from Wexford: rkm trip report: “The Harmonization Tour”


Richard Moore


Many thanks to all of you who shared your hospitality, company, and 
heart-felt dialog during my just-completed tour of the West Coast 
(San Francisco thru Victoria and beyond). I learned a lot, made many 
new contacts, and I hope was able to contribute some useful ideas and 
energy to the mix. I'll be following up personally with everyone, but 
I wanted to get out a general 'thank you' first, and take the 
opportunity to outline some of the highlights of the tour. (Also, if 
you mentioned a book or website to me in our chats, please take a 
moment and remind me by email. :-))

I met with three groups of people who are involved in, or who are 
interested in starting, a Wisdom Council process in their 
communities. The first was a group in Oakland California, across the 
bay from San Francisco. They were still in the early planning stage, 
and were seeking to expand their convener's group to include greater 
representation from the diverse Oakland community.They were 
experiencing this as an obstacle, something they weren't confident 
about tackling. I tossed in the suggestion that they might aim for a 
neighborhood instead of the whole city, and there seemed to be some 
energy around that. Someone pointed out that the convener's group 
would be easier to assemble, and the publicity would be much easier 
as well, and they could use non-media channels...word of mouth, 
posters on bulletin boards, presentations in coffee shops, whatever. 
I haven't heard how their thinking has gone since then, but I hope to 
stay in touch.

I am of course biased toward a small-community focus, because I am 
convinced that is the path to a transformed society. But I can't 
expect others to choose a local focus for that reason, if they have a 
different political understanding. I was happy to learn that the 
impetus toward a local focus was emerging spontaneously out of the 
convener experience, based entirely on short-term considerations 
around the question, 'What makes for a successful Wisdom Council?'. 
This parallel recognition of localism resonates with the principle -- 
'the means always become the ends' -- and is therefore favorable from 
the perspective of an 'emerging democratic movement'.


Quite by chance, if there is such a thing as chance, my next 
WC-related visit was to a small community with a definite sense of 
identity, accentuated by their proximity to the comparatively 
anonymous mass of Vancouver. In this case I'm looking at the whole 
Sunshine Coast as 'one community', because there's a lot of mobility 
within the Coast, and a clear distinction between 'on island' and 
'off island' cultures. It's not really an island, but it might as 
well be -- you can only get there by ferry.

My theory is that the 'ideal community' -- most ready to awaken as We 
the People -- is one that has only a few thousand people, has a 
reasonable sense of identity and boundaries, and has developed clear 
and hardened divisions around a problem of urgent importance to the 
community. In such a scenario, the opportunity is maximized for 
achieving useful 'breakthrough outcomes' that will be visible to the 
community at large, and serve to bring people together and dampen 
factionalism. These are the kinds of 'early outcomes' that could 
spark a general interest in continuing on with 'getting it together' 
as an empowered community. The greater the initial divisiveness, the 
more 'juice' there is to spark the harmonization process.

You can understand then, my anticipatory excitement as the ferry 
pulled into dock on the Coast, where I could see in visceral terms 
before me a special kind of heavily-wooded, far-northern, 
water-isolated, rural community. Fortuitously (?) I had a day before 
my scheduled talk and my host (Lee) made every effort to introduce me 
to people and give me a chance to find out what was on people's 
minds. It soon emerged that the big thing was logging, with reckless 
practices (ie, clear-cutting and old-growth cutting) about to be 
adopted, and the local greens & loggers at each other's 
throats...."Save our water!" vs. "Save our jobs!". In addition, many 
people felt betrayed and manipulated by the powers-that-be. All in 
all I was excited about the potential for a Wisdom Council to serve 
this community in a useful way.

The logging issue provides 'juice' not only for a future WC, but I 
found it also enlivened my presentation considerably. And the 'local 
briefings' enabled me to make things more 'real' for the audience. 
Instead of speaking in abstract terms, I could tell my story in 
reference to their shared circumstances. On the night there were 
about 30 people gathered in a very homey coffee shop / community 
center. Everything just felt right, and when I stood up to talk I 
somehow knew we were going to be communicating in some kind of 
special way, something to do with resonance.

In any case, I was in 'good form', the gathering was keenly 
interested, and I could 'feel' how people were responding, and frame 
& pace what I was saying so it could make sense to everyone. It was 
an interactive experience even though questions and discussion were 
deferred until the end of the talk. I was able to cover the whole 
spectrum, from 'civilization = elite rule' to the 'scam of democracy' 
to 'real democracy via community harmonization' without that sinking 
feeling that I'm losing people, and without awkwardness in 
transitions -- it was a 'relaxed but energetic' space that night.

The proof was in the pudding -- ie, the questions and discussion that 
followed. The questions were perceptive and relevant, indicating a 
deeper kind of listening than I've encountered elsewhere with public 
talks. People brought in their own stories of various kinds, and they 
all seemed to build toward some kind of convergence, many ways of 
looking at things, all of which lead to a stronger sense that 
community is important, that community is about respectful dialog, 
and the like. At the end of the evening, people were approaching Lee, 
and offering their names to continue the discussion, possibly leading 
to convening a Wisdom Council. Lee and her friend Jeff were already 
dividing up responsibility for some of the convener tasks! ...A 
moment of high bliss for yours truly :-)

Fortunately (?!) this unusually-good-energy talk was filmed by 
Digital Debbie, a brilliant young film maker introduced to me by Lee. 
She has state of the art high-definition equipment and knows how to 
use it to good effect. I'm hoping we can produce something 
interesting based on that material.


My next WC-related event was a week-long marathon affair in Victoria, 
what turned out to be the natural culmination of what the tour was 
about -- seeking harmonization within the wise-democracy movement 
itself. This gathering included Jim Rough (inventor of Dynamic 
Facilitation and Wisdom councils), DeAnna Martin (his close colleague 
and head of their Center for Wise Democracy), most of the main 
conveners of the Victoria Wisdom Councils, myself, and a few people 
who were there because of the training being offered in DF.

We had three days of formal training in DF (Weds-Fri), a meeting at 
someone's house on the Weds evening, and then a final session on 
Saturday morning. The Saturday session was special: DeAnna 
facilitated, and the rest of us were 'in process' -- using our own 
harmonization tools on ourselves. Our 'shared urgent problem': "How 
to make the next Victoria Wisdom Council even more successful than 
the first two."

In fact, this question was on the table long before the week began, 
and was one of the reasons why the gathering was created in the first 
place. Many of the conveners had been disappointed in the outcomes of 
the first two events, and they wanted to take lessons from the 
experience and explore new ideas. As a consequence, all of our 
interactions during the week, including our exercises during the 
training, amounted to preparation for our Saturday 'finale'.

I did of course make the case for choosing a neighborhood, rather 
than the whole Municipality of Victoria -- it would have been 
'unauthentic' of me to 'withhold my passion' (and others were already 
leaning that way as well). The idea initially met with mixed 
reactions, but the notion kept hanging on as a theme we would come 
back to from time to time. We eventually converged around the 
metaphor of 'kindling' -- you want to cluster your kindling all 
together if you want it to light. Someone then suggested a particular 
neighborhood (Fernwood), and from then on we were in 'high 
production' mode, with all kinds of synergies and serendipities 
falling into place, and clear action items emerging. As in the 
Oakland discussion, it became clear that a smaller community greatly 
simplifies the convener's tasks: the process of public outreach, 
recruitment of Council members, and the encouragement of various 
kinds of ongoing dialog in the community (Conversation Cafes and the 

And it wasn't all about 'small size', I was simply using my favorite 
theme as an example. There were loads of creative ideas that wove 
into a coherent re-affirmation of what worked well in their past 
experience, along with a unanimous and enthusiastic realignment of 
certain elements, eg, a neighborhood focus and (I believe) a longer 
Council duration. One of the themes they 're-affirmed' was a strong 
emphasis on building relationship between the convener group and the 
people who have agreed to sit on the council. When someone 'signs up' 
that is only the beginning of a process of offering support, 
answering questions, and relating generally at an authentic, 
personal, welcoming level.

With the Fernwood focus, people soon began identifying potential 
community allies, people who can help spread the word in their 
networks, who could arrange for presentations to their 
constituencies, or whose venues would be suitable for various kinds 
of presentations and gatherings, etc.  This theme evolved into a 
general notion of 'cultivating the community' -- seeking to get the 
the community involved and interested in the Wisdom Council project 
prior to attempting invitations. Again this was about relationships, 
building relationship in this case between the conveners and the 
community, with the conveners acting as community-building 
facilitators, not as would be 'community organizers'.

I think these were amazingly productive outcomes, and I was honored 
to be invited to participate, and grateful for many things learned. 
The Victoria team has momentum, commitment, focus, and purpose -- and 
for my money they've converged on a near-optimum (based on what we 
now now) approach & attitude for their next phase of activity. Best 
of all they have a dynamic outlook, a clear willingness to respond to 
events as they unfold, seizing opportunities and re-examining tactics 
as necessary. Knock on keyboard, but our 'intensive week' might turn 
out to mark a turning point in our fledgling quest for a democratic 

One of the women (I'm afraid of giving the wrong name, so I won't 
try) offered a lovely poem at the end that tied everything together 
in an interesting way. It built on the kindling theme, and was about 
how the spaces between the logs are just as important as the logs in 
allowing a fire burn. She pointed out how this related to our own 
experience, with adequate spaces between our week-long meetings, 
enabling a 'fire' to build among us, leading up to the final day. And 
of course the 'spaces' metaphor applies to the endeavor in Fernwood 
-- building relationship happens over time, with spaces as part of 
the process.

Jim and DeAnna did an outstanding job of facilitating our progress 
during the week. They were 'fully present' not only as professionals, 
but as heart-involved humans. I think we all came to love both of 
them by the end of the week, I know I did. In general, the experience 
built trust and mutual respect among all of us. This was my first 
direct experience of processes I've been writing about for some time, 
and my faith was rewarded in more dimensions than I anticipated. I'm 
hoping to remain part of this 'convener community', albeit from a 
distance, and continue to learn, and contribute as the occasion 


I feel like I was engaged in 'real work' on this tour, something 
quite beyond 'giving talks to groups'. Not merely planting ideas, but 
interacting collaboratively with 'others on the path'. I feel less 
alone than before, at some deep level, although you cyberjournal 
folks do 'keep me company' quite nicely, thank you. I feel an ongoing 
engagement with activities in several places, activities that are 
very promising in their potential, and whose lessons can be shared 
with all of us.

I've been often disappointed in the past about the Internet not 
fulfilling its promise, in 'bringing us together' as a society, given 
its incredible ability to enable connections and networks. Attempts 
at consensus so often lead to pointless debate, etc.  In this case, 
linked to concrete local initiatives, with face-to-face familiarity 
among many of the participants, and a shared vision, I think our 
remote connectivity can serve us nicely. I urge everyone directly 
involved to get on the "Wisdom Council Enthusiasts" list 
( in addition to your 
own mailing lists. This would provide a convenient channel for 
highlights and lessons and the like to be shared among all of us.

warm regards to all,
back in wexford,


Posting archives:
Escaping the Matrix website:
cyberjournal website:

How We the People can change the world:

Community Democracy Framework:

Film treatment: A Compelling Necessity

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