The Care And Feeding Of Intentional Communities with Diana Leafe Christian

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For many decades Diana Leafe Christian has worked with intentional communities and has come to understand some of the most effective ways to sustain them. One of the governance systems she is familiar with is called sociocracy. This structure is used by peers and colleagues, and involves feedback loops and constant decision making. It includes a mechanism to measure group choices and evaluate whether to keep them, change them, or throw them out. It values equality, collaboration, and the rights of people to decide the conditions under which they live and work. Its principles and practices are very different from parliamentary procedure and majority rule. Majority rule may need only 51% of votes to pass a measure and this can lead to a divided society, promoting competition and dominance instead of cooperation and equality. Sociocracy goes a step beyond even consensus-governing practices. Consensus needs unanimity to pass a measure and this can be a long-drawn-out process. When someone is not in favor of a measure in sociocracy they can say, “This will be good enough for now and safe enough to try.” And through feedback loops a decision can be modified for improvement along the way. There is a way for a group to move forward even though there might be some resistance to what is being proposed. This means that no one person can hold the process hostage. It uses transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability to increase harmony, effectiveness, and productivity. She describes how we can bring this into our own community. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Diana Leafe Christian is an author, former editor of Communities magazine, and a nationwide speaker and workshop presenter on starting new ecovillages, on building communities, and on sustainability. She lives in an off-grid homestead at Earthhaven Ecovillage in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, USA.

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To find out more about the work of Diana Leafe Christian go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What living in a shared group household with friends was like
  • What are some principles that aid the success of an intentional community
  • What is the difference between consensus governance and sociocracy
  • What is the remedy in sociocracy when a member fails to be responsible to the task they signed up for
  • How is a new member integrated into the process
  • How are power struggles dealt with
  • What are the 3 values of sociocracy: equivalency, transparency, effectiveness
  • What are the 4 benefits of sociocracy: better meetings, get more done, better organized, and feel more connected with one another
  • How sociocracy offers a balance between structure and order and the chaos of creativity

Host: Justine Willis Toms            Interview Date: 2/25/2017        Program Number: 3609

Music Playlist

From Album: A Windham Hill Retrospective
Artist: Alex de Grassi
2010 Windham Hill #E2-WWH-21011 

Opening Essay: Track 01 Causeway
Music Break 1 Track 03 Western
Music Break 2 Track 19 Luther’s Lullaby
Music Break 3 Track 12 Turning, Turning Back