Proposal to Change Our Decision-Making Process

At the March 2009 Ritual for Business, a change of process was proposed for how we make decisions at Gaia Community. Currently the community makes decisions in its monthly Rituals for Business and most other committees by consensus, as mandated in our bylaws in Article V.

Via, Devin, Amanda, and Erin have worked up a proposal for a process that would start with consensus seeking and then move to a supermajority ballot if consensus appeared impossible. Because changing our decision-making process requires a bylaws change, 10% of the membership has requested that the April 11th Ritual for Business be a Special Ritual for Business for that purpose. Details of the proposal can be found below, as well as on the Greeter's Table on Sunday, April 5th. Two meetings are scheduled for discussing this proposal: one from 2-4PM on Sunday, April 5th at SMUUCH, and one on Wednesday, April 8th a Via's place of residence, 1306 E. 118th Street in southern KCMO. Discussion will also be held during the Special Ritual for Business on the 11th, after elections.

Problems this proposal addresses

  • “tyranny of the minority”
    • deterrent to frivolous blocking
    • gives chance for the community to not be stymied by one or two members when the rest enthusiastically support a proposal
  • rule of the default – only choice if you don’t agree with status quo is to leave the community
    • keeps members who are frustrated with stagnation involved
  • favors those who can attend Saturday morning meetings (those with work, etc can send thoughts, but can’t participate in consensus)
    • Those with unavoidable Saturday conflicts can still block if they feel it is necessary
  • blocker bears no responsibility for helping to create a consensus solution
    • blocker bears some responsibility for creating a solution to the problem with the proposal
  • Premature Proposal Death (death of proposal from the mere mention that someone may block)
    • a block does not guarantee the death of a proposal

Step 1: Bylaws Change

The change to our bylaws is very brief: it would amend the first sentence of the second paragraph of Article V, Section A from "Decisions of the Committee of the Whole shall be made by consensus, except where otherwise stated in these bylaws." to "Decisions of the Committee of the Whole shall be made using a blended consensus/supermajority model, except where otherwise stated in these bylaws."

Step 2: Process Change

The procedural changes that accompany this have now been integrated into our approved consensus process, following ratification at the April 2009 Ritual for Business.

A large part of this proposal is based on the model from N Street Chousing, found at Is Consensus Right for Your Group? article on