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:
- No pets allowed
- Pets allowed
- Pets in transition i.e. you can bring your old cat or dog, but once it dies, you can’t replace it.
Dynamic Governance has 3 fundamental principles to help organize work and make decisions about the community:
- Equivalence– We interact with peers to achieve collective aims
- Effectiveness– Designing for action; continuous movement towards achieving aims/self-improvement/course correction
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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… ; )
In gratitude for experts who can share their knowledge & stand firm, G xO