This proposal is a set of tools to build our own stakeholder consensus both for political actions and for renewables development plans.
We need practical, quick development of all available solar innovations. We’re likely to need a B-corporation to develop clearly useful innovations, plus a foundation to develop promising lines of research that clearly won’t benefit the inventors.
We need a technical committee to decide how to use limited funds. I recommend adaptation of the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council election system, first, choice, second choice, third choice voting, to form this committee. I have a clear mathematical improvement to this election process.
For large-scale decisions made under any type of time, energy or financial pressure, I recommend the use of 80% majority rule in place of consensus. Otherwise, consensus process is best.
I recommend the “stack” with consensus process, also a recognizing clerk and hand signals for implementing the stack.
I recommend that all documents be hammered out by a tiny committee of perhaps two people, then a second go-round by a larger committee, then the large body should look at it.
I recommend that every consensus meeting have a tiny committee of two walkers. They walk combatants far, far away from the meeting for a while and have a long talk with them, preferably over coffee or possibly with an energy healing session.
I find that under a large-scale consensus governing system, individuals and tiny committees are always trying to anticipate the larger meeting’s consensus process.
What actions do you propose?
We need practical, quick development of all available solar innovations and other climate changing tools, until it can be proven for each innovation that it’s essentially a dead end. Some of our stakeholders are large companies who see the value in being good corporate citizens, solar development nonprofits such as the Rocky Mountain Institute, small inventors, political advocacy groups and nonviolent direct action groups. Applying our limited funds effectively will get the job done. We are likely to need a B-corporation to develop clearly useful innovations, plus a foundation to develop promising lines of research that clearly won’t benefit the inventors.
Also, lobbying for social justice against large, established industries such as the tobacco industry or the American nuclear power industry has a long history of partial success but rarely of complete success. We need all organizations including “Big Green” groups to be on the same page, playing fair with each other, establishing climate principles with teeth, not cutting sweetheart deals.
1. In Rhode Island, the Coastal Resources Management Council pioneered the idea of consulting all stakeholders in an outcome and building consensus among them. The concept enabled the state to build consensus on some highly technical issues. We need a technical committee to decide how to use limited funds.
2. We’re all fearful of corruption of the governing system. One system that has survived and seems to inherently fight political corruption is the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council election system. This system is best described as first, choice, second choice, third choice voting. I recommend that all groups of stakeholders, even mostly nonparticipating groups if there are such groups and they’re valued, get certain percentages of the total vote. Individuals within those groups cast their ballots.
3. All votes should be weighted relative to a particular group’s power, then broken into up to one million microvotes. The use of microvotes ensures that a certain equal percentage of each voter’s vote is alloted to a particular winning candidate. This enables the Cambridge method of voting to have honest recounts with the same outcome each time. I would also recommend this change for the original Cambridge City Council elections.
4. A council would be elected by this method. Council candidates will be allowed to combine votes from different voting blocks to collect a winning number of votes.
5. Consensus process is known for its ability to produce wise, well thought out decisions. However, whenever large sums of money are involved, consensus is easily frustrated and held hostage by a minority of one dissenter. Therefore, for large-scale decisions made under any type of time, energy or financial pressure, I recommend the use of 80% majority rule in place of consensus.
6. The “stack” is a consensus process innovation first used at a Clamshell Congress at Brown University in 1979. A computer scientist would properly call the “stack” a queue. It’s a system of queuing speakers in a consensus meeting. Runners bring little pieces of paper down to a writer at a blackboard, who writes the names down in order of reception. I know of the system because it was originally my suggestion in 1979, and the Rhode Island Clamshell first carried it out. The same system, now called the “stack”, was still being used at Occupy consensus process meetings two years ago.
7. I have clerked in meetings where we used two clerks, a recognizing clerk and a presiding clerk. As recognizing clerk, I used hand signals to silently point out who is on deck and who is third in line.
8. The worst problem with consensus process is that it exhausts huge numbers of people. All documents should be hammered out by a tiny committee of perhaps two people, then a larger committee should further hammer out that document, then a large body should look at it.
9. Some people in long meetings are prediabetic, they get tired faster than the rest of us, they have some old psychological wound or they regularly get into drama. For this reason, a consensus meeting should have a tiny committee of two walkers. When two people start opposing each other in a near-consensus meeting to the detriment of everyone else, the meeting should decide to have each walker take one of the two combatants far, far away from the meeting for a while and have a long talk with them, preferably over coffee or possibly with an energy healing session. The meeting can return to the issue at hand when the two boisterous advocates have calmed down and have talked through their positions with exactly one listener. In general this committee of two people should also watch the meeting’s vibes and make suggestions to the clerk as needed.
10. I find that under a large-scale consensus governing system, individuals and tiny committees are always trying to anticipate the larger meeting’s consensus process. In this way the light bulbs that need to get changed are getting quickly changed. In particular, for the last ten years I have been co-coordinator of a golf cart transit system for mobility-impaired attendees at a national Quaker conference. We have solved vast numbers of tiny issues on the spot, while a few clearly complex issues were successfully booted upstairs.
11. New England and New York Yearly Meetings have discovered in the past ten years that a few seconds of silence between speakers, with a bit more time when people are tired, really helps a consensus meeting.
12. I only ask that the City of Boulder organize the initial meetings and throw a few dollars into the pot.
Who will take these actions?
All organizational stakeholders in climate change plus individual stakeholders representing many disparate groups should participate in strong, united actions.
What are the key challenges?
This particular soft technology, this political technology, appears to be so utterly alien to most engineers that they can't see the problem. Almost all students believe fervently that their professors and their bosses must micromanage everything, until the basic idea of democratic decision-making boils down to something called "teamwork" which is solved by "leadership". In other words, exactly one psychotic runs the show and you just hope that he's a really good leader considering that he's a psychotic.
"Democracy" is the radical 18th century idea that a group of people, all with input into decisions, makes fewer boneheaded mistakes than the average king. This innovation was codified in 1876 into Robert's Rules of Order. The date "1876" makes the buggy whip industry look positively modern, but great numbers of fully grown people walk around thinking that it's the be-all and end-all of democracy innovation.
Consensus process is tiring. We need more individuals changing light bulbs, small committees handling moderate issues, and the full body handling large issues.
Many people get tired and argue. They should be properly given rest, not shunned or shouted at in meetings. This ultimately leads to a better outcome.
What are the key benefits?
The environmental movement acts as a single wise body to develop key climate change inhibition technologies and to put forth a great, detailed, united political agenda.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Not that much. Money for pizza or healthy alternatives, some money for coordination.
This small-scale human design system is ready to go in a month. If it takes off, a fundamentally better governing system could be pushing Congress around within 50 years.