Convening the Field of CI

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August 26, 2005

The second invitation

The group that came together in response to our first invitation crafted a second, more elaborate invitation, on January 2nd, 2005, calling for a face-to-face meeting of the conveners group. We have not managed to arrange the timing and logistics of that meeting. However, most of the elements of that second invitation is still valid. See full text below.

Call for a Gathering of
Collective Intelligence Practitioners

By Tom Atlee and George Pór
with Juanita Brown, Tom Hurley, David Isaacs, Joel and Michelle Levey
(January 2nd, 2005)

This is an invitation to join the Catalyst Circle for the Collective Intelligence Initiative – a nascent conversation among practitioners in this field who are drawn to advance it in the service of personal and collective awakening.

And yet ... This is more than an invitation. It is a calling. We are conveners of meaningful conversations and we’re called to stretch our individual and collective capacity to become conveners of meaningful and sustainable communities, the foundation of a sustainable world. We feel Life is calling us to sense, discover and strengthen the conditions for collective intelligence and wisdom, that they may become forces for creating a sustainable world.

Join us in the Catalyst Circle to grow our response-ability to humankind's changing life conditions, towering challenges, and unprecedented opportunities. In the circle, we will initially explore:

* What is our purpose - the highest possibility that we care about the most deeply?
* What are our fondest and most daring hopes and visions for collective intelligence and its nurturing in the world?
* How might we act to serve this calling and our dreams most effectively – and to what do we commit ourselves?
Some of our initial thoughts on these questions follow.

What is our purpose - the highest possibility that we care about the most deeply?

We seek the integrated development of our highest individual and collective potential within vibrantly healthy human and natural systems. To further this work, we seek to generate self-organizing momentum for the emergence of a community that learns, and guided by the callings described above, ignites a broader movement to dramatically enhance societal intelligence and wisdom.

We believe that the field of collective intelligence, when guided by collective wisdom, can accelerate the development of humanity's collective consciousness that we are fundamentally related and whole – a single global species inextricably embedded in the larger web of life and spirit that sustains us. We see two momentous and related tasks:

• Develop a critical mass of humankind that is aware of these holistic truths and consciously practices living them, individually and collectively
• Transform all human institutions so that they naturally support the functioning of a learning society

To begin, we take responsibility for creating among ourselves a microcosm of the collective intelligence that we work to engender in the society -- of which this Call is the first product.

What are our fondest and most daring hopes and visions for collective intelligence and its nurturing in the world?

Five complementary action-visions emerged from our exchanges in the drafting team (David, George, Joel, Juanita, Michelle, Tom A and Tom H.). We label them as CI Catalyst Circle, Evolutionary Salon, CI Think-Net, CI Campus, and CI Conference/Movement. We present them here in an order of ascending complexity (from lower to higher).

1. CI Catalyst Circle

The drafting team suggests that we expand our current group of Conveners to a 15 to 20-person CI Catalyst Circle to be established in a 5-day retreat of intensive dialogue, discovery and co-creation. The retreat would seed an authentic community based on conscious agreements and shared intention to further the work required to meet our shared, highest aspirations about collective intelligence and wisdom. Such a retreat will be necessary to:

• Learn collaboratively from stories as to where, when, and how CI is already emergent, and to envision how to “fan” it (from embers to flames) in an appreciative inquiry sense.

• Explore our cutting edge of not-knowing . For example: We need both collective intelligence to solve problems and collective wisdom to give us the perspective about which problems to address and which way to steer our collective lives. How to break through to a wisdom civilization?

• Presence and embody the CI principles that will guide our work, and jointly articulate them in a source document.

• Decide what we can do only together, and envision the path forward based on what each of us is ready to commit to.

We intend for this work to emerge and evolve as a work of love among growing circles of "kindreds" nurturing personal relationships that allow us to resonate and grow, not only in the work but in our broader lives.

We will meet in a space of deep listening and honoring the diverse ways spirit can manifest in each and all of us. We will share practices (e.g. WorldCafé, Enlightened Communication , meditation, contemplation, etc.) for seeking clarity and wisdom to ask the most important questions on how CI may address large challenges in the world, and to guide our decisions.

For the next stage of our process, we suggest the convening of an Evolutionary Salon.

2. Evolutionary Salon

The Catalyst Circle would convene a 5-day retreat with a group of 20-30 people selected for their diverse CI expertise, collaborative spirit, reputation and extensive networks. This retreat will be designed so that participants can:

• Learn with and from each other, explore burning questions and diverse, successful practices.
• Map the territory and clarify the state of the CI field, co-creating inclusive shared frames of reference.
• Discover the indicators that will demonstrate the success of CI in communities, organizations, and society.
• Clarify the direction(s) that seem most generative to move in the next phase of emergence.

We may use WorldCafé, Strategic Dialogue, and other ways to access our collective intelligence and wisdom. The understandings this small group of experts come to will be spread through their networks -- and who knows what else might be born out of that dialogue...

If successful, it would create the social, intellectual, and energetic context for other activities that could be pursued simultaneously by a growing global network of researchers, practitioners, educators, etc.

In the following sections, we outline three ideas for potential activities that might grow out of the Evolutionary Salon.

3. CI Think-Net

We envision a network-centric but place-based think-tank that would be both a conversation-friendly and gathering-friendly physical space equipped with all the web-access technology necessary, AND a virtual space with resources accessible from anywhere on the planet.

On-site, the CI Think-Net would support at least half dozen researchers who explore the CI field intensively and publish papers, websites, blogs, etc. about it. Accompanying them would be at least two organizers and other support staff whose duties would include scanning the horizons looking for answers to the questions "Who needs to be talking to whom right now for the maximum evolution and impact of this field?" and "What would that conversation look like?"

Then they would organize these high-leverage strategic conversations, inviting key players with key inquiries. This might involve connecting two people by email or arranging a few-hour teleconference. It might involve an in-person conference sponsored and hosted by the CI Think-Net on its premises. Often one or more of the researchers would participate in these conversations, contributing Think-Net information and perspectives and benefiting from whatever new developments emerge. Insights would be shared broadly with the field as a whole through the think-net's publications and websites.

We think of this think-net / conference center as a booster-rocket for the movement's self-awareness and learning, strategically evoking evolutionary interchanges and reflecting the leading edge of the whole field back to the field, itself. It would make the evolving collective intelligence of the whole visible to the whole.

We realize that the CI Think-Net would require a very substantive investment. Preceding the establishment of CI Think-Net on its own premises, we could develop an early version of it through a combination of creating an interactive webspace, and developing a collegial relationship with retreat center entities like Fetzer or WIE or Johnson Foundation that could sponsor several on-site conversations a year.

4. CI e-Campus

We envision the CI e-Campus as a web-based network of CI-oriented learning communities. Their inquiries would take place primarily online (by wikis, blogs, forums, etc.) with occasional teleconferences or even videoconferences, as well as various interest groups and local groups meeting face-to-face, whenever they desire.

The global network of the CI e-Campus may or may not hold a big face-to-face (annual?) conference. Most activity would be online, requiring a core critical mass of several dozen people from diverse branches of CI (see and who were committed to investing at least 10 hours per month on these online dialogues. Although lower levels of commitment and participation would be welcomed beyond this committed core, the core itself would have to have enough committed people in order to generate the sense of collective identity and agency needed to spark something substantial.

It seems to us that one or two paid facilitators would have to spend 20-40 hours a week organizing, cajoling, and moderating this inquiry network into existence. There are hundreds of topics that could be addressed and progressed in the learning communities of the CI e-Campus.

5. CI Conference/Movement

People all over the world who foster collective intelligence need to see and experience that they are part of the larger "movement, " that they are not on the fringe but right at the heart of the hope for our common future.

In this vision a 2-3 day conference would attract 60-400 people from every CI-related disciplines to share perspectives and approaches. It would establish CI as a field in the minds of the many people involved in it, and they'd carry that consciousness out into their work.
Just as the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation organization emerged out of the First National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation (2002) to serve the common needs of the field of dialogue and deliberation, so might a coalition / umbrella group emerge out of a CI conference to serve the common needs of the CI movement. It would be a nascent movement masquerading as a quasi-professional networking organization, within which movement consciousness could be promoted.

The work of the Evolutionary Salon, CI Think-Net, and CI Campus could inspire and be inspired by this broader movement. The findings of those smaller circles of exploration would flow into the larger CI Conference.

"The awakening of our species and our search for solutions is occurring, but it's scattered, and it's certainly not in dominion anywhere. The larger social structures are proving to be inadequate to solve the problems they're creating. New social innovations are emerging everywhere, but they are not sufficiently connected or empowered. So right now, any effort that we can make to connect and create greater synergy and participation in this awakening process is probably the most important thing we can do." — Barbara Marx Hubbard

How might we act to serve this calling and our dreams most effectively – and to what do we commit ourselves?

The first meeting of the Catalyst Circle could be hosted in the Kohala Sanctuary (thank you, Joel and Michelle !) in Hawaii, on the Big Island. The dates are still to be defined, depending on when the most of us are available.

Regarding an immediate momentum plan, we recommend that the Conveners Team:
1. Expand itself to become a 15-20 person Catalyst Circle by inviting a few people that members feel would bring great value to our work, based on the following criteria:
• Actively engaged in one or another CI practice
• Willingness to speak and act from a beyond-ego perspective
• Dedication to the evolution of consciousness, culture and life on Earth
• Willingness to build an intentional community committed to collective intelligence and collective wisdom
George will coordinate the invitations; please send the name, email address and why you recommend the person, to him. If the list grows beyond 20 names (including ourselves) by the closing date of Jan.15, he would suggest a process to prioritize it.

2. Finalize the dates of the 5-day Catalyst Circle retreat. Form a group to design it. (For the design process we would use a combination of conference calls and a web-based collaboration platform.)

3. Start identifying potential sources of funding for some of our activities, including any needed scholarships for the retreat.

4. Have the design team meet in person for two days right before the retreat to fine-tune its design and draft a “source document” for review by the larger group.

5. Prepare a prioritized list of whom we would want to invite to the Evolutionary Salon and why, covering the full spectrum of those associated with CI research and practice.

Posted by George Por, Fri, Aug 26 2005 10:49 AM
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