Our Blog | Guest Posts

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.

read full article

Travelling Green

by: EJ on 09/11/2009
Posted in: Guest Posts

"Looking to live light with smaller transportation? Oh, I could write a whole book about this one. No, wait, I did (The Practical Cyclist). For now, we need to talk about living small when you're not at home. Maybe we should call this "traveling green". No one should live their life in just one spot, unmoving. Don't sit at home. You need to get …

read full article

Water - the Forgotten Commodity

by: EJ on 09/10/2009
Posted in: Guest Posts

"Some years ago I wrote a short essay entitled, "The Forgotten Commodity". It was all about fresh water as the limit to human development in any one place. The limit to growth is not about roads and schools or power plants and shopping malls, It's all about water. No water? No deal. No growth. You have to have water. Without it, nothing happens.

read full article

Location, location, location

by: EJ on 09/09/2009
Posted in: Guest Posts

"Now it's time to step back and take in the big picture: the house, the whole house and nothing but the house. We're talking about my house, your house, and the houses we are both mostly stuck with. There are a lot of things we can both change around our houses and in our houses to use less energy and live small, but the house itself? We're both …

read full article

Saving Electricity Like Bits of String

by: EJ on 09/07/2009
Posted in: Guest Posts

"When it comes to conservation, using less electricity is often the first thing many people think of when they think of being green and living small. This can be the largest part of it all. This is also the part where the changes are the easiest to implement, your progress the easiest to track the savings are the easiest to see. You get that …

read full article