Democracy blooming?

2003-12-14

Richard Moore

Friends,

I'd like to share with you one of the most optimistic messages
I've received in quite some time. I've received many that
expressed optimism, but not many whose sentiments I could go
along with. There are many paths of premature optimism.

Below, after a pitch for support, Tom Atlee talks about a 2-day
session that took place in Jefferson County, Oregon. From Tom's
report, the session exhibited precisely the spirit of We The
People that I envision as the path to a transformed society.
Unfortunately, Tom (and his co-writers) describe the event only
in general terms. Perhaps they will tell us more about the
subject dealt with at the session, the process employed,
something about the participants, etc.

enjoy,
rkm

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Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 02:43:19 -0800
To: •••@••.••• (CII support list)
From: Co-Intelligence Institute <•••@••.•••>
Subject: A new co-intelligence.org website, news and a fundraiser

Dear friends of the Co-Intelligence Institute,

We want to share with you some highlights of what we've done in
the last few months, supported by your donations, and ask for
your continued support.  The Co-Intelligence Institute is a
catalyst for some very exciting developments and, although we
expect significant foundation funding next year, you, the
generous subscribers to this list, are still the "foundation" of
our support for everything we do. So give as generously as you
can.  Our work doesn't fit in the usual charity and activist
categories, so we depend on pioneers like you to recognize and
treasure the gifts we bring.

Now here's the news:  In addition to Tom Atlee's periodic
mailings which we value so much, your support has made possible a
number of other important developments we want to share.

1.  We have just completed the first wave of a major overhaul of
the Co-Intelligence Institute (CII) website
<http://www.co-intelligence.org>.  Take a look -- even a quick
peek will do.  We're sure you'll find it far more appealing,
useful and informative than it has ever been.  Over 100 of the
top level pages have been reworked to make the site far easier to
understand and navigate.  Dozens of new and never-before released
articles have been added to fill out important subject areas. 
Summary paragraphs have been written.  Choices have been made
about the best articles.  This has been a major part of our work
since our fundraiser in September. Your continued support will
help us complete this upgrade, expand the site's offerings, and
then complete the upgrade of the Innovations in Democracy site
<http://www.democracyinnovations.org>, already well underway. 
Through these websites, we will make a major contribution to the
upcoming election-year conversations about democracy.

2.  Furthermore, just one month ago, we helped the world's first
county-wide citizens' Wisdom Council become a grassroots success.
The story reads like make-believe.

Months earlier a member of this list got Tom on a local talk
radio show.  One person who heard him then convinced the host to
interview Wisdom Council innovator Jim Rough, as well.  That
second interview inspired three listeners to form the Rogue
Valley Wisdom Council (RVWC) project <http://www.rvwc.org> and to
call on the CII and Jim's Center for Wise Democratic Processes
(CWDP) <http://www.wisedemocracy.org> for advice.

Then, almost like a story book, along came a documentary
filmmaker seeking footage on a real Wisdom Council -- and he
needed it soon.  The RVWC folks -- who had never done anything
like this before -- rose to the occasion and managed to get a
Wisdom Council pulled together in just a few months.  The results
were phenomenal.

On Saturday and Sunday November 15-16 seven diverse strangers --
randomly chosen citizens of Jefferson County, Oregon -- found
themselves immersed together in hours of thoughtful, heartful,
and at times dramatic conversation (facilitated and videotaped),
exploring their community's concerns.  Much to our surprise, the
conversation transformed them before our very eyes.  They
discovered a level of passionate, determined group citizenship
they'd never experienced before.  On Sunday afternoon we watched
their enthusiasm infect a whole town meeting of local citizens
gathered to hear them.  Even the most colorful person on the
Wisdom Council, a passionate, challenging man who had been
repeatedly disappointed by earlier citizen boards and panels he'd
been on, spoke with great energy about the power of the
conversation he'd just experienced and about how it had rekindled
the fire of "We the People" among them.

Tom was amazed.  As visionary as he is, he had not anticipated
the level of response he saw. "The energy in the room was like a
populist political gathering -- except that it was all about US,
the people.  It was an awakening of the People, by the People and
for the whole People.  There wasn't a THEM anywhere in sight.  I
hadn't realized that watching We the People waking up would be
such a powerful, moving experience."

Most of the Wisdom Council members and a significant number of
the community audience signed up to help organize the next Rogue
Valley Wisdom Council...  The mayor of Santa Cruz was there and
excited by what she saw...  Our colleague Elliot Shuford did a
research study of the whole event under the auspices of the
University of Oregon...  A video and organizing manual are now
being made from the experience to help other communities create
their own citizens' Wisdom Councils...  And that's not all....

3.  Interest in powerful, creative citizen deliberation and
engagement is skyrocketing -- and the CII is among its leaders.

Just yesterday Tom checked Google for "citizen deliberation" and
"deliberative democracy" webpages.  He found both have more than
doubled in 18 months!  Furthermore, a page from our
http://www.democracyinnovations.org site was 13th of 12,100 pages
on deliberative democracy -- and our main "Citizen Deliberative
Council" page <http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-CDCs.html> was
8th out of 506 pages on citizen deliberation.  The Internet is
vibrating with our messages...

There are other signs of shift.  We just spent two days in an
intensive CII/CWDP meeting envisioning citizen deliberation
efforts nationally through the grassroots, through national media
and through dozens of interested state legislators involved with
the Kettering Foundation, the National Conference of State
Legislatures and the Policy Consensus Initiative.

The interest is out there.  Tom's trip to New England in October
(part of which National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation's
Sandy Heierbacher chronicled with pictures on
http://thataway.org/ncdd/ ) included conversations with community
organizers near Boston, several academics, a remarkable spiritual
community, and some equally remarkable old friends and dialogue
masters -- the Study Circle Resource Center
<http://www.studycircles.org> and Public Conversations Project
<http://www.publicconversations.org>.  Every conversation was
electric, and Tom returned inspired.

Next stop:  In January we'll be meeting for six hours with
interested city and county officials and community workers who
want more citizen dialogue and deliberation in our hometown of
Eugene, Oregon.  And we just got a call from a community
organizer in Madison, Wisconsin...

4.  In another example of remarkable timing, Tom's research on
processes for citizen dialogue and deliberation had a
breakthrough just a week or so ago when Matthew Shapiro of Mary
Parker Follett Foundation <http://www.follettfoundation.org>
alerted him to the remarkable Citizen Science Toolbox of
processes at
<http://www.coastal.crc.org.au/toolbox/alpha-list.asp>.

So we've asked for and received permission to put this database
onto the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation website
in the form of a Wiki -- a set of interconnected webpages which
can be modified by anyone (see the grassroots encyclopedia
http://www.wikipedia for a great example).  This will allow
everyone with process knowledge or experience to put what they
know into a co-created library of information about all
processes.

A Wiki can be expanded endlessly with references, and it's easy
for anyone to create hyperlinks.  Those of us who are interested
in the underlying dynamics of dialogue and deliberation, and who
want to study how different processes can be coordinated for
better results, will be able to use this process encyclopedia to
point out dynamics and possibilities.  And the whole project will
be furthered by the results of new process research being
undertaken simultaneously by many researchers, including Matthew
Shapiro, John Gastil, and AmericaSpeaks.

So it seems that not only are We the People beginning to wake up,
but the tools We need to think, feel and act with -- together, as
collectively wise communities and countries -- are being brought
into being at just the right time.

And a critical time it is.  With your support we can really make
a difference.  Our target for this December/January fundraiser is
$30,000.  We will end our funding drive on January 31st or when
we reach our target, whichever is first.  Help us make a
difference today.

Please send your tax deductible contributions to The
Co-Intelligence Institute PO Box 493 Eugene, OR 97440

or donate directly through our website at
<http://www.co-intelligence.org/donations.html>

Thank you so much for your support, and for your own work to make
the world a better place.  We are all on this journey together.

Coheartedly,

Tom Atlee
Susan Edwards
Adin Rogovin
Karen Mercer
for
The Co-Intelligence Institute


PS:  Don't forget to check out the new website <http://www.co-intelligence.org> 
and tell us how you like it.

________________________________

Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440
http://www.co-intelligence.org *  http://www.democracyinnovations.org
Read THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY *  http://www.taoofdemocracy.com
Please support our work.  *  Your donations are fully tax-deductible.

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