Book List


Building Consensus: Conflict and Unity. (2001) Monteze Snyder, et al. Basic overview from a Quaker perspective. Earlham University Press, $15.00

*Building United Judgment: A Handbook for Consensus Decision Making. (1981) Michel Avery, et al. Explains why, when and how to use secular consensus process effectively. This book, originally published by the Center for Conflict Resolution, has been reprinted by the Fellowship for Intentional Community (see below). $19 ppd.

Consensus: A New Handbook for Grassroots Social, Political, and Environmental Groups (2006) Peter Gelderloos. The examples drawn directly from typical activist groups are nice, but overall i found this book too weak to recommend. For something of this kind, go with On Conflict and Consensus or Consensus through Conversation instead. See Sharp Press, $10.95.

Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making (2011) Tim Hartnett. Somewhat akin to Roberta's Rules of Order below, this book advocates using a bunch of consensus techniques to refine proposals without necessarily using consensus as a decision rule. New Society, $29.95.

Consensus through Conversation. (2004) Larry Dressler. Straightforward information clearly presented; misses some nuance but its simplicity makes this short book very appealing as an overview. Berrett-Koehler, $15.95.

On Conflict and Consensus: A Handbook on Formal Consensus Decisionmaking. (1987) CT Butler & Amy Rothstein. Formalizes procedural steps for decision-making method. Full text available for free on the internet. Food Not Bombs Publishing, $14 ppd.

Sharing Consensus: a handbook for consensus workshops. Sweet, homespun booklet filled with Quaker anecdotes, written by a man who uses no name. Available c/o Nova Land, 128 Hidden Springs Lane, Cookeville, TN 38501. $5.00 suggested donation for copying and postage.


*The Art of Facilitation: How to Create Group Synergy. (1992) Dale Hunter, Anne Bailey & Bill Taylor. Good, solid nuts and bolts info on facilitation (including the importance of working on yourself and staying clear), though the short section on consensus is ill-informed. Fisher Books, $17.95.

Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!: Ten Principles for Leading Meetings That Matter (2007). Marvin Weisbord & Sandra Janoff. Clear principles, well applied, practical.  Highly recommended. Berrett-Koehler, $20.95.

Extreme Facilitation. (2005) Suzanne Ghais. Well-balanced, solid, realistic. Jossey-Bass, $40.00.

*Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. (1996 & 2007) Sam Kaner. Lots of handouts, information presented visually. Community at Work, $24.95.

*Great Meetings! Great Results. (1997) Dee Kelsey & Pam Plumb. Nice overview, very accessibly written. Hanson Park Press, $29.00.

*A Manual for Group Facilitators. (1977) Brian Auvine, et al. Clear writing, practical approach, covers many key topics. This book, originally published by the Center for Conflict Resolution, has been reprinted by the Fellowship for Intentional Community (see below). $19 ppd.

Meeting of the Minds: A Guide to Successful Meeting Facilitation. (2001) Daniel Iacofono. Includes nice illustrations and a great section on graphic recording. MIG Communications, $29.95.

The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches. (1994) Roger Schwarz. Thorough, well thought out; very useful information if you don't mind the dry analytical style. Jossey-Bass, $34.95.

Standing in the Fire (2010).  Larry Dressler.  Emphasis on the internal work a facilitator must do inside themselves in order to stay clear in their group work. Berrett-Koehler, $19.95.

(Community-Building, Group Dynamics, Conflict Resolution, Etc.)

The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems (2007) Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady. Tightly written profiles of more than 60 different whole system change methods, incredible. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $59.95.

*Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World. (1993) Carolyn Shaffer & Kristin Anundsen. Chapters 14-16 on communication, governance and conflict provide useful information and examples. Tarcher/Putnam, $15.95.

Democracy in Small Groups: Participation, Decision Making and Communication. (1993) John Gastil. More solid basis in theory and research than most books on these topics and still very readable; has fantastic footnotes. New Society Publishers, $14.95.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. (1999) Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen. Clear information for laypeople, variety of examples, realistic—highly recommended. Penguin, $14.00.

Head, Heart & Hands: Lessons in Community Building. (2004) Shari Leach. Specifically geared toward cohousing groups. Wonderland Hill Development Company, $20.00 ppd.

*Nonviolent Communication ... A Language of Compassion. (1999) Marshall Rosenberg. Outlines a particular approach to conflict resolution that has been successful in a variety of contexts. Center for Nonviolent Communication, $15.95.

Playing Along: 37 Group Learning Activities Borrowed from Improvisational Theater. (1997) Izzy Gesell. In most books of this type i find only a few useful exercises for groups; in this book i marked over a dozen. PO Box 962, Northampton, MA 01061; 413-586-2634. $24.95.

Roberta's Rules of Order. (2004) Alice Collier Cochran. As the subtitle says, "Who is Robert and why do we still follow his rules anyway?" This book is about what is sometimes referred to as "agreement-seeking," that is, using a bunch of consensus techniques to refine a proposal, and then voting if needed. It is targeted at nonprofits and includes sections on bylaws and board functions, but don't look here for sophisticated info on group dynamics. Jossey-Bass, $26.95.

*Sitting in the Fire: Large Group Transformation Using Conflict and Diversity. (1995) Arnold Mindell. Lao Tse Press, $15.95.

The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All. (2003) Tom Atlee. Inspiring and practical methods for applying consensus principles at a national or state level. Co-Intelligence Institute, PO Box 493, Eugene, OR 97440;, $15.95.

You can also read short reviews of a bunch of these books.

* Items marked with a star are available through the Bookshelf service of the Fellowship for Intentional Community. Call 800-995-8342, email, or look on the web at FIC, RR 1 Box 156, Rutledge, MO 63563.

Tree Bressen, facilitator and teacher, has been assisting intentional communities, nonprofits, and other organizations with group process since 1994. Pages from her website are available for copying and distribution free of charge as long as you continue to include these credit lines and contact information.

Tree Bressen
Eugene, Oregon