Group Process

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Talking about wifi

I asked Daniel if we could post this here because it's about a great deal more than wifi. -cat

The best advice I can give around wifi is to be careful about how you talk to one another about it - treat those with differing experiences or thoughts respectfully while having the discussion.

Our community is in the process of healing rifts from a decision around "Smart Meters" that came not at all from the topic, but from the way in which folks were with one another.

If your community is like ours you may have:

- Folks who "know" that wifi is extremely dangerous, and exposure should be limited.
- Folks who "know" that wifi is totally harmless

- Folks who "know" that the evidence to look at is peer reviewed science
- Folks who "know" that the evidence to use is the stories they hear from friends and their own experience

A Guide to Consensus Meetings, Manzanita Village in Prescott, AZ

The culture of consensus is different from the decision-making model most of us have used because the goal is for all participants to consent to the decisions of the group rather than decide by majority rule.

The facilitator plays a major role in integrating the contributions of all members present. By searching for strands of possible agreement, the group members are contributors in the effort to weave together everyone's unique contribution.

To accomplish this goal, facilitators and participants can find a win/win outcome by:

  • Being agreement-biased and looking for possible bridges and interconnections between seemingly divergent opinions and approaches.
  • Maintaining neutrality around charged issues and engaging in a fair discussion of the issues regardless of personal feelings on the topic.

Journey Toward Creating a Regenerative Life Together

Saturday 4:30-5:30
Participatory workshop using a ‘mind map mandala’ to collectively create a personal plan for living more sustainably in community. Includes an introductory short film, and series of video clips and slides from cohousing and other sustainable communities visited ar ound the US, as well as leaders in the movement such as Chuck Durrett, Raines Cohen, Betsy Morris, Diana Leafe Christian and others. Open opportunity to join in the creation of the Within Reach documentary film project.

PRESENTERS: Mandy Creighton and Ryan Mlynarczyk are traveling 12,000 miles around the US by bicycle on a journey to visit and document people living in sustainable communities of all types. One of the main foci of the project is to explore how people live more sustainably in cohousing communities, as this is the fastest growing segment of the entire movement.

2009 Featured Process Consultants

register nowOn June 24-28, 2009, our Annual National Cohousing Conference will feature a number of Top Cohousing Process Consultants - some very well-known, established consultants with years of experience with facilitation, consensus training, and group process consultations and numerous Cohousing Communities - and some who's emerging practices are generating new ways of thinking about group decision making.

Those who attend the 2009 conference have the opportunity to enjoy and learn with...

Why We Need to Trust Each Other If We Use Consensus


“I trust everyone here,” one of my friends told a new member at Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina, where I live.

“Well, there are people here I don’t trust,” the new member replied with some heat.

The new member had been trained in our consensus decision-making process. Yet soon after becoming a full member she told us that she didn’t trust one of our committees, and — Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! — blocked six times.

This was a useful, though painful, educational process for our community. What had we failed to adequately convey to her in our required consensus training? And why do we assume that new people entering into our decision-making process will automatically trust the community, trust the consensus process, and trust our self-governance process?

Take a Step

In principle, we do not need to know the whole plan in order to take the next step. To avoid a stumble we do not need to see the whole path illuminated, just the next few feet. As if carrying a lantern through the dark, if I take just one step at a time more will be revealed. The light moves with me.

Practical Tip: Just because you cannot see how everything is going to work out, do not let that stop you from taking the next step. If your group seems stuck with uncertainty, ask “What do we need to know JUST to take the next step?” Let that be enough for now. Take a step. As an individual, let go of needing to know everything and trust that your lantern will see you through.

This is delegated to the ones I love.

Sunday 8:30 – 10:00 am

A focused look at what should be done by the group as a whole and what shouldn't For large groups working with consensus, it is crucial that they learn to delegate effectively (or the meetings will never end). This workshop will break down what work should/must be done in plenary and what can/should be delegated to a committee or manager. We'll lay out the essentials of a clear mandate, and the proper sequence of consideration that will empower committees and managers, yet keep their work in balance with whole group responsibilities. We'll talk about groups whose work is re-done in plenary and runaway committees who do way more than they were asked (bad, bad, bad.)

Talkers vs. Doers: How Personalities Affect Decision Making Processes.

Saturday 4:30 – 5:30 pm
We all have a unique learning style, and our style impacts the way that we engage with the decision making process. We may either spend too much time researching, or rush to a conclusion. Sometimes is seems like the gap between the “process people” and the “action people” can never be bridged. However, there is hope! In this experiential workshop, we will explore the four primary styles, and do a simple self-assessment. By working with others who are similar to you, you will gain insight into your own way of being in the world. You will also get a chance to learn about people who are different. We will then map these onto the decision making process, and learn how to take advantage of our strengths and compensate our weaknesses when working in groups.

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