Nice Review of Consensus for Cities

Wren on February 19th, 2015

Thanks to Pablito of Reclaiming Quarterly for this positive review of C.T. Lawrence Butler’s Consensus for Cities! This is a pre-Occupy Wall Street review, of the proof edition C.T. circulated. He had planned to further edit it before the final print. But when we got involved with Occupy, we sold out of/gave away the five hundred proof editions and printed another run of five hundred. I just noticed this write up today. —Wren Tuatha

C.T. speaks to the crowd in Zuccotti Park/Liberty Plaza, during OWS.

Consensus for Cities
A forthcoming book by C.T. Butler

Reclaiming-tradition groups often make decisions by consensus, and may be familiar with C.T. Butler’s pamphlet: On Conflict and Consensus.

His upcoming Consensus for Cities both deepens and broadens participatory decision making — to cities, community groups, and families.

Don’t let the title mislead you — consensus for cities is only one of several valuable ideas and discussions therein.

C.T. at a student march in Berkeley, CA, during our Direct Democracy Tour of Occupy encampments.

Cities lays out a detailed structure for consensus decision making for up to 100,000 people. If you want to know how many hours per week you’d spend and in what type of meetings, it provides a thorough and surprisingly tolerable estimate. The book also descibes a parallel mediation structure for disputes which are not easily resolved through the decision-making structure.

Cities’ discussion of and design for healthy volunteer-oriented community groups feels immediately relevant, useful, and democratically respectful. Other nonprofit management literature often focuses on hierarchical management and boards to the detriment of volunteer power, intelligence, and energy. If you have or are starting a community group, this book is worth reading.

Is the “family of the future” structured like an affinity group? Why might adopting consensus actually increase conflict? What is the psychology behind each formal consensus step?

Butler deepens his earlier consensus work by addressing these and other questions. Charts, definitions, and facilitation techniques are clear and useful for consensus practitioners.

Consensus for Cities is soon to be available from Food Not Bombs publishing, where you can also find a downloadable version of On Conflict and Consensus. Visit

— Reviewed by Pablito / Reclaiming Quarterly Issue #100, p. 7

Notes from Wren: The website,, is offline for renovations. Watch for its return in 2016! Also, you might be wondering how to acquire Consensus for Cities. Just contact C.T. Butler at or 301-586-2560. Just found this interesting assessment on a youtube discussion thread:

“This problem is why consensus is being increasingly adopted. It holds all the stakeholders accountable to the group and provides a level structure for negotiating right and need to access. C.T. Lawrence Butler’s “Consensus for Cities” provides good models for scaling the process up, so that accountability and responsibility are not restricted to the immediate group. This way, an isolated group can be held accountable to worldwide stakeholders, i.e. no one could overconsume at others’ expense.”


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