Overview of What I'm Doing

My general focus for many years has been on what I think of as Process Arts, or process activism. That is, rather than focusing on a particular issue, going for general improvement in all of the ways that we learn, make decisions, design our systems, etc. This is relevant at all scales - from personal growth, to group dynamics and facilitation, neighborhood organizing, on up to cities, regions, and globally. At the larger scales we're talking about things like economic, political, and legal systems, and even more generally culture (the second-most powerful leverage point according to systems theorist/activist Donella Meadows).

Progress on process makes progress on every issue much, much easier. My greatest thinking partner in this has been Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute. The most coherent/tangible thing that Tom has offered the world may still be pulling together the category of Citizen Deliberative Councils, which have been applied to a very limited degree in a number of countries and provinces/states, including Oregon's Citizens Initiative Review. Another of our favorite examples showing their huge potential is the 1990s Maclean's Experiment in Canada. (Also see The Tao of Democracy.)

While I myself have a vaguely lefty political perspective, process activism ultimately requires including everyone, certainly people with principled conservative views, and even (although this is far more challenging) those who espouse conservative views but are really just for whatever serves them personally. We include everyone both because it is the right thing to do, and because the more different perspectives we can effectively include, the more wise and broadly acceptable the solutions we come up with together will be. As another friend of mine Brandon WilliamsCraig puts it, "Peace is conflict done well."

The past few years I have unexpectedly found myself focusing on climate as an issue, after several different friends brought my attention to the fact that we may already have passed tipping points from which there is no return (the IPCC numbers tend to be middle of the road, which on such an existential issue seems unwise). So in 2014 I was part of the LA-to-DC Great March for Climate Action, which was a very powerful experience tapping most of my skills in service of this traveling community, on the move more than six days out of seven for eight months. I've had even more trouble than usual being focused since then, but have tried to support local climate action here in Oregon.

Most recently, I'm seeing immense possibilities in Sanders' frequent acknowledgement of the power of the grassroots, and just today found an ally in the national campaign. My intent is to build more bridges between the campaign and the activist networks I am currently well plugged into, hold phone conferences and maybe fact-to-face opportunities, to brainstorm and do some groundwork so that in January 2017 we can hit the ground running for the post-election part of what Bernie calls a "political revolution". (The two links in this paragraph go to the middle of two different Bernie Sanders town halls, and the relevant parts are just 2-3 minutes long.)

Whether Bernie wins or not, I see little hope for the needed scale of climate action, or political/economic/legal/etc. reform, without a giant leap in citizen activism/engagement. Bernie winning would of course be a "eug" plus, as it would give us an ally in one of the most powerful positions inside the system. Assuming of course he is for real, which as far as I can tell he is, and he has much more of a track record to support that vs. Obama who used some of the same rhetoric but never followed through.