Consensus Decision Making


After researching how other Cohousing groups operate, the members of Silver Birch Village have adopted Consensus Decision Making as our way of making decisions. This system is widely used by people around the world working towards a more just and equitable community.

Basically, Consensus Decision Making is a group decision making process designed to be inclusive and have all members of a group heard. It is a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members. We will use consensus and be committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports, or at least can live with.

It works best when there is:

  • a common goal
  • commitment to consensus
  • enough time allotted for discussion
  • a clear process

Consensus Decision Making works well when these tips are followed for setting the agenda. Ask yourself the following:

  • Are you making a proposal?
  • Having a discussion?
  • Making a decision?
  • Consider: What? So what? Now what?

The following is a guide for the consensus decision making process to be used at any meetings conducted by the members of Silver Birch Village.

  1. Introduce and clarify process and agenda ensuring equal understanding of, and access to, the discussion.
  2. Broad discussion will include open minded and inclusive discussion to hear diverse voices and opinions while empathizing with concerns.
  3. Find a proposal that looks for common ground for the whole group, not just the mainstream.
  4. Discuss the proposal with intention to co-operate and strengthen the proposal finding the deepest level of unity.
  5. Make a decision while respecting those who wish to stand aside and welcome any block that upholds group integrity as a test for unity.
  6. Implement the decision and share the responsibilities while supporting the development and sharing of skills and knowledge.
  7. Reflect and evaluate by taking the time to evaluate and learn, while restoring group harmony.

When voting on issues that require a decision of the group, it is important to have a scale that people are comfortable using. The coloured card system helps to alleviate repeating and helps moves the vote forward once called.

Gradient Scale 1-3

  1. Enthusiastic Support: decision moves forward. (Green Card)
  2. Lukewarm Support: Support with reservations and individuals may choose to   abstain. (Yellow Card)
  3. Strong Objection: Block (the individual who blocks may  be given an opportunity to bring a new proposal to the group. Individuals will be allowed to use a red card to block only five times in their lifetime.  A red card would only be used in the rare occasion where the voter absolutely could not go along with the decision.

Minutes are taken at all meetings and will reflect all voting and the outcome of any decisions that are made.

You can read more about Consensus Decision Making here:
Consensus Decision Making Short Guide
A Practical Guild for Consensus-Based Decision Making
The Basics of Consensus Decision Making

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