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 Québec, Québec, 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.
Community of practice
Find your people!
Advocates for Sociocracy in Community is our community of practice for Intentional Communities. We meet on Zoom once a month to support each other in using Sociocracy in our co-housing, ecovillages or other intentional communities. We discuss themes such as how to implement Sociocracy, conflict resolution, policy vs operations, managing objections, and much more.
This community of practice is for you if:
- You’re already trained and using Sociocracy
- You are part of a forming or established co-housing, ecovillage or other intentional community, and
- You want to share your experience, get support from other community members and SoFA trainers and staff, or just meet fellow community and sociocracy enthusiasts.
This community of practice will allow you to find companionship and build relationships with other sociocratic communities, like Port Townsend Ecovillage (OR), Pioneer Valley Community (MA), Bridport Cohousing (UK), Eden Community (TX), and Cohousing Hamilton (ON-CA).
We meet every second Monday of the month, for 1h30, at 3:15 pm UTC (see local time here). It’s a drop in group, and we’d be delighted to meet you and learn about your community in our next session.
Steps to join
Those sessions are a free offer for our SOFA members.
- RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you’re not already a member:
- 10 minutes before the session, check your email and click the Zoom Link.
If the time doesn’t work for you, please let us know, we could start another cohort if there is enough interest.
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!
4 x 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
Learn about a society model that brings together the Sociocratic Neighbourhood Circle (aka Neighbourhood Parliament), cohousing development, and local multistakeholder coop.
About a “satellite apartment” with 10 other adults at the ambitious mehralswohnen.ch housing coop in Zurich, Switzerland. Since 2017 we have been practicing sociocracy for our monthly circle meetings (to discuss issues, make decisions, manage our money) and open votes to select new flatmates.
Longing for better time management in meetings? Curious what sociocracy has to offer? Learn how to keep meetings short and productive.
R:ekobyn is a forming ecovillage in rural Sweden. R:ekobyn encourages local businesses and plans to lease part of the land to new businesses to bring back daily social life to the village, reduce the need to commute.
“What is in store for Bridport Cohousing and Sociocracy? ‘We’ll just get better at it!’ laughs Judith. ’Nobody has suggested dropping it. The opposite in fact – using Sociocracy has helped us attract new members.’”
Consensus in cohousing or other intentional communities often creates tensions, especially when all decisions are made together. n this video, Jerry Koch-Gonzalez shows how sociocracy offers a solution, and this video shows how & why to switch and what to expect.
Sociocracy is used by dozens of communities. Forming communities need governance to manage the community themselves. In this video, we show how sociocracy works in forming communities – groups that are looking for a site or have started to build. Because community is much sweeter when meetings are connecting and productive!
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