We make most of our community decisions using empowered committees and an elected Village Council (VC), with nominal oversight by the Board of Directors of the land trust, DRLT, and the nonprofit organization, DR Inc. Committees, the VC, and the Board use consensus to make decisions.
Why consensus? Because we’ve found that we make better decisions that way. Good consensus process accounts for a range of opinions, including dissent, and resolves when we find a solution that everyone can live with. Unlike “majority rule”, where a 51% vote can result in a decision that many people disagree with, consensus makes it more likely that we’ll continue to support the decisions that are made.
When our population was smaller, we held regular full group consensus meetings to discuss topics, policies, and proposals, generally crafted by our numerous committees. As our population increased, and after extensive discussion and planning, we switched to a Village Council model. Committees still craft policies and proposals, but these are generally approved by the full community via email, or decided by the Village Council.
The Village Council, an elected group of seven villagers, now makes many of the decisions that formerly called for full-group meetings. (As some on the Council say: “We make decisions, so you don’t have to.”) Generally topics are brought to the Council by the committee or individual responsible for a certain area.
Dancing Rabbit committees span a wide range of subjects and are responsible for working on policy and policy implementation as it relates to the mandate of the committee. Committees are given varying levels of decision-making power for the areas they manage. Residents and members of Dancing Rabbit generally serve on one or more committees.
We have committees for everything, or at least it can seem that way sometimes! This way we don’t all have to become experts on everything, and we can focus our service to the village in areas we are good at and have interest in. Just some of our committees include Kid Committee, Pet Committee, Land Use Planning and Policy, Process Team, Membership and Residency Committee, Visitor Team, Debt Committee, Outreach, Eco-Progress Committee, and Land Management, among others.
Committees are typically made up of 2-4 residents and members. Each committee has a clear job description, originally approved by the membership (now by the Village Council), and meets and works regularly on their tasks. Each committee is part of an important and intricate web that allows Dancing Rabbit to function well and smoothly.
In earlier years retreat was a multi-day event held annually, during which we focused on larger topics: reviewing progress from the previous year, figuring out priorities and budgets for the coming year, etc., and working out who was going to serve on which committees and do which tasks.
Now that committees and the Village Council do much of the decision-making, retreat is a time to connect as a community, get reports on what all the committees have been doing during the year, and make time to talk as a group about what is important to us.