Gary, and Dave as well as anyone else interested in what Integral can contribute,

In this past week I spent 5 hours in conference calls here as well as many hours composing drafts of 'possibilities' regarding what Occupy 2.0 can bring forth to help establish a new economy. As a trained process facilitator for Intentional Communities I experienced the same shortcoming here that Intentional communities endure who adhere to pluralistic process of consensus.  This is summarized by the expression of frustration expressed by Ron Wheeler:

"Why is it that progressives and activists are so much better at putting forward good ideas than in actually getting them adopted and implemented? We seem to love to discuss almost forever and then are rather hesitant to work cooperatively together to support good ideas." 
Gary, we know what this is about. How about a discussion regarding what Integral informed individuals can do help move past this endless and limiting dysfunction and adopt a more effective process?  I know this is only one area that we could contribute an innovation not available to relativistic pluralism but this issue frustrates me personally and at the heart of Wheeler's rhetorical question above. 

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I agree with Ron, there is no lack of good solutions available on these forums, but we fail when it comes to implementation.


Because the solutions do not take account of our complicity in maintaining the system.  On the one hand we think we know what to do IF the system were to dissappear and we had a free hand to create whatever we wanted. On the other, every part of our everyday lives are involved in supporting the system as it is. Everytime we use money to make a transaction, but more than that, actually our whole culture is predicated on the system continuing. We are trapped in it and though we know it is leading to our self-destruction, we cannot get out of it. Someone said it is easier to think of the end of the world than to think of the end of capitalism.

We do have small successes - the end of slavery, womens suffrage,- the 1% can afford to give a little, a crumb, as long as they retain the whole loaf. Our protests and marches, our sit-ins and camping outs, do not really threaten the system. If a Robin Hood tax were introduced, if tax havens were abolished, no problem, they would just find other ways to hold on to their ascendancy. We are enslaved, part of a machine which is destroying the possibility of life continuing to exist on this planet.

Who me? I'm working as a social entrepreneur / I'm unemployed / I grow my own food / I'm an Agent of Conscious Evolution / I OCCUPY.

Yes you, yes everyone of us. We are all maintaining this system, and until we stop, it will continue.  We can design all the best solutions till we are blue in the face, nothing will change until we stop.

So how do we stop? What does it mean to stop? What does it mean to me personally? What do I have to do, or not do, to stop?

Well now, only you can answer that question. To get to know the risk involved, to move into the unknown, to confront the reality of this situation, it is vast, huge, too much, definitely too much. For some there is help in seeing this movement as part of the evolutionary impulse of creativity itself, as it is expressing itself through me. So I am not isolated and alone.

But undertaking the work that I have to do to be open to the transformation that is being called for, that work is mine, and it may be a prerequisite for the cooperation and implementation that is required. It is no easy task we face to turn this whole machine around, and it has to happen.

Hanna, I appreciate the your thoughts. I agree we must stop using the system. By that I mean the Wall Street system. We already have alternatives available and simply need to gradually switch to them. As we pull our money out of big corporations and Wall Street's virtual products we are pulling spectators and players out of their baseball game until what is left is an empty stadium, except for the 1% who will no longer be able to keep the lights on.

Personally, I'm in favor of capitalism that is socially responsible.  And getting there through the endless discussions is what I'm hoping we can expedite by applying some principles contained in Integral Theory. Hope to hear from you again.

Our primary complicity is our practice of paying tribute to the system in the form of direct taxation. Other forms of complicity exist and can be withdrawn, but no  such withdrawl of complicity has as much impact as a tax strike.


Excellent topic for discussion! Perhaps the discussion could begin with a look at Integral's take on hierarchies.  Ken Wilber writes in "A Brief History of Everything": 

Hierarchy today has a very bad reputation, mostly because people confuse dominator hierarchies with natural hierarchies. A natural hierarchy is simply an order of increasing wholeness, such as: particles to atoms to cells to organisms, or letters to words to sentences to paragraphs. The whole of one level becomes part of the whole of the next. In other words, natural hierarchies are composed of holons. And thus, said Koestler, 'hierarchy' should really be called 'holarchy.' He's absolutely right. Virtually all growth processes, from matter to life to mind, occur via natural holarchies, or orders of increasing holism or wholeness - wholes that become parts of new wholes - and that's natural hierarchy or holarchy,  

Now, we could have much more discussion on the theory, but let's also keep grounded with practical application. How can we more efficiently get ideas put into action? How can we work cooperatively yet avoid endless discussion? How can we employ natural holarchy and avoid dominator hierarchy?

One idea comes from what is called the Acorn or 8 Shields model, as taught by Jon Young. I have found it to be an effective way of using the consensus process, but with parameters. The problem of using full consensus, allowing newcomers and those with less commitment to an organization to be able to participate equally in decision making is a common one.  As Vicki Robin said to our Transition Initiating Group after our Great Unleashing, you need to limit decision making to those "with skin in the game." 

The solution that I've found to be elegant, is to employ the idea of concentric rings of responsibility as described in the Acorn / 8 Shields model of organization.  I have worked with Alan Seid of Cascadia Workshops, who teaches this. 

Alan, who has studied with Jon Young, and who is also integrally informed, writes that allowing anyone who shows up to participate equally in decision making is a "big mistake."  Instead he says, "Design your group's structure so that it can accommodate varying levels of participation, engagement, and commitment, so that people can contribute at a level that works for them. These levels of participation also equate to varying degrees of access to decision-making, according to people's energy to give, level of responsibility, commitment, investment and/or legal liability. Furthermore, clarify your "threshold of commitment" for each level, so that expectations and requirements are transparent. Always keep in mind that at the center is the group's vision, mission, and purpose."

These "thresholds of commitment" can be drawn or visualized as concentric rings.  At the center is the vision/mission; the next ring out will be your leadership group.  You can limit membership of this group and have a process for electing people to this ring .  This group, if kept to a manageable scale, can use full consensus decision making. Then each circle out from that has a little less responsibility and makes decisions appropriate for that level.

Hello David,

I'm grateful for your input. You seem to have a good grasp of Integral concepts. To get past our allergy to hierarchies by realizing everything is a natural hierarchy and therefore not evil as a big step. But for most living from the world-centric pluralistic view, all hierarchical structures are unacceptable. If only we could convey to others that in natural hierarchies every entity with choice looks out for the greater good of the whole, knowing it's own well being is dependent on the health of the whole. In the present Wall Street hierarchy the decision makers are not evolved enough to realize this.

But that is perhaps a philosophical discussion for later. The question for now is how do we expedite the group process by modifying how we do consensus? I like your thoughts on concentric rings of responsibility and Alan Seid's suggestions:

"Design your group's structure so that it can accommodate varying levels of participation, engagement, and commitment, so that people can contribute at a level that works for them. These levels of participation also equate to varying degrees of access to decision-making, according to people's energy to give, level of responsibility, commitment, investment and/or legal liability

It appears we are only at the discussion level of “possibilities” but the earlier we establish a leading edge organizational structure with a modified group process the better. Do you feel familiar enough with the Acorn concepts to present it to OccupyCafe? I have been reading about Holacracy, an Integral form of corporate governance which is working. I also noticed Tree Bressen is a member of the Cafe and is a well known trainer in group process for Intentional Communities. Maybe we can get her in on this discussion. I am trying to reach her.

Having been myself trained in group process for Intentional Communities using traditional consensus I was excited to discover an explanation for my frustration with the slowness of the process. It takes a ton of process to get an ounce of product. I suspect you agree there are some improvements to group process coming from what Structuralist call 2nd tier consciousness. Do you think we can offer something helpful in this area?



I think it would be worthwhile to get either Alan Seid or Jon Young to present to Occupy Cafe.

Hey David,

Great idea. I checked out both links. Although Alan was mentored by Jon I like Alan's integral perspective he displays in his blog. And he is already active with Occupy. I left him a message to check out the discussion here. If you know him or Jon personally perhaps you can influence them to join us. I have also left an invitation to Tree Bressen to drop in. I really hope we can attract a few more integrally informed facilitation experts into the discussion.  



I have only a passing acquaintance with Integral theory, and am responding to Steve's invitation to jump in here.  I think there is obviously a lot of complexity when it comes to changing a vast System, so it's important to get clear on what applies when, context matters a lot. 

I support the concentric rings model, yet it's harder to apply at broad scale.  For an organization of a few dozen or even a few hundred people, you can, with sufficient effort, get clear on which decisions get made by who and how.  For a really simple example, when i lived at Walnut St. Co-op, our core members (who had the most "skin in the game") decided the annual budget, while everyone who lived there decided most house policies.  However, when it comes to large-scale social decisions that affect everyone (corporate personhood, anyone?), it is neither legitimate to disenfranchise anyone from participating--having a say in the decisions that affect us is presumably at the core of what it means to live in a democracy--nor practical to involve everyone in the decision-making.  So we need to come up with other systems, such as those envisioned and documented by Tom Atlee

Tim Hartnett makes a useful distinction between consensus as a decision rule vs. consensus as a process for discernment.  Classically, when used as a decision rule, consensus trades more time for higher quality outcomes (better decisions, more community due to lower polarization into win/lose outcomes, and stronger implementation due to widespread support) as compared to majority voting.  However in the past few decades there has been a profusion of facilitation methods, a glorious biodiversity of exploration into the many ways groups can operate effectively.  To the point where a collective (which i have been an active part of the past few years) has just published a key distillation of the core wisdom of skillful facilitation, moving beyond the methods to focus on what they have in common when they are working at their best.  I encourage you all to check out Group Works: A Pattern Language for Bringing Life to Meetings and O..., a 91-card deck (and soon a phone app) now available for free download and for sale. 



I'm really glad you had time to check in, Tree.  I have looked over the links you provided. Excellent. 

To those here who do not know, Tree is famous as a group process facilitator among Intentional Communities.  These communities are very experienced in true democracy most often using consensus similar to the process Occupy uses. In fact Intentional communities have probably been key contributors in the use of and evolution of group process and consensus decision making. Tree is a prominent trainer of facilitators of this process.  Intentional Communities have been for some time where the 99% movement seems ready to go. They have for decades put people and relationships above accumulation of wealth, above national and racial exclusivity, and Wall Street's view of what life should be. I believe we may have much to learn about living together in equanimity from Intentional communities. 

My interest in bring facilitation experts and Integral theory together is that I personally believe this movement is the beginning of a shift in consciousness which will result in a changed world. Both Intentional Communities and the Integral Community are all about making a better world. The availability of the most cutting edge and inclusive yet expeditious techniques of group process and governance might be a valuable contribution to this movement and lay a foundation for an alternate form of world governance.  

Tree, have you heard of Diane Musho Hamilton? She is a co-founder of the Boulder Mountain Zendo which is a Zen practice and study center. She also teaches Integral Theory and facilitation classes using the integral approach. If we could put together more experts to brainstorm and contribute from their unique backgrounds to help advance the 99% movement, would you be willing to be part of this? 


Hi Steve,

While i agree with you that most intentional communities (both the Christian ones and secular ones) are centered in an alternative set of values to Wall St., and that they have a lot to offer by way of experience with both process and how to live together, i'm less convinced that the 99% is heading there.  Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), the most widespread North American network for secular community living, has started including a theme of "creating community where you are," because they recognize that most people who grow up in our individualistic American culture will never move into official intentional communities--yet many thirst for more connection and lower consumption.  There are some great new resources coming along on how we can share more:  one of the best is

As a longtime consensus facilitator for communities and other groups and then taking on some Occupy meetings this past fall, i am acutely aware of the differences between Occupy process and classic consensus.  For example, while Occupy groups make ready use of voting fallbacks, cohousing groups go many years without using them. This excellent chart starts to get at the contrast, though there is even more to it.  One fellow i co-facilitated with at Occupy Eugene came in with a bit of a swagger based on his past experience; by the end of the evening, rather beaten down, he said this was by far the toughest meeting he'd ever led--and believe me he was not at all unusual in that assessment!  Occupy GA process is a new creature, and all of us involved have been on a steep learning curve in response.

I am not familiar with Hamilton or her work, it sounds like she offers a wonderful combination of approaches.  As to whether i'd be willing to participate with her and other folks in working out more of these ideas, that probably depends on how it happens, whether i really believe it will make a difference, how it fits into the rest of my life, and so on.  I am committed deep down to good process as a key part of sustainable social change.  I'm also just transitioning from an intensive commitment to the pattern language project (on which i went a bit over the edge in my devotion to getting it to publication), and needing to recover balance, so it is a time when i need to do careful discernment, checking in with my soul moment-to-moment to see how to respond to possibilities that arise.  I am also a bit skeptical about we "experts" coming up with "answers" that we preach to the "masses," and cannot stress highly enough the need for on-the-ground experience when it comes to designing process solutions for mass use.



I agree with each of your points, Tree.  I'm glad to see FIC reaching out to help the outside world to see the benefits of a more shared life and community spirit. My comment that the world was going that way was meant to refer to the benefits of looking at life differently, reassessing priorities, generally stepping beyond the Wall Street model and " thirst for more connection and lower consumption" as you said. 

Buy-in is required to capture the energy of all members. However, is it possible to get buy-in with a system that simply assures one is heard and one feels their interests are represented rather than the sometimes endless hours of process traditional consensus requires? Do you see some advantages or disadvantages to the Occupy model? Since Integral employs what has been learned from countless studies of personal development, cultural evolution and Wilber's AQAL model I'm what we might learn from what they have found that works. I'm working on getting some input to the discussion in that regard from other integralists.

Meanwhile, you must take care of yourself. I admire what folks like you and Laird are doing for social change. I'm hoping you will find time to continue contributing to this discussion and the questions raised above.



I spoke with Alan and he was honored but overwhelmed with other projects at this time.

Tree Bressen, Intentional Community facilitation trainer has checked in below. She is well known in Intentional Communities for her skills in consensus and conflict resolution. I hope you check out her comments and links below.

I'm going to contact some others as well. 



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