One of the most powerful and unique practices of I-House is that the community uses a consensus style of discussion and decision-making. This approach means, the group works towards plans and solutions, everyone in the community can consent to and “be okay” with.
Every member has the power to veto or “block” a decision if they think it goes against the vision and values of I-House. The aim is to come up with highly creative and inclusive results to keep I-House as welcoming and vibrant as it can be.
The consensus process is easy to use. I-House’s two Co-Facilitators guide rounds of discussion in the meetings to bring out all of the information and ideas from the group, with all efforts moving towards building united judgement.
Once a proposal emerges, all members are asked to express:
If the proposal violates the vision or values of I-House. To block a proposal, the reasons must be discussed openly and then the proposal modified until it satisfies the concerns. If a proposal is blocked, it cannot pass. E.g. Serving only pork at an I-House event. A better idea would be to serve many kinds of food that includes all dietary needs.
If for personal reasons someone does not agree with the proposal but is okay with it happening in I-House. E.g. I don’t want to go on a ski trip that is too expensive for me, but I am okay if others do. You do not have to reveal the reasons for a Stand-Aside, but sometimes if you do, the proposal can be changed to be even better and more inclusive. E.g. plan another local ski trip that is more affordable or includes fundraising to help more people attend.
Is everyone okay with the proposal? Let’s make a plan and do it!
If the decision needs to be re-visited later on, it is easier to change since all members have been involved in crafting a strong, robust solution. Consensus can take some practice and stamina; I-House has found it to be worth the effort!