Most values statements are so vague that pretty much anyone would be willing to endorse them. Values statements mean nothing unless they are connected to a vision, mission, and aims. The same organization can say we value environmentally friendly products and processes and mean entirely different things. I'm sure there is an executive at BP that can tell you they are one of the most environmentally friendly multinational corporation on the planet. And always have been. Committing to Mom and apple pie isn't going to energize and focus your community.
We have an office at Takoma Village in Washington DC. We are one of the larger communities with 43 households and almost 100 residents. Smaller communities may need only a corner of a room but I can’t imagine not having a central place for business records, etc.
The problem with "blocks" is usually (1) lack of a common or well-defined aim and/or (2) avoidance of using a more appropriate decision-making method, like preference rating or majority vote. Unless the group can meet all the conditions necessary to use consensus, "blocks" will occur as the result of trying to use a decision-making method that is not appropriate.
One of the ways the principles and methods used by sociocracy speed up decision-making is going directly to objections instead of discussing the proposal. The proposal should state the perceived advantages or reasons why a decision is needed. The presenters will also have presented the issues and options they considered. After clarifying questions, there is usually no need to hear arguments in favor or to repeat the discussion that has taken place in the team or in previous membership meetings. The following process produces a decision most effectively:
Off my usual topic of governance but this was a response to a question from a new community that I thought might be helpful to all new communities, and some settled ones. What should we buy of the kitchen? A new community will have lots of donations, particularly if they put out the call for things as people anticipate downsizing. People who haven't moved in many years will have lots of extra stuff. Look for "Professional Quality" or "Professional Grade" to find the best products for large group cooking. Find a store that chiefly sells to designers, contractors, building managers, and architects because they will have a full line of products and will be more honest and knowledgable because their business is volume and return customers. Don't expect the tableware to match. Design a place where appliances can be both stored and used.
Question: We are 3 months into starting a co-housing community in western MA. We will soon be discussing how we will make group decisions. I don't think we have to reinvent the wheel on this one. Consensus and sociocracy seem to be common strategies. Which do you recommend?
Sociocracy and consensus are not opposite things. Sociocracy is based on consensus decision-making.
"It is a strategy I think a community could use to jump start their program, and then talk about how to reduce the centralization after a year or more of successful meals. Since we have quite slowly added new households it is quite clear that our successful meals program is what has helped get more people involved in it."
Carolyn Dyer of Iowa City Cohousing, still forming, posted their marketing plan to the Cohousing-L email list a week or two ago. I thought it contained many new ideas and asked her if I could share it here. She said yes so here it is. I particularly liked their use of speakers on related topics, field trips, and follow up on the effectiveness of their presentations and materials. It brings out people with similar interests to socialize who might not be interested in a pot-luck.