tour report – Eugene insights


Richard Moore

A few insights are beginning to emerge from this tour.

One is about internal space and external space. Each of us has two 
universes, one inside our head, and one outside. Mozart's music came 
from his internal universe. Theoretical physicists work mostly in 
internal space; experimental physicists work mostly in external 
space. Your internal universe includes all your dreams and ideas, 
memories and intentions, etc. I think of the two universes as being 
about equal in size and complexity, and in the degree to which they 
have been only partially explored.

Most of my work has been in internal space. With the book, my 
internal work has been expressed to the external world, and that 
seems to be the end of a phase of my journey. My next phase seems to 
be about engaging myself in the external world -- in social spaces, 
in relationship. This is something I was not expecting, hadn't 
conceived of. But as I've been meeting people, and giving talks, in 
the context of 'being on tour', I seem to be developing a new kind of 
awareness of the external world. The Sufis talk about it this way: if 
you 'increase your necessity', you will develop 'new organs of 

Giving talks without notes has certainly 'increased my necessity'. 
It's not something I've done before, but I knew I had to do it so I 
did it. The first few talks were a bit ragged, but each one gets 
easier and a bit more coherent. Last night in Eugene there were about 
50 people sitting in a giant circle in an echo-chamber room and I was 
able to hold their attention for over 30 minutes while presenting the 
main ideas in the book. There was a discussion afterwards, and the 
nature of people's contributions indicated that the ideas had been 
'heard' -- the presentation had worked 'as story'.

Equally important, my 'necessity' has been increased in discussions 
with my various hosts, and with various community-oriented activists. 
Because I'm on tour, it has been 'necessary' to be 'nice' to 
everyone, and I've been forced to confront one of my dysfunctional 
behaviors. That is, my tendency to dismiss other people's ideas, and 
insist on the central importance of my own ideas. I brought this 
issue up in one of my discussion sessions, and in that process began 
to reframe my perception of my work, putting it into the context of 
everyone else's work.

The image I've got now is that we're building a car (the new 
society), and each of us is working on some part: the tires, the 
windshield, the engine, the defroster, whatever. Every single piece 
is needed, is essential, is 'key to the project'. I can see now that 
my work has been guided by looking at the emerging car, and noticing 
which parts were missing, weren't getting as much attention as the 
others -- in particular, 'the nature and dynamics of a global 
democratic society'. I kept saying 'this is the key piece'. But now I 
see every piece is a key piece, and I'm certainly not the only one 
working on the 'democracy' piece. I now feel much more part of a 
collaborative venture, and less like a hermit writer.

But always I must find a 'unique task' for me to pursue. Otherwise my 
ego isn't happy -- and it doesn't work to fight your ego. Better to 
have it as a friend. So now I cast myself in the role of 'the 
generalist', the one who keeps in mind the 'whole car'. As I meet 
people working on pieces, I'll be thinking about how each piece will 
need to fit into the car, and what connections with other initiatives 
might be productive. In some sense this is a continuation of what 
I've always been doing, but I was on a detour while developing a 
sketch of what I saw as a 'missing piece'.

Moving right along, in this new 'collaborative context', I've been 
noticing the critical importance, and power, of 'microcosm'. It keeps 
coming up in different ways. For example, I went on a tour this 
morning of Maitreya Ecovillage. In the past I might have said, "We 
cannot change the world with intentional communities; in the current 
system they will always be marginal". But now, with new eyes, I saw: 
here are people exploring what it will be like when we consciously 
work together to build coherent, meaningful communities. They are 
exploring in microcosm what will later be possible in macrocosm. They 
are doing the research that will benefit all of us. They are, for 
example, debugging the process of building with straw bales.

One of the things that impressed me about Maitreya (which is about 
four suburban lots in area) was the way the place had evolved 
organically over time, both in terms of its living spaces and its 
sociology. There are a wide diversity of dwellings, from luxurious 
houses, to modern apartments, to cardboard domes, to small attic 
spaces. Also there are community spaces, and in the center of all 
about 50% of the land is devoted to a kind of 'commons garden'. All 
of this has evolved, new spaces being created to enable new 'kinds' 
of people to find an economically viable way to be part of the 
'village'. In some sense, it is an experiment in maximizing 
population density, while at the same time maintaining a feeling of 
'lots of elbow room'. They are succeeding very well. The diversity of 
the spaces is itself very refreshing. It makes one realize how 
oppressive is the cookie-cutter nature of our MacDonalds-WalMart 

Another thing about Maitreya is that it is not a 'democracy', and in 
some people's view not a 'real' intentional community. Instead there 
is a couple (man and woman, partners) who are like the 'mommy' and 
'daddy' of the place. She focuses the manifestation the social 
regime, and he focuses the manifestation the construction / 
maintenance regime. This seems to work very well, and it seems to be 
very organic and natural. It made me realize that the 'spirit' of a 
place is more important than the 'structure' of a place. While the 
structure is not democratic, the spirit is 'friendly, sensitive, and 
collaborative'. That seems to do the trick, in terms of creating a 
space that people are happy to be part of. The 'leadership energy' of 
'mommy and daddy' benefits everyone. I see this as a 'very real' 
intentional community, evolving out of an intuitive human dynamics, 
and in response to emergent particular needs.

Every 'microcosm experiment' has something to teach us all about what 
works, what doesn't work, and what produces what kind of outcomes.

The role of 'microcosm' also comes up when I attempt to explain the 
importance of 'harmonization' by means of 'facilitated dialog events' 
involving small groups of people. In trying to talk about this, I've 
been forced to reframe it in various ways, as audiences have 
responded in various ways. When I talk about random citizens 
participating in dialog, in the style of a Wisdom Council, the 
question always comes up, "Are we delegating decision making to this 
small group of people?". Trying to answer that is not easy. I find 
myself 'hand waving' as I try to deal with such questions.

Another issue that comes up is, "People are too busy to come to 
meetings and engage in dialog; you can't run a society that way!"

These two issues resolve themselves (as I see it) with the help of 
the notion of 'microcosm'. Ongoing dialog sessions, involving 
small-group cross-sections of the community, can be framed as a way 
for the community to 'dialog with itself' in a practical way, by 
microcosm proxy. This is all a generalization of the notion of 
'jury'. The jury is the oldest institution in the English common-law 
thread of democratic history. Jury came before Parliament. A jury, in 
its pure form, has 12 randomly selected members and they must reach a 
unanimous verdict. In this way 'the general sentiments of the 
community' are represented in microcosm, and the harmonized decision 
of the jury reflects what the community as-a-whole would have decided 
if everyone had taken the time to consider the case.

And microcosm comes up again, when talking about how 'self-governing 
communities' combine to create a 'self governing world'. Here the 
concept of fractals comes into play. The individual is to the 
community, as the community is to the region, etc. That kind of 
thing. Recursion upward. To the math-oriented folks, it's the 
'principle of finite induction': if it works in microcosm, and if 
each level enables the next level, then it works globally, off to 

Tomorrow I head off to Portland, to meet some of the folks involved 
the City Repair Project ( 
These folks are dealing with a very important problem, given how 
centralized are our populations in cities: What does localization 
(community) mean in the context of cities? How can asphalt jungles be 
livable? I'm eager to learn.

bye for now,