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Our current work 2008-2009

We work for the future, calling the future into the present to create spaces of possibility in which people can make a more significant difference. We work for future generations who will be living in and co-creating a very different world than the one we live in now. We are not working for change so much as preparing resources for evolutionary leaps.


1. We initiate work on powerful systems of design guidance for conversations that matter and sustainable, consciously self-evolving societies.

A "pattern language" is an articulation of interrelated design elements that are present in a healthy, dynamic living system.

The first pattern language was developed as guidance for the creation of life-enhancing, vibrant, delightful communities (see Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language). Pattern languages have since been developed for many other fields, from computer programming to education to sustainable economics.

in 2008 Peggy Holman and Tom Atlee initiated research into a pattern language for "conversations that matter." What factors make a conversation juicy, productive, transformational, and/or influential? To kick off this as a public inquiry, we held an all-day session immediately prior to the August 2008 National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation conference in Austin in which participants created and shared patterns and rich pattern maps that they found important in their work.

We turned the results and lists of interested people over to Tree Bressen, who has convened a 5-day gathering in December 2008 to continue this creative inquiry and intends to organize ongoing work on it (including an online component), likely working with CII president John Abbe.

We expect to identify underlying patterns that will make sense of the vast array of powerful conversational processes (see, for example, The Change Handbook by Peggy Holman and others) and ultimately lead to the creation of ever more simple, potent grassroots conversational forms that can spread virally and have a profound impact on the evolution of society.

We also introduced activists working with the Center for Conscious Evolution and the vast database to the idea of using pattern languages as powerfully holistic portals into the world of alternative initiatives, wisdom, and know-how.

2. We research what evolution can tell us about catalyzing profound transformations, and how we can participate more consciously in the endless process of evolving into more intricately alive forms of wholeness.

Last year's research on evolutionary dynamics that can be used to transform social systems (published in the Integral Leadership Review) is still underway. In several months we expect to have a booklet on evolutionary agentry for the broad public available online and at Michael Dowd's and Connie Barlow's evolutionary spirituality events, bringing a co-intelligent activist spirit to this growing movement.

Tom Atlee is pursuing a new branch of this evolutionary R&D effort inspired by Michael Dowd's passionate commitment to "evolutionary integrity" which Dowd defines as "being aligned with reality as it really is". The reason evolution is important (says Dowd) is that at all nested levels -- from the individual to the whole planet -- it is vitally important to be aligned with reality. The more profoundly we understand reality (including our own deepest selves) and partner with it on its own terms, the greater our chances not only of surviving, but of thriving joyfully.

Atlee says: "This definition fascinates me. It says that evolutionary integrity is about FIT -- how we fit with each other and our environment --'evolving wholeness' and 'right relationship' -- concepts which have been at the very center of my work for decades. These are ideas I explore in the Co-Intelligence website topics on Wholeness, Spirit, Participation, and elsewhere.

"Evolutionary integrity means being one with the motion of life towards ever-evolving 'fit' or wholeness. It means being in partnership with Grace - the force of goodness in the world. It is sort of like activism turned inside out (so that we aren't doing it - it is doing us!) and given a 14 billion year history. Evolutionary integrity ties any entity -- any person, group, economic system, civilization -- to the well-being of the other entities around it, to the smaller entities that make it up (like cells or people or nations), and to the larger entities it is part of (like communities, countries, and ecosystems). It is the perfect integration of personal and political, global and local, individual and universal, personal experience and systemic reality -- all in the vibrant activist framework of conscious evolution. It covers virtually all aspects of both the human potential movement and social change movements. The trick now is to research its full implications and articulate it in ways that attract, inspire, and activate thousands of people. I see that as central to my work during 2009."

3. We are helping set up websites where process specialists can share their expertise and inquiries about various conversational, organizational, and democratic processes with each other and the world.

The first site, currently under construction but available for visiting, is the first Process Arts wiki being developed largely by CII president John Abbe using materials from the original National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation process wiki (initiated by Tom Atlee) and the Urban Research Program Toolbox. Another process wiki is also being developed by Kaliya Hamlin, another CII associate.

4. We share insights about how current developments look from a big-picture perspective, and their implications for long-term shifts in human civilization. For example, we sent out several mailings on the current financial crisis, including these:

5. We introduce powerful social innovations into institutions seeking to facilitate change. Examples include:

6. We work with leading-edge social innovators -- often behind the scenes -- exploring new perspectives, new directions and new possiblities -- all at no cost to them. For example,

  • Through both private conversations and a vision of an integrated national dialogue and deliberation program sent by Tom Atlee to the listserv of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), we encouraged NCDD leaders and members to consider NCDD becoming the steward of innovative multi-process programs. Then we opened up a very rich discussion of the Democracy Agenda document on the NCDD listserv, making space for the creative sharing of upsets, visions, experiences, histories, and lessons from the field work of many participants, including support for the integrated multi-process approach.

  • We encouraged The Center for Wise Democracy -- advocates of Dynamic Facilitation and the Wisdom Council -- to convene a dynamically facilitated session to wrestle creatively with the obstacles and opportunities involved in spreading these powerful innovations. We expect to help organize this and plan to attend.

  • We sponsored the new nonprofit Evolutionary Life until it got its nonprofit status and helped it clarify its founding effort: convening a group of evolutionary leaders -- people like Barbara Marx Hubbard and Deepak Chopra and Michael Dowd -- to explore how to catalyze a movement for the conscious evolution of increasingly conscious social systems.

  • We helped leaders of Journalism that Matters distinguish between change (from a->b) and evolution (ongoing responsive transformation) and to see novel ways to put their vision of "journalism AS a conversation" into practice.

  • We helped attendees at the September 2008 Nonviolence as a Way of Life conference see nonviolence in an evolutionary perspective -- as part of the evolutionary process through which consciousness -- in the form of intelligence, compassion, new sciences, perceptiveness, deeper awareness, systems thinking, conversation, wisdom, etc. -- makes it possible to survive and thrive with progressively less force, violence, and waste.

  • We joined a dozen other leaders in a working gathering sponsored by the Global Systems Initiative seeking to create systems thinking guidance for policy makers in the new administration. Our main contribution was the idea that the most important systems-conscious activity for leaders is the empowerment of the systems they lead to think for themselves, to self-organize and to self-evolve.

7. One of our greatest gifts to the world is the way we reframe things into perspectives that are more inclusive and filled with potential for a better world.

There's nothing small about what we -- and you -- are doing.

We invite you to support our work..


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