How We Make Decisions
In cohousing communities, the residents are responsible for the care and maintenance of the whole community. To ensure that we are making the best decisions for all residents, we use a shared governance system called "dynamic governance" that prioritizes equity and efficiency. Every voice is heard and decisions are made in a timely manner.
Many neighborhood associations use an HOA structure, with a president and board who makes decisions for the community. But we do things differently - there is no "leader" and residents have the opportunity to embody a sense of ownership in the community by participating in the areas of the neighborhood they care most about.
Residents can join one of our community groups (called "circles") and help to make decisions about that area. Our current circles includes ones focused on Garden, Plants and Animals, Common Structures, Community Life, and Outreach. One person from each circle reports back to our Coordinating Circle, which helps manage a broad vision for the community.
We make decisions using a "consent" model, rather than a "consensus" model. In consensus, everyone agrees, but in consent, no one has any objections. All our community agreements and decisions are reviewed annually, so we often make decisions that are "good for now."
So how much time does this take for a resident? Typically, circles meet once per month and every three months we have a two-hour all-community meeting to share updates on projects and activities across the community and work together to make our community even stronger.
How do we keep meetings efficient? Every cohousing meeting has an established agenda, as well as residents who take on different roles in the group (facilitator, secretary, etc.). Our meetings are run by rounds, where we hear an idea, ask clarifying questions, discuss, and then make decisions.
How do we ensure that every voice is heard? During round discussions, participants go in a circle speaking one at a time to voice an opinion or ask a question. All participants get the same amount of time and are ensured a time to speak.
This process helps Bloomington Cohousing to address issues of concern for residents and to create a welcoming, inclusive, and vibrant space to share together.
We'd love to chat more about how we make decisions in our community! If you would like to speak to a resident about dynamic governance or other aspects of our community, please send us an email at email@example.com.
You can also read more about dynamic governance (also sometimes called "sociocracy") here. All images on this page from sociocracyforall.org.