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Phi Beta Iota: Below the line is an email with several links that has been broadcast by and to what we think of as the “thinking man's kum-ba-ya crowd.” They have not gotten a grip on public intelligence in the public interest yet, they are still crawling around the edges of structured organization. Think of them as raw material for GroupOn. A mix of naivete, scary, and inspiring. Please also note, as Tom Atlee has emphasized, that CITIZENSHIP makes “transpartisanship” a moot if not a counter-productive term. The Coffee Party is seriously over-hyped in the material that follows, but the spirit of the note is authentic and merits respect.
Subject: Re: Chickering/Turner response to Bruce Schuman's wonderful “Emerging Transpartisan Politics”
Dear Annabel — and Lawrence Chickering — and Jim Turner — and John Steiner —
Just saying hi. It's exciting to see this email, and it feels so natural to see these connections coming together.
I do have the book Voice of the People: That Transpartisan Imperative in American Life, which I purchased a couple of years ago here in Santa Barbara, following a connection with Joseph McCormick. It turned out that the publisher, daVinci Press, had an office here, so I went out there and bought the book in person.
And perhaps, Mr. Chickering, you might recall exchanging a little email with me about that time. I was excited about the connection, and felt a deep resonance with the book. So, I did express my enthusiasm, and we also gave a little thought to your “Educate Girls Globally” project, and I created a little demo network for you: http://lightpages.net/lp/welcome.cfm?login=463615
And Mr. Turner — let me add that just a couple of nights ago, a lady friend of mine was over here, and we were going through some of her Ken Wilber videos — and there on the screen, you were talking with Ken Wilber, about these issues of “memes” and psychological types and “integral politics”, etc. I was kind of amazed. Could this be the same James Turner who co-wrote the book on Transpartisan politics? I was delighted to see the answer was yes.
I do have a background in some of those “Wilber-like” subjects, so that felt like a very tidy convergence of ideas and forces. And now today, I get this email from Annabel linking all these things together, and it all feels very promising.
For me right now — I have somehow been consumed for the past two or three months, just building this “SharedPurpose.Net” system — doing what I can to directly support the activities of the Coffee Party, plus reach out a bit across the boundaries and include new ideas and new voices.
We've had some great conversations. Joseph McCormick is an influential voice, and Gorver Norquist, bless him, remains a force on the scene (he had 40 minutes on C-SPAN the other morning). But the rise of NoLabels.org, and other similar energies, plus the continuing growth of the Coffee Party — seem to me to point towards a new rising sun.
So, the way I see it — it's just worth while to continue to pour resources and hope and vision into this emerging new way of understanding. I just have the feeling that we can be successful in some remarkable ways.
And from my point of view — I think the Coffee Party is uniquely positioned to offer visionary and intellectual leadership to this emerging new politics.
This is probably true in part because we are strictly a grass-roots and self-funded group, but it's also because we are so broadly inclusive — and because we have some high-level intellectual roots, we can do things that others cannot really do. We truly dare to be philosophical and visionary, when so many of those around us are encouraging a brute-force realism driven by marketing.
NoLabels may have big money (Michael Bloomberg) and big publicity (Mark McKinnon was on Meet the Press this morning) — but Coffee Party has a tremendously inclusive vision, that incorporates solutions arising from everywhere — like ideas from the theory of community — or advanced ideas from “group process” (dialogue, etc. — Mark Gerzon is quoted on the flyleaf of Voice of the People). Mark McKinnon is a talented guy — but his vision is limited by comparison. Coffee Party covers all bases, and is rising from a deep core philosophy, that in my opinion, is more sophisticated. Plus, we have a “vision of the network” and ideas on community that I think can reach everywhere.
So, yes, some might argue that McKinnon is more immediately practical. And John McCain just announced on the floor of the Senate that January is not going to see a big outburst of Kumbaya. I think he point-blank said we are not going to be loving each other. I'm not sure how or why Christians can affirm this with such confidence.
For me, this “Voice of the People” concept is rising up like the grass, and it's coming from everywhere, and informed from a thousand angles. McCain might not see that. And I guess we can call him a “realist” But I still carry the mantle and vision of Obama (or maybe it's Jesse Jackson), and I want to “keep hope alive”. And I think that hope is on the rise, and that millions of Obama-people might be re-ignited by the right kind of energy rising from the grass roots.
So, for me — getting out of bed in the morning and firing up “the big iron” is worth doing. I have a dedicated server for this work, and a big database, and enough skill to keep adding new pieces and new people to this emerging new “Shared Purpose” system that now supports a lot of Coffee Party activities. Three years ago, I was excited when Obama announced his candidacy, and opened up his “MyBO” ( http://my.barackobama.com <http://my.barackobama.com/> ) web system. I got involved immediately, and as a web system designer, I studied that place, and learned a lot about how to build political organizing software. The “MyBO” platform is a major league application — but I learned a lot about it, and today, that Shared Purpose facility can do a whole bunch of those things that helped Obama support what was widely described as “the best organized campaign in US political history”.
I liked that concept of the “50-state strategy” — and today, I am building something like that for Coffee Party. We're just getting the pieces in place, and we're kind of having a big “roundup” of organizers and local coordinators (“the cat herders round-up”) — and as we continue to pull these people into a common framework, where they can all talk to each other, and help build a common shared vision of what we're doing and where we're going, I think this “Voice of the People” concept can begin to emerge with astonishing energy and breadth.
Here's a link to the USA map, which supports a “drill-down” from that 50-state level to every zip code in the USA, in ways that are very similar to the Obama MyBO system:
And here's California: http://sharedpurpose.net/usa/state.cfm?app=0&stid=100004
This can be powerful organizing. We've been gathering up a team of excited regional coordinators, who are scouring internet connections, and pulling names and contact into our framework. One guy is all over FaceBook. Another lady knows a lot of contacts in some state. We have a place to put all this stuff that is clear, simple,robust — and “scalable”. Obama had 13+ million users in his “MyBO” system — with 30,000 groups and a huge number of events and fund-raisers. If just stick with it, and survive the birth-pangs, we can be doing something similar with this vision of new politics. And we already know that millions of Americans are profoundly interested in it. If we can combine good organizing with high-level and informed vision and expertise — we could be pretty tough to stop.
And just yesterday, I heard about a new “Open Government” initiative they are calling “ExpertNet”. This looks like something put together by programmers, and it might leave out the necessary human elements — but it's another force on the scene, and I'd guess we can work with these people too.
So, thanks for the positive comments about my article redistributed by Tom Atlee. I might want to tone down some of the “power elite” critique — after all, “the rich are people too”, and I don't really want to make presumptive accusations. But there are forces out there, I think, that need to be reined in, and it's hard to see how that can happen if the grassroots remains so powerless. So, I am strongly driven towards the “We the People” model — when it's defined in truly universal and inclusive terms. This is the rising force in USA politics. And I just keep feeling that this energy can be invoked, can be guided, can be given clear philosophic and visionary definition — and that our network tools and our expanded pool of relationships can provide a highly informed and uplifting vision, with enough resonance and simplicity to actually be successful in a mass-market real-world political context. Thanks for all you bring to this discussion.
Santa Barbara CA