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Sender: John Steiner/ Margo King
Subject: Intro, a bit of history, definitions and the field
Date: Mon, May 26, 2014
Msg: 101033

Hi All,

Warmest greetings...

Thanks especially to Steve Johnson, for flushing me out re your recent definitions piece, to Michael Briand for your beautiful summary piece on transpartisanship (my only change would be not to use ³transpartisanism¹), to all of engaged in the ongoing richness and multi-dimensionality of our conversations. Before diving into content, I¹ve been meaning to chime in more personally from the beginning of this listserv, of which I was one of the lead organizers.

Much of what follows is in collaboration with my wife and partner, Margo King.

For those who don¹t know me/us, we¹ve had the privilege of having been networkers (mesh weavers as Don Beck calls it) for a long time! We live in Longmont, CO (next to Boulder). I/John am a board member of Mediators Foundation (more bio at ).

I had the privilege of working with Joseph McCormick, the initiator, Michael Ostrolenk, Joan Blades, Grover Norquist, Roberta and Michele Combs, Mark Gerzon, William Ury, Jeff Weissglass, Ana Micka, and others who helped create Reuniting America from about 2004-2009. A deep bow to Joseph for his early leadership and his capacity to bring ³the right² to the table. I am calling that period of our work, Transpartisan 1.0 ,and the one we¹re now, which seems like the early middle, Transpartisan 2.0.

By the way, as far as we know, the term transpartisan was used as early as the late 1980s when it appeared in an essay titled ³Self-Reliant Defense² by American scholars Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins.

We¹ve been interested in this field of many names, going back at least 30 years and are thrilled that we have all arrived at the point where these kinds of conversations can now take place. Here we can recognize we are all part of a big tent, and we can explore how we might take this transpartisan arising to scale!

On to definitions, and many thanks to those who have contributed. What follows is my commentary, stimulated by Steven¹s good piece below.

For me, transpartisan is about collaboration at all levels of society and promoting new protocols/methods for sustainable problem solving and decision making. I imagine we¹ll continue to have a number of overlapping definitions as this field matures, and I see the different definitions as actually pointers to the various elements/categories of the field. Steve, yes, the methods you refer to are vital pieces of this puzzle, particularly, for developing wiser and more mature policy options.

My current favorite and simplest definition comes from Tom Hast: transpartisan, an evolving perspective which both includes and transcends all individual viewpoints without denying any of them. Jim Turner offered a useful one recently: transpartisan: Individuals from each quadrant of the Transpartisan Matrix?order right and left and free right and left?coming together to focus on one (or more) matter/problem/situation from their particular individual perspective with a commitment to respect, listen to, and interact with each other for the purpose of forging an integrated, focused path forward toward resolution of their shared concerns.

³Mine², which I¹d call more operational: We all have our political DNA. A transpartisan is anyone of any partisan stripe (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, etc.) or any apparent non-partisan/post partisan stripe (independent, moderate, centrist, non-voter), who ? is willing to come together in a safe environment (in person or online), often with outstanding facilitation, with civility, empathy, and respect ? to focus on the challenges and differences we face and the commonalities we share as local, regional, national and global communities, ? in order to arrive at sustainable solutions for the common good. E.g.,we are transpartisan Democrats, transpartisan Republicans, transpartisan Libertarians, transpartisan Greens, transpartisan Independents, etc. or just plain transpartisan! As Turner puts it, often the better a partisan, the better a transpartisan, providing s/he brings a commitment to respect, listen to, and interact with each other. Simply stated: a transpartisan is anyone who works with others to serve the common good!

Steve, at this point I see our field ? part of our developing mapping function ? as having four overlapping elements and thus helping folks recognize or trusting that they will recognize, that we are all part of a big tent with different booths, One America, as Rob Fersh has said. This is evolving and could easily be teased out further!

1) Transpartisan (left-right) coalitions/alliances/networks? strange, often unexpected bedfellows (made more understandable by the Turner-Chickering four quadrant matrix, attached). eg, Citizens for Health, Defense Budget Project, Liberty Coalition, Net Neutrality, Patriot Act, NSA responses, Naders¹s many examples in his new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance To Dismantle the Corporate State, opposition to the XL Keystone Pipeline: ne.html?smid=pl-share&_r=0 , etc. Please do share any others you¹re aware of.

2) Transpartisan forms of decision making and citizen engagement/empowerment from multi-stakeholder, collaborative problem solving to sustainable decision making at all levels of society. Eg, Citizen Councils, Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, America Speaks, Steven Kull¹s Voice of the People, A Campaign for a Citizen Cabinet -- -- , Living Room Conversations, Citizen University, Dynamic Facilitation -- --, Village Square, National Focus Project, etc. I use the term sustainable decision making to refer to decisions that transcend particular political administrations.

3) Transpartisan leadership/leaders -- elected officials, candidates, public servants, who are leaders of the whole, concerned with finding the common good, however we might describe that; any leader who is able transcends and includes polarities. Some include Ben McAdams, Mayor of Salt Lake County; No Labels; David Burstein and his Run for America (electing Millennials to Congress in 2016 on a problem solving platform); Charles Wheelan, author of the Centrist Manifesto and founder of the Centrist Party and his effort to help elect independents to the Senate; transpartisan clubs, which may begin on the University of Colorado campus; women Leaders like Betsy McKinney; business Leaders like Steve Shireman of Future 500 and David Levine of the American Sustainable Business Council; religious leaders, like Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; etc., etc. Please do share any others you¹re aware of including your own work.

4) A bit of a potpourri catch all that could become a transpartisan institute and is being incubated by the Center for Transpartisan Leadership, which is a project of Mediators Foundation. This area includes education of new and old leaders in transpartisan methodologies; exploring new kinds of transpartisan media; intellectual/academic understanding of how to translate issues through transpartisan lenses into solutions; e.g, Turner/Chickering, Jonathan Haidt, Bill Shireman, Charles Wheelan, Ralph Nader, the integral approach (see Steve McIntosh and Carter Phipps¹s Institute for Cultural Evolution -- ) and the work of many of you on this listserv; a solutions bank outside of traditional bi-partisan offerings, etc.

Steve, maybe this transpartisan meme/dynamic/field does represent a new stage in our democratic republic ? with many others offering new operating systems that are relevant to the 21st century ? and our ?growing up¹ becoming wiser. I certainly hope so. I believe this is a new field, which, as Tom Hast, our Mediators Foundation colleague suggests, transcends and embraces the fields of facilitation, conflict resolution and mediation, which have developed strongly over the last thirty years or so.

A hearty YES to ³developing a civic culture of genuine wisdom, which seems to me to be part of the calling of those who have a transpartisan spirit. Many conservatives would like to see a wiser approach to conservatism, many liberals would like to see a wiser approach to liberalism, and neither group is likely to mature as well as it could without transpartisan dialogue. ³

And, if you haven¹t, see the important 2011 essay in the Stanford Social Innovation Review on ³Collective Impact²:

With transpartisan blessings, deepest appreciation and love, John Steiner 303-443-1202


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