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Sender: "Bruce Schuman"
Subject: Hello and Thanks
Date: Mon, Mar 24, 2014
Msg: 100856

From: List for transpartisan leaders and innovators [mailto:TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG] On Behalf Of Phil Neisser Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2014 7:07 AM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Hello and Thanks

Hello fellow transpartisans, and thank you so much for this impressive conversation. I have assembled a few thoughts as best as I can, in response to the many important things that have been said.

First, I?m not convinced that public choice economics shows us that we should focus our efforts on reaching fans of politics rather than people more generally. I think it instead shows us that we should remake society so that voting is not the primary mechanism citizens have for shaping societal outcomes. That?s because what public choice economics demonstrates is that ignorance is rational relative to the option of being informed in order to participate in voting-centered (aggregative) democracy. It does not show that ignorance is rational compared to regular informed participation in discussions that significantly shape communityies and nationwide viewpoints, and that thereby guide voters and elected officials. That?s a whole different animal.

Second, while I agree that no matter what there will be many people who, at any given time, or any given issue, are not going to get informed or involved, I also think that significant gains in the quantity and quality of political participation are possible (where ?significant? means big enough to change the political dynamic in a good direction). Tom Atlee, Susan Clark, Evelyn Messinger, Will Friedman, Steve Bhaerman, and others have in our recent exchanges done a great job of clearly articulating the kind of practices and principles that are needed. Would that be a revolution? Yes. Is it impossible because studies continually show large levels of ignorance? I would say no.

Next, I on the one hand agree that no matter what we do (e.g. no matter what is achieved by the transpartisan movement) government will remain a danger. I do not, however, agree with the view mentioned by (not necessarily endorsed by) Michael Strong which holds that ?because of political ignorance we should keep the federal government (and the larger state governments) down to a minimal set of functions.? Interestingly, Michael, after mentioning that libertarian view, goes on to rightly point out that ?Big Finance ?. is screwing us over regardless as to whether the Ds or the Rs win ?. Big Ag is also screwing us over?, as are Big Construction, Big Real Estate, Big Health Care, etc.? I agree with this entirely; government is not the only danger. And to me that?s the problem with the libertarian answer to the dangers of government oppression, government incompetence, and popular ignorance of things political. The libertarian ?solution? would only further empower big business, because markets lead naturally to oligopoly and oligopolies are obligated as organizations to turn their economic clout into political clout whenever they can. And they can do that, unless the people push back through the mechanism of government. Thus ?small? government would in practice mean a move further in the direction of regulations that favor big business and away from regulations and redistributions needed to protect people from the devastation, injustice, and concentrations of political power wrought by markets. And, finally, I agree with Michael in seeing the potential of the transpartisan movement to create popular wins against those interests.

Next, I very much with Bruce Schuman in the hope that this listserve works to the purpose of creating some sort of workable activist vision that many of us could put energy into, in a somewhat united way. And, to that end, I think it wise for us to do our best to stick to the conversation plan proposed by Mark Gerzon et al., such that, when many of us are able to gather in October (e.g. on the day before the NCDD conference), we?ll be well positioned to accomplish a lot. We might, for example, at that time prioritize the project of (to use Bruce Schuman?s phrase and vision), developing some sort of ?transpartisan conversation convention.?

I also agree with Rick Raddatz that naming is important. Maybe ?United Purple? is what the name should be, because it?s catchy and I think many people would take to it. On the merits, however, I lean more toward ?Vox Populi? because I consider it risky to emphasize unity as a goal. My thinking on that count goes like this: First, I think that a degree of disagreement is essential to healthy community and by definition an aspect of full democracy, providing that the people who disagree with each other are knit together by conversations and by co-living (e.g. by breaking bread together). Second, I think that most people consider agreement to be an essential component of unity. In other words when people hear ?unity? they also hear ?agreement.? And, finally, I believe that thoughtful, informed people are always going to disagree, at least to a point, about any major issue facing society, because the major issues are value-laden and because there can be reasonable debate about which facts matter. Thus if and when unity is declared a goal the factions that inevitably arise tend to become acrimonious with each other, with each side accusing the other of being a traitor to the goal of unity. In sum, aiming for unity leads to disunity of an unproductive kind. On the other hand, aiming to find areas of agreement even as while we abide in healthy disagreement (a la is a better way to frame the work we do.

Yours In Solidarity


Dr. Phil Neisser Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Chair, Department of Politics Coordinator, Environmental Studies Dunn 103/Satterlee 307 SUNY Potsdam Potsdam, NY 13676 315-267-2230 (o) 315-854-3520 (c) 315-379-9713 (h)

On 3/15/2014 4:47 PM, John Steiner/ Margo King wrote:


Bruce sent this out to the NCDD list serve and seems appropriate for the Transpartisan listserv as well. Thank you Bruce.

Very best, John

From: Bruce Schuman Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 08:04:45 -0700 Subject: [NCDD-DISCUSSION] NETWORK NATION - Paycheck to Paycheck

Good morning, People, thanks for all of this. Just want to pursue the Zeitgeist here, and follow up with a few more thoughts and possibilities. This is just an initial draft over a first cup of coffee ? but I?m feeling lots of possibilities. Hope I make sense?.. NETWORK NATION

There?s something appealing about this phrase. When the Internet was just a gleam in the eye ? or a academic network in the hands of ArpaNet ? some early experimenters created something called the ?EIES? system. This was the late 1970?s. Visionary writers like Ted Nelson had some fabulous ideas about interconnecting everything and everybody, and a book was published with the title NETWORK NATION ? by Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff. ?Remarkably prescient? says the Wikipedia article. 81205 (WELL writer Kevin Kelly) The book made a big splash on The WELL (?Whole Earth ?Lectronic Link ? ) where I was an avid participant in their bohemian ?café? environment (Stewart Brand, Howard Rheingold, Douglas Rushkoff, etc.). This was a hot-bed of creative network activism in the late 1980?s, and tons of things that were to become the internet were under excited discussion (at 1200 baud, pay by the minute!). This is where I first heard the phrase ?netweaver?. Thanks to this interesting NCDD conversation on stewardship of the CC momentum, I was flashing on some possibilities. What about picking up this concept NETWORK NATION ? as a framework for hundreds of interlinked conversations, on any subject anybody thinks is important?. ?NET NEUTRALITY?

Many writers in the NCDD conversation have mentioned the issue of ?competition? between various methods, the importance of NCDD retaining their role as a neutral convener rather than an advocate. Point taken. Let?s keep this in mind ? and yet, still keep pushing for the broadly inclusive vision? So here?s a thought. What about ? doing a side-by-side comparison of as many group process methods as might make sense ? and looking for the basics of their ?common ground? ? maybe in some formal careful politically-sensitive way ? but aiming for a broad ?conversation convention? (set of guiding principles) that just about any group or method could share? Citing Conversation Café and Living Room Conversations is just the barest beginning. How many other methods belong in the broader ?all purpose? conversation framework? Let?s make a list ? get their bullet-points and methods as clear as possible ? honor the specific details and points of difference, recognizing that these differences are valuable and maybe essential in different contexts ? but still, keep aiming to clarify and precisely define what they have in common ? points they could all agree on, regardless of other specifics where they might differ. It might be hard to do that in writing, in words ? people can argue about words forever ? but if we took a low-key relaxed friendly approach, and just tried to sketch this out ? we might start coming up with a set of basic general-purpose conventions that work in most conversational environments where tensions might be running high and good protocols very important. A CONSTITUTION FOR THE NETWORK NATION

Ok, just humor me (thanks!) Let?s say this happens, we get 17 methods on the table, get a long list of bullet points taken from them all, and schmooze around until we maybe got 6 points that seem to hold up in all contexts. Then we start negotiating some kind of broad agreement among interested parties ? where we say ? can you guys live comfortably with this general set of 6 points? If that works, and people start getting excited ? we might then start envisioning this emerging ?Network Nation? that NCDD and compadres might be able to spin out into reality. Fundamentals: 1) Basic general agreement for all conversations running under this common-ground convention 2) General-purpose shared set of ?tags? or ?keys? that we use to hold together 500 separate conversations on 61 separate subjects or issues (what are the issues, what are the categories ? we agree on common wording, and agree to share these integrating keys. Yes, this involves some homework, and could become a bit mechanistic ? but we look for ways to keep it simple and easy to live to with, and as practical as possible in an actual conversational format) 3) Basic/simple technology convention to share protocols for web sites and smartphones and other electronic network support 4) Periodic network update process ? where all groups upload their new keys and subjects/themes into a common pool, that gets schmoozed and cleaned up and simplified, and sent back out to the entire Network Nation and the entire process grows another notch?. PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK

Just this morning, Maria Shriver came on MSNBC?s ?Morning Joe? program to talk about her new project and film ? ?Paycheck to Paycheck? ? about the struggles of working people on low wages in today?s economy. This is a big issue, with a lot of heat behind it. Maria had a beautiful lady with her, a healthcare worker with 3 beautiful kids, working for $9.49 an hour ? a tough-to-impossible assignment. All this makes sense, and Maria has a strong website for this project.

(and PS, Maria also has this thing called A WOMAN?S NATION ? so maybe that too blinks on a few lights) But here?s the thought. On Morning Joe, Maria said she already has 500 people who have signed up to have conversations around the USA on this subject. When I heard that, I got out of bed to take some notes (Morning Joe starts in California at 3am ). Maria?s conversations should be embedded in our national NETWORK NATION. We should be interconnecting conversations like this in every direction ? under the illumination of a shared highly-articulate and broadly-informed convention, formed through collaboration/dialogue by NCDD people. What would it take to get the CC conversations right now into the context of the Paycheck to Paycheck conversation? Could Living Room Conversations connect with Maria and support what she is doing? How about other NCDD groups and methods? Could we start sparking some collaboration and growth around this important human issue? (Hmmm ? is this too far afield? How about a connection between ?Mom?s Rising? (Joan Blades) and A Woman?s Nation? If those two groups can?t get along ? what does that tell us?? JJ -- we gotta make this work! Everybody step up! Or maybe it?s already happening?.. JJ ) Ok, that?s it for now. Lot to think about. Might be hugely exciting if it starts coming together. Thanks to all, thanks to Kenoli for these good thoughts, thanks and Hi to Debilyn, who I haven?t seen since ? Veteran?s day in Fresno in 2009? Or was it the ?Engaging the Other? conference with the Common Bond Institute ? in that session organized by Joseph McCormick, that brought together Joan Blades and Max Pappas and Michael Ostrolenk? You still working with Annabel? Blessings. - Bruce Oh, PS, here?s a table card that Joseph McCormick was using. I might have picked this up at the event in Fresno?

Bruce Schuman SHARED PURPOSE: INTERSPIRIT: (805) 966-9515, PO Box 23346, Santa Barbara CA 93101 *************** Hi Everyone! I hope you have all been following the discussion Sandy started on Monday about the opportunity for NCDD to steward Conversation Cafes. Over on the blog ( there has been over 50 comments, with members supporting CCs and NCDD's potential to support and steward them, as well as asking some important questions about resources, implications for NCDD's reputation and mission, and alternative options. I also want to make sure you read the posts that have gone out to this listserv, including some interesting ideas posed by Bruce Shuman yesterday (separate email titled "Democracy in the Cloud") and Kenoli Oleari today. Both have outlined ideas for ways to catalyze more expansive, collective, and effective work, and reflect some of the comments and ideas others have shared, as well as Sandy's idea of utilizing CCs for rapid response to issues and to introduce newcomers to dialogue. Be sure to join us on the blog and here to continue this conversation - we've had a fantastic response, but the more of you we can hear from, the better. Let us know what you think about this idea - should NCDD serve as steward of Conversation Cafe? What ideas do you have for ways to do this? Or, if you think that NCDD should not serve in this role, why not? And think too about Sandy's question: Can Conversation Cafes be used as a rapid response mechanism in times of crisis? What ideas do you have about rapid response? I look forward to discussing this further with you all. Best, Courtney Courtney Breese NCDD Board Member Richmond, CA

************** I posted something on the blog that developed in a more general direction (as my posts tend to do) and I because of that, I wanted to share it here as well. In addition to conversation cafes, what about looking for opportunities to provide supports for other areas of work related to NCDD's purpose. Conversation Cafe is easy as it is essentially hosting and maintaining a web site. I?d like to think of the Conversation Cafe move as an expansive move that can catalyze even more expansiveness. In the end here, if we could think in terms of pooling our efforts to support many different approaches, rather than each going in many different directions, maybe we could have the kind of impact we would like to have. I think this would have to be done in an "agnostic" fashion (as much as I hate the jargon nature of that word), i.e. embracing all approaches and not trying to control or pin things down. As facilitators, we should know the importance of divergence/convergence in group process. I think we are still in the divergent phase, that is we are bringing lots of things to the table as we try out new approaches, discover more and more about group engagement, build and expand our skill sets, explore and open up new possibilities, go down blind alleys and more. As Sam Kaner points out, it is important to stay in the "groan zone,? staying with divergence long enough to allow us to discover where convergences naturally develops. Until we do this, trying to force convergence, to pin things down too quickly will only serve to undermine our larger efforts. Some expansive ideas: ? Open up explorations into ways NCDD could provide online supports for various face-to-face projects. There are a lot of efforts to create online "process" applications. What about pulling them together and thinking generically here to generate some online tools that could support people taking a full range of approaches to face-to-face group engagement. ? Help develop funding and staff infrastructure to support trainings and workshops for facilitators, community members, government officials and others run by NCDD members with expertise in various areas of group process. ? Develop facilities in various parts of the country that can be used by NCDD members to host trainings, activities, events, group engagements and more (libraries, archives, audio-visual studios, web hosting services, and even more) NCDD as a national interface for many different efforts: These kinds of things are difficult for individuals and smaller nonprofits that don't have the leverage that national groups have with foundations and other funding sources and yet much of the best work in our field is being done by individuals and small groups that have not yet cut themselves off at the knees to get funding. If the Koch Brothers can attempt to control political activities with their money, maybe we can find some super wealthy that would like to put their money to use supporting an entirely different approach to public engagement. NCDD could be an interface for a national effort. Twitter just created over 2000 millionaires in San Francisco, many of whom have ideals related to their early experience at Twitter that have little outlet. We are connected with several agencies and organizations at the local, state and national level that would be ready to do major efforts with new public engagement approaches if there were funding ad resources to do it. I?m sure others are, too. Let?s work together to open up opportunities everywhere. Let?s influence the world with the same energy the Koch brothers are trying to control government. Let?s open all doors. --Kenoli

From: NCDD Discussion List [mailto:NCDD-DISCUSSION@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG] On Behalf Of Debilyn Molineaux Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 6:39 PM To: NCDD-DISCUSSION@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [NCDD-DISCUSSION] Should NCDD become the new steward of Conversation Cafe? Hello Bruce et al: I'm glad NCDD is considering stewardship of Conversation Cafe and strongly support it. You asked about the similarities between Conversation Cafe and Living Room Conversations. They do indeed have some key similarities- neither require facilitators, all the guidance for doing both kinds of conversations are available online and both have a vision of enabling communities around the country to connect in a more meaningful way. There are also key differences. Living Room Conversations are designed specifically to bring diverse viewpoints to the conversation and build relationships between people that might not normally talk about any issue of substance. First conversations are more highly structured - focused on building trust in the first hour and a sense of shared values so that participants will hear each other as friends when the issue of the conversation is addressed. The point, to really hear each other and possibly find common ground. The 5 question format that allows people to get to know one another before touching on an issue takes a little longer than CC. I call this the "re-humanizing time" since there is a chance people are nervous about the diversity of opinion. Also the conversations are typically co-hosted by friends, each of whom then invite two friends to the conversation, so this is a friends and friends of friends structure. Topic materials for Living Room Conversations have been issue or politically oriented...bridging the political divides. We are learning that conversations about issues where we know there is a great deal of common ground are a great starting point. People of diverse viewpoints do have a lot in common, despite what we see in the news media. This is a discovery process for what we have in common. If anyone out there has participated in both CC and LRC...I'd love to hear from you about your experience with both processes. Thanks, Debilyn Molineaux, Managing Partner Living Room Conversations

On Mar 10, 2014, at 10:12 AM, Bruce Schuman wrote:

Well, just quickly chiming in ? I like this idea, and think you should do it. NCDD has a lot of basic vitality and a strong vision. You have the breadth of inclusion to be a significant force. You are a green growing tree. Jump on this. And with your internet system skills ? if it were interesting ? you could network these activities ? as per ?National Dialogue Infrastructure? (??) How are CC gathering significantly different from Joan Blades? and Debilyn Molineaux?s ?Living Room Conversations?? Maybe that question just muddies the waters ? but to me they look closely related ? and this all looks like another step towards a powerful multi-purpose integration of the larger agenda: get people talking everywhere about everything that matters ? according to high and graceful standards. For my money, that is turning on the lights. Go for it. Bruce Schuman SHARED PURPOSE: INTERSPIRIT: (805) 966-9515, PO Box 23346, Santa Barbara CA 93101 From: NCDD Discussion List [mailto:NCDD-DISCUSSION@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG] On Behalf Of Sandy Heierbacher Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 8:01 AM To: NCDD-DISCUSSION@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: [NCDD-DISCUSSION] Should NCDD become the new steward of Conversation Cafe? Hi, everyone! NCDD faces an important (and, I think, exciting) decision we need your input on. Would you read the post below (also up at and let us know what you think? You can (1) share your thoughts on the NCDD Discussion list, (2) post your comments on the blog at, or (3) email me privately if you prefer. The NCDD Board of Directors will base its decision on whether or not to move forward with this based on your input. If the Board does decide to move on this opportunity, we want to do it in a way that best serves all our members and our field. So please share your reactions, your ideas for how we could leverage Conversation Cafes for the whole field, your concerns, your offers to help? whatever this idea brings out for you.

Sandy Heierbacher Director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation ? ? @ncdd & @heierbacher Should NCDD become the new steward of Conversation Cafe? Add Comment Posted by Sandy Heierbacher | March 10th, 2014

NCDD is engaging our members and the broader dialogue and deliberation community on an important decision we?re facing, and we are seeking our members? input, ideas, and reaction.

Our good friend Jacquelyn Pogue has reluctantly decided to retire from her stewardship of the process known as Conversation Café, leaving a powerful form of dialogue at risk. Jacqueline, as well as Vicki Robin and Susan Partnow (the co-creators of Conversation Café), approached me about whether NCDD would be interested in stewarding the tool, and I believe NCDD has the skills and resources to help.

In case you don?t know, Conversation Cafés are 90-minute dialogues usually held in public settings like coffee shops or bookstores. The format is simple (it fits on the back of a business card!), anyone can join, and the goal is to simply give people a chance to talk informally with neighbors around an issue of shared interest. We have a nice primer on CCs on our site here.

This idea intrigues me for several reasons?

First of all, I?m a big fan of Conversation Café. It?s an elegantly simple process that gets people talking to strangers about issues we usually avoid. CCs are quick, easy to host, low-resource, and are open source (no trademark or sensitivity about ownership).

Secondly, I?ve wondered for years if CCs could be leveraged as an entry point for citizens to experience other, more nuanced types of engagement, and as a stepping stone for broader and wider use of dialogue and deliberation.

And thirdly, the NCDD community as a whole struggles to be able to respond quickly to crises and conflicts as they arise, and to provide citizens with the tools they need to self-organize their own dialogues as needed. If NCDD were to shepherd a self-organized, open source dialogue method that is simple enough for anyone to use, we would be enabling much-needed dialogue to take place more readily and efficiently than is possible now.

So what do you think? Should NCDD move on this opportunity? And if so, how could we do it in a way that best serves our whole community? And if not, what concerns you about this?

Can you see Conversation Cafés being leveraged as a rapid response mechanism in times of national crisis? How best might we make this happen?

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Anger and partisan rage
Attention Economy
Basic principles for a Transpartisan movement
Collaborative problem solving
Common ground
Community conversations
Conscious business
Creating transpartisan consensus
Crisis of democracy
Dynamic Facilitation
Facilitated conversation/dialogue
For transpartisanism to be successful, people must transform their most basic beliefs
Holding the tension of our differences while working together with respect and an open heart
Integral democracy
Integral politics
Integral thinking
Internet support for dialog and action
Out of Many, One - E Pluribus Unum
Partisan bubbles
Partisan disfunction
Political revolution
Psychological overload
Public choice economics
Science and accurate thinking
Stratified Democracy
Teleology and cultural evolution
Transpartisan alliance on specific issue
Uninvolved citizen
Unity and diversity
Unprecedented new approaches
Us versus Them
Voter ignorance
Weave together a movement of many initiatives
What is "transpartisan"?
Wisdom Council
Wisdom in society
Work together to create an activist vision