Consensus
Consensus

*Our structure, decision-making processes, and internal policies are all under review now (December 2016), in a process about which we’ve been updating the group in our emails and meetings. The information below may be incomplete or out-of-date; please bear with us as we attempt to create a flexible, effective, and transparent structure going forward!

How our process works

350 Seattle generally operates by consensus. This document is an attempt to clarify how our process works. If you have concerns about the process, please express them to your workgroup facilitator; we will grapple seriously with any concerns that are raised. This is not written in stone and will probably be refined over time as we go forward. We see two types of decisions that this group (the General Meeting) needs to make:

  1. decisions about actions our group will take and
  2. endorsements of actions that other groups are taking which we wish to support (whether in name or more substantively).

For the first type of action, a proposal can be brought from any workgroup or from the Hub itself. If your workgroup is bringing a proposal to a General Meeting, please make sure the meeting facilitator knows two days in advance, so it will be worked into the agenda. The proposal will then be explained to the whole group, and the meeting facilitator will call for concerns. If there are none, there is consensus. If people have concerns the facilitator will call on each person, so we hear the concerns. Then others will have a chance to respond to the concerns. As time allows we will attempt to see if these concerns can be addressed and resolved through discussion.

 

If there are too many concerns, or serious concerns…

 

that need to be resolved with more attention and time than is available in the meeting, then the proposal will go back to the workgroup for reworking, taking into account the concerns raised. If it seems that there is a general sense of agreement (minus a few people, perhaps), an individual at that point may either state their objection and then say they are “standing aside” which means “I am not part of this agreement, but I have said my piece and will not block it.” Or if someone feels so strongly about it that they would leave the group over it, then they say “I am blocking”. This means blocking is a very serious matter and not simply a feeling of dissatisfaction or discontent with not having convinced the group of their perspective. It is our hope that most agreements will be reached by 100% of the group, or perhaps minus one or two people standing aside.

 

If there are two proposals brought for an action…

 

for example, we will do a quick straw poll to see which one is more popular and begin with discussing that one. At times elements of other proposals maybe able to be worked in, at other times other proposals will have to wait their turn for realization. A quick discussion may find that the whole group is comfortable going forward, or that some in-group reworking may be required before it can meet the approval of the whole group. For the second kind of decision, we will hear what we are being asked to endorse and why. The meeting facilitator will ask if there are any concerns or objections to the endorsement (which might bring forth information that others are unaware of). Then we will see if we have agreement. Because this is not an action of our own, this kind of decision requires a lower standard of agreement; if 80% of us are in agreement, we will go forward with the endorsement.

 

In the event that something comes up that needs action between meetings…

 

a proposal can be sent out to the whole list for “passive consensus”. This means people consent unless they write in with objections within 72 hours. If there are no objections then we have consensus to proceed. If any significant objections (as opposed to requests to tweak something) are raised, then the item will have to be held till the next general meeting for actual discussion. We hope that a similar process can be used in workgroups, although workgroups can also propose (to their members or the whole group) possibilities that not everyone will participate in, that don’t need a formal consensus process…so for example, those of us who feel so moved may decide to leaflet on a certain corner on a certain date. This sort of action should only be taken for materials that have already been vetted. We ask that when planning things, workgroups get the approval of the whole group before using 350’s name, and that if you’re creating new materials with the 350 name or logo, you run them by the communications coordinator (or your workgroup coordinator and one other Hub member).

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