Governance document Helping Circle

As discussed at the last Team Governance and Working Methods meeting, both the Reef’s Governance document and Working Methods document need revisions to bring them up-to-date with how the project has developed since they were first written. As we decided at the same meeting, Lie and Chris were to form a helping circle to manage the process of revising the Governance document (it was actually supposed to be about the Working Methods document, but we realised fairly quickly that it was not the right one to start with).

This post is for all suggestions, comments and so on related to eventually putting forward a proposal to replace certain sections of the document. The hope is that we can rewrite the relevant sections, get feedback from Team Governance and the rest of the community, and put together a proposal containing all the revisions that can be put forward at a plenary in January (2023).

There are 6 sections to the Governance document. Here is each of them, together with what needs to happen next:

Section 1 - Preamble
This is four fairly straightforward bullet points about overarching values. There’s nothing obvious that needs to change, but someone may see something which can be improved.

Section 2 - Membership
This has been rewritten recently and the new version has already been consented to at a plenary meeting. However, there is currently an active thread being led by Alberto regarding full membership, so it would seem logical to incorporate that into this proposal. Also, as the version consented to at the plenary meeting hasn’t yet been changed with that of the existing document, this may as well also happen all at the same time at the end of this current process.

Section 3 - Decision-making
Lie is taking responsibility for rewriting this section.

Section 4 - Teams
Chris is taking responsibility for rewriting this section. Some of it will include incorporating the document on team leaders that Sophie and Sarah have worked on recently.

Section 5 - Accountability
Lie is taking responsibility for rewriting this section, after completing a related workshop via the SociocracyforAll site.

Section 6 - Conflict resolution
Chris is taking responsibility for liaising with Team Conflict Management, who are currently in the process of clarifying everything to do with this area.

Feel free to get involved via this thread…



Here is a link to the document, which I forgot to put in the original post:

Also, update regarding section 2: there has now been two revisions to this section, both of which have been consented to at separate plenaries .


Hello @ChrisM,

It’s taken me a while, mostly because I have too many other Reef things going on, but definitely also because I found it much harder than expected.

I saved my work in the "Resources’ folder in the Team Governance folder (internal link).

Section 2 on decision-making

Here’s some highlights about the changes I made or did not make to the section on decision-making:

  • I created an extra level of importance (so now there are 5 instead of 4). The reasoning is that this makes it possible to:

    • Create a level 5 that is decided by consensus and which is reserved for decisions on membership and on significant financial matters

    • Create a level 4 that is decided by full members only (by consent), for decisions that are costly to reverse.

  • Written consent is not covered separately, because I think it is covered partially by the way we take decisions of importance level 2 and partially by urgent decisions (new section).

Section 5 on accountability

This section probably needs further work, but I need more time or people’s ideas to be able to move forward.

What I’d like to add here is a bit of text on how to deal with power and responsibility. The debate at the last plenary meeting triggered me quite a bit in that sense. It’s a long story, but it mostly relates to a fear of what Starhawk calls “empowerment to the midline”, in her book “The Empowerment Manual”. Can we maybe dedicate some time to a short discussion on this, to see if this is worth looking into, and if yes, how we could do that?


Hi @Lee,

I haven’t got time to have more than the briefest of looks at this right now, but it already seems like you’ve done some excellent work :slight_smile:

By the time we meet for our helping circle meeting on Friday, I will have posted my contribution here and had a proper look at yours…

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Hi @Lee,

I have uploaded the document I’m working on for Section 4 - Teams onto Nextcloud:

It turned out to also be much harder than I expected, and it is very far from finished :neutral_face: Having said that, there’s a few parts which I’m quite happy with, mostly in the annexes. And none of the things I’ve struggled with so far are particularly hard to clarify, but unfortunately I haven’t had as much time as I’d hoped recently to do the research.

Looking forward to meeting tomorrow and having a chat about all of our respective sections!


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@Sarah and @Sophie_Beese, Chris and I just had a meeting to discuss some issues related to the review of the governance document, and we realised that what we have on written consent in the revised document may actually all we need. So we figured we flag this, so that maybe you can put your helping circle on written consent on hold until we have a clearer view on what is actually still needed?

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Hi @ChrisM,

I finally found some time to clean up the first draft of the revised Governance Document. This is the internal link:

The document is now only 13 pages long, which should make it a bit easier to digest. Given that our current document is incredibly outdated, I would like to finish this job if possible by the end of the year.

Would you have the time for a final meeting of our helping circle, so that we can present the document to Team Governance at the next meeting?

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For sure! Let’s organise a meeting when we see each other at the plenary on Monday… :slight_smile:

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Hello @reef-governance,

I finally managed to finalise this task. It is saved in the Team Governance folder, here:

If feasible for you, I would like to finish this now as soon as possible and bring it to the plenary meeting. Could you please have a look at it?

I will be very grateful for your feedback and corrections, and at the same time I would like to ask you for some consideration of the “good enough for now” principle. This has been a very difficult and intense task, and it is clear that the result is not perfect. The current document is so outdated that I would like to prioritise speed over perfection at this stage. Some of the things that are not clear or consistent enough yet, may just be solved with trial and error, and then we can adjust the document correspondingly.

To provide feedback:

  • If you have comments, please use the comments function (little balloons), instead of writing in the text
  • If you want to make amendments, please use the track changes or review function
  • You could of course also list issues that you would like to briefly discuss

As I am still new, I have no suggestions for any change, but I thought I would give a (fresh) feedback on how it reads. The rules overall are complex, but they are very clearly explained in the document for anyone, even without significant experience in the project. So really well done. The only minor thought/ question I had while reading it was related to the terminology fir decision-making. It defines the Team Reef as all adult Reeflings and later refers to their consensus for certain decisions. Does it mean that you seek consensus in those cases of all adults from all households? Or is it also at least one person/ 1 vote per household as in those cases when you state 50% of Full Members? These could perhaps be better explained or made more consistent based on the actual practice. One additional thought for the future. As some examples referred to the stage of living together, I understand these are the basic rules you wish to keep long-term, even if later they will be improved. So though it might not be an issue now, at a certain point it might be good to clarify if by Team Reef (all adults as per current terminology) you will also mean 18 years old (or older) children of Reeflings, and what it means for them in terms of their legal obligations/ rights or required commitments according to these governance rules. Just because now it reads as they will become Team Reef members as adults. If that is the intention, I think it might still be worth some discussions/ considerations/ clarifications in future governance documents. I hope this is helpful.

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Thanks for that huge piece of work Lie!!! It’s amazing work, and very clear.

I’ve made a few comments and suggestions (hopefully not too much…).

One big thing for me is still the question of the quorum / number of people needed for a decision (see my comment in section In the case of qualified majority voting as it is now (default threshold for presence : 50% of the households present (or represented), and default threshold to make a decision: 75%), it would mean that in a group of 10 households, 4 could make a decision on a long term financial issue (if my calculations are correct, which they may not!). To me that feels quite low…
It’s not the first time that this bothers me, I wonder if I would like more of a discussion about it…? And maybe also discuss quorum for consent/consensus?
@reef-governance , any reactions?

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Hoping to have some time this weekend to read the document thoroughly and get involved in this conversation :slight_smile:

Hi @Sarah,

Thanks a lot for that. On the issue on the QMV and absences for me the elements of a solution are these:

  • not overly reducing decision-making possibilities
  • having all important issues on the agenda, so that they are known beforehand
  • having people to take responsibility and give a proxy, with the possibility to tell the proxy that you don’t agree if X, Y or Z (so the decision has be postponed)

Shall we discuss important matters like this in an online meeting and finalise the document together, so that we can take it to the plenary meeting of 11 January?

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Hi @reef-governance,

We have a meeting planned on 02/01 to discuss the Governance Document.

@Sarah can you please put it on the Nextcloud calendar?

I would only organise the meeting though if everybody has had the chance to go through the document beforehand. Please feel welcome to insert questions and tracked changes in the document, preferably before the middle of the afternoon of the 2nd.

If that’s possible, I would like to facilitate the meeting and I would propose to proceed per section, doing three quick rounds (questions, comments, consent) for each of them.

Ping @els: given that you have read “Many Voices One Song” and your keen interest in The Reef’s processes, if you are free and you would manage to read the document, please feel very welcome to join us.


Meeting on nextcloud’s agenda. What should we use as a platform? I’ve created a google meet link, which is also in the calendar, unless anybody has a professional zoom account?
And the agenda is in our usual document. Please let me me know/edit it if you would like to amend it.

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Hello @reef-governance,

Thanks again for bearing with me yesterday, and for the many valuable comments! Below you can find a short overview on the follow-up.

I have gone through the document once more, and did the following:
  • I accepted the changes that were made before the meeting

  • I addressed the “to do” issues listed in the minutes (thanks for that!)

  • I made a couple more minor changes, which I left in tracked changes for the moment, but which I will accept in 1-2 days from now (Nextcloud keeps a back-up anyway).

  • I created a document with “things to improve” and linked it in the Governance Document

One issue left

There is one insertion from @Sarah in section 5.1.2 that I would prefer to not accept (on the fact that each household gets two votes, regardless of the number of units they own), because this is already specified in section on qualified majority voting.

Let me know what you think?

Next steps
  • Chris to go through the document and do some editing

  • Me to accept the last changes and comments in 1-2 days

  • Me to write a post addressed at all Reeflings, summarising the main changes and how we will approach consent on the document at the plenary (Thursday or Friday)

  • Me to do some advanced link juggling, so that we can archive the old Governance Document while keeping the same link for the new Governance Document


Yes, that works! Sorry I didn’t see it…

I’ve gone through and done a bit of editing, mostly adding a few commas. Some of it’s pretty pedantic, like making sure all the footnotes are after the punctuation, but I can’t help myself :wink:

I’ve also made a couple of new comments, but they are nothing important, so don’t feel like they are the beginning of a conversation. Feel free to act on them or ignore them, as you see fit…

Finally, I’ve contacted Alberto to clarify the third bullet point in Section 4.2, about reimbursing the 2,000 less training expenses. Having had another look at it, I think it’s correctly worded, so there shouldn’t be any impact on the document. My aim is to find out who has spent what to date, add this info to the eventual training tab in the Excel doc, and keep it up to date moving forward.


hi, i am reading the governance document (Nextcloud) and i think there is a small error…
Under ‘Importance level 3’, it says:
The difference with issues of Importance level 4 is that issues of Importance level 2 are reversible.
=> i suppose it should be or

  • importance level 4 => importance level 3 , or
  • importance level 2 => importance level 3 (i guess this is the correct one)

Thanks for flagging that @els!

We are about to present a completely revised Governance Document, hopefully at the plenary meeting of January. We may revise the different levels of importance, but I’ll keep an eye out for correcting the issue that you flagged.