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.”

Cate de Vreede

Treehouse Village Ecohousing

Intentional communities that use sociocracy

This list is FAR from complete. Help us by telling us about your community – send an email to Jerry ([email protected]).

  • 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.

Questions Answered

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

Meeting posters

Having a visual makes every meeting easier to follow.
Use them in your meeting room, or laminate and bring along?

See posters (pdf)

Sample governance agreement

A document that lays out a governance agreement for a cohousing community.

See document

Sociocracy Starter Kit

An article describing the phases of introducing sociocracy in any organization.

Read article

Talk to a real human that understands cohousing!

Individual coaching with implementation teams from communities. Benefit from the experience with dozens of communities in this process – we’ve been there before!

Learn more

Sociocracy Handbook

Written by the co-founders of Sociocracy For All. 300 pages.

More information and purchase options

All SoFA resources for communities

R:ekobyn i Röstånga – a forming community

R:ekobyn i Röstånga – a forming community

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.

Biblioterre – an intentional community

Biblioterre – an intentional community

Biblioterre is an intentional community that aims to offer affordable and low-impact housing, grow healthy food, create permaculture gardens, offer workshops & classes, and support initiatives that bring ecological and social benefits to the greater community. Inspired by the concept of a “land library.”, they intend to share the Land and resources with each other, nature, Indigenous communities, and the wider community.

Bridport Cohousing and Sociocracy

Bridport Cohousing and Sociocracy

“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.’”

Communities: going from consensus to sociocracy

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 in forming communities

Sociocracy in forming communities

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!

Case study: Prairie Hill Cohousing

Case study: Prairie Hill Cohousing

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.

Case study: Grobund

Case study: Grobund

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.

The “four necessary requirements” for intentional communities to use sociocracy effectively

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.

Sociocracy and Art of Hosting

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?

Getting it Built with Sociocracy

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.

Sociocracy enhancing psychological safety on a team

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.

What I learned about sociocracy in crisis mode

What I learned about sociocracy in crisis mode

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.

Policy vs. operations

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.

Case study of Treehouse Ecohousing

Case study of Treehouse Ecohousing

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.

Decision Making through conflict

SoFA colleague Chen explaining not only feelings, needs and strategies but also the harder part – overcoming the adversarial story and expanding willingness

To decide or not to decide?

To decide or not to decide?

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?