Approaches to change,
Andrea Gewessler describes what I see as finally gaining momentum for revolving our institutions to a truly bottom up approach. People are really starting to get this.
"[...] they intended to adopt the approach of looking at what was not working as well as they wanted so that they could learn from their mistakes and improve. At that opportune moment they stumbled across Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and investigated what was working already instead. One of the big revelations was that their communities are already self-organising and that this self-organisation is a powerful change agent. So what works is creating an enabling environment rather than one that imposes change from the top. As a result of this finding, they revisited their entire approach to change. Instead of going into communities with a project idea such as an energy campaign, they offered communities their support with their own concerns that they wanted to work on and find solutions for."
"[...] The main fear that politicians have is that citizens could come up with fanciful wishes that require abundant financial resources and that are just not do-able. However, experience has shown that the opposite is the case citizens generally recognise what is working and consider it their own responsibility to improve things further. Insights like this can only come from the people."
"[...] Another challenge is that once it is working, some politicians fear that their positions and roles become superfluous and again this is unfounded. [...]" ...Well, we'll see about that ;-)
A matter of democracy,
she goes on to give a nice description of the choice creating methodology in action:
"In a DF meeting participants sit in a semi-circle with four flipcharts and a trained facilitator in front of them. There is a flipchart each for problem-statements, solutions, data and concerns. The role of participants is to be authentic and bring their understanding of the problem, solutions, supporting data and concerns about the problem to the meeting at any time. There is no such thing as not relevant at this stage or can you hang on to this thought till later or even maybe at a different meeting. Every contribution is acknowledged and written down on the flipcharts. The facilitator sorts the contributions by putting them on the most appropriate flipchart, protects contributors and what they have said, asks questions to elicit further details and helps individuals to be brought into the conversation. It is tough work for the facilitator to keep the flame of a group of 8 to 12 people burning, whilst honouring each and every contribution and keeping the red thread going. This is challenging as participants can, with their words and contributions, be on any flipchart at any time. It is not the facilitatorʼs role to guide people to focus on solutions, problems, concerns or data but to get their contribution most meaningfully into the space. The group of participants goes through several phases usually starting off with what is referred to as a purge, the stage when all the feelings that have been stored up about the topic come out. This can be a very heated phase which because of its unloading function rarely reveals novel insights. However, once people have said whatever they needed to say a very productive stage is reached that often culminates in an insight for the whole group. Participants reach conclusions, reframe the problem and generate the energy to do something about it."
As well as a concise description of how that methodology is deployed in a political context:
"Wisdom Councils use Dynamic Facilitation with a group of about 12 randomly selected people within a community or organisation who come together for a day and a half, often a Friday afternoon and Saturday, to talk bout issues that matter to them. We are not talking about a topic pre-determined important by whoever is considered in charge but one that emerges from We The People, very often consisting of individuals who may not carry any formal authority within an organisation or community. Instead of taking decisions, which is a cutting-away, choice-creating delivers additionality. There is no voting on the best solution and no formal consensus but a working together till everyone feels it is quite clear what the intelligent responses to the issue at hand are. Participants bring the knowledge but also their feelings and experiences into the Wisdom Council.
After a day and half the randomly selected Wisdom Council then reports back its solutions and its thinking to a wider group, which in the case of large organisations may still only represent a small microcosm of the whole."
"[...] Wisdom Councils appeal because they want to work with this passion that people have for complex issues [...] These are the things that we often feel powerless to change. Wisdom Councils are a mechanism for organisations and society to reclaim that ability to influence and co-create."
lancieren wir das Konzept vom Konsensforum als Instrument für deliberative Demokratie in der Schweiz:
Die aktuellen gesellschaftspolitischen Herausforderungen verlangen von uns ein anderes Vorgehen als das bekannte lineare Denkschema von Analyse-Planung-Umsetzung. Es braucht neue Wege des gegenseitigen Verständnisses für nachhaltigere Lösungen.
Ziel von Participate.ch ist es, Menschen durch die Teilnahme an einem Konsensforum dazu zu befähigen, sich eigenverantwortlich mit den Problemen Ihrer Lebenswelt zu beschäftigen und selbst nach Lösungen zu suchen. Das als Empowerment bezeichnete Konzept der Selbstbefähigung ist ein wesentliches Moment gesellschaftlicher Selbstorganisation und somit ein gelebtes Beispiel partizipativer Demokratie und Subsidiarität.
Die Methodik eines Konsensforums beruht auf einer einfachen Form der Bevölkerungsbeteiligung wie sie in der Schweiz bereits für das Zukunftsforum in Thalwil eingesetzt wurde, und welche es kostengünstig und rasch erlaubt, Selbstorganisation und Eigenverantwortung in der Bevölkerung zu stärken und bessere politische Lösungen zu finden.
Neue Ideen und Wahlmöglichkeiten
Ziel eines Konsensforums ist es, neue Ideen und Wahlmöglichkeiten zu finden, die von allen Beteiligten mitgetragen werden. Mit dem Konsensforum können Ideen entstehen, die über bekannte oder nahe liegende Lösungsansätze hinausgehen. Das Konsensforum trifft keine politischen Entscheidungen, kann aber alleine durch die öffentliche Präsentation der Überlegungen und Empfehlungen eine grosse Wirkung haben.
Aus unserer Sicht sind partizipativ-demokratische Strukturen wie das Konsensforum ein wichtiges und bislang fehlendes Element in der Zusammenarbeit zwischen der Politik, der Verwaltung, den Interessengruppen und der Bevölkerung.
Ablauf von Konsensforen
Während einem Konsensforum arbeiten jeweils 12-16 zufällig ausgewählte Personen zwei Tage hinter verschlossenen Türen am Thema. Aufgrund der Zufallsauswahl handelt es sich bei den TeilnehmerInnen um Leute aus der breiten Bevölkerung, die über keinerlei spezielles Vorwissen oder spezielle Qualifikationen verfügen. Insbesondere vertreten sie dadurch keine Interessengruppen, sondern ihre persönliche Meinung. Die TeilnehmerInnen schärfen während ihrer Zusammenarbeit die relevanten Fragen, Probleme und Lösungsideen und folgen dabei dem, was den Teilnehmenden wirklich wichtig ist. Die dahinterliegende Methode des Konsensforums ist sehr intensiv, da alle Zugänge und Perspektiven berücksichtigt werden und ein gemeinsames Anliegen entsteht.
Am Ende des zweiten Tages präsentieren diese 12-16 Personen in einer gemeinsamen Erklärung ihre Ergebnisse der Öffentlichkeit. Gemeinsam werden diese diskutiert. In Resonanzgruppen werden die Ergebnisse mit Vertretern aus Verwaltung und Politik weiter diskutiert und fliessen in die politischen Gremien ein.
Durch die Konsensforen entwickelt Participate.ch mit der Bevölkerung Ideen, die nicht nur innovativ sind, sondern auch breite Zustimmung, Identifikation und Akzeptanz finden.
All libertarians from the various anarchist movements around the world, and all those interested in learning more about anarchism are invited to gather from August 8-12, 2012 in St-Imier in the Jura mountains in Switzerland.
We will be celebrating the 140th anniversary of the first congress of St-Imier that was held in 1872, when the St-Imier Anarchist International was created after anti-authoritarian members were expelled from the First International.
Historic context: The Jura Federation and the Congress of St-Imier 1872
In 1864, the International Workers Association was founded, quickly followed by sections in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, St-Imier and other regions in the Swiss Jura mountains. Many of the members in these sections were working in their homes as watchmakers, were well read, and had an independent spirit. When Bakunin came to the region in 1869, there was an immediate meeting of minds.
As a result of this convergence of ideas, the Jura Federation became the libertarian pole of the First International, opposed to the Marxists. Infuriated by this opposition, Marx did everything he could to eliminate this diverging current. In 1872 he thought that he had achieved that goal. At the Hague Congress he managed to assemble his supporters and with some of his supporters posing as representatives of non-existing sections, managed to get votes passed for the exclusion of Bakunin and James Guillaume, only missing a few votes to do the same to Adhemar Schwitzguebel, which were all delegates from the Jura Federation.
Shocked by these actions, the sections that were sympathetic to the anti-authoritarian current, including Spain, Italy, France, Belgium and the USA, organized a conference in St-Imier, where they passed resolutions that were strongly libertarian. The anti-authoritarian IWA survived the Marxist branch to the end of the century.
140 years after the Congress of St-Imier, the Marxist illusion has dissipated in light of the communist dictatorships. Capitalism lives from crisis to crisis. Social crises, political crises, in addition to the ecological crisis.
Where does the anarchist movement stand today?
The anarchist gathering in St-Imier in 2012 will be an opportunity to review the history of the anarchist movement, its ideas, its achievements, its hopes, its defeats, and its opportunities today; its own battles and those it shares with others: anti-militarism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, autonomous self-management, degrowth, education, feminism, internationalism, non-violence, etc.. A number of workshops and events are already planned: historical lectures, thematic conferences, theater, concerts, exhibitions, films, a book fair, a radio station, a libertarian camp, a self-managed market with organic products, workshops, restaurants, etc..
This international event will be public and wants to be open not only to the entire international anarchist movement, but also to the public at large without discrimination. Free admissions and voluntary pricing will be used wherever feasible, in order to enable as many people as possible to participate in the event. Having said that, the organizing committee will use its discretion to decide which participants will be hosted, based on the ideas and practices that were also the principals of the Anti-authoritarian International. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and all forms of violence and discrimination will not be tolerated.
Based on what has been said, any person, group, or organization is welcome to get involved and join this initiative, suggesting exhibitions, debates, lectures, performances, speakers, workshops, etc..
Why current institutions are ready to hand over to civil society
I will be offering a session on why and how current institutions will hand over responsibility to an empowered civil society. A presentation and workshop on concepts loosely based on the texts
"The Foundation of Democracy"
"The Three Pillars of Democracy",
but going further to explain and discuss how and why decentralization and deliberative democracy will work to replace hierarchy with higher forms of organisation, effectively eliminating the need for laws and shifting away from our culture of decision making to a culture of consensus development.
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