This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.


It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.


It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Map for Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking

This blog consistently repeats itself, making a point of connecting to and building up from previously established material. This time some of the material used to assert concepts presented in the last post will be used again but from a different perspective. This series of blog posts, inspired by the STW/STiA Systems Thinking Certification course, has approached the material from a number of different angles and perspectives which invariably overlap.
  1. Working, as an individual, to study systems - segments 1-4.
  2. Working as an individual (consultant) with a group - segments 5-8.
  3. Working as a member of a group or community on systemic inquiry (Virtual Systemic Inquiry if Web 2.0 is heavily depended upon) - segment 9 pts 1.
In this post we continue moving closer to:
  1. Global - working as an integral part of a larger network or community - segment 9 pts 2 & 3, segments 10 & 11 and finally Certification.
Under this current scenario, an imaginary community has adopted the principles of both direct deliberative democracy and participatory democracy,  as well as that of systems thinking, and is endeavoring to converge them all together. The hypothesis is that systems thinking can assist in this convergence, recognizing that this would be a fundamental change which could justify the use of the word paradigm within the title, Pathways to New Community Paradigms. This relationship is illustrated in the Kumu relational map Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking.

The use of the wordbothis applicable because some see deliberative forms of democracy being at odds with participatory forms of democracy. Diana C. Mutz made this argument in her book, "Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy”. This is arguably true within the competitive based system of electoral manipulations so often manifested in our current system. Others though see the possibility of converging both deliberative and participatory democracy together and moving towards a new model of radical democracy. Lorenzo Cini does so in his paper "Between Participation and Deliberation:Toward a New Standard for Assessing Democracy?

The previous blog post used the "Community Based Virtual Systemic Inquiry"  Kumu map to create a platform for the interaction between members of a Virtual Systemic Inquiry team, an imagined New Community Paradigms team, coming together with internal community groups and outside advocacy groups to form a Community Based VSI team. There could be a number of these Community Based VSI teams possible focusing on different areas of concern to the community, not to city hall, to the community because the concerns would arise directly from the community. The basic idea behind the New Community Paradigms Facebook Connections wiki-page is to provide resources for connection to different advocacy groups. In this scenario, of our own devising, the infrastructure of government has been defined directly by the community and not by any form of entrenched institutional political power.

Civic Community, in the last blog post, was defined as the interaction of civil society with the institutional infrastructure of government. Civil society, as has been previously asserted by "Civil society as a platform for new community paradigmsand "Community paradigms as a set of community relations is the true basis for a democratic form of government, not institutions. 

Established and ad hoc community groups along with the involvement of community members in general comprise the make up of this Civic Community. It is from this originating point that two paths are taken involving systems thinking.

The Community Based VSI team begins with R1 Deliberative Democratic Dialogue. The R1  Deliberative Democratic Dialogue also designates the first reinforcing loop of a larger related Kumu map Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking.  The first two loops of the Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking map are tied in with the Community VSI (structure) map. 

This begins the construction of a dynamic system that is maintained because there exists feedbacks from an element or an entity or entities within the system that maintain their continuing existences, subsystems of reinforcing loops which build upon each other. Your car battery helps start your car, which when running uses your alternator to help recharge the battery to start your car again. There are limits, we sometimes need to replace batteries, alternators or even cars but the entire system remains viable for long, extended periods with care. 

The elements making up the R1 Deliberative Democratic Dialogue loop have been presented before through a "Better Deliberative and Participatory Democratic Community Based Governance through Systems Thinking. This was an earlier attempt to incorporate principles of systems thinking into a system of direct deliberative and participatory community based governance through an Insight Maker systems thinking model, Participatory Democracy with Systems Thinking.   

In both the Insight Maker model and Kumu map, the interaction of elements consists of adopting principles of Direct Deliberative and Participatory Democracy, Respect for Individuals and Their Time, Civic & Community Groups and Civic Community, all of which are seen as reinforcing one another. The other essential element is Dialogue Facilitation which was changed from Discussion Facilitation to better reflect the insights of the NCDD.

This continues a focus on community governance assisted with Web 2.0 resources from the early stages of this effort with "Using Online Communities to encourage Direct Democracy for On-The-Ground Communitiesalong with other related resources found under the "People’s Governance in Californiaand "Community Governancewiki-pages.

The second reinforcing loop is "R2 Working with Systems Thinking". The common element between the first two a reinforcing loops which diverge to parallel tracks is "Civic and Community Groups" who can work with both  "Systems Thinking Facilitators" and with community government "Staff". This would involve the development of specific proposals for projects, program or policies either from the community or from selected or assigned leadership of the community.  The principles of Design Thinking would very likely be in play here. 

The utilization of systems thinking with community governance is a transformational process so having someone or some organization to help guide that process is seen as being important. New Community Paradigms also does not envision the elimination of public sector employees, only a change in their relationship with the community.

With the next reinforcing loop "R3 Group Facilitation for Systems Thinkingwe leave the Community VSI (structure) map and reside solely in the Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking map, unfolding it as we advance.

The new elements involved, along with the elements of the first two reinforcing loops begin to come together to converge on two particular elements, Dialogue Facilitation and Perceived and Defined Meaningfulness of Deliberation (different from dialogue). The goal is to go far beyond merely giving people an opportunity to have their chance to speak on an issue. How does the community as a whole come up with viable, sustainable solutions while continuing to respect the principles of direct deliberative and participatory democracy as well as individuals and their time? Some of the elements that are suggested to influence this are Stays on Track along the Deliberative Democratic Dialogue track and Defined Intent along the Working with Systems Thinking track. 

The next loop "R4 Maintains Respect  for Individuals & Timeis a general system reinforcing loop directly asserting the result arising from the interaction of both tracks and  previous reinforcing loops while also establishing a required focus to maintain those interactions. 

"R5 Group Development Systems Thinkingfocuses more on the Working with Systems Thinking track. Facilitated System Thinking Learning positively influences Understanding of Systems Thinking which in turn contributes to Perceived and Defined Meaningfulness of Deliberation making the Employment of ST (systems thinking) Models and Methods more likely, again reinforcing the Understanding of Systems Thinking. 

The final reinforcing loop is "R6 Implementation of Systems Thinking Interventions” At some point, after all the discussion, debates, dialogues and deliberations a final Decision or Outcome is determined by the community calling for the implementation of some Systemic Intervention. Whether or not these do what they were designed to do determines the number of Successful Interventions and if it Creates a Better Community. It also influences the Perceived Utility of Systems Thinking which in turn influences the Perceived and Defined Meaningfulness of Deliberations and the likelihood of future Systemic Interventions. 


This is not, however, the whole story. 

Past Posts