and to be
respectfully heard), and not tying the whole community up on matters
where it really doesn't matter if one or two people object, even
strongly object, to what will probably be the decision made by the
individual or committee that's been authorized to make that decision.


Joani Blank
land line : 510-834-7399 (preferred)
cell: 510-387-1315
Swan's Market Cohousing.

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Craig Ragland

Coho/US executive director
craig [at]

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