We offer social innovations to spark “wise democracy”


In communities, cities states, and nations … and globally … we are facing impossible-seeming problems ...

  • Deep inequities ... poverty, prejudice, elite power, neighborhood blight, etc.
  • Institutional problems ... education, health care, justice, defense, etc.
  • Intractable-seeming issues ... economic cycles, addictive substances, environmental destruction, etc.
  • Flawed decision-making ... disaffected citizens, big money taking over politics, partisan gridlock, etc.
At the Center for Wise Democracy we have developed a set of social innovations that offer new possibilities for breakthrough progress on all these issues. These innovations are being proven and adopted. They can be used to spark a heartfelt, creative, collaborative, whole-system, public conversation where ordinary citizens get involved and work together. This new “We the People” conversation can be set in motion by forward-thinking government leaders, philanthropic organizations or citizen groups. Some examples are:

  • Citizen groups in Asheville NC, Victoria BC, Pleasantville NY, Port Townsend WA, the Rogue Valley of OR, and other communities have implemented Wisdom Council experiments to try this form of citizen empowerment.
  • See this two minute video for how a TV show might spark this “We the People” conversation in the U.S. or the world:
The social innovations are:
  1. Choice-creating … is the heartfelt quality of thinking where we face the important issues creatively and collaboratively and achieve win/win progress through shifts and breakthroughs. This quality of thinking is ... or should be ... the heart of "true democracy." (See the chart contrasting three forms of democratic choice-making.)
  2. Dynamic Facilitation … provides the ability for one person to reliably evoke the spirit of choice-creating in a group of people. This allows them to quickly achieve unanimous perspectives on ill-defined, impossible-seeming issues. (See the chart comparing Dynamic Facilitation with traditional facilitation.)
  3. The Wisdom Council … is a way to evoke the spirit of choice-creating throughout a large system of people like a community, organization or state. This way the citizens of a state, for example, can start facing difficult issues like how to fund education, and co-determine what actions to take. Plus, the process builds the spirit of community. The Wisdom Council convenes a series of small groups of randomly selected people. They are dynamically facilitated to face difficult, ill-defined issues and co-create unanimous perspectives. These random, unanimous groups act as symbolic representations of "We the People,” and present their views to the whole system. In the process the public conversation shifts away from power-struggle toward collaboration. (See the chart comparing Three forms of Public Engagement.
Different forms of the Wisdom Council include:
The Wisdom Council Process is an ongoing series of randomly selected groups where, even if given a topic, each Wisdom Council defines the issue and continues the ongoing public conversation. The process is transformational in building “We the People” leadership.
The Creative Insight Council is a less transformational form of the Wisdom Council. It supports the institutions of the existing system. For example CIC members might be given a topic and specially educated about it beforehand; Or they might be chosen using a stratified sampling process rather than just purely random; Or their presentation might be to the ultimate “decision-makers” rather than to the citizenry.
Society's Breakthrough ... is the application of the Wisdom Council to the nation, like to all citizens of the U.S., or to all citizens of the planet. Here is a safe way to build on what we have, yet transform our system of politics and economics.

See the 22 minute video interview created by Hemma Spreitzhofer and the people at KOMUNARIKO. Filmed Feb. 13, 2012 in Salzburg, Austria, Jim Rough describes Dynamic Facilitation and the Wisdom Council

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