Sociocracy for Foodlands?

Sociocracy Resources we use

On May 17, 2023 Foodlands took a step further in the direction of a new governance model called Sociocracy by discussing and practicing some aspects of this governance model at our AGM. Leading up to the AGM, a working group or circle met every two weeks starting in March to learn more about Sociocracy, and I was lucky enough to be one of the participants. I would like to share the content of what we learned and discussed, as well as sprinkle in some personal reflections.

The first thing I noticed is that describing it is different from participating in it. Describing Sociocracy can quickly become nebulous and complex, and though it is important to understand the mechanics of this system of governance, I suspect you won’t really “get it” until you participate in it. For those who are perhaps more well versed in organizational structure than I am, I will do my best to describe the mechanics of Sociocracy as well.

Each meeting begins with a check in, where each participant takes a few moments to describe how they are arriving at the meeting. I found this simple structural component invaluable; knowing how others were arriving and having the opportunity to honestly share my own internal state engendered personal connection and made me more invested in listening to each participant more closely through the rest of the meeting. A check in round at the end of the meeting added even more richness to this process.

If there is one shape that is emblematic of Sociocracy it is the circle. Circles are groups of people united in the circles’ purpose, and they participate in meetings following some basic Sociocratic guidelines. An interesting part of the system of organization is that there are generally two people who function as links between the circles, sitting in on both circles and allowing for information to flow between circles.

One participant in our working group described Sociocracy as “a flattening of power relations.” Decisions are made by going through several rounds where everyone has an opportunity to contribute such as deciding what a role will entail, a nomination round, a second nomination round in case people wish to change who they are nominating, and then a consent round. The diagram below shows that consent is more reflective of a range of tolerance than a preference, which enables more effective decision making. Again, to experience it is different than to describe it!

Range of tolerance is necessary to understand the large impact of the consent decision making

Taken from

As we delved deeper into the process, I noticed that people’s contributions became deeper and more reflective of their personal paradigms such as criticisms of colonialism and capitalism, making the meetings a space for honest dialogue and learning. In my opinion Sociocracy may be a great fit for Foodlands as there is quite a bit of flexibility built into the governance system, as well as enough practicality through focused circles and principles of decision making in order to accomplish tasks effectively. For more information about Sociocracy please visit

Olga Lansdorp 
Foodlands Cooperative Co-Manager