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Co-Intelligence Institute work in 2016


This year we instituted a new board with two former board members and three new ones (see Supplemental Materials) who, along with three senior advisors, held two 3-day in-person retreats which identified priorities on which we made very good progress during 2016 (see below) and have very exciting plans for further progress in 2017.

The Wise Democracy Course

One of our top priorities was to design and teach a pilot introductory course on wise democracy.  We recruited 20 students from around the world, each of whom is involved in significant social change or democracy-related work. See Supplemental Materials for examples. Tom Atlee taught the course and it was hosted by CII senior advisors Rosa Zubizarreta (main facilitator) and Manju Bazzell and CII board members Margaret Anderson and Nancy Glock-Grueneich.

Due to time zone and scheduling issues, we held two 2-3 hour videoconference classes (7 people and 13 people) on each of eight Wednesdays in September, October, and November.  The underlying theory, especially developed for the class, involved a Venn diagram consisting of 3 overlapping circles representing power, participation, and wisdom.  The second class introduced the model, followed by three classes delving into each of the parts and then a class exploring how all three parts relate to each other and - in a wise democracy - ultimately become congruent.  There was also an introductory class where participants shared their work and reasons for participating, and follow-up classes where participants explored the pattern language (see below) and how they planned to use their course experience in their lives and work. The model proved extremely memorable and useful for the participants. The classes were highly participatory, with much engagement and even push-back from the students. Notably, the class on power resulted in a major evolution of our model of power. After the course participants gave us useful feedback for the design of future courses.

We provided two online forums (one for each of the two class tracks) for participants to post homework assignments, discuss ideas introduced in the class, and otherwise share their perspectives, questions, and experiences and engage with Tom Atlee and the course hosts. At the end of the class, the two forums contained 355 posts.

All the videoconference classes were recorded and stored, and are now being reviewed, edited, and curated for educational and promotional use in 2017 and beyond.

The Wise Democracy Pattern Language

In June 2016 our colleague Martin Rausch contacted Tom Atlee about helping to create a pattern language for wise democracy.  A pattern language is an integrated set of design elements or principles - things to keep in mind when evaluating or designing life-serving realities in a particular field (such as vibrant communities, successful curricula, enjoyable, productive conversations, etc.).  A wise democracy pattern language will help people discern the level of wisdom-generating capacity in any political or economic practice, system, institution or activity and also see ways it could be made more wisely democratic.

With the approval of the board, Tom and Martin took this on as a top priority. We realized that this was an ideal form of legacy through which Tom can share his full 30 years of investigating and thinking about wise democracy. Tom listed 59 patterns within 24 hours and these have been revised, expanded, and articulated to constitute the 70 patterns we now expect to include in a version 1.0 release (with another half-dozen under development).

Each pattern now has a name, an illustration, a 50-word description of its essence, a video interview of Tom describing it in more detail, an edited transcript of that video, a list of seven other patterns that contribute to or depend on it (the relationships that weave the whole pattern language into a coherent whole), and some examples and resources to help guide people seeking to understand that pattern and/or apply it to a design challenge.  The pattern language was inspired by and is being aligned with the pattern language for group process, which Tom participated in developing and which is now being used by thousands of people around the world.

Our intention and vision for early 2017 is to present this intellectual and visionary opus in the form of an interactive website (where visitors can comment on and discuss the patterns and even propose revisions or new patterns), a deck of cards (to enable modular thinking and interactive group work with the patterns), and a self-published print-on-demand book.  All this is well underway.  We expect to use the pattern language as the inspiration and framework for

  • a.     offering additional wise democracy courses (the fact that Tom's worldview is embedded in the pattern language will allow less expert course facilitators to use it to engage course participants in teaching each other based on their own experience of the patterns, thus enhancing the spread of the ideas beyond Tom's limited availability and experience);
  • b.     networking change agents in diverse activist, academic, and professional circles concerned with upgrading democracy, who will find their work reflected in and enhanced by the bigger picture painted by the pattern language, as well as drawing in disaffected concerned citizens to a newly hopeful vision; and
  • c.     developing a wise democracy community of practice around the use of the pattern language as well as maintaining its integrity and evolving its content (again beyond Tom's limitations) and expanding its reach into participants' professional and activist networks.

Community of Practice

The wise democracy pattern language community of practice will build on other efforts we undertook or developed during the grant period.  Late in 2015 we had created a CII Fellows program involving 16 people associated with the CII who were engaged in on-the-ground programs of their own.  They participated in 19 two-hour videoconference calls over 9 months (more than half of which were held in 2016) learning about each other's programs and offering ideas, questions, critiques, etc., to support those programs.  Each call concluded with commentary by Tom Atlee exploring how co-intelligence ideas related to the call discussion.  The program was developed and facilitated by CII senior advisor Rosa Zubizarreta.

Also the wise democracy course created a network of relationships and sense of community. We plan to weave the participants into the ongoing community of practice early in 2017.

Other activities (see Supplemental Material for details)

  •       Rosa Zubizarreta and Tom Atlee presented a participatory workshop on "Leveraging and Scaling-Up Group Dialogue and Deliberation to Bridge Larger Social Divides".
  •       Tom promoted using dialogue not just to get opposed partisans talking respectfully to each other but to engage the public beyond partisan framings altogether.
  •       Tom published 20 blog posts on diverse co-intelligence and wise democracy topics.
  •       Tom completed a 5000 word chapter on "Public wisdom: The key to sustainability" for a peer-reviewed academic book on Methods for Sustainability to be published in 2017.
  •       Martin Rausch and Tom organized and carried out with colleagues an evaluation of Vorarlberg, Austria's successful and influential July 2015 Civic Council on Refugees.
  •       Tom Atlee did three major recorded interviews on wise democracy.


Supplemental Material

The Co-Intelligence Institute's new board

  •       Adin Rogovin - President and Treasurer
  •       Tom Atlee - Vice President
  •       Margaret Anderson - Secretary
  •       John Spady - Member
  •       Nancy Glock-Grueneich - Member

Sample of Wise Democracy Course participants (8 of 20)

Details about additional activities listed in the Narrative Report above, with links

  At the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) conference in October 2016, Rosa Zubizarreta and Tom Atlee gave a participatory workshop on "Leveraging and Scaling-Up Group Dialogue and Deliberation to Bridge Larger Social Divides" which (a) shared three major exemplar initiatives and (b) generated a first draft of principles for scaling up D&D initiatives to whole-society levels .

  On an NCDD conference call on post-election uses of D&D, Tom spoke about using D&D not just to get opposed partisans talking respectfully to each other (the dominant approach), but (a) to upscale such conversations to model the possibility for broad audiences and to contradict assumptions about how 'we can't talk with Them!" and (b) to move beyond partisan framings altogether to get ordinary citizens working together to solve societal and community problems. 

  Tom wrote 20 blog posts (listed below) on democratic innovations and vision, the refugee crisis, wise democracy theory, the election (Trump, emotions, lessons, healing, transformational opportunity), complexity (change efforts containing both light and shadow; polarity management), and other topics.

  Tom completed a 5000 word chapter on "Public wisdom: The key to sustainability" for a peer reviewed academic book - Methods for Sustainability - edited by his Australian public participation colleague Janette Hartz-Karp, to be published in 2017 by Edward Elgar . 

  In February 2016 Martin Rausch and Tom Atlee organized and carried out a collaborative evaluation of Vorarlberg, Austria's successful and influential July 2015 Civic Council on Asylum and Refugee Policy.

Tom did three major recorded interviews on wise democracy

  •       with Dain TePoel on June 28, July 7 and July 18;
  •       with Lyn Carson (author of Random Selection in Politics) and David Schecter on September 23; and
  •       with Markus Goetsch on September 25.


Tom Atlee's blog posts

01/23/2016  A wise - or wiser? - democracy?

02/10/2016  A really good new book about dealing with differences

03/24/2016  Messy motions towards a better world

04/16/2016  Life-affirming engagement with the Trump phenomenon

05/28/2016  Plucking possibilities and energy from the collision of hope and despair

06/04/2016  Using a few million dollars to transform American political culture

06/21/2016  A wise - or wiser? - democracy? - Part 2

07/06/2016  Moving together in the rapids of change

07/13/2016  My vision of a 3D wise democracy - in 3 diagrams

07/24/2016  Engaging human life energy elegantly for change

08/07/2016  Remarkable! How to actually design a wiser democracy

08/16/2016  Invitation to "Ways to Wiser Democracy" -a breakthrough CII pilot course

08/17/2016  Hey! Let's bring some sanity to choosing our public servants!

08/26/2016  A critical shift in our view of democracy

09/09/2016  Managing polarities like divergence / convergence in a wise democracy

10/11/2016  Shared shadow, shared light

11/06/2016  Crazy politics? How much longer will we wait?

11/13/2016  Realizing healing and transformation in the U.S.

12/17/2016  Shifting strategically to catalytic action

12/20/2016  Are you part of the .000001%?

12/29/2016  Reality, truth and consequences



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