Plan for Solving Global Issues ... including climate change
THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM
Our society is structured to create environmental catastrophes. Climate change is just one of many “Tragedies of the Commons” that arise from our system of mindless consumption as we reach the limits of our planet’s resources. Ecological destruction, periodic wars, burgeoning numbers of refugees, ever more government regulations, L-curve distribution of wealth, and loss of community are all natural outcomes. Ultimately we must shift from a system that encourages self-interested competition to one that is more primarily about working together in the public interest.
Key to achieving this shift in our system is to adjust the underlying structure of society, basically to add a new conversation where all the people come together as “We the People”. This is not so hard to achieve as it might seem. With adequate resources a few of us can facilitate this necessary ongoing whole-system conversation. It’s safe in that we just add a conversation to what we already have. But it’s also powerful in that it provides a way that we can work together. We can move past denial and look at what’s happening, take responsibility and adjust our institutions to make sure that we all work together. Key is that we shift from mindlessly following the dictates of our old system and start thinking.
Social innovations allow this to happen. Besides the technical innovations of broadcast TV and web-based communication there are three social innovations in particular:
1) Choice-creating — This is the essential creative, heartfelt form of conversation needed for true democracy to exist. It’s when people face difficult, seemingly-impossible issues creatively and collaboratively, determining solutions that work for everyone. Choice-creating is distinct from dialogue, deliberation, negotiation and decision-making.
2) Dynamic Facilitation — This is a way to reliably evoke choice-creating in a small group of people. It's different from traditional facilitation in that it doesn't ask people to mute their frustrations, hold themselves to specific guidelines or follow a predetermined agenda. Ordinary people can just show up and speak naturally. The process assures that each person stays safe and each comment adds value.
3) The Wisdom Council —This is a way to evoke the spirit of choice-creating in very large systems like cities, countries or even globally. It's a way that huge numbers of people can be in one conversation solving problems together. The process involves bringing twelve to twenty-four random citizens together every four months or so for just a few days. They face ill-defined, difficult issues in the spirit of choice-creating using Dynamic Facilitation. Then the Wisdom Council presents its shared perspective in a high profile setting, where others hear and comment. The Wisdom Council disbands after they present their message, but the process facilitates an ongoing whole-system choice-creating conversation, which might be called “We the People” conversation.
These innovations have been demonstrated to work in many parts of the world, and have been adopted in different parts of Central Europe.
Step1 Gather a convener group
First, we must build a core group of people to convene the process, people who are concerned about the big issues of society, who understand how the Wise Democracy strategy can work, and who are well connected to gain funds and enlist co-sponsors. Ideally, this group will meet face-to-face start the process through a series of dynamically facilitated sessions. Some of the difficulties to be overcome — that can be overcome—are:
a) How to handle different languages within the Wisdom Council? … in the presentations? … in the global conversation?
b) How to gather a truly random selection of citizens from the world?
c) How to assure adequate funding? … adequate media support? … adequate computer networking capability?
d) How to assure a global audience for the Wisdom Council presentations?
e) How to assure that this process is ongoing?
Step 2 Set up a global Wisdom Council Process
Stage 1) Determine the issue—The issue can be selected by the global population ahead of time through a web selection process. Or the Wisdom Council itself can identify the issue. It should be a a hot, ill-defined impossible-seeming topic like global warming, wars, social justice, etc.
Stage 2) Random selection — Select 12-24 people [like a lottery] from throughout the world. This should be done periodically [e.g. 3 new groups per year]. This task can be turned over to an internationally respected polling firm.
Stage 3) Holding the Wisdom Council — Each global Wisdom Council will gather in a different city with someone skilled in Dynamic Facilitation. The conveners should identify celebrity backing, co-sponsors, media partners and funders.
Stage 4) Global community meeting — At each Wisdom Council city the presentation should be a large, live media event. where each Wisdom Council presents its results and its story, and where after the presentation, the on-site audience and the live broadcast audience are invited to talk in small groups. Also people report their level of resonance to the Wisdom Council conclusions, look around the virtual room and notice the extent to which all concur.
Stage 5) Remote gatherings — Help community organizers, NGO’s and governments convene local events where people gather, hear the Wisdom Council presentation and visit in face-to-face conversation.
Stage 6) Ongoing whole-system conversation — Between Wisdom Council presentations structure a way people can continue to visit about these issues in the spirit of choice-creating, especially using web-based systems.
Stage 7) Responder meetings — Encourage governmental agencies, NGO’s and experts to meet between Wisdom Councils. These different organizations can consider the results together and publicly respond with their coordinated plans to implement Wisdom Council conclusions.
Stage 8) Charter the process—The Wisdom Council Process should be added to national constitutions and the charters of global institutions. This is how we assure that the process is ongoing and that a new entity We the People comes into being.
Step 3 Support the emergence of positive results from the process (how they talk) and the content (what they talk about). This kind of global governance through choice-creating offers the prospect of protecting and managing the global commons, like the atmosphere, in ways that current global organizations cannot. This shift toward Wise Democracy can also happen at the national and local levels.
Stage 1) Determine the issue
Process impact: People all over the world can suggest and endorse particular issues and track which one is selected.
Content impact: Just selecting the issue focus’s global attention on that issue.
Stage 2) Random selection
Process impact: Just bringing these random people together and taking their picture can be a powerful symbol, like the first picture of the earth from space.
Stage 3) Holding the Wisdom Council
Process impact: The Wisdom Council will focus attention on a particular issue like climate change, poverty or wars and create the first-ever legitimate voice of the public interest on this issue.
Content impact: The Wisdom Council articulates a new story about who we are and our situation, providing leadership on what we need to do to address this issue.
Stage 4) Convene live “community cafes”
Process impact: People find themselves in one inclusive global conversation listening and building a global perspective.
Content impact: This brings a new clarity about what needs to happen and a powerful realization that “we are all on the same page.”
Stage 5) Remote gatherings
Process impact: These are community building experiences, a way to elevate the calibre of conversation in each locality … like to educate people about the importance of vaccines.
Content impact: Here’s a way that local communities can work together on issues, addressing homelessness for example.
Stage 6) Ongoing whole-system conversation
Process impact: It’s empowering. People get involved, talking to people from all over the world, learning, and making progress together.
Content impact: Here’s a way to bridge differences among people and nations, avert wars and acts of terrorism, and build a shared response to crises.
Stage 7) Responder meetings
Process impact: It’s empowering. Official organizations respond to what the people want.
Content impact: Organizations become more effective. They are able to share what they do and coordinate with governments, nonprofit organizations, and individuals.
Stage 8) Charter the process
Process impact: A new level of collective intelligence. This ongoing process sparks new motivations in people and a new way of thinking that is more creative and collaborative.
Content impact: When We the People comes into being it brings with it a new system of governance and economics, affecting all issues.
This strategy arose from seminars on Dynamic Facilitation (DF), taught by Jim Rough since 1990. During the seminars participants would break into small groups to practice DF’ing on seemingly impossible societal issues like poverty, healthcare, the environment, the education system, racism, or loss of family values. In these diverse groups people often have the same breakthrough insight: This problem is caused by our system. Other insights arose too, about how to safely modify the system so that these problems just go away, or don’t arise in the first place. This led to the idea for the Wisdom Council.
In 2002 Jim wrote a book on the Wisdom Council enacted as a U.S. Constitutional Amendment: Society's Breakthrough! Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People. Also that year the Center for Wise Democracy was established to support experiments with the Wisdom Council.
In 2006 Dr. Manfred Hellrigl, manager of the Office of Future Related Issues (OFRI) in the state of Vorarlberg Austria, became interested. His organization supported local mayors to use the Wisdom Council to involve citizens in solving difficult public issues. The experiments have been so successful that this process is now used at the state and national levels as well.
Many consider this to be an idealistic strategy. Actually, what's idealistic is to think that the current system is sustainable. Presented here is a realistic (we know it works at large system levels) … safe (where is the risk?) … accessible (with adequate financial resources you and I can set it in motion) … strategy to shift human civilization toward a higher level of consciousness and thriveablity.
Your expertise, commitment, connections, resources and enthusiasm can help take this new strategy forward. Please help in any way you can.
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