About us

Agreements and disagreements

How are decisions made within the community?

We make decisions collectively at our General Meetings (held every two months), using a consensus process that works creatively and aims to include everyone. Instead of simply voting for an item, and letting the majority get their way, we are committed to finding solutions that everyone can live with. A lot of discussion, and canvassing of views, happens before a proposal comes to a General Meeting. The aim is to explore our common ground and our differences, and strive to reach a decision that takes everyone into account, and works for the good of the community as a whole.

A good consensus practice results in more than just a compromise. It is a process that can result in a surprising and creative solution which is often better than the original suggestion. The emphasis on understanding each others’ positions means that consensus is important for community building, and all members are encouraged to take part. For more information about consensus decision making, please see these Seeds for Change resources.

Do you have conflicts within the community and how do you deal with them?

Of course we have conflicts. We are not a utopia; we are a group of people living together and sharing space and resources, so disagreements are inevitable and can be uncomfortable and painful. We have a variety of techniques and processes for trying to work through conflicts, some of which are better used than others. We’ve learnt that conflict between individuals often expands to impact the wider community and so it is important for the individuals to deal with a disagreement as soon as possible rather than let it fester. So we encourage people to talk to each other as soon as they have a specific disagreement that is troubling them. We also hold facilitated community conversations to air controversial issues and help us understand each other better. Working with conflict is always work in progress. Our commitment to a consensus process means that we are continuously working towards creative solutions for the good of the community as a whole, taking all voices into account.

Are there any sanctions if people don’t keep to agreements?

Theoretically if a member doesn’t abide by the terms of their lease, or other agreements reached by consensus at GM, their lease (or membership for non-leaseholders) could be revoked. This has never happened. Our ambition is to operate on the basis of trust, respect, understanding and friendship.