[Noisebridge-discuss] Consensus yummyness

rachel lyra hospodar rachelyra at gmail.com
Tue Nov 15 03:41:22 UTC 2011

hey all,

i did some pretty brute-force information-cramming on the wiki


Haven't done much formatting and whoever wrote the bike-shed
explanation (it seems pretty rubin-esque to me) probably will feel sad
that i crammed all this info above it, feel free to integrate what i
pooed on top into the page better.

This info came from a document compiled by Steve Leeds, a Quaker.
below is the email that accompanied it.

I'd love to have more conversation around this.  not sure when though.
 Tuesday meetings are hard for me to make right now (peanut gallery
performance last week notwithstanding)


Hi Tom:

I believe you called the SF Friends (Quaker) Meeting a few days back
about the consensus process and requesting someone come to the GA.
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I couldn't hear the cell
number you left on the phone machine.
I've attended quite a few GA's and pretty much decided it wasn't my
best use of time anymore. I'm working on Occupy in other areas
and am in camp generally every day until this past week when work and
responsibilities intervened.

A few thoughts: Quakers have been using the consensus process for 350+
years. It's a process that requires
patience and ongoing commitment to work through differences and only
block if you have huge moral objections to an idea/proposal
that will drive you from the group. Pure consensus works best in small
groups (action/affinity groups where the individuals have
had a chance to get to know each other and build community). For a
group like the GA in OccupySF, I suggest modified consensus, 80% or
90% coming to unity.
Or even two-thirds. Unity is not unanimity. My observation of GA's I
attended are way too often many people block consensus and the process
is frustrating for many people, particularly new people who are
present for the first time. I believe there is a deep misunderstanding
of the consensus in both language (as an example consensus isn't like
an individual voting so when the facilitator says let's vote, I
believe the language perpetuates  and elevates the ability of one
person to keep the group from moving forward) and  process (it
requires deep listening, takes time, and shows us the whole group is
more important than the individual)l. Learning this and collective
responsibility is a sea-change for all of us as the mainstream culture
has inculcated and brainwashed us with the paramount importance of our
individuality. I see this everywhere in the culture, including in
Occupy SF and the GA.

Honestly, I don't know how the GA decision-making process is working
most recently. I have  included some links and a PDF below of some
Feel free to contact me. I've been away and will be at camp tomorrow
late afternoon. Hope the resources below are helpful.


Steve Leeds

Some resources:



Consensus Process

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