The term ‘informed consent’ is used in a governing model called sociocracy. It means that anyone who has any plan or idea and wants to work on it inside an organization he informs all others as good as he can, so that the other people can hold it against the agreed goals and values of the organization. If they do not find objections they consent to the plan.
Why is this such an important concept? EcoGay has set only simple rules: the core values and the Permaculture design framework. Within these simple rules we want all men to have maximum freedom to be able to do what they like and are able to. Of course some ideas might be too difficult to achieve in a specific situation and cannot be carried out right away. Still the importance of this approach is that there is no majority rule over a minority.
To give a simple example. Mr A informs the group that he wants 100 goats to sell milk, cheese and meat to the market. He tells the group that he will provide these products for free to all other EcoGay residents if they agree to this proposal. Most people like the idea because of the free cheese. Mr F however says that 100 goats need so much more space than is available to get enough food that the risk is that they will kill too many trees and bushes on the land. This will create big problems for the ecosystem. He asks Mr A how much land is needed per goat. Mr A is not sure so he promises to look at it. Mr T now asks how many people do you need for milking so many goats? Mr A says probably 4 or 5 for 2 hours per day. There is only 1 other guy who wants to work with him and he only has one hour per day available. So the group asks Mr A to come back with a new plan that works for two people, with the amount of goats that the land can feed but that he does not have to give any cheese and milk for free. Although the majority liked the original idea, a minority helped to think of how the idea could be made better, to prevent problems for the land and Mr A himself later. Mr A makes a new proposal for 10 goats. He tells the group that there is enough land for 20 goats but that he never realized how much work milking the goats would be and he’s happy with the new plan for 10 to see how it will go.
This process of decision making is aimed at support and advise rather than at dictating the direction. This allows people to work towards their potential, but it also keeps the balance. It invites everybody to really think if a plan is good, or if it can be better or wiser to make changes to it. It’s the success of all group members and the project as a whole that is important.
There is much more to say about this, so let’s go a bit deeper and look at how EcoGay is organised.