* CONSCIOUS ACTION PROPOSAL *

2002-03-04

Richard Moore

Friends,

I write a lot about 'how bad things are', because if we don't acknowledge what 
we're up against, we can't respond effectively.  But I prefer to talk about 
'what we can do', and below is a very promising proposal.  The authors are 
looking for feedback, as they should, and I hope some of you rise to the 
occasion.  Please send it directly to them, but you are more than welcome to 
copy me as well.

regards,
rkm
http://cyberjournal.org


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http://www.earley.org/Transformation/conscious_action_proposal.htm


                CONSCIOUS ACTION PROPOSAL 

        Jay Earley, Ph.D.       •••@••.•••
        Fred Cook               •••@••.•••

Since there is a pressing need for fundamental social
change, we intend to create an organization, Conscious
Action, whose goal will be to understand and facilitate the
process of social transformation. There is much known about
what is not working in our current society, and there are
many useful visions about the direction needed to create a
healthy society, but less seems to be known about how to get
from here to there, about the process of social
transformation.  There is still not enough consensus about
the direction of change, and we need an open-ended,
process-oriented approach of "finding our way together".

There isn't enough theory and practice available to social
change agents in a practical way.  There are academic
studies of social movements, but these are little help in
guiding social action. There is intuitive knowledge
accumulated by experienced activists, and some of this is
being offered in trainings, but little of it has been
systematized, written about, or otherwise incorporated into
our common cultural heritage.  The existing trainings need
to be more widely attended to catalyze the scope and pace of
change that is needed. 

Much of what is known about social change applies primarily
to single-issue efforts aimed at stopping destructive
policies, as opposed to the broad efforts to create healthy
alternatives and fundamental change that are needed today.
There is also a need for action research into spiritual
approaches to social transformation. 

Therefore we will study the process of social
transformation, and disseminate our results in a variety of
ways that can be directly used in social change efforts. We
want to foster the process of self-reflection and
self-understanding among social change agents,
organizations, and movements through training, consultation,
action research, and collaboration. 

We have two related goals:
  1.To increase the effectiveness and scope of social
    change efforts by fostering awareness, learning, and
    communication. This means enhancing attention to process and
    results, and encouraging creative experimentation.
  2.To enhance the way social change efforts are aligned
    with the new, more evolved society that needs to be born.
    This means that our social change organizations and
    movements must be participatory, life-affirming, ecological,
    relational, just, holistic, and spiritual. 


We believe that these goals are mutually enhancing, that the
more our efforts are spiritually and socially evolved, the
more effective they will be.

Even though we need social transformation on a global level,
Conscious Action will focus on the U.S.  We will study
social transformation as it can happen in today's
historical, political, and economic situation. 

                            ***
                            
          BASIC PERSPECTIVE ON SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

There are four fundamental aspects of our vision of social
change:

CONSTRUCTIVE AND TRANSFORMATIVE MOVEMENTS
We will focus our energy on social change organizations and
movements that aim to create healthy alternatives rather
than just working against destructive institutions and
policies. We favor those movements that attempt to include
all perspectives rather than dividing people into "us vs.
them."

We will also emphasize social change organizations and
movements whose goal is fundamental change, not just
relieving suffering or stopping destructiveness, as
important as these are. Fundamental social change:

  1. Addresses the root causes and systemic nature of social
     problems.
  2 . Changes the paradigm by which we live and the
    institutions that embody it.
  3. Affects every aspect of society, culture, consciousness,
     technology, and ecology.
  4. Alters the balance of political, economic, and
     communicative power in ways that make it easier to create
     further positive changes.

Because of this orientation, we will not emphasize some of
the actions usually associated with social movements, such
as demonstrations and civil disobedience, though we will
include them. Constructive and transformative movements may
not involve these actions at all.  And for those movements
that do, these actions are only their most visible aspect,
occurring at particular stages of movement development.

A GENERAL MOVEMENT
Sociologists distinguish between specific and general social
movements. A specific movement is aimed at a certain social
issue, such as women's rights or the environment. A general
movement represents a collection of specific movements that
are related to each other in values, orientation, vision of
society, or strategy. There is a collection of movements
today that could be considered a general movement, but they
have yet to truly coordinate themselves and work together. 

We will work toward facilitating the emergence of a general
movement that is consciously oriented toward social
transformation. This general movement would include social
movements that are mostly political (e.g. social justice),
those that are mostly personal (e.g. holistic health,
consciousness), and those that include a cultural emphasis
(e.g. women's movement, voluntary simplicity). The general
movement in the U.S. must collaborate with similar movements
in other parts of the world.

SPIRITUAL ORIENTATION
Many social change agents are inspired by higher values and
ideals even if they don't use the word "spiritual." We
believe that the most effective social change efforts are
those that are informed by spiritual perspectives and levels
of development. This includes the dissemination of insights
and practices from the world's wisdom traditions that
promote awareness, compassion, and openness, in forms that
support inclusive community and collaborative action.

This the psychological and spiritual development of social
change agents is very important, as well as the creation of
spiritually-oriented, non-violent social change
organizations and movements. One of the indicators of one's
spiritual development is how large and inclusive is the
circle of one's caring.

In addition, spiritual values are central to the healthy
society that needs to be born, moving away from
defensiveness and toward openness and connectedness,
mirroring the spiritual truth of unconditional love in our
policies and actions. Ultimately social transformation is
about the unfolding of spirit through society.

OPEN-ENDED LEARNING ORIENTATION
Because our world needs social changes of great scope and
depth in a short time, we will need to learn as we go and be
open to revising all aspects of our program. We believe that
social change organizations and movements should continually
be in a process of learning about society and about
themselves. They should always strive to be the change they
are trying to bring about. Their internal processes and
approaches to social change should be consistent with their
goals for society. 

Social movements should also be ready to change their goals,
purposes, strategies, and processes as they learn more about
societal dynamics and social change, and as they develop in
maturity.  In order to grow, they need to be open about
their own processes, constructively self-critical, and open
to criticism from their own members and from opponents. 
Improved observation and communication will enable rapid
learning, re-orientation, and a "finding our way" style of
navigation. We hope that social change agents and
organizations will develop in ways that include periodic
realization of whole new levels of understanding and radical
changes of perspective.

                            ***
                            
                BASIC PERSPECTIVE ON OUR WORK

There are four basic principles that guide our work:

VISION OF THE WHOLE PROCESS
We will create an outline of all the different aspects of
fundamental social change that are needed for success and
how they are related to each other. This will provide a
comprehensive framework to guide our work and the work of
others.

INCLUSIVE APPROACH
As we study the various existing concepts and practices
related to social transformation, we will not attempt to
arrive at our own vision of the most accurate analysis and
approach. Instead, we will assume that most, if not all, of
these concepts and practices contain part of the truth, and
so we will include each of them within the larger framework
we will be developing.  We are inspired by Ken Wilber's
method of "orienting generalizations" and the
consensus-building processes used by Karl-Henrik Robert in
developing The Natural Step.

DEVELOPMENTAL APPROACH
Psychologists who study adult development have learned that
there are stages of cognitive, moral, emotional,
interpersonal, values, and consciousness development. The
highest of these stages tend to reflect levels of spiritual
development that represent the noblest aspirations of the
world's religions and philosophies. Studies of social
evolution reveal that societies and cultures also go through
stages of development that have some correspondence with the
individual levels of development. The development of a
"wisdom culture" reflects higher developmental levels and
increased effectiveness in incorporating people at diverse
developmental levels into a just and co-intelligent system.
There are also studies of stages of the life-cycles of
organizations and of social movements that are valuable in
understanding them. All these developmental perspectives
will inform our study of citizens, organizations, social
movements, and societies.

INTEGRATION OF INTELLECTUAL UNDERSTANDING, SELF-AWARENESS,
AND COLLABORATIVE ACTION
Our work will integrate intellectual understanding through
research, self-awareness through personal and collective
practices, and collaborative social action.

                            ***

                         ACTIVITIES

Conscious Action will collect and synthesize (a) various
analyses and critiques of current society and (b) various
visions of a healthy society. This will guide our study of
the process of social change.

We will investigate the change processes (e.g. creating
alternative institutions) that can contribute to the
transformation of a society and culture, and the forces that
support or restrain these processes. Click here for
examples.

We will outline the functions (e.g. fund raising,
recruitment) of social change organizations and social
movements that are needed for success and create an overview
of each function, which lists a representative sample of
relevant academic research, practical proposals and
projects, best practices, and popular writings. We will
organize and synthesize these to foster practical
effectiveness. Click here for details.

We will research and synthesize existing understandings of
each function in detail, interview experienced and
knowledgeable social change agents, and do additional
research to extend and refine our understanding of that
function. We will perform this more detailed research for
the most crucial functions, and if possible, for all of
them. How many functions we can study in detail will depend
on the number of researchers that join our organization, the
amount of funding we receive, and the particular interests
of our researchers. We will publicize all the functions, and
encourage other groups to research them.

We will develop a practice that combines action research
with self-awareness during social action. This will be a
form of action inquiry. It will be used by our members and
taught to social change agents and organizations. Click here
for a description.

We will collaborate with leading researchers to develop and
refine instruments and indicators to better measure crucial
kinds of development in ways that balance scientific
validity with immediate usefulness in social change.

We will sponsor or support gatherings of movement leaders
for the purpose of helping to coalesce a general movement
for fundamental change. Because of our broad perspective, we
will be able to perceive where a certain kind of movement or
organization is needed for the general movement to succeed
(e.g. a movement to create an alternative economy), or a
certain application of a function is needed for a certain
movement or organization to succeed (e.g. how to generate
public support when issues are complex and hard to
understand). We will direct our research toward helping this
to happen.

We will communicate our understandings in a variety of ways
that make them accessible to the people who can use them in
their social action. We will attempt to frame our
communication in ways that are appropriate for the
development level and social perspective of various
audiences. We will use websites; articles, books, and
multimedia productions aimed at various audiences; training
and consultation with social change organizations and
agents; collaboration with other social change researchers
and trainers; and action research.

We will seek to collaborate as much as possible with other
researchers, social change trainers, social change
organizations and movements.

                            ***
                            
                     OUR ORGANIZATION

Conscious Action will combine research, theory, education,
social action, and self-awareness. In addition, we will
reflect on our own processes, applying our results to
ourselves and using what we learn from our self-study in
developing our understandings further. We see ourselves as
continually learning and developing our own understandings
and processes.

Our organization will consist of

  1. Participant-observers, who are both change agents and
     systematic thinkers 
  
  2. Researchers, who do higher level analysis and theorizing 
  
  3. Consultants, who train, coach, and consult with social
     change organizations 
  
  4. Writers, multi-media artists, public speakers, and other
     communicators


Some people may play more than one of these roles. Some
participant/observers will be members of both our
organization and another social change organization. They
will bring our understandings to their organization and
feedback to us what they learn in practice.

Our research into existing knowledge will involve
  * Library research into both academic and popular writings
  * Interviews and conferences with knowledgeable change agents
  * Research into existing social change practices, strategies, 
    and trainings.

Our research into new knowledge will include
  * Action research, including action inquiry and transformative
    dialogue
  * Focus groups with movement members and the public
  * Survey research
  * Field research and participant-observation

Our consultants will educate change agents in action inquiry
and our synthesis of the existing knowledge that is relevant
to their work. We will ask them to feed back to us what they
learn in applying this information. In addition, our
consultants will educate some change agents to be
participant/observers and work with us.

In forming generalizations and hypotheses from our research,
we will consult with other researchers and knowledgeable
change agents, using consensus building processes whenever
possible.

We will create an interactive website that organizes
existing and incoming knowledge in accessible form, and
invites feedback, interaction, and additions to the site.

                            ***
                            
                   DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS

For more details, click on the following links:

  Transformative Change Processes and Supporting and
  Restraining Forces. A list of change processes that can move
  a society toward fundamental transformation, and forces that
  support or restrain these processes. 
  
  Functions of Social Movements. Lists of internal and
  external functions of social movements that are necessary
  for success. Each of these must be studied in detail.
  
  Goals for the General Movement. A summary of goals for the
  general movement toward fundamental social transformation.
  
  Action Inquiry. A description of the practice of action
  inquiry, our main research practice.

                            ***
                            
                       COLLABORATION

We are looking for people to join us or collaborate with us,
including:
  * Researchers, theorists, ethnographers 
  * Participant-observers 
  * Consultants, trainers, coaches, organizational development 
    practitioners 
  * Social change agents 
  * Volunteer helpers 
  * Office workers 
  * Information technologists, website designers & managers 
  * Fund raisers 
  * Business development, administration, and other organizational 
    specialists 
  * Writers 
  * Multi-media artists and producers 
  * Public speakers and other communicators 
  * Integral learning specialists 
  * Philanthropists 
  * Students 

To discuss working with us, please contact 
Jay Earley at 415-924-5200 or •••@••.•••
Fred Cook at 861-1711 or •••@••.•••. 

We are eager for feedback on this proposal. Please email
your thoughts to us at •••@••.•••. We will attempt to
incorporate your ideas into our work and to respond to you
personally. (This may take a while since this is a purely
volunteer effort at this point.) We also plan to create a
website that will include comments from others, so with your
permission, your feedback may appear in that forum.

We have created an email list for people who are interested
in Conscious Action . Please subscribe if you would like to
be kept informed about our activities and learnings.

                            ***
                            
                          SUMMARY 

Our first goal is to perform a self-reflective function for
the general movement (and its sub-movements and
organizations) so that it becomes knowledgeable about its
own process and the best practices for each of its
functions, making it increasingly effective in creating
fundamental evolutionary change in society. Our second goal
is to educate the movement so that it takes over this
self-reflective function itself. Our ultimate goal is that
this self-reflective function become part of the new healthy
society that is being born.

What we have to offer that is unique:
  1.  An inclusive, developmental/spiritual approach
  2.  An emphasis on constructive, fundamental social change
  3.  A broad vision of the process of social transformation
  4.  The combination of library, theoretical, interview, and 
      action research
  5.  The integration of self-awareness, research, and education.
  6.  Communication to a broad audience in a variety of modalities

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