The harmonization movement: a progress report


Richard Moore


There's a beautiful, meditative spot in County Wicklow
called 'The Meeting of the Waters', where four rivers all
merge together.  I think of that spot as a symbol for what
has been happening over the past three weeks, since I posted
"A Harmonization Movement?".  That attracted attention from
like-minded people, and a lot has been happening.

In particular, I was fortunate enough to find myself in
dialog with John Bunzil, and joined the 'simpol' email list.
 ISPO, the Simultaneous Policy organization
(, has a very compelling vision.  It is at
the same time simple and profound.  What they're offering
the world is basically a goal: "Let's all agree to agree on
what we want, and let's all agree to implement it (whatever
it is) at the same time everywhere when we've got enough
people on board."

In some sense, it's like offerering a group 'stone soup':
you put a stone in a pot of boiling water, and announce that
everyone is invited to partake of a wonderful soup.  Then
you quietly go around and suggest to people that they donate
a few vegees, some sausages, or whatever - to 'spice up the
soup'.  In some sense it's a con game - you end up
contributing nothing but the pot, the fire, and the stone. 
But in another sense you've contributed the most valuable
ingredient: a focus for productive collaboration.  I think
of ISPO's initiative as "The Stone Soup Revolution".

As much as the concept appealed to me, I felt there were
some fatal flaws in the strategy by which the intiative was
being pursued.  For one thing, there was no systematic
process underway to define the 'it' (agenda) that was to be
'implemented simultaneously' when the end of the rainbow is
reached.  For several reasons, I felt this was a strategic
error, although I could understand why others might not see
it that way.  For another thing, there was no strong link
between what ISPO was up to, and the activist movement
community.  Both are seeking to change the system, but there
was no effective synergy between them.

So I started dialoging with John (who is a cj subscriber)
and the 'simpol' list.  I was 'being harmony', as best I
could, but I nonetheless expected the usual pointless
debates to emerge when I began to raise fundamental
strategic issues.  To my pleasant surprise, John, and others
on the list, responded entirely constructively, and were in
substantial agreement with the suggestions.  A 'simpolicies'
list was set up, and John asked me to help get it launched. 
That list is still in early days, with only a few people,
but I think it's getting off to a promising start.  I'll be
forwarding highlights over to the the cj or rn lists, when
it seems suitable.

My suggestions about a link to the movement went like this. 
The SP strategy depends on 'mobilizing public opinion'
around the SP agenda.  When ovewhelming public opinion is in
favor, then presumably 'our' candidates can be elected, and
the SP agenda implemented. What I suggested was that
'mobilizing public opinion' is not easily done, especially
in the face of political and media opposition, and
especially if the agenda is a radical one.  Under such
circumstances, it takes a grass-roots movements to get out
there and find ways to mobilize public opinion.  In some
sense, that's what movements are all about, raising public
awareness and building a constituency for change.  In other
words: in order to mobilize public _opinon, it is necessary
to mobilize the public itself, as some kind of movement.

This seemd like a dangerous suggestion to make to the simpol
group. I figured it would be too much of a change for them
to consider, and I was afraid I'd be seen as divisive for
even bringing it up.  Again they surprised me, and 'how to
link up with activist movements' is now an 'on topic' item
for further discussion.

At that point I had to stop and catch my breath.  For about
the first time I can remember, I was working with a group of
people on the net who had an agreed strategy, and where I
was in harmony with that strategy. It was liberating.  I
felt I could now roll up my sleeves and contribute actual
work to that effort.


Another set of tributaries coming together at this time
relate to the technology of harmonization.  I came into
contact with Ted Lumley, whose article about coresonance I
posted recently.  He's delved into harmonization as a
science, from a physics / biolgoy perspective, and I look
forward to his ongoing insights as things progress.  I also
came across Ken Lebensold, who has developed a philosphy of
harmonization as a basis for morality in society.  And Tom
Atlee has joined in some of these discussions, from the
perspective of the various processes he's studied as part of
his work at the Co-Intelligence Institute.  That's a lot of
perspectives coming to bear on the same issues, and the
remarkable thing is how similar all of our conclusions turn
out to be.  Here we had harmonization of another kind.

Let me say a few words about this 'technology of
harmonization'. What Scott Peck calls this is 'community
building', and we've been using Peck's terminology in some
of our discussions.  He describes community formation as
going through four stages, from 'pseudocommunity', to
'chaos', to 'emptiness', and finally to 'community'. 
'Psuedocommunity' is when people are simply together,
politely, presuming that they have community.  'Chaos' is
when people get all their differences out on the table,
which often feels very frustrating at the time, and may seem
to be getting nowhere.  But eventually, everyone says
everything, and their mutual attempts to convince fail. 
Things die down, and enter 'emptiness' - a kind of void out
of which new things can arise.  At that point real
discussion can begin, and a sense of 'genuine community'
begins to develop.

Two things are happening together here.  On the one hand a
community bond is being formed, and on the other hand issues
are being thrashed out and harmonized.  The two happen
together, progress in each reinforcing the other.  It's a
postive feedback loop - greater community leads to more
harmonious deliberations, leads to more agreement and
progress, leads to stronger community, and so on.

Peck's four stages, however, are not experienced by every
group that gets together.  The stages are always there,
always available, but it takes certain circumstances in
order for the community formation process to be carried
through.  That's where facilitation, and process comes in. 
Certainly you have to start with groups where potential
synergy exists, and where sufficient commitment exists to
seek to work together.  But after that, what is needed are
the right processes, and facilitation, to guide the group
through the stages and not get stuck in 'chaos', or depart
when 'emptiness' is reached.

Fortunately, there are effective processes, and facilitation
methods, which can be used for these purposes.   I learned about
some of them from their use by activist organizers preparing
for Seattle, and earlier campaigns dating back to the
Abalone Alliance.  It traces back from there to roots in
Quaker tradition.  The 'technology' of this kind of process
has been evolving over the years, much of it in a 'corporate
team-effectiveness' setting. Tom Atlee's site
( presents an excellent
overview of some of the more successful current methods.

The idea then, is to approach the problem of movement
building from the perspective of community building.  As
different groups come together, seeking to form strategic
alliances, or plan joint actions, they go through the
'community formation' process, and they don't 'get down to
business' until they have gone past 'emptiness', and they
can communicate honestly and openly as a community, with
respect for other's interests. When the two groups go their
separate ways they have more than a temporary agreement,
they have a deep understanding of one another, and a sense
of trust and common purpose.  And they have probably 'moved'
each others positions closer to one another.  It's a 'deep'
coming together, rather than 'least common denominator'

As existing groups begin to work together in this way,
internally and externally, we could expect a more general
harmonization to occur. An overall sense of movement
community would begin to develop, and a general
harmonization of agendas - beginning from many centers,
holographically.  It's a bit like how the Internet works,
where good 'memes' get passed all around, and new links are
made all the time. There is no central organization, and no
unique leaders whose arrest  could stop the movement.


There are now two experiments which I am eager to see
undertaken.  The first would be an attempt to bring SimPol
delegates together with leaders of some significant activist
group, and see what happens when we apply these
community-building methods.  At worst it would be learning
experience; at best it could launch SimPol into a whole new
opportunity space.

Perhaps we'd need to go through this same excercise a few
more times, and refine the methods.  But soon I'd want to
get on to the second experiment: a larger conference
organized around community building.  Here, we'd invite
several groups, and then break out in randomized groups,
each small enough to go through these proceses effectively. 
Then we'd all get back together and share results and have
discussion.  Then more break-out sessions, with new
randomization, seeking to move further with the results -
and a final plenary attempt to reach overall consensus. 
This is only a first sketch, and I'm not the right person to
design such a thing anyway.  But something like this would
be, I suggest, a very valuable thing to do.

If we can 'prove the concept' by such experiments, and use
those as 'case study' prototypes, we'd have something solid
to build on.  We'd have more than theory, we'd have
successes to point to, and we could move forward into
'organizing for effect'.  And everytime some new group
enters the process, assuming it 'takes' with them, that
group becomes a new 'carrier' of the harmonization approach,
likely to seek to employ the techniques - due to their
effectiveness - in their ongoing networking.

that's all the news from isle woebegone,