Making decisions together
When you have a newly formed group of people working together, all sorts of challenges can arise in terms of who decides and does what.
Thankfully, many organisers over time have developed tools to support ways of making decisions effectively and democratically.
One tool is consensus decision making. Group Seeds for Change describe Consensus decision making as “a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority of the group getting their way, a group using consensus is committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports, or at least can live with.”
There are different methods and approaches to making decisions by consensus. Instead of repeating the work of some very well-thought out resources, here are some documents you can download to learn more about consensus:
There are also some emerging approaches such as holocracy to support groups to make decisions together.
Communicating as a group
As well as deciding how you will make decisions together, you will also need to work out how you are going to communicate as a group. This means looking at:
Where, when and how often you meet - many local groups like to meet every two weeks for a couple of hours, some like village halls, others just in their kitchens!
How you will connect in between face to face meetings? Email lists are generally the most common tool but be aware not everyone may like using email or know how.
Google groups is a straightforward email list to set up, but many may feel their security is compromised by google. Otherwise you there are tools such as riseup.net, who offer free email lists services to groups working for social change. Its good practice to keep your group closed so that new people have to be added manually, so you can keep group conversations confidential and to people you already know well.
You will also need to decide how you are going to communicate with members of the public. Most groups will generally have a website. The benefits of your own website is that you have control over content and can keep your messages consistent and aimed locally, or to whoever you want to reach. If you do not want one you can always use the Incredible Edible Somerset website.
The amount of hosting providers is huge. You can use a free one such as wordpress.com or you could pay for hosting and have your own domain name. Green web host, that are powered by renewable energy charge about £29.99 a year for hosting a basic site.
Unless you want to list your personal email account, which we wouldn't recommend, as groups change over time, you will need an email address that members of the public can reach you on. There are a huge amount of free email accounts online - such as gmail, rise up, yahoo and so forth.
It really is the technological age and many people get their news and engage in campaigns through social media, such as Facebook or twitter. You can also get tools to use in your website that will automatically update your social media accounts. If there are a lot of people in your group that use something like facebook, having a facebook group may be an easier way to organise than an email list for example.