Consensus Resources

CONSENSUS MANUALS AVAILABLE ONLINE

Seeds for Change (UK) is my new favorite website on consensus decision-making. Their writing is straightforward, thorough, clearly values-based, and includes a historical and multicultural perspective.
http://seedsforchange.org.uk/free/res#grp

See also this excellent series of posts on consensus by former "Seed" Matthew Herbert currently of the UK-based Rhizome Co-op.

Kevin Wolf's The Makings of a Good Meeting, based on the classic booklet by Berit Lakey of Movement for a New Society with a bunch of other stuff added:
http://www.wolfandassociates.com/the-makings-of-a-good-meeting/

CT Butler & Amy Rothstein's Formal Consensus method.
http://www.ic.org/wiki/conflict-consensus/

Consensus Basics, shorter paper by Rob Sandelin. Written for cohousers, but applicable to other groups.
http://nica.ic.org/Process/Consensusbasics.php

The consensus "fingerbook" written by organizers of the Direct Action Conference in Berlin in 1995 is online at last, courtesy of the European facilitators' collective Zhaba.
http://www.sproutdistro.com/catalog/zines/organizing/shared-path-shared-goal/

Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Handbook from the Alliance to Stop First Strike, Santa Cruz, CA, 1987
http://www.activism.net/peace/nvcdh/consensus.shtml

ACT-UP New York Civil Disobedience handbook
http://www.actupny.org/documents/CDdocuments/Consensus.html

Collective Book on Collective Process is largely a critique of bad habits that groups who purport to use consensus sometimes fall into, but it also contains useful suggestions.
http://www.oocities.org/collectivebook/

Champlain Valley Cohousing used to have a nice manual posted for their sociocratic consensus system. Feel free to try contacting them to see if it's still available?

A BOOK LIST PAGE IS ALSO AVAILABLE.

 

DESCRIPTIONS OF CONSENSUS IN USE AT VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONS

Burning Man
Consensus, Hierarchy, Authority and Power
http://burningman.org/culture/history/brc-history/afterburn/2010-2/org/consensus/

Caspar, California
This town on the California coast makes its decisions by consensus! Read about it on their website, or stop by to see a meeting.
http://casparinstitute.org/lib/artConsensus.htm

Guelph, Ontario (Canada) Participatory Budgeting
Inspired by Porto Alegre, Brazil, citizens of this city of 100,000 allocate more than $1 million annually through neighborhood associations.
http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/146/canadianbudgeting.html

Heartwood Cohousing
Excellent documentation of policies on decision-making, facilitator's guidelines, and so on.
http://www.heartwoodcohousing.com/meetings.html

Quakers (Religious Society of Friends)
1. An Introduction to Quaker Business Practice by Eden Grace. Intriguing description of how the effort to discern a Sense of the Meeting in harmony with God's will makes Quaker process different from secular consensus practice.
2. Quaker Business Meetings: How Friends Make Decisions. From Glasgow Meeting, Scotland. Oriented toward newcomers to such meetings.
http://www.qis.net/~daruma/business.html  

Policy Library includes documents related to consensus from cohousing and other intentional communities.

Tulsa Symphony Orchestra
Four years after the Tulsa Philharmonic went bankrupt, a core group of former musicians reorganized as a worker co-op operating by consensus,  now playing to rave reviews and strong community support.
http://www.gtrnews.com/greater-tulsa-reporter/1497/tulsa-symphony

Universal Postal Union
The second-oldest international organization in existence, composed of 192 member countries, has used consensus for its decisions since 1874. While i have not located a description of its process (let me know if you find one?), the example is surely worth noting.

 

CLASSES

International Institute for Facilitation and Change. Classes in Spanish and English. IIFAC, Domingo Diez 1589, Plaza Corporativa #113, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico 62250; +52 (777) 102 2288; email@iifac.org; english.iifac.org .

Your group can hire someone to come give you a training specifically tailored to your organization.  For intentional communities and other alternative culture organizations, there is a list of consultants posted on the FIC's Process Consultant Clearinghouse at http://www.ic.org/community-consultants/ .


OTHER SITES

Alpha Institute lists some organizations using consensus.

Autumn Brown's site has a timeline of consensus use in the U.S. and a map of consensus use around the world

Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA). Maintains resource pages on meetings and group process at their web site, http://nica.ic.org/Process/meeting.php. Contact NICA at 22110 East Lost Lake Rd., Snohomish, WA 98296; floriferous@msn.com.

Randy Schutt, long-time activist, has a dozen short papers (1-12 pages each) on cooperative decision-making, many downloadable as PDF documents over the web and the rest available for the cost of copying and postage. See the list at www.vernalproject.org/RPapers.shtml. Contact Randy at PO Box 608867, Cleveland, OH 44108; rschutt@vernalproject.org.

Training for Change. Wonderful collection of tools and exercises, includes topics such as diversity, strategy, nonviolence, and more. trainingforchange.org


ORGANIZATIONS

Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC). North American network for people interested in cooperative living. In addition to offering many of the books listed on the reverse, FIC also has audio tapes and reprint packets available on decision-making, leadership, and consensus and facilitation specifically. FIC, RR 1 Box 156, Rutledge, MO 63563; 660-883-5545; fic@ic.org; www.ic.org.

Friends Meeting. The Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as the Quakers, have been using consensus decision-making methods for over 300 years. At Eugene Friends Meeting, for example, newcomers are welcome to sit in on Meeting for Worship for Business, usually held after Meeting for Worship on the 4th Sunday of the month. 2274 Onyx St., Eugene, OR 97403; 541-343-3840. Quaker worship groups exist in many locations around the world.

 

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
541-343-3855