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.
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. http://www.agnt.org
THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY is slightly revised and reprinted with a more service-oriented print-on-demand publisher -- The Writers Collective. http://www.writerscollective.org
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 http://www.radicalhonesty.com/
, 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.)
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,
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
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. http://www.rvwc.org/
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.
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
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.
Tom's article "Politics
for a Co-Creative World" is published in Science of
Mind magazine (circulation 200,000).
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 http://www.geo.coop
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
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.
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. http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_ElectoralIntro.html
Tom researches Interdependence Days and
Declarations of Interdependence and shares them with his email
list and on http://www.co-intelligence.org/interdependenceday.html
. 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
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
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 <http://radio.weblogs.com/0120875/stories/2003/03/22/theCanadianExperiment.html>
CII colleague Rosa Zubizarreta gets involved
with a remarkable project Tom has consulated with over the years
-- the Collective Wisdom Initiative http://www.collectivewisdominitiative.org
-- 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 http://www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/papers/zubizarreta_democracy.htm
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?!)
CII hosts a gathering of the Board and supporters
of the Center for Wise Democratic Practices http://www.wisedemocracy.org
. 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" http://www.bootstrap.org/
-- 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
We help The Loka Institute http://www.loka.org
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 http://www.thataway.org
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.
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." http://www.hopedance.org/40/articles/210.html
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,
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
- 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
PROJECTS YOU CAN SUPPORT
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.
We welcome your tax-deductible donations.