12. Opening A Progressive National Strategy In Local Communities

The foundation for a Progressive national strategy that unfolds in hundreds of local communities of any democratic nation involves three major components:

1.    The six core values of social sustainability; 
2.    These values are set into a procedural schematic, (see the link); 
3.    Used by a local community Social Sustainability Design Teams. 

These three developments will empower Progressives to reframe historic democratic values in terms of socially sustainable values through pragmatic socially sustainable action projects, corporate policies, municipal and state legislation, and policies in hundreds and thousands of local communities in all democratic nations. Such reframing would give Progressives a rational and powerful way to bring social progress and constructive social evolution to hundreds of millions of citizens in dozens of democratic nations.

Examining Values, Beliefs, And Assumptions In The Design Team Environment —

It is against the six core values of social sustainability that all other values, beliefs and assumptions, expectations, and our actions will be weighed. These values provide a timeless baseline for sustainable decision-making and policies; and to consistently validate existing values, beliefs and assumptions, and expectations. Local Community Social Sustainability Design Teams provide a comfortable venue for using these values to begin building consensus for sustainable national democratic societies.

Because the six core values of social sustainability have already been discussed in detail, we will begin by discussing the Design Team environment and its operation. Once we understand how the Team operates, then we can discuss how the Team will examine its projects using those core values set in the Schematic for Validating Social Sustainability.

Dialogue in the Team. Dialogue as a process is far different from conversation and discussion. Dialogue in this sense is that unique exchange of thought among several people that seems irresistibly connected, as though without separation, yet allowing the unique contribution each person has to offer. Peter Senge tell us, “The discipline of team learning starts with ‘dialogue,’ the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine ‘thinking together.’ ”

Values form the base of our behaving, speaking, and thinking that we express in our lives and how we live them. They are fundamental to who we are.

Beliefs. To say “values” is to also say “beliefs” because if we value something then we believe those values must be expressed in our lives. And, we further expect those who hold those same values and beliefs also behave as we would. Yet, beliefs and expectations can vary greatly between people who hold the same values. Why?

Exposing Assumptions. The reason why beliefs between individuals diverge so greatly is that while values are universal, beliefs, opinions, and assumptions are cultural, familial, and personal. Behavior may vary from one person to the next and from one society to another, even though they hold the same beliefs, because of underlying, unexposed assumptions. When you see inexplicable differences such as this, look for unexposed assumptions. Then it becomes time to ask that all important and revealing question, “If we hold the same values, what has caused our beliefs and our expectations for fulfilling those beliefs to be so different?” That is the time for engaging effective dialogue techniques to expose assumptions.

Validating our beliefs. Caution: Don’t get caught up in the “how” question or the “why” question. For example, “How could you, or ‘Why did you…? come to that belief from that value?’ ” will lead you into numerous rabbit holes of speculation. The “why” and “how” questions are not very useful. Rather, it is far more useful to work through each belief by discussing “what” led you to that belief. Examine them without judging them as good or bad, or referring to the individual from whom they came. Further, this can be done easily in a team where you feel safe emotionally and socially to ask questions that will help reveal assumptions. For example, “When did you first begin to hold this belief/opinion/assumption? From whom did you hear this belief/opinion/assumption? And so on.

Within the Team, when differences of beliefs are discovered, it will become necessary for its good working order to examine those beliefs to determine how they contribute to the sustainability of our civilization, national societies, communities, family, and ultimately the individual — not just for this year, but as they contribute to the development of sustainability 50 to 250, and 1,000 years ahead. Yes, 1,000 years is not too much to contemplate. That is why when you think of sustainability, think at two levels, the ideal envisioned future outcome, and the developmental steps that must be implemented to attain that ideal outcome.

Validating Assumptions. Failure to reveal and validate assumptions, either by overt agreement or tacit agreement, will invalidate the results of the Team.

Differences of belief are evidence of assumptions that must be validated separately through the Schematic as supporting or not supporting social sustainability. When differences still persist, it is time to call upon your Consultant for insights and advice. This may seem tedious, but is a preventative procedure that will go a long way to eliminate unforeseen problems and failures of eventual designs. Documenting the validation or invalidation of assumptions will be useful to other teams as they examine similar designs. Differences between the validated results of different teams are indicators that unrevealed assumptions still exist.

We tend to live our lives minute-by-minute and day-by-day with incredible lists of beliefs in mind, never thinking of the unexposed assumptions that support those beliefs. Most of us simply accept the assumptions and expectations that were tacitly attached to those beliefs when they were given to us as children. It is essential for the development of sustainable organizations that their fundamental beliefs and assumptions are exposed and validated.

“Everything is Fine.” Hundreds of local Design Teams will be able to examine the fundamental assumptions that underlie the social systems of our society. Assumptions are the soft sand that is quickly eroded when tragedies wash across communities and nations. David Bohm tells us,

“When things are going smoothly there is no way to know that there’s anything wrong — we have already made the assumption that what’s going on is independent of thought. When things are represented, and then presented in that way, there is no way for you to see what is happening — it’s already excluded. You cannot pay attention to what is outside the representation. There’s tremendous pressure not to; it’s very hard. The only time you can pay attention to it is when you see there is trouble — when a surprise comes, when there’s a contradiction, when things don’t quite work.
“However, we don’t want to view this process as a ‘problem,’ because we have no idea how to solve it — we can’t project a solution.” 21

The biggest assumption that amounts to a grand societal lie is that “Everything is fine.” The Schematic has an uncanny knack for exposing assumptions of team members, their communities, and the assumptions of our culture, larger societies, nationally and internationally. But it takes courage to begin. Perhaps the biggest untested assumption I’ve made is that the citizens of democratic nations are concerned about their future, and will become engaged in designing a sustainable future for their grandchildren and their great, great grandchildren. But, then, perhaps they only see that “everything is fine.”

While most citizens will agree on the core values, what emanates from them in the form of interpretations seems to always vary in any society depending upon their racial, ethnic, cultural, national, political, religious, and sexual orientations. But, for a community or society to become socially sustainable into an indefinite future, all beliefs and assumptions must be validated by a Values-Beliefs-Expectations-Criteria examination to answer the primary questions, “Do these beliefs (policies) work? Do these beliefs and their assumptions contribute to the sustainability of ALL individuals, families, communities, and societies?”

Never before has any society, culture, or civilization been challenged with the capability of designing its own sustainable destiny. We have learned only so slowly that when citizens are sustained, their nation is sustained. The work of Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel, and his later book, Collapse, points clearly to the necessity of public and organizational policies that intentionally support the social sustainability of citizens, families, communities and their larger society.

Relying upon traditional top-down social and political management and governance practices is no longer sufficient to solve social problems or even delay the inevitable. Hierarchies are no longer sufficient to lead our people and move our communities and nations into social sustainability. Further, the traditional model of democracy is too slow, too stubbornly invested in established positions, rather than being adaptive and flexible.

Radically new but familiar social processes are needed to consciously create the sustainable future we hope to live in. What is required is an Internet system for training millions of citizens simultaneously via experiential training and educational computer simulation programs for designing sustainable social processes in a Design Team environment. By connecting teams via “public media,” citizens would soon see the value of their work as supporting the sustainability of their family and their communities.

Because the three core values of sustainability are universal to all people of all cultures, nations, ethnic groups and racial composition, the synergism of those values and the Schematic can empower local Design Teams anywhere in the world to validate the contribution of their designs. No central authority or control is needed to begin.

Caveat — Patience is required. History demonstrates that it takes many decades and centuries to build a civilization, but only years or decades to decline and even collapse. Building a sustainable global civilization will require conscious and deliberate intention to initiate, and may take decades and centuries to complete — that and an awareness that social change will be a constant annoyance until then.


Social Sustainability Design Team —

A Design Team provides a collaborative environment that in some ways represents a micro-image of our society with its beliefs and assumptions, many of which do not support social sustainability. In this collaborative environment, team members are able to explore their roles and develop a synergism as they work with the Schematic for Validating Social Sustainability.

I’ve been asked, “Why is it necessary to use a team to work the Schematic? Why not use one person who understands it very well to save time?” There are two answers to this question.

First, Design Teams provide a means of accessing the individual and collective intelligence, wisdom, and creativity of several people. The creative synergism that develops in a team can produce results that are far more creative and more complete than an individual working alone. Compared to individuals working alone, teams can

  • Generate many more ideas and innovation; 
  • Motivate each other by bouncing ideas off each other; 
  • Take more risks in their innovation; 
  • Develop a well-rounded team “personality” that more accurately reflects the social “persona” of society; 
  • Stay on task more easily – to support the team process both socially and productively for the goals at hand; and 
  • Create a synergism of personalities, skills, work styles, and team role interaction that is unavailable to individuals, alone. 

Second, the team’s core purpose is to design sustainable social processes, organizational structures, and policies for example. In order to create sustainable designs that have the potential of lasting 50-500 years, the underlying flaws inherent in the thinking of society that undermine its longevity must be exposed, identified, and tested to determine if they are validated by the three core values. When there is a procedure of dialogue that produces this outcome, the designs of the team will have a far greater assurance of being sustainable in the long term.

The flaws inherent in the thinking of society stem from the beliefs and underlying assumptions that were internalized when the researcher was a child to become unexamined assumptions about everything external to him or her. It is rare that an individual has the skills to isolate and identify the assumptions that underlie the beliefs of his or her thinking. A team of individuals is better able to uncover those assumptions because members are “outside” other member’s system of beliefs and assumptions. It requires the inquisitive diligence of a team of individuals to question, test, and validate the beliefs and assumptions of each other’s suggestions to produce social designs that are sustainable.

Local Design Teams are “learning organizations” as Peter Senge would interpret them. To paraphrase Senge in his book, The Fifth Discipline, “In an era of immense social change, and social and global problems of immense dimensions, no individual has the answer.” And, “Team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations. This [is] where ‘the rubber meets the road’; unless teams can learn, the organization cannot learn.” I would add that when organizations do not learn, society does not learn. Design Teams provide a best solution for developing answers that promote bottom-up social sustainability from the collective efforts of everyone in each team, and hundreds of teams across nations.

By operating within the parameters of a Local Design Team, team members learn how to become sustainable as individuals and as a team to influence their communities. The reframing that will occur in hundreds of local communities in all democratic nations will result in a subtle but significant mind-shift whereby the individual constructs a new mode of thinking. This is the heart of the 2nd Paradigm of Democracy. It offers values-reframing at the level of a cultural paradigm shift of thinking that can transform not only the individual and team but their communities and eventually their entire culture as these local teams proliferate and begin to transform society incrementally. What we learn from this re-framing is that we are not separate as we shift our thinking from isolation to connectedness and from social fragmentation to wholeness. Here, at this level, we accept at the core of our being that each of us is inseparably connected to everyone and the whole of everything.

Knowledge workers. Local teams provide a remarkable hands-on experience for citizens to work with their neighbors, associates, and friends to learn how to build sustainable communities and societies. Because most technologically developed nations and their economies are knowledge-driven, the team environment will feel comfortable to most people. People enjoy working on a project that they can identify with, where their efforts produce useful results.

Progressives who initiate hundreds of local community Design Teams with local citizens will fill a vacuum of leadership at local, state, and national levels. The products of hundreds of local Design Teams will provide a new paradigm of social leadership that reflects the best intelligence and application of wisdom from society. Bottom-up designs for social action will create a very broad base of intelligent support to overcome the tremendous challenges that await any democratic society in the 21st century. Through the direction found in the efforts of several hundred teams, social leadership is provided without an authority figure.

The best working teams are those whose members enjoy the dynamics of a team setting with individuals who have had some experience in the functions of their roles; and whose members are willing to risk not knowing the answers ahead of time; and who have a common interest in the topic that they are exploring. A certain amount of personal humility is necessary to allow the “flow” of the synergism of the Team Process to surface.

Team composition. The Team consists of 5-11 people with 7-9 being optimal. It is not a committee or a discussion group. Team members have specific roles and functions. Members are of equal authority.

Team Roles. These roles support the synergism that develops in the Team Process as members work through the Schematic.

Progressive Organizers – In a community setting this person represents that unique 1% of every community who sees that something needs to be done, and initiates and organizes friends and neighbors to accomplish the work.

For a Social Sustainability Design Team, the process begins with a “burning issue” the Organizer wants to resolve, followed by discovering others who have a similar concern about that issue or topic. The next task is to begin “Team Bonding Exercises” to build trust within the hearts of team members. Experience has shown that teams need a dedicated time each week, and a dedicated meeting place for their work. Meeting online has NOT proven to be an effective method of teamwork. Too many non-verbal, social, and cultural cues are missing from interpersonal exchanges.

Facilitator – This person facilitates the work flow and social flow of the team. He/she is NOT a leader or “head of the team,” but an equal member of the team. As a note, the Organizer rarely becomes the Facilitator. The reasons being, the Organizer usually has an agenda for desired outcomes that may bias the facilitative process.

Recorder – This person does NOT record verbatim, but
1) records the occasional “Ah-ha!” and insight that is shared, and the progress of the team;
2) notes the clarification of assumptions; and
3) notes the change of topics as discussion suddenly changes. This allows the team to pick up the “lost line of inquiry” of the preceding discussion.

Inquiring Members – These members have the pivotal work of inquiry by asking insightful and intuitive questions that reveal the layers of the topic. Understanding the “arts of inquiry and discernment” is essential for the full exploration of topics. Everyone on the team is an inquiring member, and in many ways everyone assists in all role functions.

Consultant – The Consultant is also a volunteer to the Team, one who offers the Team a strategic perspective to support the work of the Facilitator and to help the Team see how their project fits into their society to progress it toward social sustainability in terms of 50-500 years.

The Design Team Process —

The Design Team Process is very similar to the process of developing proofs in a high school geometry class, except several people are working together. A proof is a written account of the complete thought processes that are used to reach a conclusion. Each step of the process is supported by previously validated axioms, postulates, theorems, corollaries, hypotheses, theories, and definitions, or proofs of social sustainability. In the case where there are no earlier proofs, the team will have to develop those first. In a Local Community Design Team, team members fulfill their role-functions by assisting the team to work through the Schematic. Typically, a synergism develops in the team process as members offer the complemental skills of their roles in the discovery process of working through the Schematic. 

The best way to learn how the Design Team Process works is to do so experientially.

The Design Team Process is a highly educational environment where members learn how to think, rather than what to think. Members who have been trained to work in a Design Team have remarked that their listening skills became sharper while their thinking became more keen and discerning. The best result is that team members learn how to ask cogent, even intuitively incisive questions that lead to clarity in discussions, in or out of the Team.

“Flow” of the Team Process. When the team is in the “flow” of its work, it is as though time stands still. The flow of the team process takes on a character and “glow” of its own so that the serendipity of insights and participation of the team members occurs when it is needed. There is an underlying awareness among the team members that they “know” the way ahead and their work is on target, useful, and effective.

If available, using a fillable form of the Schematic that is simultaneously represented on individual laptop computers will help the team anticipate what is needed to add to or amend the Schematic as new input is developed. As comments are added, other members can modify their own thinking as blank areas of the Schematic are filled in with everyone becoming aware of that new addition.

It is also valuable to have additions and modifications visible when other members may be working collaterally in other locations by support staff or engaged in online research.

Two Ways To Use The Schematic For Validating Social Sustainability —

1. Designing New Policies, Social Processes, Organizational Structures, and Statutes, for example.
                        Please see the Schematic (link).

Begin with filling-in the top half of the Schematic first. The Schematic is eminently flexible, rather than arbitrary, allowing you to begin anywhere that works for you and your team.

The lower half of the Schematic was designed deductively. Most people know what they want the project to look like when they are finished, and that is where we begin, in Column #6.

  • (Column #6) Measurable outcomes of the decisions, actions, and implementation. This will be a list of what your project will look like in measurable terms. For example: 
           {Reproductive information and condoms will be available from the school nurse, without guilt or remonstrations.} 
  • (Column #7) Expectations for the actions that produce outcome(s). 
           {We expect that general reproductive education and the discrete availability of more specific reproductive information and devices will be made available to that group of people.} 
  • (Column #8) Beliefs (and assumptions) that support the decisions and outcomes. 
           {We believe that those who are most uninformed about sexuality are the most likely to produce unwanted pregnancies.} {We assume that this information has not been provided to this population in a timely or adequate manner.} 
    Because assumptions are always hidden beliefs in our mind, the only time they become exposed is when someone does not agree or believe with another person’s beliefs. This is a very critical point of the Design Team Process that must not be lost or ignored. At this point, an Inquiring Member must begin a thorough Q and A process with each individual who has differing beliefs to discover “What makes you believe your position is correct? When did you begin to have this belief or assumption? Do you remember how you learned about this belief?” or similar questions.

    • Once those are recorded, then each belief or assumption must be validated by the criteria of the three core values of social sustainability in Column #9. 
    •  Revealing assumptions that are not in agreement with the three core values is essential to the development of sustainable beliefs, expectations, and solutions and the removal of unsustainable beliefs, expectations, and behaviors.] 
    •  Recording and publishing the (in)validation of erroneous assumptions is vital to save time for other teams working with similar beliefs and assumptions, globally. 
    •  Reasonably, once an assumption becomes validated, it also becomes an established and supported belief, and published. 
  • (Column #9) Values that underlie the decisions, beliefs, expectations, and actions/outcomes. {We value and ever-improving quality of life for everyone by informing them now to make timely and vital life-decisions in order for them to grow into their innate potential, equally as those who are fully informed.}
    In the far left column (#9) each core value (quality of life, growth, and equality; as well as the three Value-Emotions (empathy, compassion, and “Love” of humanity) are used to validate every belief, assumption, expectation, and each criterion of fulfillment.
  • Validate the final Design against the 6 core values. 
  • Write Statements of Findings of what are discovered during the validation process. 

2. Validating Existing Policies, Social Processes, Organizational Structures, and Statutes, for example.
                Please see the Schematic (link)

The process here is a bit different because we will be dealing with already established material. It is our chore to validate what has been established as being in alignment with the six values of social sustainability, or not. For social activists, and those who are particularly concerned about equal rights, equal pay, and equal treatment, this process will provide a reality-check that will reveal erroneous beliefs and hidden assumptions.

Begin filling in the Schematic, items 1-5.:

  • Do not be too alarmed if some of the spaces are blank at this point. Eventually it will become necessary to complete all the items. 
  • Because the project you are working on is already existent, your Team can begin working on columns 6, 7, and 8 simultaneously, if you so choose. The values in Column #9 always remain the same. They provide the final, unwavering criteria for challenging the social sustainability of every element of the project you are working on. 
    In many ways, your work will be very similar to a post-mortem examination on existing policies or legislation; or, trying to examine a legislative bill or policy before it is taken out of committee and submitted to a vote. If you are a Progressive legislative consultant you will then propose ways to amend the faulted bill or policy.
  • In Column #8, you will want to identify the beliefs that broughtabout the expectations in Column #7, and the criteria of fulfillment in Column #6. Having identified these elements in each column, now it is time to use the 3 primary core values, and then the secondary Value-emotions to challenge each element as contributing to social sustainability or not.
  • Sometimes you will come to a “Huh?” situation when youstart discovering the beliefs that brought about this policy. When that happens, it is usually due to some unexposed assumption that was made as the policy or legislation was being written.
    Yes, this process is tedious, but it will provide lock-tight policies that will stand the test of examination by anyone in any nation, any time in the future.


Sources Of Knowledge And Wisdom —

The sources of knowledge and wisdom used by the Design Team include:

  •  Using what the members know; 
  •  Investigating historical and contemporary social research; 
  •  Researching archives of wisdom on the Internet and in libraries; 
  •  Entering into moments of reflection where each must reach within and find the Source22  to guide them toward those ingenious, serendipitous insights that did not exist before. 

The International Library Of Sustaining Wisdom —

When hundreds of local community Design Teams send their validated proofs of social sustainability to the Library of Sustaining Wisdom, those validations will have a cumulative effect to build a base of validated wisdom for the social sustainability of all races, cultures, ethnic groups, and genders. The values that created those validations provide a sound moral base for socially sustainable decision-making wisdom for all time for hundreds of public issues. Never before has there been an intention by any nation, state, or foundation to begin collecting, collating, organizing, and making available the wisdom of social sustainability.

Based on the six core values of social sustainability, hundreds of local community design teams, as well as universities can now begin the work of building a rational and humane structure of human wisdom to sustain future generations. We can anticipate that as the facets of socially sustainable “truth-finding” occurs there eventually will come a time in future decades when all that the discover process about the humane logic of social sustainability will begin to diminish.

We can anticipate, too, that using computer driven algorithms to search the data bases of all national, state, university, and corporate libraries (Google Books, etc.) that building the Library will come about much more quickly. As the Library of wisdom grows, the axioms, postulates, theorems, corollaries, hypotheses, theories, and truths about the morality of social sustainability can be used by computer technologies to further the expansion of socially sustaining wisdom. Ultimate validation must conducted by a literal team of experts of social sustainability in cases where the validation is questionable.

Mining The Records Of History For Its Wisdom —

From historians millennia ago to contemporary historians all have much to say about the reasons societies and civilizations fail. The failures are very pragmatic in what they tell us: Not this way!

It is time that we begin the process of consciously, intentionally, and deliberately mining the accumulated wisdom related to social sustainability to turn all democratic societies into learning organizations. The first step is to create a repository to receive that wisdom that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. Second, local Design Teams are an excellent place to begin the mining process because they will train and educate millions of citizens how to become contributors to and collaborators of the future they and their children will fulfill with their lives.

No one in the past has engaged this work with the intention of designing socially sustainable societies. Will today’s democratic nations be the first to avoid adding our own civilization to the list of failed civilizations. 23 Gathering and writing Statements of Validation must not become just another book of platitudes, but pragmatic wisdom that can be incorporated into the vision and working policies of sustainable family designs and sustainable communities; and, that those designs become developed into plans, and action taken to invoke their accomplishment.

Consider the following piece of historic wisdom from Cicero, 55 BCE, that alludes to the sustainability of a national economy.

  •  “The Treasury should be refilled, 
  •  public debt should be reduced, 
  •  the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and 
  •  the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. 
  •  People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.” 

Example. Economies are a product of human social activity with a very long history. What are the universal, underlying truths, principles and axioms of sustainable economies? We must discover and apply them to stabilize our communities, nation and world; and, avoid the obvious causes of economic destruction. Ironically, we are in possession of thousands of years of experience in hundreds if not thousands of cultures, yet we have not compiled that wisdom to answer the question, “What works to support the economic stability of our societies?”

Once those principles become known and validated, we must create designs that incorporate them into the training and operation of financial institutions for them to become stable and able to contribute to the economic sustainability of the global economy. History is fairly explicit in its identification of what financial and economic actions do not work, and must be avoided. What we need to discover is what does work, and eliminate what does not work. When we generate designs that work through this process, the economy of our societies will become stable.

It seems an obvious development that a small number of design teams with a predisposition for examining historic and contemporary wisdom relating to social sustainability could begin working to discover those universal truths, axioms, and principles. Because the three core values — quality of life, growth and equality — provide the validating “truths” of social sustainability, inquiring teams would soon discover the principles and axioms that are universal to the sustainability of all social structures and processes. Hopefully, inquiring teams will begin to “mine” history books and social research sources to collect the bits of wisdom that hundreds of generations of thoughtful historians, writers, thinkers, philosophers and social researchers have shared.

21 Bohm, David On Dialogue (2004): 68.
22 Jaworski, Joseph 2011. Synchronicity, The Inner Path of Leadership. p 213.
23 Except, perhaps, The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant, 1968, Simon and Schuster. LOC 68-19949.