As our name implies, we are currently organized as a Limited Liability Corporation. Once we move in, we will likely change our structure to that of a condominium or Home Owners Association.
Following the usual practice for cohousing communities, we have decided that key decisions will be made by consensus. Consensus is a formal group process that focuses on bringing everyone’s concern to the table and typically results in decisions with a much higher degree of buy-in than the more common 50-percent-plus-one method of decision-making. We participated in a consensus workshop in 2018 and have adapted that process to our needs.
We have also instituted a committee structure that supports the many tasks we will have to accomplish to move this project forward. Our standing committees currently include:
Site Selection Committee
As we move forward, more work groups and committees will be created - every member has the opportunity to participate and have an impact for CGB!
How Does Consensus Work?
Consensus is a thoughtful method of coming to a decision based on the commonly held principles of the group. It requires listening to others' concerns and ideas and coming to a decision that is acceptable to all. It is based on trust, respect and unity of purpose. Implementation is then much easier when the whole group has agreed to the decision.
Consensus does not mean that everyone must be completely satisfied with the final outcome, but the decision must be acceptable to all members to further the proposal. Full group satisfaction is ideal, but rare. The goal is to put aside self-interest for the common good.
Outline of the Consensus Process:
Introduction of the process by a member of the team that is presenting the proposal.
Clarification to seek better understanding of the proposal.
Requests for additional information.
Requests for objections or concerns regarding the proposal.
Discussion of concerns.
Generation of new ideas to resolve the concerns.
If unable to resolve the concerns the proposal may be sent back to the team for revision.
If concerns are resolved, there is a call for consensus.
Advantages of Consensus:
The majority can't just push through an initiative that is unacceptable to the minority.
Everyone is part of the decision which creates buy-in from all.
Thorough discussion uncovers novel solutions that would not occur in a simple vote.
May seem time-consuming (although implementation is easier).
A disgruntled person, not acting in the best interest of the group, can block a decision.The group can then override a block made for personal issues, not the community values.
Alternatives to agreement in the consensus process:
Standing aside: A member does not personally agree with the decision, but they are willing to let the group make the decision. The member may 'stand aside' but accepts and is still bound by the decision.
Blocking a decision: A member expresses an unwillingness to let the group proceed based on unique wisdom or experience that the proposal is detrimental to the best interests of the group. Blocking stops the issue from going forward and forces the group to reexamine it in a new light.