Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Randy Schutt (see my post of 7/10/08) recommended that I check out Tom Atlee and the Co-Intelligence Institute. They have a website and Tom Atlee has three blogs (Evolving Collective Intelligence, Evolutionary Dynamics Exploration, and Journey Reflections). There is a massive amount of information here. There are articles on co-intelligence, definitions of co-intelligence, stories about co-intelligence, and quotes on co-intelligence. There is also information about "its opposite, co-stupidity".

What is co-intelligence? Briefly, it's an interconnected form of intelligence that can be demonstrated by individual, groups, communities, societies, systems, etc. It involves listening and speaking from the heart and struggling with group process. In particular, Atlee talks about collective intelligence and collaborative intelligence, and he includes a list of over fifty different 'Co-Intelligent Practices, Approaches, Processes and Organizations' that includes everything from Permaculture and Open Space Technology (see my posts of 7/22/08 and 8/31/08) to consensus, Nonviolent Communication, Co-counseling, and Despair and Empowerment work (and much, much more). He then goes on to list resources that list even more methods!

The section on stories is comprehensive and illuminating. It illustrates how co-intelligence works and shows it in action, creating change. There are nearly thirty different articles here; most of these are true stories that (as the site says) "really happened (or are happening)" but there are also a couple of "visionary stories that could happen". The stories include dialogues on such hot topics as racism and abortion, but also lots of examples of what is involved in community building.

One amazing set of stories concerns the Great Peace March of 1986, an event where over a thousand people were supposed to walk across the country together, but when the west coast leadership collapsed, it quickly unraveled. The march should have been over then and there but 400 people decided to continue and struggled (mostly with each other) to recreate the march. What emerged was a leaderless and democratic group, what John Robb (see my post of 8/31/08) would call a 'Resilient Community'. Looking at it from a couple of points of view helps make the emergent process clearer. One of the pieces is by Tom Atlee (organizer of the CoIntelligence site); the other, by Steve Brigham, refers to the march as "A Laboratory in Democracy" and "An Experiment in Community". Tom Atlee's piece looks at what he sees as a defining moment in the process. He includes a few lines that describe the process: "I realized that something amazing had just happened, something so subtle I'd almost missed it: In spite of all our talking, we hadn't made a decision. We'd just stopped talking when we knew."

He goes on to say: "I'd never before been in a meeting like the one that generated this alignment. Nobody had been in charge. It was as if we'd become a single sentient being, The March, and our diverse thoughts and feelings had become the thoughts and feelings of this single, but ambivalent March-mind wrestling with its problem. Increasingly, as the meeting continued, I'd heard other marchers voice the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart. I'd begun to sense us all sailing on a river of meaning that we'd called up from our collective depths. It carried us to exactly the place we needed to go."

As Steve Brigham said, "On the march, I watched democracy emerge -- in a palpable way -- into something more workable and participatory than I've ever experienced before or since." This is emergent community. This is a way toward social change. This is the process we need to learn and practice.

Quote of the day: "In 1992 I was browsing through Jerry Mander's In the Absence of the Sacred, when a quote leapt off the page. It was from Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onandaga Iroquois, describing traditional tribal councils. He said, 'We meet and just keep talking until there's nothing left but the obvious truth.' I recognized that we'd stumbled upon something that the Iroquois have known for hundreds of years." - Tom Atlee
Word (or phrase) of the day: Mutualism
Hero(es) of the day: Harriet Tubman


Queers United said...

I definitely believe we can all communicate in a way we don't know, using our sacral chakra and attuning to one another.

MoonRaven said...

Thanks for your comment, QU. I will support communication in any way we can do it!