Our Blog | October 2009

An Evening with John Michael Greer

by: EJ on 10/09/2009
Posted in: Events

John Michael Greer, author of The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age and the newly released The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World will be speaking at the Unitarian Fellowship of London, 557 Clarke Rd., London, Ontario on Saturday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m.

John Michael Greer's work is nothing short of …

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No Impact Experiment

by: EJ on 10/08/2009
Posted in: Sustainable Living

Ready to wash your clothes in your left over shower water? What will Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man, challenge us to do if we sign up for his No Impact Experiment ?

The No Impact Experiment will be launched by The Huffington Post on October 18th. It is a chance for you to see what a difference no-impact living can have on your quality of life. …

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Population Growth and Climate Change

by: EJ on 10/05/2009
Posted in: Climate Change

This morning on my way to work, I caught the tail end of Anna Maria Tremonti's morning show on the CBC. She was hosting a debate between David Morley, the President and CEO of Save the Children Canada and Arthur Schafer, an ethics consultant for the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. They were …

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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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