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See also Co-Intelligence Institute Newsletters - December 2003 to June 2005


Highlights from our 2003 work - February to August

Here are highlights since the last fundraiser in December 2002-January 2003. During that funding drive THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY was pre-released to colleagues and core supporters of the Co-Intelligence Institute.

The notable events below are in addition to the constant hum of research, writing, networking, free consulting and "thinking partnership" activities that are the creative core of Tom Atlee's work. They are also mostly in addition to the organizational development and fundraising work we are all engaged in.

February 2003

Tom does a workshop on citizen deliberative councils at the Oregon Peacefest.

Tom consults with The World Cafe co-founder Juanita Brown and Institute of Noetic Sciences staff about their upcoming conference on Collective Wisdom and Spiritual Activism -- and co-creates a day-long "pre-conference institute" workshop for it with colleague Rosa Zubizarreta. .

THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY is slightly revised and reprinted with a more service-oriented print-on-demand publisher -- The Writers Collective. .

Board member Adin Rogovin and Tom begin research and dialogue with Ned Crosby, creator of Citizens Juries®, and his wife Pat Benn, preparing for a possible campaign in Oregon to establish citizen panels to produce wise public judgment about proposed ballot initiatives or state budgets.

Tom creates the "CII HI" high-volume email list to provide subscribers with lots of great info with minimal editorial involvement by him.

Several on-line journals start asking to use Tom's writings, for which permission is freely given. This continues throughout the year.

Tom connects up with Brad Blanton, founder of the Radical Honesty movement , who decides to run for Congress in Virginia on an honesty and public participation platform. (When they meet in person in August, Tom suggests that Brad use the original "listening project" technique pioneered by activist Fran Peavey: "Sit on a bench in a public place with a large sign saying 'Politician Willing to Listen' and listen well to whoever shows up. Let the media know you're doing this.")

Tom sends out the first of several messages describing how electronic voting machines may already be corrupting the election process. (In May and July he briefs activists who have decided to focus on this problem.)


March 2003

As the US and UK move closer to war, Tom's email traffic rises rapidly. This month he sends almost 200 mass mailings -- 27 messages to the regular list, 11 to his "Relay" list of people with emailing lists, and 157 messages to the high volume list (which are also sent to the Relay list). He especially publicizes a number of innovative approaches to preventing the war. Then, overwhelmed -- since his journalistic work now leaves no time for his co-intelligence work -- he introduces HI LIST subscribers to six of his main sources of information -- Schwartzreport, Truthout, GlobalNetNews, NewHeavenNewEarth, Dan Drasin and Caspar Davis -- and suggests they subscribe to those lists. He ceases to send out information from those sources. But it is hard for him because he knows those alternative sources have such amazing information...

Ashland Oregon's Lance Bisaccia, who heard Tom interviewed on Jefferson Exchange radio in December arranges for Wisdom Council innovator Jim Rough to be interviewed on the same show. This results in two new local people -- Karen Gosetti and David Wick -- contacting Lance. Together, they create the Rogue Valley Wisdom Councils project, which develops throughout the year.

An interview with Tom is published in Spirit in the Smokies magazine with a circulation of over 30,000 in and around North Carolina.

In response to anonymous peer reviewers, Tom reworks his first article for a peer-reviewed journal, a major essay on empowered citizen deliberation due to be published in the Fall 2003 edition of Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal. (Tom also peer reviews articles by others for that issue.)

Tom, Adin and others work with Seattle consultant Susan Partnow designing an integrated multi-process program for public deliberation about a major viaduct proposal. (The plan has gone through several revisions and it is unclear whether any of it will be used, but it has been a rare exercise in integrating diverse dialogue methods into a coherent whole.)

Tom meets Eugene resident Susan Edwards, a friend of two of his housemates. She reads THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY, calls it the best non-fiction book she's read since she was a kid, and proceeds to become one of the central actors in getting the book out and shaping the next stages of the co-intelligence work. Her patient, centered, competent optimism becomes a bright light for us all.


April 2003

Grá Darjeeling, who designed the cover for THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY, sets up a system for selling the book on the web. He completes the creation of the website and THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY is released to the public. In the next few months we (and particularly Grá) are busy filling several hundred orders from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Sweden, Brazil, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, and France.

Tom is interviewed on an alternative radio station in Sydney, Australia.

Tom makes a first attempt at identifying common characteristics which could be used to classify various dialogue and deliberation processes, so that they could be more intelligently integrated into highly co-intelligent multi-process public participation programs.

The CII Board begins research to identify foundations that might support our work.


May 2003

Tom's article "Politics for a Co-Creative World" is published in Science of Mind magazine (circulation 200,000).

Tikkun magazine (75,000 readers) calls THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY an "easy to understand and very important book... A useful guidebook for world-transformers."

The Midwest Book Review describes THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY as "A thoughtful and philosophical work written specifically to stave off the impending self-destructive side of current civilization."

After reading THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY, Len Krimerman, professor at the University of Connecticut, asks Tom to speak to his Fall class concerning the emerging global democracy movement. Later he writes a review of THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY to be used on his website and edited for academic journals, in which he finds that "practice and theory, reflection and intervention, are woven together seamlessly.... Atlee points us towards a myriad of ongoing, empowering, and effective forms of co-intelligent democratic process... which have been gaining strength and sophistication over the past two or three decades."

Tom crafts a half-dozen approaches to designing multi-process public participation programs, including a study of the functions that support the collective intelligence of communities, and some of the group processes that support each of those functions. As wide-ranging and detailed as this collection of papers is, Tom does not see them as definitive. He insists on their limitations and explicitly encourages critique and co-creative engagement. He wants these papers to open up a new field of theory and practice that can bring together diverse dialogue and deliberation practitioners..

Tom and the people on his list participate in the surprisingly successful movement against further concentration of media ownership.


June 2003

Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow, who sell books at their presentations about the new co-creative cosmology , ask us to start shipping them boxes of THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY, saying it is one of their best sellers.

Tom researches and writes "What Could We Do to Take Back Our Democracy?" which addresses problems (and solutions) associated with computerized voting, special interest campaign finances, the exclusion of third parties, the absence of empowered citizen deliberation and the need for a national ballot initiative process.

Tom researches Interdependence Days and Declarations of Interdependence and shares them with his email list and on . He and CII Board Secretary Karen Mercer research the nonviolent American Revolution that preceded the violent one and explore how independence and interdependence played out in those times. Tom reports some of the results of this research to his list in August.

Tom reads OUR FINAL HOUR by Britain's Royal Astronomer, Sir Martin Rees, which calmly details the many ways technological developments could produce global catastrophe. The book inspires Tom to re-focus on the need to apply democratic wisdom to technological development. He writes and passes on to his list his new article "Getting serious about the unthinkable," which he sends to Rees, who forwards it to his colleague Nick Bostrum who, in turn, sends Tom his mind-boggling paper "Existential Risks" .

Legal professor and conflict management specialist Steven N. Pyser connects Tom with Carole Frampton of Search for Common Ground, whose grassroots program "Conversations about Conflict" is helping thousands of people understand that it is possible to engage their differences creatively instead of destructively. As they correspond, Tom comes to see this program as providing a significant foundation for a "culture of dialogue."

CII associates John Abbe and Critt Jarvis spread news of THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY into the "blog" (web log) world. Critt posts three chapters about citizen deliberative councils (with permission) on his blog. For example, the detailed writeup of Canada's 1991 Maclean's magazine "People's Verdict" experiment is at <>


July 2003

CII colleague Rosa Zubizarreta gets involved with a remarkable project Tom has consulated with over the years -- the Collective Wisdom Initiative -- and writes for them a remarkable paper -- "Deepening Democracy: Awakening the Spirit of Our Shared Life Together" -- which they post on their remarkable site at .

From Citizens Jury innovator and CII colleague Ned Crosby we receive copies of his new book HEALTHY DEMOCRACY, which joins Tom's THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY, John Gastil's BY POPULAR DEMAND and Jim Rough's SOCIETY'S BREAKTHROUGH as part of a recent surge in great books on citizen panels for empowered deliberation and reflection.

Comedian Steve Bhaerman, aka "Swami Beyondananda," calls THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY "a common-sense -- actually an uncommon sense -- approach to creating government of the people, by the people, for the people." Saying that the platform of the Swami's delightfully subversive Right to Laugh Party "expresses humorously a lot of what you express seriously," Bhaerman says he wants to find ways to work together, or at least interview Tom for a movie he's making. (What will happen next?!)


August 2003

CII hosts a gathering of the Board and supporters of the Center for Wise Democratic Practices . Through a day and a half of dynamicly facilitated conversation, participants feel energized and much clearer about how to proceed with promoting Dynamic Faciitation, Wisdom Councils, and a Citizens Amendment to establish a US Citizens' Wisdom Council -- with special attention to the rapidly developing Rogue Valley Wisdom Council project in Ashland, OR.

At a conference session on Collective Intelligence Tom meets high-tech guru Doug Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse and innovator of groupware and other major innovations -- who also promotes "collective IQ" -- and gives him a copy of THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY. Later in the session, Englebart is formally nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Several weeks later, having browsed Tom's book, he leaves a touching phone message calling Tom a "blood brother."

The Co-Intelligence Institute contracts with fundraiser Kate O'Donnell to develop and begin a fundraising campaign to foundations. We provide her with lots of write-ups and research we've done in previous months to bring her up to speed on our work and on the foundation prospects we've uncovered so far.

We help The Loka Institute to educate citizens about nanotechnology and lobby the Senate to put citizen deliberation in their nanotechnology bill.

Tom kicks off a special National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation working group exploring the mission of dialogue and deliberation by writing and posting two alternative mission statements and inviting critique and comment. He suggests that the group come up with a single statement and then distribute it broadly to practitioners, asking for critique.

Hopedance magazine's book reviewer William L. Seavey describes THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY as "a book to empower activists nationally or internationally.... This is as much a manual for positive change as it is a philosophical treatise on democratic principles. I certainly hope it doesn't get lost on the shelves somewhere because it has the essential wisdom to make a huge difference."

Tom is interviewed on a public affairs radio talk show in Northern California.


And now (September) Tom is off to do workshops, talks, presentations and dialogues in California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut....


Tom's Inquiries ("guiding questions")

Here are some of Tom's active inquiries for this year so far:

  • What is the nature of wisdom -- in particular, democratic wisdom?
  • What is the unconscious co-intelligence of nature?
  • What is the distinction between deliberation and reflection?
  • What is the role of "not-see-ism" in nurturing fascism?
  • What about the co-optation of dialogue by power players?
  • What is the relationship between dependence, independence and interdependence -- and their role in nonviolence and in the history and mythos of America?
  • What is the role of extremism in a healthy society?
  • What are the gifts and limits of personal enlightenment in generating wise public policy?
  • What is the nature of -- and relationship between -- truth, fact, and information, and how do we deal with the ambiguous validity of second-hand information?
  • What important relationships exist between democracy and peace?
  • What about the dance of order and chaos in co-intelligence?
  • What roles do bureaucracies, technocrats and public servants play in supporting or undermining community intelligence?



Here are a few of the projects in the works for the immediate future -- in addition to our organizational development and fundraising efforts -- which we can pursue most successfully with your help:

  • Working with the Parliament of World Religions and others to bring the highest human spirit to democratic decision-making. We'll be consulting with the design team for their next big conference in Barcelona, Spain, next July and, if we have your support, Tom will be going there to give a presentation.
  • Working with academic "deliberative democracy" specialists, and designing research to test how well randomly selected citizen panels of various kinds produce outcomes that most other citizens value. If the tests are positive, that evidence can be used to support the widespread use of citizen panels as a potent tool for democracy.
  • Working with local groups who are determined to organize empowered citizen dialogue and deliberation in their communities, such as in Ashland, OR.
  • Working with members of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation to clarify the mission of dialogue and deliberation in the 21st Century, and to engage practitioners in that mission. We believe that aligning disparate practitioners to a larger purpose may greatly facilitate the evolution of the "culture of dialogue" we need so much.
  • Getting THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY into the hands of more opinion leaders in all related fields.
  • Making the Co-Intelligence Institute website and the Innovations in Democracy website much more user-friendly.

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