============================================================================ Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 To: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••> From: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••> Subject: Re: tools for institutionalizing trans-ideological dialogue Cc: •••@••.•••, •••@••.••• Bcc: X-Attachments: Dear Tom, I visited your site. Very good work! The range of situations to which the model has been applied is intriguing. I'd like to learn more about the Loka Institute... any pointers? Does the Co-Intelligence Institute sponsor consensus councils or are you only researching them? > I'd be happy to dialogue with you further on this if you wish. I do wish. These citizen councils, as you describe them, have an incredible revolutionary potential. They can, I suggest, be used to help build a grass-roots movement which evolves into an empowered civil society. Your model is general, and comes with a rich terminology with which to characterize variations. The applications I have in mind, which you may already anticipate, are well within the scope of your model. As you've said, the expectations, the charter, the selection process, the report-back mechanisms... all of these things affect the outcome and value of council sessions. Off the cuff, I can think of three citizen-council scenarios which could be practically realized and which could have dramatic outcomes, provided various conditions are appropriate. The success of such councils could be publicized by various means, and the process might hopefully prove contagious -- and begin spreading non-linearly. Presumably this kind of thinking would be familiar to you folks at The Co-Intelligence Institute, given the effective propagandistic style of your excellent website. One of my scenarios is community oriented, another is region oriented, and the other is faction oriented. They would be expected to synergize dynamically in actual practice. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Community Scenario ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Pick a community beset by problems: highway coming through, plant closing, farms failing, toxic hazard uncovered, whatever. Let the community also be divided by factional strife: ethnic divisions, religious divisions, rich-poor divide, town-gown divide, whatever. Recruit / select council delegates according to the criteria you have identified -- ie, balanced representation of constituency groups. Tell delegates that their job is to speak for their family, friends, and neighbors -- 'their people'. Tell them to pretend they were selected by these people somehow, and that the community is counting on them to develop, on a consensus basis, practical agendas for improving the community. Questions to be addressed by the council: 1) How could this place be made into vibrant community where we all want to live, we all can make a living, and we all get along with one another? 2) What can we do as a community to achieve such goals? 3) What could we achieve in exchange / alliance with similar communities elsewhere? 4) What support from our elected representatives might we expect / request / demand ? 5) How can we as a community make our voice heard? Outcomes to be encouraged: 1) People start thinking in terms of community identity, mutual support, and common interests. 2) People start perceiving themselves as political beings, empowered to think for themselves about societal options. 3) The community begins to awake as a collective organism, able to identify objectives and pursue them coherently. 4) The suspicion-energy and hate-energy of factionalism begins to transform into the excitement of new collaborations, broadened perspectives, and new-found empowerment. 5) The community feels inspired to reach out to sister communities. [which segues into the Regional Scenario...] ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Regional Scenario ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Assumptions: Several communities have been energized / empowered by processes along the lines of the Community Scenario above. From their sense of empowerment, and their new-found strenth through collaboration, these communities naturally begin to think of expanding the collaborative process outward, toward other communties. Convene a 'second-tier' citizens council, whose delegates are trios of delegates selected by communities by means of a democratic process developed by the community itself, as part of its growing ability to act-as-community. I say 'trios' because with three people (a black woman etrepreneur, a gay business executive, and an environmentally minded steel worker? (:>) ), I surmize it is possible to ensure that nearly every viewpoint receives a fair hearing in this second tier. I'll leave the 'Questions to be addressed' and 'Outcomes to be encouraged' for future discussion. Intriguing? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Factional Scenario ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ The idea here is to recreate in microcosm the society-wide divisions which plague a given society. By the consensus process, the microcosm provides a forum in which societal healing-by-proxy can be facilitated. For example, with respect to the women's movement... suppose we got together everyday folks from the following groups: fundamentalist Christians (male and female), staunch advocates of feminism and gay rights, middle-of-the-road conservatives and liberals, women who have experienced abortions, Joe six-pack misogynists, working women, full-time mothers, single parents, teenagers of both sexes, etc. By setting the Questions and Expectations appropriately, one might hope to achieve not only useful 'Resolutions & Conclusions', but more important one might hope to shatter the 'us-them' mentality, and begin to spread the seeds of a 'We're all in this together' mentality. Or, as the enlightened motorist Pogo put it: "We have met the traffic and it is us." rkm ============================================================================ Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 15:28:08 -0700 To: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••> From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••> Subject: Re: tools for institutionalizing trans-ideological dialogue Cc: •••@••.•••, •••@••.••• Dear Richard, For several years people have been sending me articles of yours. I've been impressed but set them aside as indicating a major doorway I should use when I finally have things together enough to move co-intelligence ideas into the progressive activist community out of which I've come. This year, when I was finally ready, I was given other avenues to work with, such as organizers of the Seattle WTO protests. So I hadn't gotten around to contacting you yet. But it is with immense pleasure that I suddenly find myself in dialogue with you! Heaven knows, this collaboration could bear much fruit. I am delighted that you so quickly "got it" re citizen consensus councils. (Many people just don't see the possibilities). As for myself, I find it hard to work on other issues, since this sort of democratic innovation would make work on every other issue so much more fruitful! I'm particularly interested in Jim Rough's Wisdom Council idea (he's working towards a Constitutional amendment to institute it) because it not only offers real possibility of doing an end run around corporate control of our political system, it also creates a turbo-charged level of creativity-on-behalf-of-the-whole. I've taken Jim's "dynamic facilitation" class four times now and watched that creativity at work. In our first class (last year while the Seattle demonstrations were happening across Puget Sound from us), we redesigned the US health care system in ways that none of us had ever heard proposed before -- structures and principles which made incredible sense to us and blew our minds. I had been promoting Wisdom Councils for 4 or 5 years before then, simply on the basis of what I thought I knew about consensus. But I was leaning so heavily on the Councils in my theoretical work that I felt I should get more direct experience of the process associated with them. So I took Jim's seminar. In doing so, I learned that Jim's process goes far beyond consensus; just how far is hard for people to understand until they experience it. I have a paper that compares dynamic facilitation with consensus process [as practiced by Quakers and direct action groups in the US] and Roberts Rules of Order [the dominant vote-based procedure in the US]; I'll send it to you if you want; it's long. (NOTE: What you sent out was the Citizen Consensus Council [CCC] page, not my site's home page. The home page is http://www.co-intelligence.org . CCCs are only one part of the political vision, which is only one part of a very much larger vision and philosophy...) rkm> The range of situations to which the model has been applied is intriguing. I'd like to learn more about the Loka Institute... any pointers? Does the Co-Intelligence Institute sponsor consensus councils or are you only researching them? The link to the Loka Institute -- http://www.loka.org -- is on the page you downloaded and sent to your list. Dick Sclove, the head of Loka, has really interesting things to say about the intersection of technology and democracy (as well as the internet and democracy... science for the people... and a lot more); he has ideas you don't hear elsewhere. He is brilliant. He's also a very good human being. The Co-Intelligence Institute doesn't sponsor CCCs; it doesn't have the resources. ("It" is actually me + a board.) I research CCCs (and other collaborative processes and innovations for "holistic politics"). The "Pat and Pat" story referred to at the end of the page you quoted in full, gives a sense of the sort of politics and governance I'm working towards. Another focus of mine for the last six months has been trying to create the seed of a movement around Jim Rough's dynamic facilitation. Jim, who is a corporate consultant, has been teaching the process for over a decade to major corporations. Last November (in my first workshop with him) I immediately saw its value for activists: It could produce breakthroughs within activist organizations; in coalition work; in public conversations; and in democracy-building work (e.g., the Wisdom Council). With Jim's full cooperation, in the last eight months I have gotten three dozen activists, transformational agents and community builders trained in dynamic facilitation. In Eugene Oregon we now have a little community of practitioners strategizing on how to get the word out and how to best use this powerful process on behalf of our community and social change movements. Smaller groups of practitioners are forming in the San Francisco and Seattle areas. An activist friend Jim trained in March has now made this her life's work and is working with Jim to design advanced trainings, more accessible trainings for activists, and trainings of trainers (that's Rosa Zubizarreta, who sent me your essay that prompted this interchange with you; she's also bilingual, which offers intriguing possibilities). I am hoping that, out of this buzz of activity, some local wisdom councils will form, which can then be video'd and written about to provide the catalyst needed to sprout the idea elsewhere. Currently we are limited by (a) the inability of most folks to "get it" without actually going through the process (so even activists "have to be dragged kicking and screaming" into the training, only to emerge as converts), (b) the lack of compelling video material to show to the folks in (a), the lack of real life wisdom councils in communities, and (d) the lack of trained facilitators to handle the demand for facilitation were people to start "getting it" in any significant numbers. The process is very facilitator dependent, because it is designed to work well with conflict, confusion, difficult people and impossible problems, and is extremely evocative of latent group energies which, if not adequately channelled, could blow a group apart. Your instant insight into the potential of CCCs is a very encouraging development. Your publicizing it and engaging activists in dialogue about it could help clear the way for social change agents to benefit from these innovations at last. ... rkm> One of my scenarios is community oriented, another is region oriented, and the other is faction oriented. They would be expected to synergize dynamically in actual practice. Yes. This synergy factor is extremely important -- a source of free power, if done well. While a certain amount of synergy is natural, a lot can be designed into the overall program. In the intro to "A toolbox of processes for community work" http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_ComunityProcesses.html , I call that synergy "complementarity" and write: "If anyone should combine servant leadership [collaboration between the top and bottom of a community], regularity [doing processes regularly instead of one-time-only] and complementarity [using multiple processes synergistically] into a community involvement program using a number of these tools, they will have transformed the system in which they operate -- moving into a form of democracy never seen before." [There's more on these three factors in the "toolbox" article from which this quote is taken, whose link is given above.] rkm> 'Community Scenario'... Pick a community beset by problems... Tell delegates that their job is to speak for their family, friends, and neighbors -- 'their people'. There's an important point to consider here -- a revolution in perspective about democracy. Counter-intuitively, the sort of "representation" you propose would undermine the effectiveness of the process. What we need are "individuals of a type" not "agents of a constitutency." Here's why: To the extent that council participants are "delegates" or "representatives" ("agents of a constituency") they will defend POSITIONS asserted by that constituency to protect their interests in the adversarial system they're used to. Those positions are the primary barrier to collective creativity, closing down people's imaginations and ability to hear, relate to and work with those who differ from them. ----<snip>---- ================ Dear Tom, I cut off our dialog, above, because we'll need another posting to really get into the issues. I'll say a few words to set the stage... I haven't yet seen your home page, nor your wider philosohical thinking. So far I'm just looking at the consensus council concept on its own. As I see it, the primary outcomes from such a council are (1) "an agreed creative solution" to the problem in question, and (2) the development of a "collaborative mentality" among the participants, a mentality which we hope proves contagious. The questions I raise are "How can the council process be harnessed to facilitate the democratic governance of society?"... and "How does a democratic society operate, and what role might consensus councils play in such a society?" Consensus aside, I consider it a fundamental principle of democracy that it be decentralized, that local decisions be made locally, and that power hierarchies be avoided. What democracy is, I suggest, is a bottom-up power structure, where the citizen has voice in the community and the community has voice in the society, achieved through appropriate representational mechanisms at various levels. At each level there is a spirit of collaboration for mutual benefit, and a desire to take into account all concerns and viewpoints. From everything I've looked at, from various perspectives, my conclusion-so-far is that this is what democracy looks like. There are numerous real examples of societies which have operated successfully according to such a pattern, and I've seen nothing I would call democracy that followed a substantially different pattern. Furthermore, from a sytems point of view, this is the kind of structure you need if you want society to be stable and capable of resisting attempts at centralized power-grabbing. Within this model, consensus councils seem ideal as a way to achieve community consensus, and equally ideal as a way to enable community delegates to collaborate with their counterparts in achieving solutions to wider-scale problems. If the representation issue creates challenges for the council model, then we need to find a way to successfully address those challenges. Hope to hear from you when you get back, rkm ============================================================================ Richard K Moore Wexford, Ireland Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance email: •••@••.••• CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/ book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri.html A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication. -- Frantz Fanon Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. ============================================================================ .