Long before anyone heard of “we-space”, conscious people were pushing the envelope of what could happen among them in groups. Whole fields of deep conversation have been a part of human culture as long as we have existed. Indigenous people sat in council. Socrates dialogued with his students in ancient Greece. The Chatauqua movement invigorated the civic life of America in its first century or more.
In the early 1960s, Rogerian and Gestalt psychotherapy informed a wave of “encounter groups” which tapped the power of group settings to catalyze personal breakthroughs. Around the same time, Bohmian Dialogue gave new life and focus to the art and practice of using intelligent dialogue to address cognitive errors and press the frontiers of human understanding, demonstrating it in a series of public conversations with Jiddu Krishnamurti. Out of both these streams of intersubjective praxis a new wave of practices and insights and a whole field emerged, with many nodes. It is significantly supported by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (ncdd.org) and the application of these techniques to further peace and understanding by the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (imtd.org). A completely independent, but very important communications movement, including many local practice communities in 65 countries has emerged from Marshall Rosenberg’s worldwide teachings of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) (cnvc.org).
Facilitating Collective Intelligence
The Co-Intelligence Institute (co-intelligence.org) was founded by Tom Atlee to engage collective inquiry and facilitate collective wisdom. These experiments seemed to indicate that with skillful facilitation deep divisions can be consistently and authentically bridged, resulting in new learning and development and solutions. Jim Rough conducted similar experiments in his method of Dynamic Facilitation and Wisdom Councils (tobe.net) and in the book Society’s Breakthrough! Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People. Atlee’s experience was similar, so the Collective Intelligence Institute gave birth to the Wise Democracy Project (wd-pl.com) to which another significant dialogue practitioner, Rosa Zubizaretta (diapraxis.com) has made important contributions. This work is closely related to experiments in collective wisdom documented in the book The Power of Collective Wisdom by Alan Briskin et al (barrett-kohler, 2009) (alanbriskin.com), and well embodied in The Art of Convening by my friends Craig and Patricia Neal (Berrett-Kohler, 2011) and their work at the Center for Purposeful Leadership (centerforpurposefulleadership.com).
The Art of Hosting (artofhosting.org) is a community of practitioners who use state-the-art approaches to conversation, dialogue, facilitation, and personal practice to harness collective wisdom to address complex challenges on many scales. It draws from The Circle Way (thecircleway.net), The World Café (theworldcafe.com), Open Space Technology (openspaceworld.org and openspaceworld.com), Appreciative Inquiry (appreciativeinquiry.champlain.edu), Action Learning, Collective Mind-Mapping, Collective Story Harvest, and Graphic Facilitation. (Many of these leading-edge practices have been refined further by organizational development consultants and coaches such as Otto Scharmer’s U-Process, and some of them are documented below under Conscious Business.)
Integral We-Space is most fully described in the book Cohering the Integral We Space: Engaging Collective Emergence, Wisdom and Healing in Groups, edited by Olen Gunnlaugson and Michael Brabant (Occidental, CA: Integral Publishing House, 2016); it is a peer-reviewed anthology of we-space practice approaches across the global integral world.
- The We-Space Summit (thewespacesummit.com) convened 150 practitioners, including Terry Patten, Olen Gunnlaugson, Bill Torbert, Terri O’Fallon, Thomas Hubl, Craig Hamilton, and many others) over five days in 2017 to create a rich and wide-ranging professional development resource for deepening skills and capacities of practitioners. If you’re interested in experiencing its wide range of practices and expressions, this is perhaps the most comprehensive communication of the world of integral we-space currently available.
- One World in Dialogue (oneworldindialogue.com) was founded in Germany by Thomas Steininger and Elizabeth Debold, authors of the five principles of evolutionary dialogue described in chapter 10. It holds virtual Global Dialogue Labs that build integral we-space for intercultural conversations. It also sponsors an annual global subtle activism meditation marathon, One World Bearing Witness, usually in December.
- The Authentic Relating Movement was birthed in San Francisco and Boulder and how has centers in Europe, Austin, Mexico, and beyond. It advances the field of authentic, spontaneous, vulnerable, contactful communication. See authenticworld.com, circlingeurope.com, www.authrev.com, and circlinginstitute.com.
- The Austrian-born modern “mystic in the marketplace,” Thomas Hübl (thomashueblonline.com), offers teachings and courses and programs in the mystical principles of spontaneous, intuitive “Transparent Communication”. His students Stephen Busby (stephenbusby.com) and Nicholas Janni (stephenbusby.com) also write and teach on these topics.
- The Evolutionary Collective (evolutionarycollective.com) is a vehicle for Patricia Albere’s work on evolutionary relating and mutual awakening, particularly her yearlong in-person programs. Her teachings can be found in her book, Evolutionary Relationships (Independence, VA: Oracle Institute Press, 2017).
- The Cosmos Coop (cosmos.coop), described in Chapter 8, is both a publication and an online community of practice.
Additional Resources for Tribe, Community and Re-localization
- Time for Tribe (timefortribe.com) is the public work of a “tribe” of committed friends founded by men’s group pioneer Bill Kauth and Zoe Alewan in Ashland Oregon. They share their vision and practice for new non-residential but local (bikable) tribal living in the book We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community, Silver Light Publications, 2011
- Global Ecovillage Network (ecovillage.org) is a growing network of regenerative communities that cultivate ecological, social, cultural and economic stability. Its website can link you to ecovillages all over the world and the partner organizations who are supporting these experiments in community. I can recommend the book Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community (Polity Press, 2013) by my friend Karen Litfin for a glimpse of the lived reality. Auroville (auroville.org) in Tamil Nadu India, was founded as a place where Sri Aurobindo’s teachings about human unity could be actually lived. It is one of the oldest and largest spiritually-inspired ecovillages in the world and has attracted about 2500 residents and spawned a number of eco-friendly projects and enterprises. Another ecovillage, the intentionally integral Awakened Life Project, was founded by my friends Peter and Cynthia Bampton at La Quinta in Portugal (a community now working to recover from recent wildfire damage).
- Local Futures, or Economics of Happiness (localfutures.org), is a nexus for connection and information exchange for the worldwide localization and new economy movements, dedicated to the renewal of community, ecological health and local economies. It has co-sponsored the International Alliance for Localization as well as many local conferences.
- The Transition Towns movement consists of hundreds of autonomous grassroots community projects for practical cooperation to increase local self-sufficiency in the face of of extreme weather events, ecological breakdowns and economic instability. It was founded in 2006 in Totnes, UK (transitiontowntotnes.org), and is coordinated internationally by The Transition Network (transitionnetwork.org) and in the US by Transition US (transitionus.org).
- The Permaculture Movement (permaculture.org, permacultureglobal.org and many more) concentrates on the actual land-based practices through which thousands of communities are attempting to live sustainably and build cultures of such practice. One radical community experiment I have visited is Gaia Yoga Gardens on the Big Island of Hawaii (gaiayoga.org).
- Integral City Meshworks (integralcity.com) was founded by my friend Marilyn Hamilton in 2005. Now a constellation of communities of practice nurtures cities as “human hives.” It connects the citizens, civic managers, civic society, and businesses of participating cities to energize relationships, unify visions, and develop eco-regional resilience strategies for wellbeing.
- Compassionate Communities are local organizations working to live and spread the Charter for Compassion (charterforcompassion.org), which bears witness to humanity’s deep interdependence, sees through boundaries, eases conflicts, and serves an increasingly just economy and peaceful world. For example, where I live, Compassionate California (compassionatecalifornia.org) supports ten local “Compassionate Cities.”
- The Cool City Challenge (coolcitychallenge.org) is a nonprofit initiative founded by Social Change 2.0 author David Gershon, as a way for cities “to achieve dramatic carbon reduction, vibrant livability, and green prosperity” by linking neighbors and proactive governments.
- Breakthrough Communities (breakthroughcommunities.info) was founded by architect, planner, and veteran public servant Carl Anthony with scholar, nonprofit executive and integral practitioner Paloma Pavel PhD to imagine and promote integrated solutions to environmental problems that intertwine with social and racial justice dynamics. They educate and organize communities to come together, plan and advocate on behalf of their health and sustainability in a manner that can work for everyone.
- Impact Hub Oakland (oakland.impacthub.net), based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is one of the 80-plus Impact Hub Global Communities (see full description under Conscious Business). I mention it here because, as the Impact Hub I know best, it’s the center of a dynamic local community of social entrepreneurs and activists, spawning dozens of initiatives that bring wholeness, in many forms, to the local community. Thus (like many Impact Hubs, no doubt) it relates not only to social entrepreneurship but to many aspects of tribal and community empowerment. Three of its founders Lisa Chacon, Konda Mason and Edward West, are integral practitioners and personal friends.