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Collective decision making..

May '02


Towards a Divine Anarchy Document (20 Kb)

Collective decision making is a true challenge anywhere in the world, and certainly in Auroville! Perhaps prompted by an earlier extensive proposal called 'Towards a Divine Anarchy' for a well functioning organisation for our budding township, the community has been pondering several forms and formulations of the same from the beginning of 2002 onwards. The following document was collaboratively written by a diverse group of Aurovilians, many of whom had found themselves in opposition to the 'Towards a Divine Anarchy' document (which you find herewith as download file).

This new proposal represents another conscious attempt to find areas of agreement among all of us and to proceed from there. It was circulated in Auroville in early April of this year and on April 22nd, a General Meeting was held to discuss the principles outlined in it. Encouraged by the feedback of that meeting, the group which had taken on the task of synthesizing these principles from the various proposals which have arisen over the last several years ­ will now undertake to transform the principles into a proposal that it will submit to the community for ratification hopefully by early July.

While always bearing in mind Mother's words of lore "No rules or laws are being framed. Things will get formulated as the underlying Truth of the township emerges and takes shape progressively..", we present you here with our latest efforts that are presently under discussion:

Making collective decisions in Auroville

The intention behind this document is to begin a process which will enable the Residents Assembly of Auroville to play a more effective role in making decisions in Auroville. To reach this goal we will have to listen to each otheršs ideas, visions and needs, so as to speak with a stronger collective voice ­ one that tries to integrate all of our various expressions.

This document is not meant to be a proposal, it is a statement of principles with which those of us who wrote it all agree. If agreement with these principles is found to be widespread in Auroville, then the principles will be used as a foundation for drafting a detailed proposal.

Agreements in principle

Authority:

  • Within Auroville, the Residents Assembly has the final authority for all decisions that affect the entire community. The Residents Assembly is all Aurovilians over 18 whose names appear on the Register of Residents.

What constitutes agreement?

  • Consensus among all parties, especially those directly impacted and those knowledgeable on an issue, is an ideal that we strive for in making collective decisions.

  • The process to reach agreement must take into account as wide a range of viewpoints as possible.

  • If, and only if, a sincere process has been tried and we have failed to reach consensus, then the Residents Assembly should see whether a decision by consent is possible - whether those who do not agree with a proposed decision are willing to step aside in order to allow the community to move
    forward.

  • If neither consensus nor consent can be achieved, then the Residents will be asked to vote to resolve issues or make decisions.

  • Different levels of approval may constitute acceptance for different types of decisions.

The following two points were thought to be in the right direction, but the group composing the proposal was not unanimous here. Further discussion will have to take place with the community before a proposal can be formulated.

  • As a general rule, any decision with irreversible impacts should carry a high requirement for approval (say 75%), while two-thirds might be considered adequate for other decisions. (Others thought a simple majority would suffice, but we couldnšt find a satisfactory answer to the question of how to implement a decision in Auroville with which nearly half the community disapproves)

  • A quorum of at least 20% of the those eligible to vote and in station at the time of the vote is necessary.

Which decisions?

  • Decisions should in general be made at the most decentralised level possible. Thus working groups should continue to make decisions in areas of their direct responsibility. Usually only issues or policies that are broader than the functional responsibility of any single working group, or decisions on which there is substantial objection to a working group decision or policy, should come to the Residents Assembly for resolution.

  • The Residents Assembly will approve Auroville-wide policies, procedures for the formation of all major Working Groups, and the delegated responsibilities for those groups. The Residents Assembly will also approve medium and long-term development plans and the community budget. The RA may also decide on other specific proposals that from time-to-time may be brought before it.

  • Any Working Group whose delegated responsibilities and procedure for membership have been accepted by the Residents Assembly may make the necessary operational decisions to carry out that responsibility on behalf of the community.

Preparation of proposals to be presented to the Residents Assembly for decision:

  • The preparation of proposals for community-wide decision is a significant work.

  • A group (let's call it 'the Council' for clarity in this write-up) will need to be formed to serve the RA in this process.

  • The Council may make proposals on behalf of the RA but they must always be subject to the review of the RA.

  • Proposals to establish or amend policy may arise from individuals and ad hoc groups of Residents as well as from the Council, working groups or established activities. Regardless of where a proposal for decision originates, the RA must be provided with adequate and timely information to enable it to make an informed decision.

General recommendations:

  • There should be regular open meetings of the Residents, the Council and Working Groups to discuss current issues.

  • All feedback to proposals presented to the RA must be transparent and made readily available to anyone interested.

  • Education will be needed for Council members and members of other Working Groups to learn how to work together better (e.g. respectful communication, group dynamics, etc.).

  • There needs to be a single location where people can go to get information on township issues, to meet with the Council, Working Committee, etc. (Town Hall?)

  • Any decision-making process has to be flexible enough to be transformed as we evolve and understand how to work together better in the future.

  • The RA has the right to include other members of the Auroville community (e.g. youth, workers, friends of Auroville, etc.) in its decision making process when appropriate.

Contact for this proposal petert@auroville.org.in 

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