Letters to the Editor 200901
January 2009 Issue
Many thanks for the wonderful job on this nice newsletter! I found your article about the decision-making method N Street Cohousing very interesting.
I also enjoyed reading your book Creating a Life Together.
As secretary of the Work Group Anastasia Village in the Netherlands I would like to ask you permission to put a Dutch translation of your article about consensus on our website. I will include a link to your newsletter.
With cordial greetings,
- Lex Veelo
- Secretary, Work Group Anastasia Village
- Dedelstraat 1
- 2596 RA Den Haag
- The Netherlands
Of course I said Yes, and Lex put the article in Dutch on his group’s website. I asked him to say more about this start-up ecovillage and he wrote A New Anastasia Village in the Netherlands for us. —Diana
Ecovillages in France
Dear Diana Leafe Christian,
My friend Matthieu, who recently subscribed, told me about your newsletter, and I've just subscribed too.
Our group, Les Colibris project in Marseille, is working (hard!) with your book Vivre autrement (Creating a Life Together). As often as I can, I recommend it to members of other ecovillage groups. Thank you very much for writing it!
You asked Matthieu about ecovillage projects here. There are between 100 or 150 ecovillage, community, or cohousing projects in France. A small group of 3 persons (including a fan of your book) created a network dedicated to cohousing 3 years ago: the réseau Habitat groupé (Habitat Network Group).
And Jean-Luc Girard created the Passerelle Eco Association (Eco Footbridge Association) 10 years ago, in order to facilitate connections between ecovillage projects.
I can also post a translation of your message to tell people about your newsletter on the réseau Habitat groupé website: just tell me if that’s OK,
I hope that will help.
- Estelle Bessin
- Les Colibris
- Marseille, France
Thank you so much for your kind words about my book, Estelle, and your offer to post a notice on the réseau Habitat groupé website. I would love that: please do! —Diana
Queries for Consensus
Congratulations on launching the newsletter — it looks like you’re off to a great start!
I'd like to comment on your list of “requirements for consensus.” You wrote, “ (1) common purpose, written clearly; (2) equal access to power; (3) all group members trained in the method.”
While i agree that consensus decision-making is likely to work better when all of these are in place (along with some other characteristics, like solid friendships and good listening skills), i generally avoid calling them “requirements.” That’s because I’ve found over the years that for every supposed rule about consensus, there seems to be a group out there breaking the rule successfully. I have personally lived in one community that didn’t have #1 or #3 and another community that didn’t have #2, was weak on #1, and variable on #3. Did our consensus process suffer for these lacks? Probably, but we still got by, and got by with more satisfaction in our governance than if we had used majority voting instead. None of this takes away from the appropriateness of your recommendations, which i support.
I’ve recently written a set of queries for groups to consider who are seeking to evaluate and improve their consensus process. Queries are a long tradition among Quakers, who are also noted consensus practitioners. Your readers who are interested in this topic may enjoy sitting and visiting with these questions, which are posted on my website.
- Tree Bressen
- Eugene, Oregon
Tree Bressen is a well-known US-based consensus trainer and facilitator for ecovillages and other kinds of intentional communities and other groups. —Diana
Ecovillages Will Be Increasingly Important
Diana, I’m very impressed. Both the appearance and the content are marvelous — once again confirming some of your skills that I have long appreciated.
I think you're at the cutting edge here. As world conditions continue to get harder, ecovillages are going to be more and more important. You've positioned yourself for a productive future. I'm honored to be associated with the venture, and I wish you all success.
- Tim Miller
- Department of Religious Studies,
- University of Kansas, Lawrence
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