Consensus and the Burden of Added Process: Are There Easier Ways to Make Decisions?

This tale illustrates what I suspect are at least two different assumptions about the amount of process time people are willing to put into community. And these two assumptions, I suspect, are themselves based on deeper, possibly unconscious, assumptions about why people join community in the first place. Assumption A: We’re willing to put in a lot of emotional process time because the main reason most of us live in community is for a deeper connection with others. Processing emotions in a group is one way to feel connected. Assumption B: We don’t want much process time. Most of us live in community for neighborliness, sustainability/ecological values, and/or changing the wider culture. Some of us may want more emotional closeness with others (and are fine with a lot of process time) but most of us don’t.

Busting the Myth that Consensus-with-Unanimity Is Good for Communities, Part II

The conflict in this real community I’ll call “Green Meadow” (first described in Part I of this article, Communities #155, Summer 2012) was between two community members who had frequently blocked proposals and a roomful of people who wanted to pass an Agriculture Committee proposal about a community site plan for future farms, pastures, and orchards. Passing the proposal would mean clearing more of their forest. The two frequently blocking members were committed to protecting the community’s land—to protecting the Earth—from the human impact of clearing more forest and implementing the proposed agricultural site plans.

The Doha Perplex

"Those of us who have been attending these meetings for the past 20 or more years have felt very frustrated by the slow progress and the lack of an international treaty. Exemplary work by Wackernagle, Rees, Meadows, Daly, Costanza, Rockstrom and others points a direction forward, but it always comes around to some international agreement. What will it take to get that?