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Canadian Reading Summit

by: Heather on 10/02/2009
Posted in: Events

For as long as I can remember, I've been a reader. When I was a kid, I was the one who would miss my bus stop, and not just by a block or two but by several miles, because I had my nose buried in a book. So if I were in Toronto in mid-November, I know where I'd like to be.

On November 12 and 13, 2009, the TD National Reading Summit: Reading and …

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Diana Leafe Christian - Guest Post

by: Heather on 10/01/2009
Posted in: Guest Posts

Diana Leafe Christian, author of Finding Community and Creating a Life Together will be a keynote speaker at a communities gathering this November 21 at La Cité Écologique Ham du Nord, a 25-year-old ecovillage settlement in Québec. The day-long event will celebrate the publication of the first French-language directory of ecovillages and ecologically sustainable settlements in Québec and will feature many community activists including Leslie Carbonneau, author of this first French-language communities directory, and Michel Degagnés, who is a core group member of Cohabitat Québec, a forming cohousing community in Québec City. Diana sent along the following guest post on dealing with blocks to consensus in communities. It makes for a fascinating read. Thanks Diana!

I serve as a consultant to intentional communities experiencing conflict -- ecovillages, cohousing communities, and other kinds of communities. Some communities (and nonprofits, and other groups) suffer unnecessary conflict when they use consensus decision-making but don't really understand that people using the consensus process aren't supposed to block proposals for purely personal reasons. Consensus requires that people block only when the proposal violates the group's shared, agreed-upon values, purpose, lifestyle, and/or behavioral norms, but not someone's personal values, lifestyle, etc.

(If you're not familiar with this decision-making method, it's one in which people modify a proposal in order to meet people's concerns, and then approve it only if everyone can support it, or at least live with it. People don't vote Yes or No. Rather, their three decision options are (1) to approve the proposal; (2) to "stand aside" from the proposal, which means they don't support it but won't stop it; and (3) to "block" the proposal, which means they're stopping it and the proposal is not adopted. In pure consensus, it takes only one block to stop a proposal.)

Several consensus trainers I know suggest that organizations adopt criteria for assessing whether a block to a proposal is a "principled block," also known as a "valid block" or a "legitimate block". This means the organization and/or its facilitator can test a block against the group's agreed-upon criteria, and if it doesn't meet that criteria, they declare the block invalid and the proposal passes.

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New Oil Reserves - Why This Does Not Really Affect Peak Oil Predictions

by: EJ on 09/30/2009
Posted in: Peak Oil

In his excellent post on the Post Carbon Institute blog, Richard Heinberg responds to the New York Times article from September 24, Oil Industry Sets a Brisk Pace of New Discoveries, written by staff reporter Jad Mouawad. You can read Heinberg's entire post here.

"Jad Mouawad cites oil discoveries totaling ten billion barrels for the first half of …

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Sustainable Industries Economic Forum with Paul Hawken

by: EJ on 09/29/2009
Posted in: Events

I recently attended the Seattle Sustainable Industries Economic Forum and had the pleasure of listening to Paul Hawken, environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author. The forum was attended by 330 of Seattle's leading business and civic leaders and Paul Hawken's speech was tailored to their interests. You can see the complete video of his …

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Safe Journeys, Quobba

by: Heather on 09/25/2009
Posted in: Events

This morning New Society bid farewell to a dear friend, mascot, staff co-ordinator, early warning system for office visitors, foot warmer and pine cone fetcher extraordinaire. She was a grand old lady, full of heart and soul, loyal and devoted to her humans, and with her own special dignity right to the end. Safe journeys, Quobba - you will be …

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