email Linda Ellinor re NCDD 11/02/2014

LINDA, the following, long email is both the ending and beginning of one of my personal processes. I will post this email in a new area of my blog. I will also post some prior emails. My behavioral habit has been to respond to emails with a long explication. The emails to me are important triggers. But, the extent of the response is often inappropriate. Because what I write may be of interest to others, I often include a long BCC listing for the email.  BCC so that others’ in-boxes aren’t invaded by replies (which usually don’t come). I will not BCC this to anyone else.  I have not sent it to the larger NCDD audience; you may if you deem it relevant.  This is the first (tiny) step for me to escape my deep rut – but not the step I had planned for today.

Here I go, exploring a new thought. Endless! I propose gatherings of persons, with the agenda being ONLY how each persons needs to relate better with others and our longer term objectives. Our specific projects are not the topics, other than in personal reference. Will your modified Bohemian process be applicable? Although I know a few others in the Tucson area, the only person I am interacting with in a significant way is Tom Greco. Are the issues I raise in my explication below relevant to all, or are they limited to my (Larry’s) concerns. Am I more interested in “group counseling” than the group eventually take collective action? An alternative focus could be the issues raised by Naomi Kline.  I will stop composing here, edit, and send. I do value highly your being. —  Larry


Hi Linda,  I’ve been following your interaction with NCDD and the “reform initiative” (including Tom Atlee’s contribution).  I loosely skim all email from NCDD but haven’t responded for years.  I find them a very exciting movement, but also quite limited (as are all movements).  What, to me, is most critically missing is serious attention to the consequences of F2F Gatherings beyond the euphoria of participants (sufficient to sustain the movement but not sufficient for executing agency). There are a few instances where a movement of F2F Gatherings had significant consequences beyond the Gathering populations.  However, these “successes” may have been partly due to other coincident circumstances associated with D&D actions. For example, when a tipping point is near, quality F2F Gatherings may tip the trigger.  I have no immediate suggestions as what to do about this – the agency of F2F Gatherings – as this issue is but one of many similar issues, IMO, blocking the progress we expect.  Neither F2F Gatherings or Online Social Media are adequate milieu/platforms within which to process these issues (about what is “missing” in our strategies).  To go further on this issue of issues would take volumes – maybe indicating that the time-frame for “really big” (large in Magnitude/Scope/Complexity – MSC) issues must involve patterns between a diversity of happenings and gatherings over extended time, all related to a single, emerging semiotic structure that is the common context for all those engaged.

I have Klein’s book from the library, nearly due, and have only read the intro.  I expect it to be powerful, but given my time constraints, I am not clear about the priority. I expect that I already know most of what she will report – but her presentation will be new and exciting. She identifies our primary external challenge. I would be interesting what she identifies as our internal challenges.

“helping solutions emerge that will assist the public to form their own views, to articulate them, and then – of crucial importance – to use them to hold politicians accountable

Contemporary publics are very diverse and in silos encased in misinformation. Much more is needed to effectively “assist” them. “Assisting” will entail the full MSC of what I propose for UPLIFT.  If we focus on those “easy” issues where we can assist and make a difference today, we will probably be diverted from acting where it is critically needed. Our actions (growing over time) must be commensurate with the MSC of our challenges. As to “holding politicians accountable”, IMO, is a futile endeavor. Political positions are owned by the “capitalists”, as the “electoral processes” are controlled. For politicians to be able to “buck the system” they will need a super powerful constituency – not just well organized but uplifted in competencies.

Today I had replies from George Por, whose core theme is Collective Intelligence (CI). We all have core themes; mine are labeled by “Societal Metamorphosis” and “UPLIFT”. We have no name for the integration of core themes – which appears beyond the cognitive/conscious capacity of human persons.

To my query:
“What if, what we are waiting for requires intentional seafing (supporting, enabling, augmenting, facilitating)?”
George Por replies with another query: “Why people with high enough cognitive intelligence to want to SEAF their CI are lacking sufficient relational intelligence to weave the web of human bonds needed to grow such a collective?”

IMO, our relational intelligence remains primarily mammalian, tempered by evolution in tribes, and has yet evolve adequate integration with our “conceptual” intelligence that has emerged with our languaging and technologically driven social systems. Kahneman’s two minds (fast/intuitive/emotional & slow/conceptual/rational) is a useful frame on which to base our exploration.

Linda, I am interested in your Interlocking Dialogue Circles/Groups/Pods.  I am very much in need of sustainable F2F dialog, even as I don’t believe all the needed action will come from such groups.  I need “social pressure”, even when wary that social pressure can also be limiting. Can your process be applied in asynchronous online dialog?

In My Speculation (IMS), the active cognitive processes (when listening/speaking or reading/writing) while remaining at the core of humankind, must be acknowledged to be highly influenced by the “scaffolding” within which they occur. Critical is the difference between an inter-subjectively (“objective”) agreed scaffolding and how each person perceives their environment/situation/circumstance (ESC) – which includes the social environment of each person. This difference is, itself, sensitive to the patterns of all activity – a process beyond linear causality, involving significant feedback.

This highly influential scaffolding it itself a consequence of human activity, a product of this activity. A critical part of the scaffolding is the accessible, processed record of human interaction: audio/video recording and digital images (texts, diagrams, data). Today, the most influencing scaffolding is not landscape and architecture, but renderings of information. I have labeled this a “semfield”, with “sem” standing for “semiotic structure”.  The perceived “patterns” in sems are unique. Most humans can agree on the similarity of patterns in sems, even when they strongly disagree with their interpretation. Sems can be replicated, distributed, stored, and sorted. They are the equivalent of atomic and molecular structures in physical reality – perceived patterns are “objective evidence” for human discourse.

IMS, we need to explore, research, & play with human discourse focused on the creative emergence of semfields.  This already exists in a few situations, often informal: composing legal documents, constitutions & legislature, project proposals, mathematical proofs, etc.  “The Literature” refers to our contemporary view of a semfield.  Various processes in the study of specific texts (and other specific sems) indicates an existing interest in sems.  What is needed, is to emerge a more comprehensive and systematic process, where the utility of semfield creation and analysis for the healthy emergence of global humanity, is primary.

The complementary importance of a COMPLEMENTARITY PERSPECTIVE, pops to mind at this juncture. That whatever “REALITY” is, it can’t re represented by a singular, logically consistent explanatory system. Analogous to the particle/field complementarity of Quantum Physics, perspectives from consciousness, brains, biological and social systems, information/complexity/chaos science must not be treated as competitive. A very critical complementarity relates to the contemporary, destructive competition between “Changing Persons” vs “Changing Society”.

The language used above is viewed as highly abstract (dense, and requires study beyond simple reading). However, what it refers to is no less REAL than an intimate conversation among friends or an argument between ideologies. The distribution of light bulbs on Planet Earth is real, and actually photographed from space. The distribution of dialog on Planet Earth is also real, some accessible in cyberspace. The scaffolding that influences each human is real, as is each human. That one human can’t observe them all in their specious present doesn’t make them less real.  These “extended realities” are already influenced by collective human action (primarily by corporations). What nu human systems, building upon person-to-person (p2p – peer-to-peer) interactions can lead to changes in Personal-to-Planetary (p2P) relationships?


On 10/24/2014 8:20 AM, Linda Ellinor wrote:

I keep plowing through Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. the Climate and then reading through everyone’s posts on this NCDD thread and thinking that the most important thing that any of us can do who understand process and organization is to actually begin engaging people right around us  – organizing what I have referred to in the as “interlocking Dialogue Circles/Groups/Pods”  that would allow the paradigm shift to happen everywhere all at once.  Yes to what Terry says and to what Barbara says below:

the public also allows itself to be fragmented into artificially polarized, ridiculously partisan segments.  Which further muddies the picture of what they collectively want and reduces their collective voice.

Organizations like NCDD can definitely play a role in addressing these problems, and that role need not (actually, should not) advocate for any particular policy outcome.  Rather it should focus on “good governance,” helping solutions emerge that will assist the public to form their own views, to articulate them, and then – of crucial importance – to use them to hold politicians accountable.

It’s as simple – and hard – as that.

highlighting Laura Chasin’s proposal that we target our skills  to build this much needed civic infrastructure on the level of individual congressional districts.

I also want to look into what Jan’s suggests in terms of the Citizens Climate Lobby and the Public Trust Doctrine….and John’s idea of engaging people at the local level so that they are not only informed, but they begin to see that they are free to take their future into their own hands.

Naomi Klein’s point (after 170 pages into the book) is that this is THE moment and the only issue is to engage everyone on the climate issue.  All the other societal/political/economic issues we face as a nation and as a world are interconnected to the climate change issue.  Everything would shift if we actually got to the roots of the climate issue.  So, what is needed is to connect all of the movements into one mass movement to affect a paradigm shift away from the neo-liberal policies that have been so destructive to the planet.

Unfortunately, most people, our politicians in particular  (even if they are of a liberal/democratic bent) still buy into (at some level of consciousness) that free-market trade policies are okay.   This is why we are so stuck right now politically.  It is why Obama wasn’t able to push more legislation through right after he was elected when he had the chance  – when he had the political capital…even he felt that free markets had to be kept intact  – which is why nothing is changing….we have to see this as a need for a paradigmatic shift in societal attitudes and go for it.  We who have the process skills to engage citizens at every level and to look at how to create the necessary infrastructure for holding these sorts of paradigmatic conversations could take an important lead in this.  There is very little time left….

I’m not sure my name of “interlocking Dialogue Circles/Groups/Pods” is necessarily how to name the infrastructure and process I’m trying to put forward, but I do know that David Bohm’s ideas on solving social fragmentation through something like what he proposed with his version of Dialogue does allow individuals to begin to sort through their various beliefs, assumptions, and values in ways that lead to this sort of paradigm shift.  It also helps people come out of denial and isolation.  They begin to connect in their various communities and see how a larger vision can help everyone, including themselves live a more satisfactory life.

There are probably many other ways to organize these sorts of conversations that get the public voice both better informed and more fully expressed politically, but this might be one way to start.

I’m so glad that I came out to the conference and found people to engage on this topic.  Just our own discussion on line has been and is rich.  Hard to find many people who can see some of what we are talking about.


On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 3:33 AM, John Eley <> wrote:

We need to marshall evidence here to support the claim that there is a fundamental disconnect between what the citizens want and what Congress delivers and that this can be attributed to the lack of adequate citizen input. I am not sure that the data from the political science community and the experts on American pubic opinion is clear enough to make that case in its strong form. We have known for a long time thanks to Converse and the researchers at U of Michigan that the public has been and remains largely ignorant on even the most pressing public issues. It is not at all clear that decades of work on citizen engagement has made much of a dent in this fact. It may very well be the case that citizens want to have a greater voice but remain unwilling go pay the price of becoming better informed on the issues. Do we have the means for altering that fact? The effort to work at individual congressional districts may tell us the answer.

On 10/23/14 3:16 PM, Jan Inglis wrote:

In response to various posts on this subject I would suggest that connecting with the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby ( CCL) would be useful as they are trying to engage with each other and their representatives in various districts.

Also the work regarding reawakening citizens to the  Public Trust Doctrine and the obligations of governments to take care of the current and future health and well being of citizens is significant. the book “Nature’s trust” by Mary Wood is excellent.

On 23/10/2014 11:08 AM, Barbara Simonetti wrote:


I think Terry is right on the money. I would like to build on his message by highlighting Laura Chasin’s proposal that we target our skills  to build this much needed civic infrastructure on the level of individual congressional districts. At her session at NCDD, some of us began to envision a grand experiment in which we identify a set of diverse congressional districts and mindfully use all of our skills sets to build the capacity Terry is describing – a real ability for citizens to work as a living organism that can “sense and respond”, to have authentic opportunities to learn about issues and crystallize opinions  and to thus can give congressman substantive guidance and feedback. We would then use these districts as poster children for what is possible, models for a way out of the current morass. I leave it to Laura to share her findings from the workshop but I think her idea is a very practical and tactical way to bring what is being desired in this conversation into reality.

In community,



Barbara Simonetti

NCDD Board Member

Meetings That matter

73 Fairmount Street

Brookline, MA 02445

617-278-9544 (preferred especially for messages)


A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe”; a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts, and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures, and the whole of nature in its beauty.

(Albert Einstein, 1879 – 1955

From: NCDD Discussion List [mailto:NCDD-DISCUSSION@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG] On Behalf Of Terry Steichen
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 1:04 PM
Subject: Re: [NCDD-DISCUSSION] NCDD as a transformational learning community?


I’ve been watching this fascinating conversation develop over the past week or so. (And I’ll add my thanks to Tom for kicking it off.) But I don’t sense any consensus emerging (yet, anyway), so I thought I’d chip in some additional thoughts.

There’s no disagreement that our political system is dysfunctional, and that, as a result, most public policies that system produces fail to support the public good.  And it’s also true that the “voice” of the public seems to have been lost.

Some are advocating re-inventing our institutions and providing new opportunities for increased public participation.

But I think this mistakes a symptom for a cause.

The cause of our failed political system is simple: our politicians have gravitated to a role in support of special interests rather than their constituents.

The reason that they’re doing this is not just the significant benefits provided to them by the special interests.  It’s also, and even more fundamentally, the absence of any “blowback” from constituents when the politicians act against constituents’ best interests.

Why is there no “blowback?”  Why do constituents continue to re-elect these same politicians time after time?  Why don’t they vote in “new blood?”

One reason may be that they’ve given up and no longer even try.  They feel, as Senator Warren had repeatedly said, “the system is rigged.”  What’s the point in speaking out if your voice will go unheard?

The response, of course, is that if you don’t try, you guarantee the continuation of the same dysfunctional system.

Another, closely related, reason is, I think, that members of the public feel kind of impotent – they don’t understand the issues well enough to take defensible positions (as opposed to just shouting slogans) on them.

The thing is, without constituents developing and articulating  positions on key policy issues, there’s no real guidance to their political representatives.  And equally important, there’s nothing to hold the politicians accountable for.  As a result, the politicians feel free to do whatever they want and simultaneously claim to be doing their jobs. Who can prove them wrong?

It isn’t that the public doesn’t currently have a vehicle for expressing its views – it does: the vote.  Constituents are perfectly able to vote out of office politicians who feather their own nests instead of looking after the voters.

The core problem is that the members of the public doesn’t crystallize their views sufficiently to give their political representatives proper direction.  And, to make things worse, the public also allows itself to be fragmented into artificially polarized, ridiculously partisan segments.  Which further muddies the picture of what they collectively want and reduces their collective voice.

Organizations like NCDD can definitely play a role in addressing these problems, and that role need not (actually, should not) advocate for any particular policy outcome.  Rather it should focus on “good governance,” helping solutions emerge that will assist the public to form their own views, to articulate them, and then – of crucial importance – to use them to hold politicians accountable.

It’s as simple – and hard – as that.

Terry Steichen
On 10/17/2014 08:03 AM, Tom Atlee wrote:

Dear NCDDers   ** What would NCDD and its membership have to be and do to enable their most positive transformational impact in the face of climate change, peak oil and water, profound wealth inequity, and other emerging crises which fundamentally challenge our business-as-usual habits and systems? **   This question suggests a shift (perhaps even a revolution) in the purpose, vision, and mission of NCDD.  Such a shift may seem distracting, overwhelming, too big, or otherwise undesirable to the vast majority of NCDD members who joined NCDD for other purposes.  But there are some of us – I don’t know how many or how few – for whom the above inquiry may resonate deeply.  It may be that such people should form a caucus within NCDD to promote a shift in that direction.  Or such people should form an organization of their/our own.  Or perhaps there are too few such people here to do anything meaningful with the above inquiry.  At any rate, I thought raising the question might clarify some of all that….   My own tentative responses to the question include these:   1.  Make the NCDD conference annual with 3-5 days of Open Space kicked off with a World Cafe that asks: “What question, if addressed really well here, would make all the difference in the world?”  It would have no pre-organized workshops or speakers except perhaps one keynoter before the preconference reception.  (Our current form of conference supports the promotional, networking and skill-building needs of individual practitioners and groups, but does little to take us together into realms where we actually don’t know what to do but could deepen and discover breakthroughs together.  To serve the goal suggested by the initial question above, we need forms of gathering that allow and evoke latent energies and inquiries in our midst to come forth and evolve.  An evening – even a day or two – of Open Space is insufficient.)   2.  Actively encourage quarterly (or more frequent) day-long gatherings in person, online, and/or in Maestro conferencing that address the main inquiry given at the start of this note.  (Maestro conferencing is an affordable phone conferencing system that enables functions like the World Cafe and Open Space on the phone.)   3.  Take seriously the idea that we in the D&D community and field possess ESSENTIAL perspectives and skills for human survival and thrival into the next century AND that our methods and skills are at a very early stage of development, such that we need to get out of our silos and pull together as a learning community to identify, research, and develop vital capacities we currently lack.  (I like to say that we’re at the Kitty Hawk stage that flight technology was in 1903:  We can get our biplane 120 feet down the beach – when most people think that is impossible – but we need to be at the intercontinental jet travel or moonshot stage of development to successfully address our current global challenges.  As Peter Senge has pointed out, this development of flight technology required a number of unforeseen technological breakthroughs. The development of our conversational approaches will require comparable breakthroughs possible only through humi lity, active curiosity, and – because we probably lack the time to do it slowly and competitively – the kind of intense and well-resourced collaboration that characterized the Manhattan Project and the moon shot.)   Obviously more and different responses are needed, but these are my initial thoughts.   What responses do you have to the starred question above which initiated this thread – and the shift it implies?   Coheartedly, Tom   ________________________________   Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440 site:  /  blog: Read EMPOWERING PUBLIC WISDOM – THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY – and REFLECTIONS ON EVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM – Please support our work.  Your donations are fully tax-deductible. ________________________________   —   NCDD’s discussion and announcement lists are generously donated by L-Soft ( ) and are powered by L-Soft’s LISTSERV mailing list management software ( ).  Learn more about all of NCDD’s email lists at — and please read over the NCDD Discussion list’s ground rules at before you post.