Date   

Re: Consensus Decision Making & a Consensus Community

David Oesper
 

Thanks, Sharon. I ordered your book, “We the People” and have received it already!

My notes from Yanna’s webinar are imperfect, because I am new to consensus decision-making and sociocracy, so I may have filled in some details based on my experience rather than any deep knowledge of consensus/sociocracy. That said, Yanna was very clear about the whole Approve/Stand Aside/Block thing being used in consensus decision-making, though I’m sure she was not extending this to sociocracy. So perhaps there is more than one approach to consensus.

Does that help? Confuse?

Definitely helps!

Thanks much,

Dave


Re: Consensus Decision Making & a Consensus Community

maxeem
 

Some great reading there. Thank you Sharon! I am all in favor of getting trained in sociocracy.

I thought this might interest some people, in case it hasn't circulated through here?

https://brooklynrail.org/2012/04/express/the-albion-nation-communes-on-the-mendocino-coast

It brings up a lot of aspects of the early days of "finding community" including relationship differences, consensus, the problem men have of doing work or other gender issues that come up in group projects. This article is a bit long but gave me a really nice feeling of knowing more about where the white counter-culture of "communes" and "intentional communities" settled (and its effects today) AFTER the initial 1960s revolutionary period of back-to-land and feminism and related/tangential/lateral movements.

The article focuses on California and is not even applicable to every IC in California, but it feels really good to know more about both the specifics and the vagueness of the history, if that makes sense.

The Dark Sky Communities proposed here seem both very very unrelated, and also related, at the same time.

Thanks for letting me plop in this context, which I hope is not seen as "way too off-topic".

ttyl

Max

On 9/24/20 3:16 PM, Sharon Villines via groups.io wrote:
There were some earlier messages on consensus that I also wanted to respond to and didn’t have time. This one as notes from a workshop so it raises all the points. I’ve been using consensus decision-making in formal groups of all kinds since the early 1970s, studied Quaker methods, and started studying sociocracy in 2002. I co-authored the primary handbook on Sociocracy, We the people: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy.
https://amzn.to/3cr37fl

Although I have occasionally, I don’t teach workshops. I like to write and am too impatient and new-idea seeking to enjoy repeating the basic things over and over. Sociocracy For All has taken the lead on sociocracy education and practice and they do an excellent job.

It’s hard to know how much the vocabulary of the traditional full-group decision-making has seeped into the workshop or the recorder's memory but I wanted to address a few concepts.

Sociocracy is a high-structure form of consensus decision-making.

https://www.sociocracyforall.org/start-here/
The structure of sociocratic organizations is often stressed by people because it is viewed as more efficient than large groups. But it is also because many of the leaders in the 1970s were engineers. They naturally think in symbols and geometric shapes. Physics is king.

The sociocratic circle-organization method is a structure of interlinked circles all functioning by consent. But most often outside of business or very large organzations, there may be only 3 levels. The group could also function as a full-circle and not delegate decisions at all.

Since circles overlap, one circle can’t make decisions without the consent of the overlapping circle. That means the whole organization functions by consent with defined purposes for each circle. Two people participate in the adjoining circle so no decisions can be made in relation to a circle without members of that circle consenting.

But you don’t have to have the complex circle structure to apply the sociocratic methods and principles. You can also apply them as an individual. See Sociocracy for One.

https://www.sociocracy.info/sociocracy-for-one/

Even with a well-thought-out decision-making structure, if you have an incompatible group of community founders that don’t work well together, no decision-making structure is going to work for your group.
The person who has done the largest amount of work in developing and spreading sociocracy, Gerard Endenberg, says there are 3 conditions that consensus decision-making requires.j

1. A common aim. Everyone has to be going in the same direction. It might be the aim of a specific decision.

2. The willingness and ability to work together as long as it takes to reach a decision that “works” for everyone. Many groups cannot do this because they are distanced — a designated group has to make decisions. A steering committee, for example.

3. Each person consents to making decisions with other members of this group. Gerard didn’t believe sociocracy could work in cohousing, for example, because we can’t choose who buys a unit or house. But what we consent to is to make decisions with whomever joins the community.

If a group can’t meet these conditions, another method is required. Majority vote, an expert opinion, etc. But sociocracy isn’t just about consent decision-making. Groups can make a decision by consent to make certain decisions by other means.

All decisions on the internet wiring could be made by Joe and Marilyn because they will build and be responsible for the systems — and no one else knows anything anyway. Arguing some points to the death is not likely to be productive.

Dates for celebrations might be made by majority vote — how many can attend on this date.

Decisions about the “ego" of the group, in this case dark skies, might be made in accordance with the advice of a professional association. A Buddhist community would use the Buddhist principles, usually interpreted by a teacher or roshi, to govern the religious/ethical aims of the community.

What is consensus?

• A decision-making system AND a culture change tool
This is important. It is the feeling of wanting consensus that is important. A culture develops in which all decisions might not be made by a formal consensus process, but everyone functions with the understanding that there are no objections to what they are deciding.

• Everyone’s input is taken into account & we do what’s best for the group
This I get suspicious of even though it is standard language in traditional full-group consensus. First, “taken into account” is ambiguous. What does it mean? I heard you but I don’t agree so I’m deciding this?

And “best for the group” can be easily weaponized. Who decides what is best for the group? It is usually the majority. If so how does consensus differ from majority rule.

”Best for the group" can also lead to the idea of the group taking on mystical dimensions with its own independent existence. Unless the group intends to emulate the ideas of an external teaching or belief — Waldorf, Buddhist, Quaker, etc. — a group is no more than the sum of its parts. If something is not acceptable for an individual, the group is weakened. That’s why majority vote can divide groups — it creates a minority. It sets them aside. The minority may then consciously or unconsciously sabotage the group.

• “Everyone has a piece of the truth”
This is very important reason why consensus is the best decision-making method. It brings out all the available information. The one dissenting person may have the information that leads to the best decision.

• Always references the mission of the organization
The mission of the organization, the circle, the decision, etc. To always refer to the top mission can be subject to personal interpretation. The largest aim is important overall but trying to justify a decision to purchase these tools and not those may not be meaningful if the mission is to improve child care. An aim defined in terms of the tangible decision would be more relevant. High quality or adequate quality? Lowest price or most reasonable price?

• We are obligated to work to understand each other, to find the best solution for the group and project as a whole
And the group takes on the concerns of all the members. It isn’t up to the one member to find a resolution to their own objection — it is the whole group’s.

• Working together to make decisions while tending relationships
Again, the culture of consensus. Respecting everyone.

• NOT: everyone gets their way or is happy about every decision. This is a long-term relationship; expect times of unhappiness
In sociocracy the aim is to find a decision that everyone can work enthusiastically to support. It may not be their personal choice or clearly proven to be the “best” choice, but it is workable and worth trying. "Given all the opinions and druthers, this seems to be the best way to move forward." Moving forward is a value. That is how you learn more and gain the information to determine the next step.

plan> do> measure, evaluate and plan > do > measure.

You reevaluate at a stated time — 2 weeks, 2 months, or whatever. Enough time to measure the results of the decision.

Decisions are also revisited whenever there is new information. Waiting for a 2 month reevaluation date when a decision is clearly not working, is not moving forward.

• NOT: we agree 100%; in fact, if done well, you will be more aware of genuine differences
One of the earlier messages used the word "unanimous.” I like to think about each decision as two decisions. (1) What is my personal preference? (2) Given all other preferences, what is my decision? To dissent about green if you are the only one who wants yellow, isn’t helpful to anyone unless you have a demonstrable reason why yellow would be better— color blindness, for example.

• NOT: a fix for negative power dynamics (by itself)
This is nice. I’ve never seen it in a list of things related to consensus. I don’t know how consensus could be used for this since the everyone that everyone thinks are negative would be in the conversation but its’ good to remember. We live in systems. If the spark plugs aren’t working, you don’t win by replacing the spark plugs when the problem is the part that is dripping water all over them.

• NOT: everyone is involved with every decision directly; however, how decisions are being made & by whom is consensual
In consensus decision-making, we are obligated to work to understand each other, not necessarily to agree with each other.
This is the most important point. We had a faction that believed if anyone had an objection, the facilitators should work it out with them privately. Not “waste” the group’s time. Sometimes it was the best course — a person who couldn’t hear well, for example. But I wanted to hear from each person why people removed their objections. What convinced them? What were they now assuming? We question objections but not consent. People can consent for obstructionist reasons.

Not everyone is involved with every decision directly. You can consent to vote, and consent to delegate.

In consensus decision-making, you as an individual within the group have three choices: Approve, Stand Aside, Block.
Actually consensus in sociocracy has no stand aside and certainly no “block.” A block is like a veto. The center of a consensus decision is the content, the substance. It has to be explained and understood. If one dissents, their reason must be rational — understanding that a reason related to emotions can be explained. Sociocracy puts the focus on the argument back into decision-making, the evidence based reasoning. (In the US we now have a whole administration that has no respect for evidence or science.)

The center of the decision is not whether people stand aside or object. It is finding a decision that makes the most sense to everyone.

Consent means I consent to go ahead with this and we can see how it works. If someone hasn’t been listening or reading and hasn’t formed an opinion yet and is willing to trust the other opinions, is still consenting. It’s like a soft consent. People can object and their objections have to be resolved, but no one can veto.

The reason "block" is a bad concept is that a concrete block can’t be reasoned with and can’t explain its reasons. It just sits there. People can’t do that in consensus. They have to participate.

Options for individual responses in consensus

Approve (or Agree to Consent): MOST responses will be this

Stand Aside: disagree for personal reasons or haven’t been present enough

Block: disagree for reasons tied to group purpose, group-held values, or group survival

When you block, the group can’t go forward. All it takes is one block, and it's back to the drawing board.

Logistics vary. Do what works for you.

About Blocks

Blocking MUST be a real option...or it’s not consensus.
I would say the right to object has to be a real option. If you can’t say No, then Yes has no meaning. If a concern is not resolved, it becomes an objection. There are many ways to modify a proposal to resolve objections.

Criteria and Process for Legitimate Blocks:

• Participation
• Good Faith Effort to Hear Others
• Alignment with Group-Held Values and Mission
A block must always be about the group’s purpose, not your personal preferences.
But remember, a group is only the sum of its parts. If everyone has a part of the truth, then everyone is part of the group’s purpose.

In the last group of points below stating what decisions are appropriate for a plenary meeting, I would add any issue that can’t be resolved in a team or smaller context. You need the wisdom of a larger group to resolve it.

In sociocratic organizations the “full circle” is often downplayed, but it depends on the group. Intentional communities usually view themselves as a whole group, unlike a corporation which views itself as its products or its profit.

In one sociocratic community, the full circle is for discussions but not decisions. The designated teams make the ultimate decisions.

Does that help? Confuse?

Sharon

Test: Can at least X# of folks see how you got there?

Repair: All blocks are painful but are absolutely needed. Tend to relationships.

Bubbles Before Boxes

Bubbles: Gather input - make sure everyone is heard

Boxes: Present proposal

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xLav0O3OpaCxF4_n1q2ilyG87Pq6W25M/view?usp=sharing

Recommended Bubbles and Boxes Sequence

• Present & clarify issue or area of work a proposal will address
• Round 1 of bubbles (what would a good proposal need to take into account?)
• Round 2 of bubbles by different means, OK to participate again
• Last call and closing bubbles phase; figure out who will do proposal creation
• Proposal creation, taking into account bubbles
• Presentation of the proposal back to community, check against bubbles, problem solve any left out bubbles / talk about why they can’t be accommodated
• Pass the proposal, with or without modifications
Some things to keep in mind…

Not everyone is verbal.

Not everyone thinks fast on their feet.

NO “bubble popping” in the bubbles phase!

Having power without being a part of the process is not good.

Good consensus topics (“plenary worthy”)

• Your community’s Vision
• Direction of your organization
• Annual Budget & Planning / Big $$ items
• Strategic planning
• Land purchase & selling
• Purpose
• Defining membership; approving new members
• Items that have a major impact on how we are living
• Business plan factors
• Land use planning, yearly planning
Plan your meeting agenda carefully. Consensus needs time--don’t put too much in the meeting.




Consensus Decision Making & a Consensus Community

Sharon Villines
 

There were some earlier messages on consensus that I also wanted to respond to and didn’t have time. This one as notes from a workshop so it raises all the points. I’ve been using consensus decision-making in formal groups of all kinds since the early 1970s, studied Quaker methods, and started studying sociocracy in 2002. I co-authored the primary handbook on Sociocracy, We the people: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy.
https://amzn.to/3cr37fl

Although I have occasionally, I don’t teach workshops. I like to write and am too impatient and new-idea seeking to enjoy repeating the basic things over and over. Sociocracy For All has taken the lead on sociocracy education and practice and they do an excellent job.

It’s hard to know how much the vocabulary of the traditional full-group decision-making has seeped into the workshop or the recorder's memory but I wanted to address a few concepts.

Sociocracy is a high-structure form of consensus decision-making.

https://www.sociocracyforall.org/start-here/
The structure of sociocratic organizations is often stressed by people because it is viewed as more efficient than large groups. But it is also because many of the leaders in the 1970s were engineers. They naturally think in symbols and geometric shapes. Physics is king.

The sociocratic circle-organization method is a structure of interlinked circles all functioning by consent. But most often outside of business or very large organzations, there may be only 3 levels. The group could also function as a full-circle and not delegate decisions at all.

Since circles overlap, one circle can’t make decisions without the consent of the overlapping circle. That means the whole organization functions by consent with defined purposes for each circle. Two people participate in the adjoining circle so no decisions can be made in relation to a circle without members of that circle consenting.

But you don’t have to have the complex circle structure to apply the sociocratic methods and principles. You can also apply them as an individual. See Sociocracy for One.

https://www.sociocracy.info/sociocracy-for-one/

Even with a well-thought-out decision-making structure, if you have an incompatible group of community founders that don’t work well together, no decision-making structure is going to work for your group.
The person who has done the largest amount of work in developing and spreading sociocracy, Gerard Endenberg, says there are 3 conditions that consensus decision-making requires.j

1. A common aim. Everyone has to be going in the same direction. It might be the aim of a specific decision.

2. The willingness and ability to work together as long as it takes to reach a decision that “works” for everyone. Many groups cannot do this because they are distanced — a designated group has to make decisions. A steering committee, for example.

3. Each person consents to making decisions with other members of this group. Gerard didn’t believe sociocracy could work in cohousing, for example, because we can’t choose who buys a unit or house. But what we consent to is to make decisions with whomever joins the community.

If a group can’t meet these conditions, another method is required. Majority vote, an expert opinion, etc. But sociocracy isn’t just about consent decision-making. Groups can make a decision by consent to make certain decisions by other means.

All decisions on the internet wiring could be made by Joe and Marilyn because they will build and be responsible for the systems — and no one else knows anything anyway. Arguing some points to the death is not likely to be productive.

Dates for celebrations might be made by majority vote — how many can attend on this date.

Decisions about the “ego" of the group, in this case dark skies, might be made in accordance with the advice of a professional association. A Buddhist community would use the Buddhist principles, usually interpreted by a teacher or roshi, to govern the religious/ethical aims of the community.

What is consensus?

• A decision-making system AND a culture change tool
This is important. It is the feeling of wanting consensus that is important. A culture develops in which all decisions might not be made by a formal consensus process, but everyone functions with the understanding that there are no objections to what they are deciding.

• Everyone’s input is taken into account & we do what’s best for the group
This I get suspicious of even though it is standard language in traditional full-group consensus. First, “taken into account” is ambiguous. What does it mean? I heard you but I don’t agree so I’m deciding this?

And “best for the group” can be easily weaponized. Who decides what is best for the group? It is usually the majority. If so how does consensus differ from majority rule.

”Best for the group" can also lead to the idea of the group taking on mystical dimensions with its own independent existence. Unless the group intends to emulate the ideas of an external teaching or belief — Waldorf, Buddhist, Quaker, etc. — a group is no more than the sum of its parts. If something is not acceptable for an individual, the group is weakened. That’s why majority vote can divide groups — it creates a minority. It sets them aside. The minority may then consciously or unconsciously sabotage the group.

• “Everyone has a piece of the truth”
This is very important reason why consensus is the best decision-making method. It brings out all the available information. The one dissenting person may have the information that leads to the best decision.

• Always references the mission of the organization
The mission of the organization, the circle, the decision, etc. To always refer to the top mission can be subject to personal interpretation. The largest aim is important overall but trying to justify a decision to purchase these tools and not those may not be meaningful if the mission is to improve child care. An aim defined in terms of the tangible decision would be more relevant. High quality or adequate quality? Lowest price or most reasonable price?

• We are obligated to work to understand each other, to find the best solution for the group and project as a whole
And the group takes on the concerns of all the members. It isn’t up to the one member to find a resolution to their own objection — it is the whole group’s.

• Working together to make decisions while tending relationships
Again, the culture of consensus. Respecting everyone.

• NOT: everyone gets their way or is happy about every decision. This is a long-term relationship; expect times of unhappiness
In sociocracy the aim is to find a decision that everyone can work enthusiastically to support. It may not be their personal choice or clearly proven to be the “best” choice, but it is workable and worth trying. "Given all the opinions and druthers, this seems to be the best way to move forward." Moving forward is a value. That is how you learn more and gain the information to determine the next step.

plan> do> measure, evaluate and plan > do > measure.

You reevaluate at a stated time — 2 weeks, 2 months, or whatever. Enough time to measure the results of the decision.

Decisions are also revisited whenever there is new information. Waiting for a 2 month reevaluation date when a decision is clearly not working, is not moving forward.

• NOT: we agree 100%; in fact, if done well, you will be more aware of genuine differences
One of the earlier messages used the word "unanimous.” I like to think about each decision as two decisions. (1) What is my personal preference? (2) Given all other preferences, what is my decision? To dissent about green if you are the only one who wants yellow, isn’t helpful to anyone unless you have a demonstrable reason why yellow would be better— color blindness, for example.

• NOT: a fix for negative power dynamics (by itself)
This is nice. I’ve never seen it in a list of things related to consensus. I don’t know how consensus could be used for this since the everyone that everyone thinks are negative would be in the conversation but its’ good to remember. We live in systems. If the spark plugs aren’t working, you don’t win by replacing the spark plugs when the problem is the part that is dripping water all over them.

• NOT: everyone is involved with every decision directly; however, how decisions are being made & by whom is consensual
In consensus decision-making, we are obligated to work to understand each other, not necessarily to agree with each other.
This is the most important point. We had a faction that believed if anyone had an objection, the facilitators should work it out with them privately. Not “waste” the group’s time. Sometimes it was the best course — a person who couldn’t hear well, for example. But I wanted to hear from each person why people removed their objections. What convinced them? What were they now assuming? We question objections but not consent. People can consent for obstructionist reasons.

Not everyone is involved with every decision directly. You can consent to vote, and consent to delegate.

In consensus decision-making, you as an individual within the group have three choices: Approve, Stand Aside, Block.
Actually consensus in sociocracy has no stand aside and certainly no “block.” A block is like a veto. The center of a consensus decision is the content, the substance. It has to be explained and understood. If one dissents, their reason must be rational — understanding that a reason related to emotions can be explained. Sociocracy puts the focus on the argument back into decision-making, the evidence based reasoning. (In the US we now have a whole administration that has no respect for evidence or science.)

The center of the decision is not whether people stand aside or object. It is finding a decision that makes the most sense to everyone.

Consent means I consent to go ahead with this and we can see how it works. If someone hasn’t been listening or reading and hasn’t formed an opinion yet and is willing to trust the other opinions, is still consenting. It’s like a soft consent. People can object and their objections have to be resolved, but no one can veto.

The reason "block" is a bad concept is that a concrete block can’t be reasoned with and can’t explain its reasons. It just sits there. People can’t do that in consensus. They have to participate.


Options for individual responses in consensus

Approve (or Agree to Consent): MOST responses will be this

Stand Aside: disagree for personal reasons or haven’t been present enough

Block: disagree for reasons tied to group purpose, group-held values, or group survival

When you block, the group can’t go forward. All it takes is one block, and it's back to the drawing board.

Logistics vary. Do what works for you.

About Blocks

Blocking MUST be a real option...or it’s not consensus.
I would say the right to object has to be a real option. If you can’t say No, then Yes has no meaning. If a concern is not resolved, it becomes an objection. There are many ways to modify a proposal to resolve objections.

Criteria and Process for Legitimate Blocks:

• Participation
• Good Faith Effort to Hear Others
• Alignment with Group-Held Values and Mission
A block must always be about the group’s purpose, not your personal preferences.
But remember, a group is only the sum of its parts. If everyone has a part of the truth, then everyone is part of the group’s purpose.

In the last group of points below stating what decisions are appropriate for a plenary meeting, I would add any issue that can’t be resolved in a team or smaller context. You need the wisdom of a larger group to resolve it.

In sociocratic organizations the “full circle” is often downplayed, but it depends on the group. Intentional communities usually view themselves as a whole group, unlike a corporation which views itself as its products or its profit.

In one sociocratic community, the full circle is for discussions but not decisions. The designated teams make the ultimate decisions.

Does that help? Confuse?

Sharon


Test: Can at least X# of folks see how you got there?

Repair: All blocks are painful but are absolutely needed. Tend to relationships.

Bubbles Before Boxes

Bubbles: Gather input - make sure everyone is heard

Boxes: Present proposal

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xLav0O3OpaCxF4_n1q2ilyG87Pq6W25M/view?usp=sharing

Recommended Bubbles and Boxes Sequence

• Present & clarify issue or area of work a proposal will address
• Round 1 of bubbles (what would a good proposal need to take into account?)
• Round 2 of bubbles by different means, OK to participate again
• Last call and closing bubbles phase; figure out who will do proposal creation
• Proposal creation, taking into account bubbles
• Presentation of the proposal back to community, check against bubbles, problem solve any left out bubbles / talk about why they can’t be accommodated
• Pass the proposal, with or without modifications
Some things to keep in mind…

Not everyone is verbal.

Not everyone thinks fast on their feet.

NO “bubble popping” in the bubbles phase!

Having power without being a part of the process is not good.

Good consensus topics (“plenary worthy”)

• Your community’s Vision
• Direction of your organization
• Annual Budget & Planning / Big $$ items
• Strategic planning
• Land purchase & selling
• Purpose
• Defining membership; approving new members
• Items that have a major impact on how we are living
• Business plan factors
• Land use planning, yearly planning
Plan your meeting agenda carefully. Consensus needs time--don’t put too much in the meeting.


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Sharon Villines
 

On Sep 22, 2020, at 10:56 AM, Lissa Bengtson <lissabengtson@...> wrote:

I have read most of the www.thevilladelamina.com and I've looked it up on the map. It's pretty exciting--whereas looking at the photos (it won't let me click on them for some reason) just makes me think of how much work there is to be done, I also think of how much work starting from scratch would be.
Never underestimate the value of onsite buildings. You have to value those buildings in order to spend the time (and money) to renovate or repurpose them, but building from scratch is also a headache and requires money up front. A lot of DIY people would probably prefer to live more primitively and to work more slowly to preserve the sense of history and place.

But you can park an RV next to 300 year old building just as easily as in a driveway. Well, maybe if there are some utilities somewhere.

I loved this comment:

Terlinguan residents enjoy close relationships with their UPS and Fedex drivers.
With the pandemic, I’ve blessed UPS and delivery people. I may never visit a store again.

Sharon
———
Sharon Villines
http://sustainablecohousing.org
sustainablecohousing@groups.io
To subscribe:
sustainablecohousing+subscribe@groups.io


Tiny House Villages in Seattle

David Oesper
 

Even the homelessness problem can be creatively solved through a combination of cohousing and tiny houses. See here:

https://sustainablecohousing.org/tiny-house-villages-in-seattle/

Admittedly, this is a bit off topic for an astronomy village / dark-sky community, but this may inspire us to think outside the box. I wanted to share this with you because it is a pretty exciting solution for homelessness. Thanks, Sharon, for posting this on Cohousing-L.

Dave


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Lissa Bengtson
 

I have read most of the www.thevilladelamina.com and I've looked it up on the map.  It's pretty exciting--whereas looking at the photos (it won't let me click on them for some reason) just makes me think of how much work there is to be done, I also think of how much work starting from scratch would be.
The location is exciting because we'd be on a lot of people's path to Big Bend Ranch State Park, but I wonder if Terlingua is too big already and might be a real light-pollution problem in the future?

We could probably go visit soon--now that the weather is cooler I'm not getting any requests for RV inspections, which is irritating.  (Also the NRVIA has trained hundreds more inspectors this year, so there is much more competition)  So with no income I'll need to focus on down-sizing again, and work on our RV to get it ready to live in.

Lissa
210-627-5940

On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 4:33 PM Steve Taylor <steveastrouk@...> wrote:
Mine

On Mon, 21 Sep 2020 at 17:22, Lissa Bengtson <lissabengtson@...> wrote:
Super!  

What does Mina mean?

Lissa

On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 3:40 PM Bennett Christian <bennett.abc.christian@...> wrote:
For Villa de la Mina, interesting to see "Owner is considering all offers, trades, partnership options & partial owner financing at this time" (https://www.thevilladelamina.com). And under local attractions is mentioned star gazing and dark sky ordinances.

Might be worth a call with the owner here, to socialize the vision. They might be interested in a partnership.




On Sun, Sep 20, 2020 at 3:23 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Thanks, Sharon, this is very helpful. I've been involved with both astronomy and lighting for a long time, and I've come to conclusion from experience that for a small community at least, dusk-to-dawn lighting could become a thing of the past. The key is working together at the local level, apolitically, but there does need to be some motivation (or at least receptiveness) to making a community astronomy friendly.





I see on the "towns for sale" website there is one in our focus area of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas: Villa de la Mina near Big Bend National Park in West Texas.





Dave























--
 


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Steve Taylor
 

Mine

On Mon, 21 Sep 2020 at 17:22, Lissa Bengtson <lissabengtson@...> wrote:
Super!  

What does Mina mean?

Lissa

On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 3:40 PM Bennett Christian <bennett.abc.christian@...> wrote:
For Villa de la Mina, interesting to see "Owner is considering all offers, trades, partnership options & partial owner financing at this time" (https://www.thevilladelamina.com). And under local attractions is mentioned star gazing and dark sky ordinances.

Might be worth a call with the owner here, to socialize the vision. They might be interested in a partnership.




On Sun, Sep 20, 2020 at 3:23 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Thanks, Sharon, this is very helpful. I've been involved with both astronomy and lighting for a long time, and I've come to conclusion from experience that for a small community at least, dusk-to-dawn lighting could become a thing of the past. The key is working together at the local level, apolitically, but there does need to be some motivation (or at least receptiveness) to making a community astronomy friendly.





I see on the "towns for sale" website there is one in our focus area of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas: Villa de la Mina near Big Bend National Park in West Texas.





Dave























--
 


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Lissa Bengtson
 

Super!  

What does Mina mean?

Lissa

On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 3:40 PM Bennett Christian <bennett.abc.christian@...> wrote:
For Villa de la Mina, interesting to see "Owner is considering all offers, trades, partnership options & partial owner financing at this time" (https://www.thevilladelamina.com). And under local attractions is mentioned star gazing and dark sky ordinances.

Might be worth a call with the owner here, to socialize the vision. They might be interested in a partnership.




On Sun, Sep 20, 2020 at 3:23 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Thanks, Sharon, this is very helpful. I've been involved with both astronomy and lighting for a long time, and I've come to conclusion from experience that for a small community at least, dusk-to-dawn lighting could become a thing of the past. The key is working together at the local level, apolitically, but there does need to be some motivation (or at least receptiveness) to making a community astronomy friendly.





I see on the "towns for sale" website there is one in our focus area of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas: Villa de la Mina near Big Bend National Park in West Texas.





Dave






















Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Steve Taylor
 

Wow that looks like a great setup to me !


On Mon, 21 Sep 2020 at 16:40, Bennett Christian <bennett.abc.christian@...> wrote:
For Villa de la Mina, interesting to see "Owner is considering all offers, trades, partnership options & partial owner financing at this time" (https://www.thevilladelamina.com). And under local attractions is mentioned star gazing and dark sky ordinances.

Might be worth a call with the owner here, to socialize the vision. They might be interested in a partnership.




On Sun, Sep 20, 2020 at 3:23 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Thanks, Sharon, this is very helpful. I've been involved with both astronomy and lighting for a long time, and I've come to conclusion from experience that for a small community at least, dusk-to-dawn lighting could become a thing of the past. The key is working together at the local level, apolitically, but there does need to be some motivation (or at least receptiveness) to making a community astronomy friendly.

I see on the "towns for sale" website there is one in our focus area of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas: Villa de la Mina near Big Bend National Park in West Texas.

Dave



--
 


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Bennett Christian
 

For Villa de la Mina, interesting to see "Owner is considering all offers, trades, partnership options & partial owner financing at this time" (https://www.thevilladelamina.com). And under local attractions is mentioned star gazing and dark sky ordinances.

Might be worth a call with the owner here, to socialize the vision. They might be interested in a partnership.




On Sun, Sep 20, 2020 at 3:23 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Thanks, Sharon, this is very helpful. I've been involved with both astronomy and lighting for a long time, and I've come to conclusion from experience that for a small community at least, dusk-to-dawn lighting could become a thing of the past. The key is working together at the local level, apolitically, but there does need to be some motivation (or at least receptiveness) to making a community astronomy friendly.

I see on the "towns for sale" website there is one in our focus area of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas: Villa de la Mina near Big Bend National Park in West Texas.

Dave


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

David Oesper
 

Thanks, Sharon, this is very helpful. I've been involved with both astronomy and lighting for a long time, and I've come to conclusion from experience that for a small community at least, dusk-to-dawn lighting could become a thing of the past. The key is working together at the local level, apolitically, but there does need to be some motivation (or at least receptiveness) to making a community astronomy friendly.

I see on the "towns for sale" website there is one in our focus area of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas: Villa de la Mina near Big Bend National Park in West Texas.

Dave


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Sharon Villines
 

Two leads for information on repurposing a town:

1. Towns for sale:
https://www.loveproperty.com/gallerylist/51810/entire-villages-and-towns-for-sale-you-can-actually-buy

I think towns for sale have also appeared on eBay and there are other sites as well. Just search towns for sale. The ones listed on this site today are in the $1.5M range but I’ve seen much less expensive towns for sale. I have no idea what purchasing a town means — What do you own? — but it might be a good place to look for ideas.

2. Transforming a town: One of my favorite small town stories: Ashton Hayes, UK which decided to go carbon neutral.

https://www.sociocracy.info/carbon-neutral/

The lesson here is how to organize a village to accomplish a goal. My take aways from this story are (1) how searching for government funding distracts from your purpose, and (2) how to set goals for pre-seventeenth century village to get almost 100% buy in. Less emphasized in most of the coverage is that they did have expert support from the students and faculty at a local college, who did the eco research and numbers. Tracking numbers is effective in making goals tangible.

Sharon
———
Sharon Villines
http://sustainablecohousing.org
sustainablecohousing@groups.io
To subscribe:
sustainablecohousing+subscribe@groups.io



On Sep 16, 2020, at 7:03 PM, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Another approach to establishing a dark-sky, astronomy-friendly, community would be to find a small town in a rural area that would be receptive to doing the following:

• Enact a comprehensive lighting ordinance that will be enforced
• Eliminate all dusk-to-dawn outdoor lighting
• Apply for International Dark Sky Community status (https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/)
Obviously, this is going to be easier to do in a very small community, and most likely one that is economically depressed.

What’s in it for them? What would the motivating factors be?

• A commitment from X number of people that they would move to the community provided the community agrees to 1-3 above being done. Options for new residents would be to either purchase or rent an existing home/apartment/RV space/etc., or to build the same but land would have to be available.
• The new residents would commit to working with the existing residents and businesses to improve the community and provide new opportunities so that it is truly a win-win situation for both existing and new residents.
• The new residents would commit to doing some or all of the things outlined in the Mirador Astronomy Village specifications document (https://miradorastrovillage.org/mirador.pdf), or something like it.
• The influx of new residents and tourism will benefit all in the community, both economically and socially.
Now, does anyone have ideas about how we can find communities that are good prospects for this approach?

Thanks,

Dave



Sharon
———
Sharon Villines
http://sustainablecohousing.org
sustainablecohousing@groups.io
To subscribe:
sustainablecohousing+subscribe@groups.io


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

David Oesper
 

Magdalena, NM is definitely worth considering, John, thank you!  Who knows how long it will be before it is safe to travel again, but I’m *tentatively* planning to visit my daughter and her family in Alpine around Christmas & New Years, and I would love to make a side trip up to Magdalena at that time.  Hope to see you then, though masks and social distancing will probably still be needed, unfortunately.

Thanks much,

Dave



On Sep 16, 2020, at 9:49 PM, John W Briggs <john.w.briggs@...> wrote:

As I have relayed before, folks can consider our small community around Magdalena, New Mexico, as another prospect.  No site is perfect in all ways.  But we have many nice advantages, a small but growing astronomical community in place, and considerable professional astronomy activities nearby that help make life interesting.  The area is also geologically, archeologically, and biologically very interesting, too, with high-altitude access, over 10,000 feet, very conveniently available for additional nearby adventure.

Cheers!   --John W. Briggs.


On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Another approach to establishing a dark-sky, astronomy-friendly, community would be to find a small town in a rural area that would be receptive to doing the following:

  1. Enact a comprehensive lighting ordinance that will be enforced
  2. Eliminate all dusk-to-dawn outdoor lighting
  3. Apply for International Dark Sky Community status (https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/)

Obviously, this is going to be easier to do in a very small community, and most likely one that is economically depressed.

What’s in it for them? What would the motivating factors be?

  • A commitment from X number of people that they would move to the community provided the community agrees to 1-3 above being done. Options for new residents would be to either purchase or rent an existing home/apartment/RV space/etc., or to build the same but land would have to be available.
  • The new residents would commit to working with the existing residents and businesses to improve the community and provide new opportunities so that it is truly a win-win situation for both existing and new residents.
  • The new residents would commit to doing some or all of the things outlined in the Mirador Astronomy Village specifications document (https://miradorastrovillage.org/mirador.pdf), or something like it.
  • The influx of new residents and tourism will benefit all in the community, both economically and socially.

Now, does anyone have ideas about how we can find communities that are good prospects for this approach?

Thanks,

Dave





Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

David Oesper
 

Valentine, TX is actually a very good possibility.  Thanks, Lissa!  I’ll start looking into it.  As you can see from this light pollution map, Valentine has *no* problem with light pollution.  Plus, it is in a protected area surrounding McDonald Observatory.


BTW, that small blob of light pollution you see by Ryan, TX (a locale, not a town) is a Border Patrol station which houses a Tethered Aerostat Radar System and is known as the “Marfa Station”.

El Paso is a 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive from Valentine.  Alpine is just over an hour away.

Dave



On Sep 16, 2020, at 9:35 PM, Lissa Bengtson <lissabengtson@...> wrote:

Valentine, TX comes to mind.  Only because when we drove through several years ago, they had a new City Hall and had preserved a house to be a public library.  There was a railroad (defunct?)...not much else but there was pride in what was there.  Might be too close to Alpine though.  And might be doing OK on their own.

I'll keep thinking.

Lissa

On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 6:03 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Another approach to establishing a dark-sky, astronomy-friendly, community would be to find a small town in a rural area that would be receptive to doing the following:

  1. Enact a comprehensive lighting ordinance that will be enforced
  2. Eliminate all dusk-to-dawn outdoor lighting
  3. Apply for International Dark Sky Community status (https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/)

Obviously, this is going to be easier to do in a very small community, and most likely one that is economically depressed.

What’s in it for them? What would the motivating factors be?

  • A commitment from X number of people that they would move to the community provided the community agrees to 1-3 above being done. Options for new residents would be to either purchase or rent an existing home/apartment/RV space/etc., or to build the same but land would have to be available.
  • The new residents would commit to working with the existing residents and businesses to improve the community and provide new opportunities so that it is truly a win-win situation for both existing and new residents.
  • The new residents would commit to doing some or all of the things outlined in the Mirador Astronomy Village specifications document (https://miradorastrovillage.org/mirador.pdf), or something like it.
  • The influx of new residents and tourism will benefit all in the community, both economically and socially.

Now, does anyone have ideas about how we can find communities that are good prospects for this approach?

Thanks,

Dave





Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

John W Briggs
 

As I have relayed before, folks can consider our small community around Magdalena, New Mexico, as another prospect.  No site is perfect in all ways.  But we have many nice advantages, a small but growing astronomical community in place, and considerable professional astronomy activities nearby that help make life interesting.  The area is also geologically, archeologically, and biologically very interesting, too, with high-altitude access, over 10,000 feet, very conveniently available for additional nearby adventure.

Cheers!   --John W. Briggs.


On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Another approach to establishing a dark-sky, astronomy-friendly, community would be to find a small town in a rural area that would be receptive to doing the following:

  1. Enact a comprehensive lighting ordinance that will be enforced
  2. Eliminate all dusk-to-dawn outdoor lighting
  3. Apply for International Dark Sky Community status (https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/)

Obviously, this is going to be easier to do in a very small community, and most likely one that is economically depressed.

What’s in it for them? What would the motivating factors be?

  • A commitment from X number of people that they would move to the community provided the community agrees to 1-3 above being done. Options for new residents would be to either purchase or rent an existing home/apartment/RV space/etc., or to build the same but land would have to be available.
  • The new residents would commit to working with the existing residents and businesses to improve the community and provide new opportunities so that it is truly a win-win situation for both existing and new residents.
  • The new residents would commit to doing some or all of the things outlined in the Mirador Astronomy Village specifications document (https://miradorastrovillage.org/mirador.pdf), or something like it.
  • The influx of new residents and tourism will benefit all in the community, both economically and socially.

Now, does anyone have ideas about how we can find communities that are good prospects for this approach?

Thanks,

Dave


Re: Repurposing an Existing Community

Lissa Bengtson
 

Valentine, TX comes to mind.  Only because when we drove through several years ago, they had a new City Hall and had preserved a house to be a public library.  There was a railroad (defunct?)...not much else but there was pride in what was there.  Might be too close to Alpine though.  And might be doing OK on their own.

I'll keep thinking.

Lissa

On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 6:03 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Another approach to establishing a dark-sky, astronomy-friendly, community would be to find a small town in a rural area that would be receptive to doing the following:

  1. Enact a comprehensive lighting ordinance that will be enforced
  2. Eliminate all dusk-to-dawn outdoor lighting
  3. Apply for International Dark Sky Community status (https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/)

Obviously, this is going to be easier to do in a very small community, and most likely one that is economically depressed.

What’s in it for them? What would the motivating factors be?

  • A commitment from X number of people that they would move to the community provided the community agrees to 1-3 above being done. Options for new residents would be to either purchase or rent an existing home/apartment/RV space/etc., or to build the same but land would have to be available.
  • The new residents would commit to working with the existing residents and businesses to improve the community and provide new opportunities so that it is truly a win-win situation for both existing and new residents.
  • The new residents would commit to doing some or all of the things outlined in the Mirador Astronomy Village specifications document (https://miradorastrovillage.org/mirador.pdf), or something like it.
  • The influx of new residents and tourism will benefit all in the community, both economically and socially.

Now, does anyone have ideas about how we can find communities that are good prospects for this approach?

Thanks,

Dave


Repurposing an Existing Community

David Oesper
 

Another approach to establishing a dark-sky, astronomy-friendly, community would be to find a small town in a rural area that would be receptive to doing the following:

  1. Enact a comprehensive lighting ordinance that will be enforced
  2. Eliminate all dusk-to-dawn outdoor lighting
  3. Apply for International Dark Sky Community status (https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/)

Obviously, this is going to be easier to do in a very small community, and most likely one that is economically depressed.

What’s in it for them? What would the motivating factors be?

  • A commitment from X number of people that they would move to the community provided the community agrees to 1-3 above being done. Options for new residents would be to either purchase or rent an existing home/apartment/RV space/etc., or to build the same but land would have to be available.
  • The new residents would commit to working with the existing residents and businesses to improve the community and provide new opportunities so that it is truly a win-win situation for both existing and new residents.
  • The new residents would commit to doing some or all of the things outlined in the Mirador Astronomy Village specifications document (https://miradorastrovillage.org/mirador.pdf), or something like it.
  • The influx of new residents and tourism will benefit all in the community, both economically and socially.

Now, does anyone have ideas about how we can find communities that are good prospects for this approach?

Thanks,

Dave


Consensus Decision Making Webinar Notes

David Oesper
 

On July 28, Yana Ludwig offered an FIC-sponsored webinar on Consensus Decision Making. As usual for anything that Yana presents, it was excellent. Here are some notes and highlights.

Sociocracy is a high-structure form of consensus decision-making. [I later attended a Sociocracy webinar and will post notes from that session when I get a chance.]

https://www.sociocracyforall.org/start-here/

If you get the culture of your community right first, then the decision-making structure you choose is not as important. The converse is not true. In other words, even with a well-thought-out decision-making structure, if you have an incompatible group of community founders that don’t work well together, no decision-making structure is going to work for your group.

You want to develop a Sustainable Cooperative Culture, somewhere between an Extreme Competitive Culture and an Extreme Cooperative Culture.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OOy8GzsWpjQOdyqBoTNfc1g20UiaXbZE/view?usp=sharing

What is consensus?

  • A decision-making system AND a culture change tool
  • Everyone’s input is taken into account & we do what’s best for the group
  • “Everyone has a piece of the truth”
  • Always references the mission of the organization
  • We are obligated to work to understand each other, to find the best solution for the group and project as a whole
  • Working together to make decisions while tending relationships

And what consensus isn’t…

  • NOT: everyone gets their way or is happy about every decision. This is a long-term relationship; expect times of unhappiness
  • NOT: we agree 100%; in fact, if done well, you will be more aware of genuine differences
  • NOT: a fix for negative power dynamics (by itself)
  • NOT: everyone is involved with every decision directly; however, how decisions are being made & by whom is consensual

In consensus decision-making, we are obligated to work to understand each other, not necessarily to agree with each other.

Not everyone is involved with every decision directly. You can consent to vote, and consent to delegate.

In consensus decision-making, you as an individual within the group have three choices: Approve, Stand Aside, Block.


Options for individual responses in consensus

Approve (or Agree to Consent): MOST responses will be this

Stand Aside: disagree for personal reasons or haven’t been present enough

Block: disagree for reasons tied to group purpose, group-held values, or group survival


When you block, the group can’t go forward. All it takes is one block, and it's back to the drawing board.

Logistics vary. Do what works for you.

About Blocks

Blocking MUST be a real option...or it’s not consensus.

Criteria and Process for Legitimate Blocks:

  • Participation
  • Good Faith Effort to Hear Others
  • Alignment with Group-Held Values and Mission

A block must always be about the group’s purpose, not your personal preferences.

Test: Can at least X# of folks see how you got there?

Repair: All blocks are painful but are absolutely needed. Tend to relationships.


Bubbles Before Boxes

Bubbles: Gather input - make sure everyone is heard

Boxes: Present proposal

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xLav0O3OpaCxF4_n1q2ilyG87Pq6W25M/view?usp=sharing

Recommended Bubbles and Boxes Sequence

  • Present & clarify issue or area of work a proposal will address
  • Round 1 of bubbles (what would a good proposal need to take into account?)
  • Round 2 of bubbles by different means, OK to participate again
  • Last call and closing bubbles phase; figure out who will do proposal creation
  • Proposal creation, taking into account bubbles
  • Presentation of the proposal back to community, check against bubbles, problem solve any left out bubbles / talk about why they can’t be accommodated
  • Pass the proposal, with or without modifications

Some things to keep in mind…

Not everyone is verbal.

Not everyone thinks fast on their feet.

NO “bubble popping” in the bubbles phase!

Having power without being a part of the process is not good.

Good consensus topics (“plenary worthy”)

  • Your community’s Vision
  • Direction of your organization
  • Annual Budget & Planning / Big $$ items
  • Strategic planning
  • Land purchase & selling
  • Purpose
  • Defining membership; approving new members
  • Items that have a major impact on how we are living
  • Business plan factors
  • Land use planning, yearly planning

Plan your meeting agenda carefully. Consensus needs time--don’t put too much in the meeting.


Light Pollution Maps

David Oesper
 

You will find several light pollution maps here on the Light Pollution Resources page that I maintain:

https://www.skythisweek.info/lightpollution.htm


File /AZ-NM-TX 2016 Light Pollution Map.jpg uploaded #file-notice

main@Dark-Sky-Communities.groups.io Notification <main@...>
 

The following files have been uploaded to the Files area of the main@Dark-Sky-Communities.groups.io group.

By: David Oesper

Description:
2016 light pollution map of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas from http://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/overlay/dark.html. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, John Rummel! You can toggle back and forth between 2006 and 2016 data, have different underlying maps to choose from, and can adjust the contrast between geography and the light pollution overlay with a slider. Nice!