Consensus

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The Consensus WG has not yet settled on a specific meeting schedule. Please join the list serve to receive all notices about pending meetings.

To sign up:  https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/consensus

To email the list:  consensus@occupyboston.org

To see archives (must be signed up for the list to see them:  https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/private/consensus


Mission Statement

The Consensus Working Group (CWG) seeks to explore and teach the principles, values and processes of consensus building. The mission is to instill these principles and values in the membership of the Occupy Boston community, and to share insights about the principles underlying consensus-building processes with the Occupy Boston community, so that we may faithfully and effectively put those principles into practice at General Assembly
.



Meeting Minutes    

2/4/12

1/22/12

1/8/12



Here is an initial list of Consensus Values with which the group is working:

Core Values of Consensus-Building:
(from CT Butler’s On Conflict & Consensus)

trust
- does not equal approval or friendship

respect
- for emotional as well as logical concerns
- criticize acts not persons (even if you think the person is the problem, always focus on the acts)

unity of purpose
- understand goals & purpose of the group
- opinions may differ on how to achieve, but goal must be unifying
   (I have put this in red, because clarity of shared purpose is missing for Occupy Boston. As I put these values in place, it occurs to me that we need to have community gathering in which the unity of purpose is to establish consensus about our unity of purpose. On what grounds are we unified? At least if we knew and articulated that, we’d have a foundation)

non-violence (non-coercion)
- conflict is necessary to motivate change
- objections/criticisms are not attacks, they are concerns
- it is considered violent to use power to control process or dominate
- maximum power allowed to persuade is the revealing of your truth

self-empowerment
- delegation of authority is failure to accept responsibility
- anyone can express concerns, seek creative solutions
- everyone is responsible for every decision

cooperation
- not competitive, not about winning
- adversarial attitudes focus attention on weaknesses rather than strength
- must have attitude of helpfulness & support
- from wiki page: “During a call for consensus, the red card indicates the member's opposition (usually a "principled objection") to the proposal at hand. When a member, or members, use a red card, it becomes their responsibility to work with the proposing committee to come up with a solution that will work for everyone.”

conflict resolution
- conflict = disagreement
- strengths & weaknesses of attitudes, assumptions, plans are highlighted by disagreement
- conflict pushes us to self-assess
- there is no ‘right’, only best for now for this group
- avoid blaming - that attacks someone’s dignity, elicits guilt, defensivenss, alienation
- people will hide truth to avoid being blamed & group loses ability to resolve conflicts

commitment to the group
- upon joining one accepts personal responsibility for respect, good will, honesty
- recognize group’s needs have priority over individual desires
- share responsibility for finding solutions to other’s concerns

active participation
- must have atmosphere in which every contribution is considered valuable
 - ideas cannot be considered speaker’s property - do not be attached to opinions

equal access to power
- consciously attempt to creatively share power, skills, information
- avoid hierarchy

patience
- consensus cannot be rushed
- difficult situations must be allowed time
- patience is more advantageous than urgency

Resources:
Books:
On Conflict and Consensus, C.T. Butler & Amy Rothstein
Consensus for Cities, C.T. Butler

Websites:
]][[http://www.ic.org/pnp/ocac/|http://www.ic.org/pnp/ocac/</a>
]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making</a>
]][[http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/process/ConsensusNotUnanimity.html|http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/process/ConsensusNotUnanimity.html</a>





Impediments to Consensus
- lack of training (a note from the Vernal project on one reason groups fail at consensus: “These groups often allow anyone to join the group and its decision-making process without any instruction or screening.”
- external hierarchical structures
- social prejudice - can get in the way of having faith in group’s ability to achieve consensus

One flowchart for consensus:

Facilitator Explains Process
Proposal or Issue is Presented
Clarifying Questions are Asked

Level 1 - Identify Values
- open sharing of ideas & values
- TEST for consensus

Level 2 - Identify Concerns
- list any concerns
- gather related concerns

Level 3 - Resolve Concerns
- resolve related concerns
- TEST for consensus

- restate unresolved concerns
- questions to clarify concerns
- discussion focused on resolving one concern at a time
- TEST for consensus


Closing option:
- send to committee
- test for stand aside*
- test for block**

* stand aside - agree to disagree, to be willing to let a proposal be adopted despite unresolved concerns
** unresolved legitimate concerns remain

Group Discussion Techniques
- identification
- whole group
- small group
- brainstorming
- go-rounds
- fishbowl
- active listening
- caucusing

Roles
Facilitator:
- “to make easy”
- guides consensus process
- rotates amongst everyone
- non-directive leadership

move agenda in allotted time

guide process

suggest techniques

lead without giving personal opinion

address needs of group

ensure fair distribution of attention

does not express support for a point of view - clarity of process
leading openly so all are aware of process & how to participate

constantly review what just happened, is about to happen

explain every new discussion technique - agenda contract
responsible for group honoring agenda

keeps input focused - good will
always assume good will

assume each member understands group’s purpose

act as though a resolution will occur - especially when someone is trying to cause trouble or is emotionally unhealthy

ask people to explain how their input is in the best interest of the group

separate person from action - avoid accusing them of being their behavior - techniques:
equalizing participation

listing

stacking

pacing

checking the process

silence

taking a break

call for consensus

summarizing - “facilitator might choose to focus what has been said....might make a summary. This preempts a common problem in which the discussion becomes circular....”

reformulating the proposal - “it sometimes happens that the proposal become modified without any formal decision. The Facilitator needs to recognize this and take time to reformulate the proposal with the new information, modifications, or deletions.”

stepping out of role

passing the clipboard - to collect information

polling

censoring

expulsion



concerns:
facilitation: don’t have community who understands consensus; no way of handling people who were being coercive; no one addressing when yelling/coercive behavior, not supporting those who were harmed, not validating that person’s experience, voice; did not acknowledge the trust expressed in moments of vulnerability;

“disgusted” by how one person was held responsible for the proposal & she was vilified; having someone present the proposal with the awareness of how sensitive or potentially divisive and the willingness to table on their own;

concern about my concern, “I don’t feel empowered to express my concern”


Meeting Minutes

<a href="1/22/12">1/22/12</a>

<a href="1/8/12">1/8/12</a>


Contact Us

consensus@lists.occupyboston.org


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