Democracy Model

creating democracy – structures for democratic movement buidling

base group at core of the cd model is small group democracy. The small group is the main group where you do your work. There are not many limitations other than a requirement for democratic process, general agreement with the core principles, and a commitment to building a movement for justice.

Clusters Or successive levels of group of groups. This structure allows us to coordinate our work while maintaining our focus on the areas that we are most passionate about.

Spoke the goal of the spoke is to bring the collective agreement from your small group. While you cannot be expected to have no opinion, you will strive to represent the opinion of the group, not simply your opinion. Ideally large decisions will be proposed with enough lead time to at least poll your group members if not enough time to discuss and find group agreement. There will be times when proposals are amended at the last minute, where you may not be able to gather the opinion of your group. In that case you will have to use what you know of the group to best represent them. Your group should hold you accountable for that representation. Obviously this role should be rotated regularly.

Designed to grow fast Whether from bad-ass organizing or from an erupting crisis this structure is designed to grow fast. Often our organizations require prospective members to be a detective to find out on their own how to get involved. Even when they do show up they don't speak in the meeting other than introducing themselves and often don't come back (see size limits below) We don't give time to bringing new folx in or if we do we limit it to stuffing envelopes or post flyers. We need to build structures and processes that make it extremely easy to join a group, form a group, join as a group, and get the skills and training necessary to continue this struggle.

Size limits (5-15 people) Ever wonder why groups don't often grow beyond 5-10 regular participants? Ever pay attention to who speaks in a meeting? How long they speak for? Given that 99% of all meetings last 2 hours, and given that maintaining high levels of democratic participation and thus investment also requires meeting talking time, there are natural limits to how many people can meaningfully participate in one meeting. We are proposing that all groups limit their participants to 5-15 people. When a group approaches it's limit, with or without assistance from the cluster, the group can split into 2 or even 3 groups.

Proactive disagreement based splits – Since we're going to split organizations based on numbers we are also suggesting pro-active splits based on fundamental disagreements or divergent interests. Obviously this shouldn't be done frivolously. But when fundamental unwavering disagreement surfaces, usually organizations tear themselves apart trying to force one faction or the other to concede. Instead the group can split into 2 separate groups, each following their inclination, but working together in solidarity. Potentially both groups would be stronger for it. We do not have to destroy each other when we uncover disagreement. We may even learn from each other.

Democratic Process – By democratic process we mean any process that strives towards full participation of all members including rich discussion, airing of concerns, and a process of working towards agreement. Examples include processes similar to consensus, Parliamentary Procedure, or more informal processes that conclude with majority or 2/3 voting procedure. While we will recommend a small subset of processes through facilitation trainings, we will leave it up to the small group to decide their process. This is to leave room to fit the culture and practice of people who already have a process they like and also to encourage experimentation. We have a lot to learn about democratic process. However at the 2nd and successive levels we will begin using a process similar to consensus minus the ability to block. Though this may change in the future we feel it is necessary to keep the quality of the democratic decision making process high.