Bringing wisdom from the past and the future into today’s governance models
January 20 @ 19:30 - 21:00 UTCFree – $10
The Iroquois Confederacy is considered by many to be the world’s oldest living participatory democracy – extending across eight centuries. Its governance model emerged from the Peacemaker’s vision for ending warfare between five nations and creating a culture that could sustain peaceful co-existence. Sociocracy is a governance method receiving increasing attention by the new economy movement because of its aligned values.
In native traditions, there is an understanding that insights arise from exploring old and new eyes wisdom when considering a decision or exploring an innovation. The approach honors the contributions of the past and brings attention to consequences on future generations.
How might we apply these wisdom traditions to our current circumstances? What’s the bridge between the old and new? How can the exploration inform our governing structures?
In this interactive, participatory gathering, you’ll experience and learn how to apply tools from both wisdom traditions. Two consultants from seemingly very different backgrounds will compare notes in a dialogue form inspired by appreciative inquiry. Ted is an advocate for self-management and sociocracy, a governance system supporting equal power and effective decision-making. Stephanie is deeply rooted in indigenous wisdom. In exchanging ideas, they noticed how similar and enriching the concepts in sociocracy and indigenous governance concepts are:
- Both operate from the assumption that group wisdom is a pillar for good decisions and that hearing a diversity of experiences is necessary for a group. Both use circles and rounds (each person speaks, one by one, for example with a talking stick) as a default talking format, creating a space where group wisdom can emerge.
- Sociocracy arose in a business setting with influence from Quaker education. Its flow stems from feedback loops. In Indigenous traditions, the cyclic nature of decision-making processes is expressed in medicine wheels. One wheel for bringing clarity in times of great change is the 4 Step Path: be who you are, be where you are, look around and decide & do.
- In Old Eyes Wisdom, a vibrant plurality of approaches is expressed in different viewing points: the wolf organizes, the bear experiments, the turtle is the wisdom keeper, the eagle has the big picture view. Each has its strength and its blind spots. Sociocracy has the same dynamic balance built into its systems: the tension between the safe approach and the experiment, between operational level and the big picture on the mission level, between individual and group.
- Sociocracy is centered around humans, giving every stakeholder group a voice. Old Eyes Wisdom includes other voices beyond the human voices: the future, the ancestors (all beings), the water, the air. How can sociocracy learn from that?
- From an indigenous perspective, humans have unique rights and responsibilities that need to be balanced. What might we learn from sociocracy’s roles that structure decision-making flow in strategic ways?
Comparing these two paradigms gives us the opportunity to ground ourselves in two traditions that are based on cooperation and humanity, participation and non-violence, personal development and governance so the new economy can be truly aligned with its mission, inside and outside, for a better future for everyone.
In the words of Paula Underwood, “How much peace are you willing to work for?” Your success will depend on your ability to integrate conflict through how you govern.
Image artist: Frank Howell
More about Stephanie:
Stephanie Nestlerode is a social worker by training and a strategic planner by trade. In her words, “The future we create is the legacy we leave the world’s children.“ She has over 40 years of experience coaching leaders, community coalitions and organizations through change. Her clients have ranged from Boeing and the US Environmental Protection Agency to the City of Austin, Kaiser Permanente and non-profits. Organizations expand their capacity to serve the common good. Individuals expand their ability to shift with changing circumstances. As Chief Synthesizer for 7th Generation Labs she is joining with kindred spirits to create a treasure trove of ways to learn what matters. Studying with Paula Underwood was the beginning of her initiation into learning indigenous wisdom for peaceful co-existence. Paula was the keeper of a 10,000 year old oral history which includes the story of how Benjamin Franklin was guided by the Iroquois during the Constitutional Convention for the United States. The story is told in Paula’s book Franklin listens when I speak which can be purchased here. Black Elk is the native american who declared Paula should be the one to share her wisdom with ‘all listening ears.’ You can learn more about Paula’s oral history here.
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