Consensus Validation

We're Makin' Bread!
We're Makin' Bread! Image by Michelle Lasley via flickr.

Today, we had our consensus training with Tree Bressen. Rather, it was a consensus workshop. Dynamic, fun, interactive, and incredibly informative – this was our day. From 10am – 5pm, hosted by Daybreak Co-Housing, we participated in exercises, asked questions, and learned about the consensus process. And, above everything – today was empowering in the decision we made to be in this process.

I think most people have an  idea of what consensus is, we learn about the concept when we learn about language. But, hearing it as a decision making tool didn’t happen for me until I started to learn more about coops. I started to learn more about coops when I wanted to learn more about food. There are a lot of things in life important to me, but the top three or four “passions” would be housing, food, and spirituality (no, friend, not religion).

Growing up, I happened to encounter a lot of people who wanted to tell me what to do and what was the best right way for me to live. True to my “know-it-all” nature (as dubbed by my sweet Sister), I found this contrary. If they are so smart, thought I, why do I feel differently about this decision? When I had the opportunity to Be the Boss at a  young age, telling others what to do never really felt right. They are capable, some much older than I, so why am I telling them what to do? It didn’t make sense, and I didn’t have the life experience or language skills to name the problem I was noticing.

Tom Atlee, however, has a name for it. He calls it “Co-Intelligence.” It figures that this vocabulary was gifted to me when I moved to the west coast. In fact, a fellow food clubber said the same thing tonight! (We both have family in the mid-west). This idea, this process, that we are all better together. But, more than that, when we let our ideas blend, when we have room for openness and change, we will participate in this thing called group wisdom. The whole is better than the sum of its parts.

A few times during our steering committee meetings, someone would ask after my post-giddiness, if it was some sort of “love fest.” No. It was just me, really enjoying this group wisdom. It’s such a joy to watch these changes. You come in with a stated problem or concern, maybe a few ideas of how it could look – then 13 (in our case women) people come together and say what about this and that and we can do it this other way. One of the participants in today’s training had a name for it: “both/and.” This idea that we don’t have to have one or the other, but we can do both and maybe more. In order to get there, though, you have to have an open heart. Open to change. Open to being changed.

I’m saddened I don’t have time to attend tomorrow’s workshop. Tree, however, will be doing a facilitator’s training in May. I’m very excited to be a part of that one.

 

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