This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Exploring with the Dialogue, Deliberation and Systemic Transformation Community to Discover New Possibilities Part 1 of 3

About a month and a half, was spent during the end of last year and the beginning of this, engaging, initially with a set of Hackpads (now replaced with Dropbox Paper), with the Dialogue, Deliberation, and Systemic Transformation Community, portrayed as a  "community of inquiry and action" regarding the role that dialogue and deliberation can play in addressing the mega-crises of our time.

The last blog post chronicled certain aspects the journey and Dialogue, Deliberation, and Systemic Transformation Community, an associated Kumu project's relational maps, mapped out some of the primary realizations coming out of the engagement.

There is still a matter of the chronicling and mapping of the actual process of engagement itself, which can be mapped out with one of those Kumu maps, the DDST Hackpads Map. The primary purpose was to study a forum of extended, online group interactions, closer to soft system thinking methodologies, as an active participant though it meant the writing would be more self-focused than usually desired. This post and subsequent ones will go through a guided tour and endeavor to tie it all together with previously presented new community paradigm concepts. 

The entire experience was new having had neither direct experience in the associated fields nor any real, established academic background of many other participants. Everyone involved, particularly in the interactions in which I participated, was unknown prior to becoming a member of the DDST Community. Not only were their backgrounds different, personality types were far more varied. I lean towards being introverted, thinking, intuitive and judging type. All 15 other Myer-Briggs classifications were likely involved and I know I met at least a few IFSP types.

Discussing ideas on LinkedIn means working with particular groups and having people, often like-minded, connecting with your ideas and you with theirs. A good deal of cross-fertilization is achieved posting across different groups but the interaction with very different types is likely limited to some degree. 

My full formal written introduction to the group can be accessed through the Kumu DDST Hackpads Map A-H Intros for the DandDTrans Inquiry. Clicking on the link provided in the narrative section of the map opens the specific hackpad page with introductions of the appropriate letters A-H starting their last name though not in order. Mine is the third one down.  

My online social media background was used to answer the question, “What would you like to share about your work?”  More recent, ongoing efforts were included in a written response to, "What motivates you to be a part of this inquiry? “ providing the rationale for participating.

It was the word systemic in the title that attracted me. One of my new pathways of inquiry is systems thinking. I have been experimenting with the integration of systems thinking with direct democracy (by which I mean the effective combination of participatory democracy and deliberative democracy). That led me to a recently ongoing NCDD Codigital project to use as a proxy for a thought experiment in democratic collaboration. I want to find ways of getting past what Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton named the Knowing-Doing Gap. I am also just starting to learn about the work of Christopher Alexander and am in the very early stages of exploring ways to integrate his work into my explorations, particularly how patterns thinking could better fit in with systems thinking (not my map).

For the most part, Kumu maps were provided as examples of past work.
Christopher Alexander was mentioned because it seemed that Patterns Language would play a role. 

The essential, defining question being asked of the entire DDST Community was:

What do we, as members of the dialogue and deliberation community of practice, have to be and do to enable our most positive transformational impact in the face of emerging global crises which fundamentally challenge our business-as-usual habits and systems? 

This was focused on more personally and deeply with the questions of What's Possible?, and became a focus of the last blog post and Dialogue, Deliberation, and Systemic Transformation Community Kumu map.

What is the crossroads where you find yourself at this stage of your work in service to systemic transformation?” and “What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you?”.  

I mentioned having completed the Systems Thinking Certification course.  Adding my current hypothesis that:

“I believe that to be truly effective and sustainable that direct democracy involving both participatory democracy and deliberative democracy could greatly benefit from both soft system approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry and World Cafe, and hard or dynamic systems approaches such as Systems Dynamics.” 

Concerning my personal perspective on the question of possibility:

Right now my view is that we have to create the conditions for possibility. The NCDD's recent convention also had four basic questions for the organization that could also apply to the creation of possibility, two seem particularly relevant. How might we eliminate structural barriers that inhibit conditions for fully realizing possibility? A big part of the problem in my view is that much of the existing system(s) that are not working for people is nonetheless what I call 'entrenched' and we keep merely whacking at the leaves and not the roots systemically speaking. How might we overcome the lack of trust in our Democracy, leaders and one another? Without trust, the possibility seems exceedingly limited but possibility opens up the channel for trust if we can demonstrate that possibility can be realized. 

This was different from the actual person-to-person interactions with other members of the community. There were three modes of group dialogic interaction in which I participated in two, World Cafe and Open Space Technology, all of which took place online through MaestroConference or other means. I did not participate in the Bohm Dialogues

The first opportunity, based on a World Cafe format came on December 15, 2014. I have had little direct experience with World Cafe. I had recently participated in another online World Cafe Community event, "World Cafe As Method, Metaphor, and Movement, w/Juanita Brown” so I had a basic idea of the process. The last time that I had mentioned World Cafe was December 28, 2011, in the blog post, Governance through Community, as one of the organizations featured in the Governance through Community wiki-page. One of the main focuses of the World Cafe approach through the DDST Community was the extension of the "What’s Possible" question. In that setting, in one of seven spaces, I initially introduced myself, in a more informal fashion, as retired and exploring what is next.

Despite having a personal agenda, I never explicitly pushed it, wanting to be more of an observer on my initial exploration. Even though I did not push my own agenda, when an opportunity presented itself, I did insert certain of my own ideas if they seemed applicable to the conversation. I endeavored to do more listening than talking but to be truthful if any silences lingered too long I would pop in either with an observation or asked someone for theirs. 

I should mention here before getting too far that being a scribe or recorder at one of these online interactions, which I did attempt a few times, was challenging, especially when also actively participating.  This did create a challenge in fully expressing ideas within the allotted time. The person expressing the ideas was not always the person writing them down. Not everything that was said was written down, that which didn't always come out right the first time, grammar and spelling sometimes lapsed trying to keep up. So it was often necessary to go in to make changes and that was not always done.

One, presented more fully here, is that we are not likely at this point in time to find one overarching answer to all of our challenges or a grand theory of community engagement as Charles Darwin did with evolution. Instead, we are in the period preceding in which work was being done by numerous persons mostly remaining unknown by history. One exception though as he seems to have been instrumental in Charles Darwin's development is Erasmus Darwin, his grandfather, for noting the importance of the evolutionary-intergenerational perspective. Erasmus Darwin is the one who is made to look like a monkey in the drawings from that time. The analogy being that what may appear to be crazy, or monkey’s uncle ideas today could be an important aspect of creating what I am calling new community paradigms in the future. 

We begin exploring that myriad of different ideas in the next round.

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