So you want to join the revolution? If you live in Austin they are gonna start revolting at 10 am today, with a “general assembly” meeting at 3 pm.
The general assembly will be using the “consensus process” to make decisions:
· A formal decision-making process
· Nonviolent, everyone has a voice, everyone is involved in making decisions, decreases competitive dynamic that is seen with parliamentary procedure or majority rule
· Consensus is built on a foundation of trust, respect, unity of purpose, nonviolence, self-empowerment, cooperation, conflict resolution, commitment to group, active participation, equal access to power, patience
· Agenda planner
· Facilitator – non-directive leadership, facilitates process, if they have something to say as individual, they step aside as facilitator for the moment
· Timekeeper – watches the time spent on each item, gives 1 or 2 minute notice before time’s up, and when scheduled time runs out
· Peacekeeper – keeps an eye on tensions, process, respect, can interrupt at any time if needed to reflect on process and communicate potential course corrections
· At beginning of each meeting, group enters agenda contract including agenda items, their order, and the initial number of minutes allotted to each item
· One proposal is considered at a time
· Any concerns are raised and resolved, sometimes one by one, until all voices are heard.
· Decisions are adopted when all participants consent to the result of discussion about the original proposal.
· People who do not agree with a proposal are responsible for expressing their concerns.
· No decision is adopted until here is resolution of every concern. Consensus does not assume that everyone must be in complete agreement. Other options include:
o Standing aside – When concerns remain after discussion, individuals can agree to disagree by acknowledging they have unresolved concerns, but consent to the proposal anyway and allow it to be adopted
o Send to committee and readdress at next meeting
o Block/veto – any individual can block any item; not done frivolously- only if the decision is of such great importance that the person would leave the group if the decision went through
· The individual is responsible for expressing concerns; the group is responsible for resolving them. The group decides whether a concern is legitimate; the individual
decides whether to block or stand aside.
· Consensus works best in an atmosphere in which conflict is encouraged, supported, and resolved cooperatively with respect, nonviolence, and creativity.
· Evaluation of process & tone occurs at the end of each meeting
I have a little experience at this kind of stuff and the “Consensus Process Basics” are either bullshit or a recipe for a clusterfuck.
Who is the “general assembly?” Are they a specific group of people or is everyone who shows up for the meetings a voting member? Who selects the “roles?”
What if there is someone who won’t agree to anything? Can they veto everything? Get 3-4 strong-willed people with differing ideas together and you’ll have permanent gridlock.
Who decided on the consensus process? Was there a consensus? What ever happened to Roberts Rules of Order? Is that considered a fascist paradigm now?
I wish I lived close enough to Austin to attend because I would love to see this process in action. Our friend RalphB lives nearby, I hope he attends the meeting and brings us back a report.