Tom Atlee: Wisdom of the Fringes

Collective Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence, Peace Intelligence
Tom Atlee

Counterintuitively, the highest evolutionary wisdom lies on the fringes of business as usual. The fringes are fringes because they are different, dissident, dissonant with business-as-usual – both with the mainstream and even with our own personal or group business-as-usual. The challenges presented by the fringes can expand our view of what’s really going on and what really needs to be addressed. But, of course, that is easier said than done; there’s something to know about including the fringes creatively so that greater wisdom and possibility result rather than folly and destructive messes. Luckily, we know a bit about that – and could learn more…

The wisdom of the fringes?

In the end, I believe that those who call forth the most collective intelligence and wisdom will be those who can manifest – and help others manifest – two vital capacities:

1. the ability to include more of what is normally overlooked and excluded and
2. the ability to use diversity and disturbance creatively.

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Tom Atlee: Michael Dowd’s 55 Interviews on the Future

Cultural Intelligence
Tom Atlee
Tom Atlee

The Future is Calling Us to Greatness

Without even realizing it, I’ve become part of an online conference made up of amazing interviews with amazing people, put together by my evolutionary friend Michael Dowd. I didn’t know I’d be in such illustrious company, but now I do and I’m delighted to introduce you to the opportunity to hear Michael’s interviews in which 55 really interesting (and often famous) people speak about their work, their worldviews, and their visions. It will all be free for two weeks starting late January into early February and after that will only cost $25 for the full set (including transcripts). Read more.

Tom Atlee: State Banks, Debt Renunciation, Other Populist Cures

03 Economy, 09 Justice, 11 Society
Tom Atlee
Tom Atlee

Dear friends,

Below is an excellent summary of a very high leverage economic system change opportunity – state banks.  A single example already exists in the U.S:  the little-known but revolutionary state-owned Bank of North Dakota.

State banks simultaneously address the problems of unemployment, lack of financial resources for state and local governments (including rising government debt), and the economic inequity generated by Wall Street’s colonization of our economy.

The essay below also alerts us to the dangerous erosion of democracy represented by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement currently being negotiated behind closed doors.

State banks are no long term cure-all for the economic disruptions likely from climate change, resource depletion (especially peak oil), and various technological developments.*  But they constitute a powerful sea change in our current economic business-as-usual, reducing dangerous concentrations of social power and buying us time to co-create more sustainable economics, politics and governance.

The article below features the work of Ellen Brown, who is showing up more and more in economic innovation circles, especially in efforts to revolutionize our financial systems.  I’ve recently seen two other remarkable articles by her:

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Review: Empowering Public Wisdom – A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Democracy, Future, Games, Models, & Simulations, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Spiritual), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page

Tom Atlee

5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Tom Paine of Our Generation,October 10, 2012

I first met Tom when I sought him out after discovering his first book The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all and invited him to speak to an international gathering of information and intelligence professionals. In my view, his words to that group were as powerful as those of Howard Rheingold and John Perry Barlow, themselves speaking to the same conference a decade earlier. Since then I have read Tom’s second book Reflections on Evolutionary Activism: Essays, poems and prayers from an emerging field of sacred social change, and written my own manifesto, the second book in this series (Tom’s is the third, the first was Manifesto for the Noosphere: The Next Stage in the Evolution of Human Consciousness (Manifesto Series). To the extent that I have been constructively radicalized toward open everything and the core principles of transparency, truth, and trust, I owe a great debt to Tom and the Seattle wizards that I met because of him, not least Jon Ramer, Susan Cannon, and Sheri Herndon.

By way of contextual appreciation, I would also mention Harrison Owen, whose first book tom cites but whose most recent book I am compelled to present here, Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World, and Peggy Owen, whose most recent book is Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity. I am delighted that he also honors Jim Rough (Society’s Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People) and the team of Juanita Brown and David Isaacs (The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter among many others.

Tom provides both an appendix of key concepts with links for each that I have remixed and posted to Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, and an excellent list of books that I am also posting with links. The triad is easily found online by searching for Tom Atlee Public Wisdom Trilogy.

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Tom Atlee: Public Wisdom Practical Links

11 Society, Advanced Cyber/IO, Civil Society, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, Government, Links (Global Security)
Tom Atlee

21st Century Town Meetings

Appreciative Inquiry

Argument Mapping

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)


Canada Maclean experiment



citizen consensus councils (CCCs)

citizen deliberative councils (CDCs)

citizen councilor forums

citizen panels [By Popular Demand]

citizen reflective councils


Amazon Page

Citizens’ Assembly

citizens juries

civic journalism

Community-Based Watershed Management Councils

community quality of life indicators

Commons Cafés

Community Forums Network

Community vision programs

Consensus Conferences aka Danish Technical Panels

Consensus Councils

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Tom Atlee: A presidential candidate signs the Co-Intelligence Institute’s Politician’s Pledge


Dear friends,

Robert Steele, a long-time colleague of mine and presidential hopeful with the Reform Party (see PS below), has just become the second politician to sign the Co-Intelligence Institute’s Politician’s Pledge  This pledge commits the politician to take seriously any properly convened and facilitated citizens deliberative council – to post its results on their website and either follow its recommendations or publicly say why they can’t or won’t.

This seemingly low-commitment pledge – which requires nothing from the politician except an authentic respect for a legitimate voice of We the People (as described in my post yesterday) – has been declined by a number of politicians.  The only politician to sign it in the past was leading Hawaii Democratic state Senator Les Ihara back in 2004.

Given that we are entering a major election year and the phraseS “the people” and “we the people” are being tossed around a lot, I invite you to consider asking the candidates seeking your support if they will sign the Politician’s Pledge and, if they decline, asking them why not.

Imagine if a few dozen politicians in the U.S. elections – and elsewhere where elections are going on – why, imagine if a few hundred or a few thousand signed the Politician’s Pledge….  Suddenly there would be a political “market” for citizen panels of all kinds – Citizens Juries, Consensus Conferences, Wisdom Councils….  And if a leading candidate made a big deal about their willingness to listen to the authentic, thoughtful voice of We the People and challenged their opponents to do the same, it just might become hard for other candidates to resist signing the Pledge.

And when 20% or 40% or 60% of the politicians signed the pledge – I mean, why not dream big!? – then suddenly the people would have a powerful voice to speak through, to make a difference, to get their collective wisdom pushed into political conversations and public policy.  And suddenly the ball would be in our court.  It would be up to us to convene the citizen panels that would tell the politicians what to do.  And if we did they, the onus would be on them to do what we said.  And if they didn’t, I suspect there would be other politicians ready to say that they would.

And after a while, it would make little difference which party a candidate was from, because the standard by which they were all being judged was how well they honored and supported the informed, thoughtful, creative will of We the People.

Think about it.

C’mon.  Dream with me.  Below you’ll find the pledge and the original “Listen to the People’s Wisdom” campaign, for your consideration and enjoyment.


PS:  Robert Steele’s campaign (he’s planning to hit a home run) is focusing on Electoral Reform, a Balanced Budget (don’t presume you know what that means until you see the specifics), True Cost Economics (one of the highest leverage approaches to transforming the economic system), and a Coalition Cabinet (no matter what your politics are, you’ll probably be boggled in both directions by the diverse people Steele is proposing for his cabinet).  I have any number of concerns about a number of his proposals, but in a sense that’s almost irrelevant.  I mean, I’ve never seen a candidate I didn’t have *some* real concerns about.  And his platform is one of the most radical I’ve seen and he’s determined to push these potent ideas into the political conversation.  I had issues with him calling his campaign “We the People” because all the ideas in his platform are his and his advisors’, rather than coming from citizen deliberative councils.  But now that he’s signed the Politician’s “Listen to the People” Pledge, I feel he can make that claim.  If he got enough support, he’d probably drum up a few CDCs just so he can play out his Pledge.  He’s a bit wild, I must admit, but he’s extremely high integrity and very dedicated.  Take a look and see what you think….


Tom Atlee: #Occupy 2.0 Part III – Initatives Galore

Tom Atlee

Exploring #Occupy 2.0 – Part 3 – Initiatives within and inspired by OWS


There is SO much going on in and around the Occupy movement – even in the midst of and aftermath of the many recent evictions – and even as the holiday season gets seriously underway. The diversity of local dynamics and initiatives exceeds my ability to track. But here is another taste of what’s going on:

First in this mailing I offer a remarkable movement visioning document from Toronto. Then I share news from two Occupy efforts – one in Atlanta with a variety of initiatives and one in Iowa focusing on the upcoming primary elections. Then I describe three sites where some very intensive thinking is going on about the occupy movement as a whole – one focusing on building the movement’s capacity for collective reflection, one providing an online forum for wildly participatory dialogue, and a third combining organized online reflections with sophisticated conference calls with notes made publicly available. I also skimmed a bunch of brainstorming off of that last site to give you a sense of what those folks are considering. Finally, I offer four initiatives inspired by the Occupy movement – a “national general assembly”, a January 20th demonstration at the Supreme Court protesting the Citizen United decision, a bill in Congress to tax the worst Wall Street speculative trading, and some ideas for Occupying the Holidays – including a hilarious/serious video intended to help Occupiers talk with resistant family members at their holiday dinner table.

For better and worse, there’s a lot here. Feel free to skim over to what might interest you, and dig in there. I hope you find it useful, informative, and inspiring.

Occupy your holiday with good spirit and expanding awareness and love.


Visit full post with links and abbreviated summaries of each.

Tom Atlee: #Occupy 2.0 Part II – What Happens Now?

Tom Atlee

What happens now with OWS?

Those who think the Occupy movement will die away just because several encampments in major cities have been evicted are likely to be surprised.

They remind me of people who think that climate change is not going to be such a big deal because the weather in their area has been rather mild. Or the people who thought alcohol use (or drug use) would disappear because it was made illegal (prohibition). Appearances can be deceiving – especially when one only wants to see what’s obvious.

I remember how the Great Peace March (which I participated in) fell apart bankrupt in the Mojave Desert two weeks after it launched from Los Angeles in March 1986 with 1200 marchers. The national media reported its demise and moved on to other topics, ignoring the fact that it re-started two weeks later with 400 marchers – still a sizable event – and proceeded to have a profound effect on every community it visited for the next eight months – as well as on the larger society through ongoing reverberations long after it ended in Washington DC in November 1986 with 1200 marchers. Not the least of these was the birth of my own work exploring co-intelligence and wisely self-organizing democracy.

Just because some energy or activity ceases to be clearly and publicly visible, doesn’t mean it has died or gone away. Especially when you suppress it with violence, you almost guarantee it will continue, growing and evolving, surfacing with new energy and impacts in new times and places, often to people’s great surprise. Addressing symptoms of a disturbance seldom handles the cause, which will soon find other outlets to manifest whatever need is not being met.

Continue reading “Tom Atlee: #Occupy 2.0 Part II – What Happens Now?”

Tom Atlee: #Occupy 2.0 – Part I – Foreclosure Activism

Tom Atlee

Exploring #Occupy 2.0 – Part 1 – Brilliant #OWS foreclosure activism

Dear friends,

During the next week I’ll be reporting on a wide variety of initiatives and inquiries arising among Occupy activists in this transition phase of their movement.  But first I want to share one of the main thrusts of their emerging effort, which is showing up in a variety of forms around the country – foreclosure activism.  This article, in particular, gives a good glimpse into the sophistication of the organizing work being done by these folks.

Blessings on the Journey.


Occupy Wall Street on Your Street
Astra Taylor  The Nation December 7, 2011

Tom Atlee: Sources of the Occupy Movement Part IV

Tom Atlee

Sources of the Occupy Movement – Part 4 – Socioeconomic conditions

 This post looks at the social and economic conditions that fostered the emergence of the Occupy movement, as well as a timeline of events, books, and commentary that, in retrospect, offer significant precedents or stimulants to the form and energy of Occupy.



Read full post with many links.

PartI   . . .   Part II   . . .    Part III

See Also:

Tom Atlee: Drop-Out Economy Meets Twilight of Elites

Tom Atlee: Three New Potent Occupy Together Resources

Tom Atlee: #OWS Emerging Patterns & Suggestions


Tom Atlee: Four Types of Power

Cultural Intelligence
Tom Atlee

Dear friends,

Stimulated by Occupy and an expanding inquiry into new forms of economics, combined with my ongoing interest in bringing wisdom to politics and governance, I’ve stumbled on a productive approach to pulling it all together:  Start from an exploration of Power – particularly, but not only, social power.  This brings both politics and economics under the same roof, and oddly integrates protest movements, alternative technologies and social forms, and the human potential movement.  More on that later.

Right now, I want to share some notes on types of power.  If you have thoughts about these lists, please share them on my blog so others can see them and all the comments will be gathered together in one place where it will be easier for me to review and learn from them all.

I hope you find these interesting and thought-provoking.  I look forward to any comments you may have.




by Tom Atlee

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Tom Atlee: Sources of the Occupy Movement Part III

11 Society, Advanced Cyber/IO, Civil Society, Counter-Oppression/Counter-Dictatorship Practices, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, Hacking
Tom Atlee

Part I:  Sources of the Occupy Movement

Part II:  Influence of Activist Arts & Video Game Culture

Part III:  Ongoing Movements and Organizing

Feminist and anti-oppression activists, the human potential movement, and other ongoing organizers and movements for human betterment have played important roles in the emergence and nature of the Occupy movement. (The articles below are just a few examples.) Such movements have been organizing demonstrations, communities and networks and transforming people’s consciousness and behavior in one form or another for hundreds of years. They’ve been training and empowering people and exposing them to the dark side of the social systems they live in and the possibilities for a better world, even as they themselves have become more experienced, aware, and skilled at new ways of living and being together.

Many people became leaders and practitioners of these organizing and transformational skills, forming a dispersed pool of resources for disparate transformational activities over the last many decades. The high purpose, tremendous passion, propitious timing, evocative non-specificity and intense community of OWS attracted a wide variety of these folks to its various centers of activity – the Occupations themselves – and into diverse support, leadership, and teaching roles. And then much was learned, experienced, created, modified… Had there been no past movement activities generating this pool of experience and skill, the Occupy movement would have looked very different indeed. And now the Occupy movement itself has become part of that ongoing learning, deepening, evolving collective experience…

As Occupy encampments are broken up by authorities, various commentators wonder if the movement is falling apart. They forget that through the activities of OWS in the last several months, tens of thousands of people have not only been inspired but have also taken leaps in awareness, experience and skill and that new leaders have emerged and new networks and groups have formed and new questions are being asked by newly focused and empowered citizens. The fact that this development is diffuse and nonlinear does not mean it does not exist. It only means that mainstream eyes will not necessarily recognize the new forms in which it will surface, over and over and over, expanding and adapting as it goes.

As one OWS sign insightfully said – in words whose significance not everyone will grasp – “This is a movement, not a protest.”

I have a feeling we ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

Blessings on the Journey. It has been a long time.


Read full post with sources.

Tom Atlee: Sources of the Occupy Movement Part II

Tom Atlee

Sources of the Occupy Movement: Part Two


Let’s take a look at the influence of activist arts and video game culture – and the novel idea that fun and social change are a marriage made in heaven.

One of the trademark characteristics of Occupy is an out-of-the-box, creatively courageous exuberance. The 60s had some of that and there have been flashes of it since, but the Occupy has stood high on the shoulders of its predecessors and taken exuberance and courageous creativity a giant next step, making it a life-affirming leaven for their outrage and a key element in their broad appeal. How can we be light-hearted and serious at the same time? Just look at their signs! Here are three collections (with some obviously popular overlaps)….

These folks are ALIVE!

Check out the articles below…




Occupy LAAAAAA: Artists in SolidarityInterview with Elana Mann


[Much] criticism of the Occupy movement comes from the clashing of staid historical scripts of protest and the current improvisation that is happening on the ground right now. Folks seem to be looking toward each other rather than the political agendas of those already in power. …. The Occupy movement is improvising new relationships to uncertainty and power… The scripts of how past protests operated (particularly protests from the 60s/70s) are clouding people’s minds for how protest should function and operate now…. I am so glad that the members of the Occupy movement try to listen to the people next to them instead of the demands of the media or the politicians…. I see the current improvisational thrust of Occupy to be moving around consciousness-raising on a national and international level, an attempt at deeply listen to the concerns of people who have been silenced for a long time.

My desire is that the improvisational practice of freedom within the Occupy movement continues to grow and expand beyond the confines of the protest. This improvisational way of living creates further flexibilities and responsibilities to change rather than fixed states driven by fear. Echoing this sentiment, artist and mediator Dorit Cypis wrote so beautifully in a recent Facebook post: “So right. Occupy has no one site. Occupy has become a state of mind that we each must take on and spread through individual and collective daily actions. Protest the ‘empire’ while self-witnessing how we each may be colluding in small ways. Live reciprocity and generosity. Listen empathically and choose when to take decisive action to enliven ‘a brave new world’.” Through improvisation, maybe we will discover a way toward a more equal, functional, and just future.

Read full post.

Tom Atlee: Source of the Occupy Movement Part I

Tom Atlee

Dear friends,

This is the first of a series of postings I’ll do about the sources of the Occupy movement, from a number of angles.  Each mailing will cover one or two of them.  They are, of course, not definitive or complete, but I find them all intriguing.  Some of them have been touched on in – and are augmented by – previous posts.

The Occupy movement seems to have come “from nowhere”, appeared “out of the blue”.  But a lot of events, people, writings, social movements and social conditions developed over extended periods of time and combined to trigger its emergence at this time.

Since our society is what scientists call “a complex living system”, it embodies the principles of complexity science.  One of those principles is that, while we can IN RETROSPECT often identify chains of causation leading up to some event in a complex system, the web of causation is actually so complex and dense with interdependencies and feedback loops that we cannot PREDICT that event ahead of time.  We can estimate the probabilities of it happening, but we have no way of knowing exactly what is going to happen.  And sometimes with such events, we just didn’t see it coming at all!

So I’m looking at the emergence of Occupy in retrospect and will be offering factors – new ones in each mailing – that seem to lead up to it because it helps me to understand it, respond to it, participate in it.  But I have no illusions that it will tell me or anyone else what will happen next.

For that, we have to step into the flow.  Our roles in such complex living systems are not so much to predict (as spectators) but to co-createe (as participants).  How consciously do we want to do THAT?



Occupy Wall Street’s anarchist roots
by David Graeber


The easiest way to explain anarchism is to say that it is a political movement that aims to bring about a genuinely free society – that is, one where humans only enter those kinds of relations with one another that would not have to be enforced by the constant threat of violence. History has shown that vast inequalities of wealth, institutions like slavery, debt peonage or wage labour, can only exist if backed up by armies, prisons, and police. Anarchists wish to see human relations that would not have to be backed up by armies, prisons and police. Anarchism envisions a society based on equality and solidarity, which could exist solely on the free consent of participants….

How, then, did OWS embody anarchist principles? It might be helpful to go over this point by point:
Continue reading “Tom Atlee: Source of the Occupy Movement Part I”