Catalyzing personal empowerment, societal transformation, and environmental sustainability
"We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors...but they all exist very nicely in the same box."
Natural Systems Blog
Why is there a need for consensus?
The urgent need for systemic social change is becoming seen as necessary across a broad spectrum of the population today. Change is based on choices, both individual and group, and creating change is partially dependent on making different choices.
Changing the way decisions are made in groups and communities could be the most important tool available for social change. Decisions are a dynamic process, and decision making is a part of group dynamics. As well, it must be realized that the manner in which we make decisions tends to reflect how we treat people in general. Since progressive social change groups see the need to increase diversity and to become more inclusive as a necessary part of creating lasting and equitable social systems, it should make sense to embrace a decision making process that is more inclusive--that more closely models the natural systems processes humans have evolved within and are an intimate part of.
The consensus process stands in contrast to the majority rule, winner take all system that is so heavily based on competition. The competitive system as it is practiced today assumes that someone has to lose, and further assumes that this type of competition is not only acceptable, but natural and desirable.
Consensus is a cooperative and creative process for guiding meetings and reaching group decisions. It is not a hierarchical control structure where much of the energy of a meeting goes into maintaining control. Using the model that nature provides for any who are willing to take part in the process opens us up to the value and strength of cooperation. Nature's example shows that it is not necessary to attack someone else's efforts or position in order to do your best. In fact, helping others do their best increases your ability to do your best.
Natural Consensus, then, is the next step beyond the formal consensus process, and provides a powerful group decision making process that gives Nature a voice. Natural Consensus allows you to reach group decisions that mirror the integrated harmony of the Universe.
Natural Consensus is based on the premise that Nature is the ultimate model of a consensus process. Nature’s model demonstrates that mutual support and reciprocity is the only way to be sustainable--to make decisions that will pass the test of time. Natural consensus supports not only your groups well being, but your groups role within the Web of Life.
The consensus process depends on openness and trust, which reconnecting with Nature activities can develop and strengthen. The consensus process also depends on the group having a shared set of values and a common purpose, both of which are modeled in intact and healthy ecosystems.
By modeling natural systems, the consensus process can be more easily implemented, as groups learn to bond and strengthen their natural affinity to community. The process is as inclusive as Nature is, and can help get past dominating egos that see everything else as other instead of as part of the self. As well, the consensus process does not contribute to the us vs. them mentality inherent in majority vote style decision processes.
In group interactions, the cooperative spirit actually allows the group's best to be better than the sum of its parts. Cooperation based on commonalities leads to trust-building and a stronger, more successful group.
For further information, or to schedule a workshop (two hours to two days, depending on your group's familiarity and experience with the formal consensus process) for your board, project team, or activist group, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (360) 756-7998.
"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has