We are exploring a conversation on the possibilities of what we call “wise democracy” using the tools from the Wise Democracy project. With participatory exercises to guide dialogue, we explored questions of:
- How might we design for co-creative democratic participation?
- How might we invoke wisdom to facilitate power sharing?
- What practices might we be missing or overlooking that we could fold into participatory citizenship?
With the boundaries of traditional institutions being questioned and renegotiated, and conflict and change reshaping climates, cultures and economies, the resulting uncertainty has led to the rise of many effects that challenge our view of democratic citizenship. Across the world we are facing rise in authoritarianism, dominance of neoliberal economics, profusion of propaganda and the loss of confidence in historical governance models.
Political psychologists have even predicted the end of democracy claiming the public lacks consciousness. Political scientists have conceived of politics without politicians. And, more recently the legitimacy of Canada’s democracy was called into question. Toronto author Dave Meslin’s recent book Teardown challenges that our survival requires a political do-over.
In this DwD workshop we explored ideas and methods that public agencies, change agents, and organizers like ourselves can employ to design better deliberation for citizen participation and engagement policy processes. Adapting Wise Democracy tools, which can be done online, we will explore skills, approaches, organizing principles, and methods to better understand and promote true democratic governance in our own contexts.
The Wise Democracy tools developed by Tom Atlee offer a pattern language for designing co-creative cultures and communities. The toolkit can be used by public participation practitioners and active citizens alike to:
- Develop a terms of reference and understanding of wise democracy patterns;
- Reflect on scenarios and democratic approaches to bring crowd wisdom into unity;
- Envision how an activity, community or political system could be more democratic;
- Organizing and sense-making from a whole-system perspective.
Rather than a two-part session, we are continuing virtually with participants with the next session to be scheduled mid-May. Stay tuned!