Consensus decision-making is a democratic process with the main goal of incorporating everyone’s voice into a solid accepted proposal. Instead of votes, a process of patience and understand is used.
Consensus decision-making has been used for thousands of years by societies such as the Tribe of Abraham, the Iroquois Nation, the Quakers, and the Civil Rights, Feminist, and Anti-war movements of the 1960s & 70s. Today, the consensus decision-making process is being used all over the world in the Occupy Movement. This guide is a quick reference and is meant to help speed the process along and keep it efficient by defining terms and facilitation roles, and demonstrating Hand-signals.
What is the General Assembly?
The General Assembly is a gathering of people committed to making decisions based upon a collective agreement or “consensus.” There is no single leader or governing body of the General Assembly – everyone’s voice is equal. Anyone is free to propose an idea or express an opinion as part of the General Assembly.
Each proposal follows the same basic format: an working group shares what is being proposed, why it is being proposed, and, if there is enough agreement, how it can be carried out.
The Assembly will express its opinion for each proposal through a series of hand
gestures. If there is positive consensus for a proposal – meaning no outright opposition – then it is accepted and direct action begins. If there is not consensus, the responsible group or individual is asked to revise the
proposal and submit again at the following General Assembly until a 100% consensus is achieved ,or after 3 days it goes to 90% consensus.
What is the Peoples Mic and why do we use it?
A People’s Mic is used when amplified sound is not feasible and there are too many people to easily hear the speaker.
The speaker says just a few words at a time, then pauses as the people who can hear what she said loudly repeat the phrase so people further from the speaker know what was said. For very large crowds, multiple echos might be necessary.
Effective use of the People’s Mic requires speakers be concise and avoid the temptation to say phrases of more than a few words at a time.
A “Mic Check” is how a speaker gets attention to the People’s Mic and ensures everyone can hear: Everyone repeats the speaker’s “Mic Check” until the speaker can be heard through the whole crowd.
If a crowd gets too large for the People’s Mic to work effectively, another possibility is to distribute a few walkie talkies in the assembly and have the people around each one serve as the people’s mic for those around them. Or use cell phones in place of the walkie-talkies.
There are other advantages to the use of the People’s Mic beyond the utilitarian benefit of sound amplification. The People’s Mic also serves to:
- Focus attention on the issue at hand and encourages people to speak from the stacks, rather than focusing on side conversations
- Engages participants in the conversation, in that they must listen carefully to the speaker to repeat those words exactly
- Promotes empathy for points of view that may differ from your own, in that your must speak someone else’s idea with your voice
- Empowers those who have been traditionally unheard, as hearing your idea repeated back in unison by the group is a concrete evidence that they “hear” you