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Permaculture of organisations, groups and communities


Sociocracy (also called dynamic/collaborative governance) hard-wires 'People Care' and 'Fair Share' into organisations by ensuring an equal voice in policy. Like living systems, sociocracy uses feedback loops to stay in tune with members and environment.


In March the first Welsh training in Sociocracy took place at Denmark Farm, near Lampeter. Organised by Linda Winn of Lampeter Permaculture Group, the event was facilitated by Nathanial Whitestone of DecisionLab, and 15 participants from Permaculture, Transition, intentional communities, and wellbeing centres took part. For those new to the term, Sociocracy employs structures that foster equal voices and maximise creativity. It uses facilitation techniques with groundrules like appreciative listening and creating a space for each person in a group to respond. It pays close attention at the start of meetings to how particpants are that day because this can affect people's responses and ability to contribute to their potential.


There are four guiding principles:

Governance by consent:
A decision can only be made when none of the circle members has a reasoned objection based on the aims of the organisation.

Organisation in circles: Self-organising groups make decisions by consent. Power is distributed through a hierarchy by double linking of circles.

Circles share at least two members; the operational leader from the upper circle and a representative from the lower circle.

Sociocratic elections:
Choosing people for functions is done by a consent process based on reasoned nominations in a go-round.



Lead-do-measure process using a range of tools creates a unique climate for effective participatory management.

Sociocratic consent Critical concerns can be voiced but the consent process does not allow a blunt veto - it has to be made clear that the decision would not be in the interest of the organisation. Concerns and objections are valued – they can lead to better solutions and effective contingency planning.


Further information

Connections between Holmgrem's Permaculture Principles and Sociocracy: 'We the People' by John Buck and Sharon Villines – a UK social network for working and aspiring Sociocratic practitioners – more explanation and links


Sociocracy in action:

Information summarised with acknowledgement from original DecisionLab material by Mid Wales Permaculture Network 2013


Roz Brown

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