Re: Cohousing communities with Sociocracy enshrined in Declaration / Bylaws?
From: Abe Ross (
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2021 09:45:38 -0700 (PDT)
I think the issue was not Sociocracy per se.  It was about incorporating it into the bylaws or declaration, etc.

Abe Ross
Treehouse Village Ecohousing
Bridgwater, NS

On 8/31/2021 12:11 PM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L wrote:
On Aug 28, 2021, at 4:22 PM, Scott Drennan<scottd [at]>  wrote:

Are you aware of any cohousing communities which use Sociocracy / Dynamic
Governance, are incorporated as a condominium and:

   1. who have included references to Sociocracy in the Condo Declaration,
   CC&Rs, Bylaws and/or Strata Agreements; or
   2. who use Sociocracy without referencing it in the Condo Declaration,
   CC&Rs, Bylaws and/or Strata Agreements
I don’t think anyone has collected the documents for cohousing communities but there 
are sample bylaws. There are two sets in We the People: Consenting to a deeper democracy 
— a handbook on sociocratic principles and methods. One for businesses and one for 

They are also posted

An important thing to remember is that “sociocracy” itself is not a legal document —it 
isn’t codified to be used in a very specific way. There are the three principles and the 
circle-organization method but the principles have been applied in various ways by organizations of 
different sizes and types.

Coherence is important in your application so you need to understand what the 3 
principles mean — what are the intended to accomplish.

1. Consent:  All policy decisions are made by the consent of the individuals 
and groups of individuals the policies affect.

Policies include: role assignments (decisions about who does what, who leads, 
etc), resource allocation (money, people space, etc.), any decisions that 
affect how the individuals in the organization will function together in the 

2. Circles: Policy decisions are made in groups of people who function as equals. The 
people in the circle make the decisions that guide them as members of the organization 
— their work/fun/living/playing, etc.

3. Double Links or Feedback loops — Circles are interconnected or overlapping, 
usually by at least one person from each of the two related circles participating in 
the decision-making of both circles. These feedback loops between circles form a 
stable structure for communications and governance throughout the organization.

Day to day operations are conducted much as they are everywhere. The only 
difference is that how they are conducted has been decided by the whole circle. 
Everyone has consented to who does what and how. The operations leader follows 
these policies.

To include sociocracy in legal documents, think about distinctions that would be clear in a 
courtroom. “Sociocracy” needs to have a reference, I think. Sociocracy as 
taught (by teacher X or organization Y). Otherwise you have a wide open range as people 
define it differently. You might state the 3 principles.

Vital is consent in policymaking. The purpose of the principles is to ensure 
that consent is maintained and respected throughout the organization.

We are just revising out bylaws and are following the lead of the DC Condominium Act. It 
frequently says, This _____ will be done thus and so, unless otherwise specified in the 
Community Rules. Or it will say "This will be considered ______ regardless of any 
Community Rule to the contrary.”

The Bylaws need statements of legal protection — who owns what and how is that 
recorded? What rights does an owner have in the community in the use of space inside 
and outside their unit? If disagreements arise what is the decison-making process used 
to resolve it?

Read the laws governing the legal structure in your state that you will use. Go step by step 
translating the requirements using “consent" instead of "majority vote," using 
references to circles rather than THE BOARD.

I’m in a small working group proposing revisions of our bylaws. We have taken many specific requirements out 
and replaced them with general policy statements and added as specified in "Community Rules.” Amounts of 
money, number of signatures, are specified in "Community Rules” because they are easier to change. We 
don’t have to record them with the government and pay a fee to change the insurance deductible from $50,000 to 

We are also exploring this with  but so far
have not had any pointers to communities who have included Sociocracy in
their legal documents.
In the past Jerry has had the longest list of communities using sociocracy in some form. Takoma 
Village doesn’t except that since I know sociocracy, I can say that we function 
sociocratically without formally recognizing it. We don’t have an external frame of 
reference. Our definitions for the consent process are the same — consent means no unresolved 
objections. We use  consent at all levels. It is the nature of cohousing to have overlapping 
representation in all the teams, pods, working groups, etc.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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