Sociocracy in Communities
“Creating cohousing involves a million decisions. Without a good way to make them, we’d have been stuck in the “eternal potluck” stage. Sociocracy is the foundation that allows us to get tons of work done, while also building trust and connection among our members. We have no regrets about deciding to adopt sociocracy.”
Intentional communities that use sociocracy
- Pioneer Valley Cohousing, Amherst MA, USA (circle structure, case study)
- Cohabitat Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- Windsong Cohousing, BC Canada
- Belfast Cohousing, Belfast ME
- Cambridge Cohousing, Cambridge MA
- Treehouse Village Ecohousing (circle structure)
- Westwood cohousing (NC)
- Adam’s Creek
- Columbia Ecovillage, Portland, OR
- Seattle Cohousing, WA USA
- Bull City Commons, NC
- Rocky Corner, New Haven CT
- Woodard Cohousing, Olympia WA
- TREE community, Ithaca Ecovillage NY (webinar)
- Village Hearth Cohousing (NC, USA)
- Iowa City Cohousing
- Albuquerque cohousing
- … more than 80 communities use sociocracy, according to the advanced search for “sociocracy” in the Fellowship for Intentional Communities list.
Why Dynamic Governance for communities?
Members of intentional communities (cohousing, ecovillages, cooperative housing) want to live and work in community. Sociocracy can help here. It is useful for your community if you want to:
- hear all the voices and be able to make considerate decisions that work
- be more connected in meetings and take the heat out of discussions
- enjoy living and working together with smooth governance
Is it hard to do?
Dynamic Governance (DG) is used in dozens of communities and ecovillages worldwide. Depending on how your culture is set now, there is definitely a learning curve. However, that learning is often experienced as liberating and clarifying.
We have noticed that DG is easiest to implement in a forming group. Yet, even communities that have used consensus for decades have been able to switch and enjoy smooth, action-oriented and connecting governance.
Where do we start?
Read and watch the information on this site. If you are interested in suggesting DG/sociocracy to your community, make sure to read The Sociocracy Starter Kit first. You will notice that it suggests to involve other people in your exploration as early as possible.
Study group curriculum
Is your community trying to get an overview of Dynamic Governance (sociocracy) and what it feels like?
Trying to experience it as a group together?
See our study group curriculum!
4x 2-hour sessions with exercises, readings, handouts.
Perfect for groups of 5-8 people.
Video-led – just turn on the video and learn!
By donation/coaching on a sliding scale.
Dozens of communities have used this curriculum to get an overview of sociocracy (Dynamic Governance).
Resources for learning and implementation
All SoFA resources for communities
Prairie Hill is a cohousing community on an 8-acre site in Iowa City, Iowa. It got its start in 2009, and they started construction in 2017. At this time (spring, 2020) they have built their common house and about 30 of their 36 units.
Three years ago, in a Town named Ebeltoft people started to gather, they began having conversations within the Community, they started organising themselves and gradually formed an organisation of around 30 people.
In my years teaching sociocracy for ecovillages, cohousing communities, and other intentional communities and member-led groups, I realized they need to meet what I call “the four necessary requirements” to succeed and thrive with sociocracy — to use it effectively and avoid the unintended conflict from not meeting the requirements. They are: (1) Everyone learns it (rather than only some people knowing it), (2) You use what I call “all seven parts” (rather than only some parts), (3) Use it like your sociocracy trainer taught (rather than creating a hybrid with consensus or voting), and (4) Get periodic review trainings, consultations, advice, and/or guidance from a sociocracy trainer/consultant to avoid “governance drift.” We’ll look at success stories as well as cautionary tales about communities who do (and don’t) meet these requirements and field-tested, effective ways you can help a group meet them and experience the best of sociocracy.
Presentation by Bolette Nyrop. Description: The dance between Sociocracy and the Art of Hosting: Where do they strengthen each other? How do they complement each other? Where are they at odds?
Presentation by Cate de Vreede. The case of Treehouse Village Ecohousing. Treehouse Village’s first decision may have been its best: choosing to use sociocracy. Hear how members of this developing cohousing community are using sociocracy to design their physical and social community.
By Francine Proulx-Kenzle. Think of psychological safety as creating a safe space, a safe bubble, where a team member feels confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question or offering a new idea. Psychological safety helps individuals feel safe enough to broaden their minds and explore new ways of looking at the world at their own pace and style. Fostered by the Sociocratic Circle Method, this feeling of safety shows up in positive mental health and well-being for each team member.
Sociocracy was developed with small groups in mind. When and how can we apply it to large groups?
How similar are sociocracy and NVC? How do they complement each other?
Are sociocratic organizations more responsive than top-down hierarchies? Read a case study of two sociocratic organizations – a community and an NGO workplace – and their responses to the covid crisis.
Understanding the difference between operations and policy is key to making fast and good decisions. The idea in sociocracy is to empower operational decisions (so they can be made by anyone who is authorized) and to make policy decisions to guide and improve those operational decisions.
In this webinar, Jerry Koch-Gonzalez is walking the audience through a sample governance agreement (aka “constitution”) that is needed to safely implement sociocracy in an organization.
Treehouse Village Ecohousing is a project to build a cohousing community, the first in Atlantic Canada. It officially launched on Sept 29, 2018 with a first public meeting.
The circle structure of Pioneer Valley cohousing
SoFA colleague Chen explaining not only feelings, needs and strategies but also the harder part – overcoming the adversarial story and expanding willingness
3 decisions every young organization will make. They will happen either way, either consciously with a good and inclusive system, or unconsciously with old biases kicking in. Which would you rather do?
The practical sociocracy handbook written by the co-founders of Sociocracy For All. 300 pages full of real-life support!
A community in Denmark
Woodard Lane CoHousing
A community in Massachusetts preparing to build
A cohousing community in Nova Scotia (in formation)