Comments 38

Eco Village learning Intensive, Day Three

Birdsnest fern at the entrance #Australia #ecovillage #rainforest #over50blogger

Birdsnest fern at the entrance #Australia #ecovillage #rainforest #over50blogger

Today was a real talkfest; I’m worded out! I drove straight from the rainforest to the beach, and walked silently along the sand for sunset, not even listening to music as I often do. I just needed quiet.

But now I’m home, and keen to blog about the 3rd day’s topic, which was Dynamic Governance (DG), or Sociocracy. Have you heard of that? It’s an alternative structure to use rather than Democracy, Autocracy, or Anarchy to make decisions- it involves aiming for Consensus, or complete agreement, where everyone’s input is equal- whereas Democracy goes by majority vote, and Autocracy is one single person wielding power.

That’s a big ask. Imagine trying to get 80 people to agree on whether the Eco Village should allow cats and dogs?? But that’s what they did, using ‘Circles’ of representatives of each of the 3 positions they narrowed it down to:

  1. No pets allowed
  2. Pets allowed
  3. Pets in transition i.e. you can bring your old cat or dog, but once it dies, you can’t replace it.
Sweet succulent #Australia #native #ecovillage #rainforest @boneAndsilver

Sweet succulent #Australia #native #ecovillage #rainforest @boneAndsilver

Dynamic Governance has 3 fundamental principles to help organize work and make decisions about the community:

  1. Equivalence– We interact with peers to achieve collective aims
  2. Effectiveness– Designing for action; continuous movement towards achieving aims/self-improvement/course correction
  3. Transparency– direct access to all policy documents and records, which supports co-leadership

This is good for me. Because I don’t want any men to have more say in what’s going on than me, plus I don’t want to sit in endless circles talking/processing/blocking with nothing actually happening.

It’s a smart foundation to lay for the beginning of a new community, and I must commend the organisers for making such deep plans for communication and decision-making, bringing in experts in the relative fields.

Pano view from the verandah #Australia #rainforest #ecovillage #over50

Pano view from the verandah #Australia #rainforest #ecovillage #over50 @boneAndsilver

Having said that, we then watched 7 of us go through a DG part-process example to make consensus decisions about whether we should have a talent night on the last evening of the intensive, and I was almost ready to run screaming from the room to carve out a semi-habitable cave with a teaspoon … it would have been easier.

However, of course, we are all completely new to the process, and it was late in the afternoon etc etc., so I stuck it out. We all stuck it out. The facilitator was AMAZING at keeping the personalities/group dynamics on track, and that was worth watching.

Verandah lunch tables #Australia #ecovillage #rainforest #retreat #over50

Verandah lunch tables #Australia #ecovillage #rainforest #retreat #over50 @boneAndsilver

Have you ever watched the live footage of our politicians in parliament? Like belligerent children. DG was partly invented by the Dutch, then brought to English-speaking countries by John Buck, and has a very particular process as follows:

  • A proposal is presented- e.g that we have a talent night on Saturday for the participants
  • Clarifying questions Round- everyone asks for more information as they need it, to feel informed
  • Reactions/responses Round
  • Consent Round- asking if everyone consents agreement or not- Yes or No answer
  • Modify the proposal as required, then do it again…

A guiding mantra is ‘Good enough for Now, Safe enough to Try’, which encourages a forward momentum in making decisions, and is a bloody good life philosophy as well I reckon!

There are other facets to DG, like the modes; measurements and feedback loops; roles; representatives from other information circles and so on, but my head is overwhelmed, and I don’t want to lose you all. So here’s another pretty picture.

Sweet succulent #Australia #native #ecovillage #rainforest @boneAndsilver

Sweet succulent #Australia #native #ecovillage #rainforest @boneAndsilver

Back to the Pet Policy to conclude: what do you think? It has been a hot topic, as you can imagine, and took a whole day of dedicated Circle work, after 3 groups were created to gather the information and do research to support their positions. Participants were also surveyed, and it came back 50/50. It will be reviewed in another 18 months, with no suggestion that it may be changed. After all, it’s an Eco Village; having dogs or cats chasing wildlife seems to defeat the aims of sustainable, ecological, Permaculture-following housing developments.

The facilitator said this, as she explained the outcome of the Pet Policy decision:

‘You may not be personally happy with the decision, but you will hopefully understand how it supports the overall mission and aims.’

I agreed with that.

A wheel of Vision for creating an eco village #Australia #ecovillage #vision #over50blogger

A wheel of Vision for creating an eco village #Australia #ecovillage #vision #over50blogger @boneAndsilver

But now I’m too tired to speak or type. Sleep calls. I hope you are enjoying the temporary suspension of normal programming, and rest assured that I am still in ongoing negotiations with ’17’ to continue ‘Teenage Tuesdays’; clearly I need to apply some of the above processes to reach consensus with him… ; )

Snake on a railing #Australia #ecovillage #rainforest #over50

Snake ornament on a railing #Australia #ecovillage #rainforest #over50 @boneAndsilver

In gratitude for experts who can share their knowledge & stand firm, G xO 


  1. Complete consensus is pretty much impossible, sadly, in most settings. I think that’s why they came up with representatives in places like the US. We had a local co-op restaurant in Vermont that tried to run on complete consensus eventually. It went out of business after being around for thirty years or so, since all you need is one obstructive young or even old person–anyone at all to whom ego is more important than the big picture, especially someone who denies s/he has an ego–and the structure never has a healthy bathroom movement again.

    I think pets are so crucial to the wellbeing of people. Countless studies have shown that to be so. Are there no individual rooms at all that the pets could live in with people, or is it so open-plan that there is no means of keepingthem safe and segregated to their own family? I can see that domesticated animals running around outside would kill the birds etc. and cause harm, but I would hope there are options. I do not know the place though so have to ask you.


    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks so much for this great comment Donnalee; yes, I too have my suspicions of the possible failures of Dynamic Governance, but haven’t yet had a chance to question anyone- I’m going to put it on the questions list for tomorrow.

      Re the pets: yes, I also agree that the benefits of pet ownership have been proven, and are large; however, in the context of an Eco Village which is seeking to regenerate the land and wildlife diversity, even the smell of the presence of dogs and cats apparently puts off many native animals and birds. It has been a highly-contentious decision, and some people definitely dropped out because of it. However, others have joined specifically because there is a No Pets Policy… It’s all still only in the planning stage though, so anything can evolve out of it as time progresses… G

      Liked by 1 person

      • Huh, that is difficult. We have two cats who are always indoors and since they are a bit older, they live in an area upstairs, and our downstairs and back deck are always swarming with birds, chipmunks, squirrels, you name it, since I feed them. Maybe indoor cats in certain areas only might work…? I sleep with the cats and my clothing clearly smells of them, and I am the one who feeds the birds et al., and no one ever stays away. Some of the squirrels sit right by me with the window open and me clearly there. It hasn’t put the deer or bears off either. Hard question, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. interesting concept, as as Donnalee noted, the total consensus thing can be a challenge. Also, as you experienced, the overwhelm from talking about absolutely everything is tough. I’ve some interest in these communities, wonder about co-housing should I get old (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) and then my introverted self goes bonkers with the idea of hours long debates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think I’m exactly the same there Steph- I’m just exploring options, but I do love the environmental aspects and Permaculture design. Meetings drive me a bit crazy though, yes- the key apparently is to just stick to the zone or circle that interests you, and trust the process of the other circles 🙏🏼


  3. Excellent mantra – life’s too short for perfection, and who knows what may grow from the experiment.

    Congratulations on the ongoing ’17’ summit. 🙂

    ‘To Pet or not to Pet’ is a tricky one. Our animal companions are such an integral part of our lives that I don’t think (if you open to them being companions, and not ‘possessions’ that is) we can separate our Selves from their Selves, and I wonder whether we should.

    I remember well the obliteration of ‘consensus exhaustion’, but skilled facilitators can make all the difference.

    Thanks for more good stuff. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Widds, I really value your comments, as ever. And yes, I am with you on the whole ‘pet’ thing (I do love my Yeti cat, although he’s kept in at night); animals have been companions to humans since the beginning… it’s seems to be more about trying to prevent difficulties down the track, based on other Eco Villages’ experiences. A tough line to draw though, and contentious, as I’ve said.

      Keep fingers crossed re ’17’… slowly does it, like tickling the belly of a salmon in a stream…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I must admit I am in favor of no cats, dogs, or other predatory “pets” (four-legged friends). Cats and dogs, as domesticated predators, developed during eras when people felt it was important to reduce “pests” and to hunt, don’t have such a clear-cut place now, when, at least as far as I’m concerned, living harmoniously with the wild feathered, furred, and scaled beings is more beneficial. Nature opens up towards people who approach wild spots with a quiet mind–but when a cat or dog accompanies, the person becomes an extension of the predator. With wildlife threatened so severely now by climate change, tossing in the current biggest threat to our wild birds (which is, alas, domestic or feral cats), and eco-friendly becomes an empty slogan, rather than a lifestyle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do believe that was the ultimate position they came to Cathy, thank you for articulating it so wonderfully. Looks like you’d have been good value in the Circle trying to decide the policy!


      • Oh, I don’t know…. I probably would have said , “But they’re such cute anachronisms! Can’t we just build a giant conservatory for the (spayed and neutered) cats and keep the dogs on leash?” I’ve been able to make my own personal decision (while still sometimes longing for the friendship of cats and dogs ), but I’d have a tough time when it comes to rules that limit others. Same with kids: I’m happy having none , and it’s essential for sustainability that we limit ourselves to not more than two per couple , with one or none being preferable , but I’m loathe for that to become a rule. I guess I lean more towards personal responsibility , rather than imposed. Not sure my approach will establish health in the ecosystems , though! I applaud this group for exploring this issue, and you for writing about it !

        Liked by 1 person

      • Now’s the time to find out, before you are committed, especially financially. As to pets, best to keep them inside if possible. I spent time in London 2011 – 2012, and foxes were hunting pet animals at nights. Cats, dogs, rabbits etc had to stay in at night or be eaten. My landlady I lodged with used to escort her 14 year old terrier out to to pit stops each night. One neighbour got up to see to one of her children at 3 am one morning, and saw a fox sliding easily over the five foot walls between our back yards down our side of the street. This was frequent, so all pets stayed inside at night. It can be down with motivation.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh yes, I’m not committing anything, and it’s not even been approved by the Council yet, don’t worry!

          Yes, I always keep my cat inside at night, most country folk up here do, and even in the bush, some still get taken by snakes if they’re out at night.

          Great to get your comments : )

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting! I’ve never heard of an eco village before, and it was fascinating to read about it. For me, trying to come to a complete consensus sounds daunting, but if they are making it work, then good for them! I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ann- I’m always surprised when people haven’t heard about intentional communities, but then I remember that I live in the birthplace region of them in Australia! I’m so glad you’re finding value in these posts, and I agree that Consensus sounds daunting 😖
      The idea behind Dynamic Governance is that it creates a framework for it to happen more easily, and faster 👍🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      • That makes sense. And seriously, I am always impressed by people who are willing to put explore new ways to make society a better place for all of us. Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember some of this from my studies way back when!! Some of this sounds incredibly interesting but some of it sounds like too much hard work LOL
    I guess at the end it depends on how much you want to invest personally

    Liked by 1 person

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