The Free Activist Witch Camp consensus process is a facilitated decision making process which generally is based on the following steps: a proposal is made, the facilitator then dedicates time and space for comments, questions and concerns to the satisfaction of the group, or with respect to any agreement about how much time was negotiated for the conversation. Then the facilitator asks if there are any stand asides or blocks and tests the proposal for consensus. A stand aside is essentially a choice not to consensus and not to block and is noted in the minutes. A block is a choice not to consense based on deep ethical considerations and is also noted in the minutes. Free Activist Witch Camp allows for consensus minus one, meaning a proposal may be consensed upon even with one block. This decision was consensed upon last year (fawc 08) at camp.
The facilitator may choose to use any number of tools to move the conversation along, to support clarity and to gauge where the group is at any particular place in the conversation. This speaks to the acknowledgment that we all come with our own personal nuance and subtlety in engaging this process and that sometimes it can be more or less formalized depending on a variety of factors, particularly the group's level of intimacy.
There are also some fabulous hand symbols that are used in our consensus process. These symbols will be explained at the beginning of camp along with a longer discussion about our consensus process. If you have never been a part of a consensus based decision making process before, it may be a little confusing at first. Please don't hesitate to ask questions or ask someone for help understanding the process.
a basic flow of consensus:
discussions prior to proposal
one proposal is dealt with at a time
space for amendments and evolution of proposal*
restate the proposal as it has evolved
test for consensus
*at the 2009 F2F, the group consented on shifting away from the style of consensus where an individual offers a proposal and then others offer friendly amendments, to which the original proposee can either accept or reject the friendly amendment. We agreed that once the proposal is in the cauldron of community, it is no longer the "property" of the original proposal maker, it is considered part of the commons.
The issue of a block is a very serious one. It is typically only used when a person feels that the group is making a decision that is against the values of the group. If a person makes more than one or two (1-2) blocks in their time as a member of the organizing body, they and the group will need to examine this relationship.
The current quorum for decision-making on the ground at camp, on the phone, or at F2F gatherings is five (5) people.