Aside from twice-a-week potluck dinners, monthly business meetings, and various community-building events like workdays and evening sharing circles, one of the key ways that we experience and build community at Silver Sage Village is through our five standing teams. Typically these teams meet once a month, and members carry out tasks for the team on their own schedule between meetings. Every community member is expected to participate in at least one (but no more than two) of these teams:
Steering Team serves as our legal Board, made up of representatives from each of our standing teams and one at-large member. In addition, ad-hoc teams are sometimes formed for special or one-time activities, like creating this website. They also report to the Steering Team each month.
Like many cohousing communities, we make significant, community-wide decisions by consensus. This is quite different from our culture’s approach of voting, in which the majority rules. Voting has the disadvantage, especially in a small community like ours, that members in a minority position can find they have difficulty getting their needs met.
Our consensus approach has worked well for us. You might wonder how we get twenty-four people to agree on anything. When an issue is brought up, we discuss it first, with every member present or by proxy expressing their opinion. After full discussion, the facilitator takes an informal straw poll to see if all members support the proposal. If so, it is approved. If not all support, we will explore what is necessary, including modifications, to reach consensus. If it then seems that we might have consensus, we will ask each household for their stand. There are three options: to support the proposal, to stand aside (meaning that the family doesn’t actively support the proposal, but does not wish to block it), or block, which means they believe the proposal will cause significant harm to the community. If there is a block, which occurs very rarely, the proposal does not go forward until the issues are resolved.