Pattern of the whole
Remember me?
Join us | Get your password | Vision | Topics | Home

Join us | Topics | Home | Collaborative Backbone | Quotes | Teilhard deChardin | Focalpoint | Shared Purpose | NCDD Transpartisan | Mapping | Circle | Pattern

All messages

Sender: Lawrence Chickering
Subject: FW: important article, reply
Date: Wed, Apr 16, 2014
Msg: 100930

From: Lawrence Chickering [] Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 9:36 AM To: Bruce Schuman Cc: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] important article, reply

The deepest problem here, I think, is lack of personal engagement, which

is essential to trust. Sarah Palin is almost invariably cited by critics who

want to illustrate how simpletons see the world. Forgotten is the Sarah Palin

as Republican Governor of Alaska who took on the corrupt Republican Party

and worked with Democrats for transpartisan ends. That small world of

Alaskan politics was a world defined by personal engagement and trust,

which made many things possible.

The moment Palin was recruited to play pit bull (the opposite role) in an

environment defined by conflict and devoid of personal engagement, in

McCain's campaign, she surrendered to the simplisms that define all hyper-

partisan rhetoric, in all four quadrants. When Palin returned to Alaska after the

campaign, she tried to go back and reassume her transpartisan role, but

her brand was ruined; there was no going back. And so (I believe at least)

she resigned. (Vanity Fair, incidentally, published an article some years later,

on 'the other Sarah Palin' -- the one that the structure of our political

system destroyed.)

One of the most important challenges facing transpartisans is to see

transpartisan impulses that are present in everyone, engage people around

them, and avoid the polarizing impulse to type-cast people out of the



On Apr 16, 2014, at 08:55, Bruce Schuman wrote:

Very interesting and hopeful, thanks. Jonathan Haidt's "Righteous Mind" and Bill Bishop's "Big Sort" offer strong insight into the fragmentation of society.

Haidt talks about the "tribalistic" tendency to self-righteousness - which does seem to indicate a kind of generic moral/ethical weakness in human beings - but maybe it's something that can be overcome by education and a broader exposure to "the other". If we "knew more about what is around us", maybe we would be less judgmental. But the fragmentation of society (Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, Bishop's Big Sort) makes this more challenging. We tend to gather in insular little pockets that don't understand (or like) each other, rather than in broad homogeneous groups where we would be more exposed to "the other".

I wonder whether the core of Haidt's thesis could be explained by "cognitive bandwidth". "People are only able to hold so much in their heads at the same time" - as per the famous "Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two" (George Miller in the 1950's) .

I think of Sarah Palin with her bullet points written on the palm of her hand. If we could reduce the world to a few moral simplicities, life would be so much easier. But today, things are amazingly complex - too hard for almost anyone to fully grasp in any detail. It's much easier to retreat to an insular self-righteousness than it is to "consider all sides of all issues" in a neutral and nuanced way.

So, I tend to think that information overload and complexity are major factors in this animosity between perspectives. I haven't seen a psychological theory that takes this form - but maybe we need to combine these perspectives. I think we need some kind of "meta" framework where the diverse elements can meet on a finely-tuned and balanced kind of common ground, and "each participant can bring their own bullet points". is full of interesting content, thanks (it's a place where pigs can fly!)

Maybe food is a critical factor. Eat together - the molecules tend to mix better..

"Let friendship redeem the republic"

Bruce Schuman




(805) 966-9515, PO Box 23346, Santa Barbara CA 93101

From: List for transpartisan leaders and innovators [ mailto:TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG]On Behalf Of Liz Joyner Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:57 AM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] important article, reply

We've been addressing this problem in Tallahassee, FL for seven years now with The Village Square - (we'll be in four cities by this fall). We've become an important gathering place for unique civic forums that draw diverse citizens from across the political spectrum. We try to keep our programming interesting (no "eat-your-broccoli" civics because it isn't working), so people will choose to come rather than stay at home and turn on the angry talking heads. For example, the last dinner program we did was called "Seven Deadly Sins" and paired a Baptist minister with a legendary investigative reporter.

What we've learned - fully consistent with the Ezra Klein piece - is that our problem isn't an informational problem, it's a relationship problem. We're all in increasingly less and less social contact with people of political opinions that differ from our own in every aspect of our lives - in the groups we belong to, the TV we watch, the radio we listen to, the books we read, the churches we attend - even the neighborhoods we live in (refer to Bill Bishop's "The Big Sort").

If you pair that with an understanding of how we human beings reason (Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind") - pre-cognitive intuition comes first (highly influenced by our liberal and conservative moral "tribes") followed by strategic reasoning second (to support what we wanted to believe to begin with) - it's no wonder we find ourselves in the situation we're in. As if it weren't bad enough already, add in the Google searches we do - Eli Pariser's "The Filter Bubble" - and we can think anything is true we want to think is true.

So since individual human reasoning - and likeminded "tribal" reasoning - is not necessarily a rational fact-driven process, we make good decisions best in proximity to other people with a broad range of opinions present and when we have the social "glue" of an institution to preserve together (we do, it's American democracy - we've just forgotten that fact). If you care about this problem, Haidt's book is mandatory reading.

What The Village Square does is constantly pitch the message in our community that democracy depends on diverse opinions engaging and then we gather people on civic topics in a way that we hope they will enjoy the diverse company. Food is always involved as it changes the psychology. It's really just an entertaining re-do on the old fashioned American town hall, on which democracy has always depended and which has essentially vaporized. We don't think it's an optional institution.

While there are certainly structural systematic fixes at state and national levels, a certain amount of the solution has got to be in hometowns between human beings, face-to-face... where we borrow sugar, carpool and where we can be in relationship to each other. It shifts what we define as our moral community and makes us better equipped to make good decisions as a group. With many local and state leaders very engaged in what we do, we think we've changed the wind.

We just need about 300 more hometowns to follow (highly doable if you're game, call me anytime)...


PS - Take a look at our past programming here here and here You can also read more basic explanations of what we do in one of our new launch communities like Sacramento


Liz Joyner Executive Director | The Village Square, Inc. | (850) 264-8785

On Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 4:31 PM, William Schenken <> wrote:

Greetings All,

Thank you to everyone contributing. I love this conversation.

First, here are some links on Brigade Media which just announced serious venture capital funding as a private company to address our broken political system. The details are vague, though it serves as evidence for the growing interest in this space. to-shake-up-american-democracy/ -brigade-105673.html

Re: Ezra Klein Article

The Ezra Kline article was really helpful to me. Thanks for sharing Steve. For me it reinforces the need to create a space separate from our established political parties where participants help each other to calm our tribal tendencies and reach new levels of understanding.

I think that a great deal of political fighting comes from choosing parties. My favorite example, do I support President Barack Obama. In one frame, where President Obama and candidate Romney are my only choices, I am passionate supporter of the president. That is the frame that I tend to default to because it is the political reality of our society. I would call this the partisan frame.

In another frame where I consider Obama's effectiveness as a politician, I think he is decent. He has made progress in some areas that I support and I can make excuses for him in others because of the political climate in DC. He has come up short of the leadership of Reagan and has still done a great deal to further my goals, especially compared to what I think a Romney Presidency would have done. I would call this the 'realpolitik' frame.

In another frame where I purely evaluate President Obama in his ability to further my own political ideals, I am greatly disappointed. I'll leave the details of my personal opinions aside because I imagine that 99% of the country feels this way if they are honest about it. When a conversation reaches this point, it usually leads to me saying "yeah, he is still a politician." I would call this the personal frame.

Here is another way to think about it: the competition between the political parties creates an incentive for them to disagree. They are constantly seeking ways to differentiate themselves without pushing out existing constituents. Both political parties exhibit this tension. The current political base of the Republican party is religious and financial conservatives. I don't think anyone really thinks that Jesus would support privatization and cutting taxes at the expense of welfare programs, etc. The reason it works is neither of these groups have a better alternative. There is a similar tension in the Democrat party between liberal ideals of of most and the power structure of unions. I believe it is less apparent in the democrats because they more closely represent consensus opinion despite their perversions. There are volumes written on this that more closely make the point, but I what I want to suggest is that our political parties are poor proxies of any underlying ideologies. Instead they seek to satisfice competing ideas to get market share.

The interesting thing is that when I hear people criticize Obama, I jump to the partisan frame. My instinct is that I need to protect Obama's reputation because my instinct says that successful criticism of Obama is an argument for Romney/Republicans. Given a chance to slow down, I realize how unproductive this whole arena of personality based politics is. The amazing thing is that it has become the focus of the media and I think that it is a purposeful tactic of those working against the common good in their own self interest.

My own bias is to try to organize people under the banner of a way of doing politics with no concern for the current political party structure other than to view them as stakeholders in a new political reality. We could think of it as a political party whose platform is to constantly evolve its platform based on the principles of dialog and deliberation. In other words, the unifying ideas are not policy goals but process goals. A way of doing politics that measures outcomes based on interaction among the participants and the extent to which we reach consensus. I don't think there needs to be a mechanistic way of implementing the consensus policy at first. As the group builds consensus, it will be difficult for politicians to ignore and eventually we may have politicians run purely on implementing the party's policy consensus. Like Bruce describes, it will have its own gravity. (Though the examples David Bollier gives in the talk are not inspiring. Occupy got attention and didn't seem to have an appreciable effect).

I see tremendous challenges to this approach and can understand the appeal of less radical tacts. Yet, I see it as necessary because the only way to get reasonable people involved in politics in a meaningful way is to create a meaningful and reasonable process. I think we can do this from the bottom up without making any policy changes or winning any political 'battles'. Once such a movement has power, people will wonder how we ever did politics without it.

Re: Argument Tree.

First, is very fascinating. I love the idea. It's great to see other people's take on a solution. I have imagined something slightly different myself.

I think the humanity need two tools. The first is one about knowledge. I imagine a wikipedia where each idea has its own page and is linked to other ideas. The difference is that people simply register their opinion in one of the following categories: I believe this is trues, this could be true, this is probably not true, this is empirically false or undecided. I like the idea of registering opinions because a basic philosophical principle is that we can only proves things wrong and everything else has varying degrees of confidence. Laws are just ideas that have not been proven wrong for a very long time. The key is for people to vote anonymously, but the system knows your credentials. So a viewer can chose to see results based on different factors of those voting. I can imagine mapping all of human knowledge this way.

The second tool that is more relevant to politics is a system of registering beliefs and actions in resolution form. So we begin by proposing beliefs (some beliefs most will consider facts). Then we ask participants to affirm every belief that they can since the goal is to find common ground. If you need to change a belief to agree with it, you can propose an alternative and affirm that belief. You can even affirm the original belief, propose a new and agree to both. There is no penalty for affirming to multiple beliefs. when that happens, you prioritize your beliefs. Then the software does an instant runoff voting procedure to produce the set of beliefs that have the greatest affirmation. The same process happens with the proposed actions associated with the beliefs to form a resolution for action. That action may be to enact a government policy or it may be individual action like choosing to recycle or abstaining from making campaign contributions.


Bill Schenken


On Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 4:28 PM, Bruce Schuman <> wrote:

I like this thought, Bentley, it very much goes with my idea that with the right approach, and a sensitive human touch, maybe this process of "going deeper" - and possibly in high detail - or at the "scale" Steven is talking about - might be entirely feasible.

How you/we build that "argument tree" you mention is an interesting question. I've been thinking recently that the entire structure of community itself is like a tree - with the trunk of the tree being the common ground that holds the community together - maybe the common ground of humanity.

In the framework of that huge tree, a million (a billion) disagreements or tensions or alternative interpretation of specific questions arise. What should we do about X? Maybe we need all of the contending alternatives people suggest, and it's not so much that some are "right" and some are "wrong" (though perhaps they are) - maybe they are all "facets of the elephant" - maybe they are all defensible and clear/responsible interpretations of a common situation we all share ("the elephant"), as seen from one point of view (the trunk, the tail, the ear, the foot).

And your point - that it's hard to go deeper without discussing it with somebody that has the opposite belief - this is an important and powerful theme. Yes, this is the essence of "co-creativity" - and for me, it's essential. I can only see so much - but I'm trying to see the whole. Your point of view - somebody else's point of view - helps illuminate that whole for me in ways that might have been impossible for me before I listened to you and assimilated your insight.

Bruce Schuman


(805) 966-9515, PO Box 23346, Santa Barbara CA 93101

From: List for transpartisan leaders and innovators [mailto: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG]On Behalf Of Bentley Davis Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 11:03 PM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Fwd: [TRANSPARTISAN] important article, reply


I also found the article extremely interesting. You bring up an important point that "we don't actually get to the bottom of things; we go just deeply enough to confirm our prejudices, then we stop."

It's hard to go deeper unless you are discussing it with someone that has the opposite belief. I have been working on structure and tools to help get people to the bottom and my most recent one is (not a great name but it was available). It encourages groups of people to keep going deeper and deeper into the conversation by constructing an argument tree to keep items in context. The person on the other side keeps us from stopping by inputting cons against our biased statements that we would prefer to ignore.

This little experiment might give us some insights in how to practice group wisdom. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Best regards,

Bentley Davis


On Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 7:33 PM, Steven H Johnson <> wrote:

Thanks, Michael, for the link to Ezra Klein's very intriguing article.

Here's my take on the issue Ezra's raising. I don't think we have a culture of seeking wisdom; I think we have a culture of seeking certainty, and that folks of all political stripes participate in it. The result is that we don't actually get to the bottom of things; we go just deeply enough to confirm our prejudices, then we stop.

Here's a few examples. Social Security solvency. Framing the global warming problem. Figuring out how to create better schools for poverty children. Clever certainties displace wise inquiry in each of these areas.

Social Security. Liberals will tell us that Social Security is in good shape. Even Alan Greenspan brags in his book about how the reforms of 1983 put Social Security on the right track. But it isn't in good shape, and one of the many reasons for that is that the program's dominant metric, a tool called "actuarial balance," isn't really a solvency metric. It's an insolvency postponement metric. A reform that achieves actuarial balance is a program that postpones the program's insolvency crash until a few seconds after the end of the forecasting period.

A wiser approach to Social Security would lead folks to set aside actuarial balance as their metric, and choose one that reflects genuine solvency. A steady Trust Fund ratio, perhaps. If the ratio of the Trust Fund to annual benefit payments were holding steady, over the years and decades to come, that'd be a trustworthy indication of lasting solvency.

Global warming. Or what about the way in which the global warming issue has come to be framed as an "emissions reduction" issue, as though we were engaged in a rerun of the Clean Air Act?

The logic of this situation tells us otherwise. The greater the total stock of CO2 in the atmosphere, the warmer the Earth becomes. The warmer the Earth becomes, the more climate change we get. Warming may be governed by rules of proportionality, but climate change is trickier than that. Climate change is also a matter of tipping points. Small adjustments in temperature can cause major changes in behavior.

Work the logic backward and it leads to a hard conclusion: Climate change cannot end till global warming ends. Global warming cannot end till total CO2 has been capped. And total CO2 cannot be capped till the the consumption of fossil fuels has ceased. And the consumption of fossil fuels cannot cease till we've had a complete changeout of our energy technologies.

It is a mistake - given this logic - to characterize our situation as an "emissions reduction" situation, as though we were engaged in a rerun of the Clean Air Act. That's a seriously inapt analogy. We're in a technology replacement situation. The Montreal Protocol is a better model. As old refrigerators wear out and need replacement, the new ones will use ozone-safe refrigerants. The heat pump we bought last summer is ozone-safe; the one it replaces was not.

"Emission reduction" is a friendly term, but it badly understates our responsibilities. One wonders why our environmentalists are so weak in thinking this through.

Schools. Or what about the way in which the challenge of educating low income children has been framed by policy partisans? Let's measure. Let's test. Let's grade teachers by the amount of progress children make. Let's shed teachers whose kids make no progress. In short, let's address this challenge by fiddling with the way we manage the adults.

There is another, and wiser, way to explore this opportunity. It's to pay close attention to the principals who have done especially well, and dig deeply enough to figure out why.

What one finds - in doing this - are principals obsessed by reaching every child, motivating every child, and making sure every child learns. One discovers a few implicit hypotheses: Children succeed when (a) they're highly motivated, (b) the lessons are learnable, (c) coaching from teachers is perceptive and on point, and (d) they invest enough time. Great principals find a hundred and one success factors that can help them motivate kids. They test kids to learn how far along they are, and then they pitch their instruction to kids at a level they're capable of understanding. They promote teacher observations and discussions, so that every teacher gets regular feedback on how well he/she responds to each child in the room. And they put in longer school days and bring kids to school on Saturdays.

If we started by asking, "what's it take for every child to learn," instead of "what's it take to manage the grownups better" we'd make more progress. One gets fast certainties by asking how to manage grownups. One gets more wisdom by asking what it takes for every kid to engage, and learn.

So I'd push back on the issue of information and certainty. I'd say that Klein's article confirms a larger theme - that our culture cultivates shallowness, not wisdom. We cannot be a mature public till we learn the difference between clever certainties and genuine wisdom, and our hearts begin to lead us toward wisdom.

How do we become wise? I can spot symptoms of not being wise. I'm not sure I have the knack to practice wisdom. Or inspire wisdom. I do think it's a higher quality, one that we need a lot more of.

Best to all,

Steve Johnson

On Apr 8, 2014, at 3:10 PM, Michael Strong wrote:

Thanks, Michael, that was an excellent and highly relevant article. This statement by Kahan,

" I asked Kahan how he tries to guard against identity protection in his everyday life. The answer, he said, is to try to find disagreement that doesn't threaten you and your social group - and one way to do that is to consciously seek it out in your group. "I try to find people who I actually think are like me - people I'd like to hang out with - but they don't believe the things that everyone else like me believes," he says. "If I find some people I identify with, I don't find them as threatening when they disagree with me." It's good advice, but it requires, as a prerequisite, a desire to expose yourself to uncomfortable evidence - and a confidence that the knowledge won't hurt you."

articulates an appropriate norm for a transpartisan group.

Political scientists who study political ignorance are also acutely aware that more information usually leads to greater political polarization. I see this well-established empirical fact as devastating to those who would believe that "more information" or "better informed voters" would lead to any improvement in outcome.

On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 6:49 PM, Michael Briand <> wrote:

Here's a link to a very good article( that's directly relevant to the challenge of achieving transpartisanship. It explains why, if we want dialogue instead of "dueling monologues," we need to deal with the human need for a robust personal identity.

Michael Briand


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:

-- Michael Strong CEO and Chief Visionary Officer FLOW, Inc.

For the definitive Conscious Capitalism book, see Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World's Problems, by Michael Strong with John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods Market, Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Hernando de Soto, Co-Chair of the U.N. Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor, and others, and listen to John Mackey's audio CD Passion and Purpose: The Power of Conscious Capitalism, both available at or

Liberating the Entrepreneurial Spirit for Good

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

Leonardo Da Vinci


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:

-- Michael Strong CEO and Chief Visionary Officer FLOW, Inc.

For the definitive Conscious Capitalism book, see Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World's Problems, by Michael Strong with John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods Market, Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Hernando de Soto, Co-Chair of the U.N. Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor, and others, and listen to John Mackey's audio CD Passion and Purpose: The Power of Conscious Capitalism, both available at or

Liberating the Entrepreneurial Spirit for Good

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

Leonardo Da Vinci


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:


To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link:

A. Lawrence Chickering

Founder and President, Educate Girls Globally (EGG)

1485 Main St., Ste 103c

St. Helena, CA 94574

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