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Developing Working Models of Consensus in Africa

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November 23, 2010
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Help Spread Consensus Decision-Making Through Indymedia and the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal

By Wren Tuatha

The opportunity of a lifetime is before me. I'm writing for support of a project to train members of media cooperatives and collectives around the world in consensus decision-making and community building.

Consensus author/trainer C.T. Lawrence Butler and I have been working with organizers to structure an event leading up to 2011's World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The event is called the Indy Media Convergence, a two-week period when members of Independent Media Center, aka Indymedia or IMC, gather to create consensus-based community and learn new skills in communication, media and journalism.  

The current registration for the convergence is at 140, including 99 Africans. The World Social Forum itself draws thousands of participants.

Afterwards, the members remain in Dakar to cover the World Social Forum, from perspectives free of corporate interests.  The Forum is a series of events in answer to the capitalist World Economic Forum.

Indymedia's mission incorporates consensus principles but many of the over 200 chapters need training.  To organizers, the point is really the process. "If we don't have consensus training, then it's just a technical workshop," says Sphinx, a documentary filmmaker and IMC organizer from Cameroon, now living in exile in the US.  

Now that our organizing structure has been adopted by the group, we need to raise $11,000 to make the project happen.  We are reaching out to various social change networks to raise this money.  See a summary of the project's budget below.


IMC is a network of collectives, established in 1999 around the anti-WTO protests in Seattle.  It is an organizing group made up primarily of Africans, but it also includes Europeans and Americans. (IMC is consensus based and members of the organizing group live on several continents, meeting weekly online.)   IMC organizers are committed to members learning interpersonal communication and inclusive decision-making, as well as practical media skills, such as building radios and transmitters.

At this convergence we'll have Americans of various races, Africans, Europeans and South Americans. The cultural gulf is more northern hemisphere/southern hemisphere. We will also have language barriers. All of these are getting proactive attention.  Participants will create multiple Affinity Groups, which can be based on nationality, gender, occupation, anything. These affinity groups send rotating representatives to a spokes council.

IMC organizers like Sphinx want to use the consensus community at the Convergence to inspire participants to go home and create a handful of sustained, working models of consensus in Africa. 

CT and WT

Activist C.T. Lawrence Butler is co-founder of Food Not Bombs, the international network of local organizations feeding homeless and redistributing edible food that would otherwise go to waste. Local Food Not Bombs groups operate by consensus, and C.T. has led workshops in the US, Europe and Africa, showing thousands that horizontal structure is possible. He's the author of the definitive On Conflict and Consensus, as well as Consensus for Cities and Food Not Bombs. He has been arrested over fifty times protesting war, nuclear power and exercising his right to give away food.

I, Wren Tuatha, am a writer/filmmaker/facilitator who has lived and practiced consensus decision-making at Heathcote Community for fifteen years. I'm Artist-in-Residence there, and am currently writing a book, Consensus for Kids, based on twenty-five years in alternative education and seven years designing and facilitating Heathcote's Open Classroom. I am a facilitator/consultant to Intentional Communities, helping established and forming communities prioritize what I call "social technologies"---consensus, conflict resolution, ZEGG Forum, etc. My website,, is a first person account of life in Intentional Community, or, as I like to put it, "Wren Tuatha's complicated adventures in simple living...."

During the 2011 Convergence, over 100 Africans, as well as members from South America, the US and Europe will experience consensus, as well as Open Space Technology, and possibly ZEGG Forum, an often emotional group process in which communities and their members view and get past some blocks that may interfere with their common work. We will also facilitate cultural sensitivity work to help the diverse community come together through understanding.

Project Budget

WSF registroation & on ground expenses for CT & WT         $1,000
Airfare for CT & WT                                                        $5,000
CT home expenses*                                                       $1,500
WT home expenses*                                                      $1,500
Training materials                                                          $1,500                                                          100 copies of On Conflict and Consensus 
Emergencies & Miscellaneous                                           $500                                                          


* We lack savings to cover rents and other bills that will continue at home while we're gone for nearly a month


What can you or your organization contribute to fund our travel and training efforts, as well as providing students with books? We plan to blog daily from the Convergence and the WSF, as connectivity allows.

If you should wish your contribution to be tax deductible, we can work through Indymedia's finance committee, a non-profit. 

Please contact Wren Tuatha,, 410-458-2310 or C.T. Butler,, 301-586-2560 for details. Thank you so much for partnering with us in this work that can help all groups deepen the difference they're trying to make in the world.



Heathcote Community

November 11, 2010


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