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Community Co-Intelligence


This page will focus on co-intelligence-related material that is specifically useful to those trying to organize communities or build local community co-intelligence capacity.


Ways to make a Community Stronger, Wiser, More Resilient and Engaged - an outline for a course offering 26 approaches to making a better community.

Co-Intelligence and the Holistic Politics of Community Self-Organization describes, from a permaculture perspective, some design principles for self-organizing communities. Includes notes on leadership, co-intelligence, a couple of dozen tools for self-organization and dialogue, the spectrum of politics and the powerful formula REPRESENTATIVE DIVERSITY + CONSENSUS PROCESS = POLITICAL WISDOM.

A toolbox of co-intelligent processes for community work

Principles of Public Participation - Lists of guidelines from The International Association for Public Participation, The Community Development Society and the Co-Intelligence Institute.

The Coalition for Healthier Cities and Communties and the International Healthy Cities Foundation tackle a surprising range of of issues in empowering, democratic ways by simply asking what it takes to make a healthy community.

Tyler Norris's Community Initiatives has some great articles and links that extend what's here, as well as offering their own resources and services to communties.

Creating Communities of Opportunity - the online manuscript of an excellent book, THE BASKETMAKER: HELPING PEOPLE CREATE COMMUNITIES OF OPPORTUNITY: A guide for Services & Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinators, and leaders working to strengthen their communities

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Community Partnership Toolkit for building and maintaining partnerships to strengthen communities describes ten partnership building tools and highlights how these tools were used in ten communities.

The National Civic League's Building your community's problem-solving capacities.

Study Circle on building strong neighborhoods

Community-Building Organizations

Self-organizing community networks - a variety of novel neighborhood organizing methods that grew out of Y2K community preparation work.

There are ways in which telecommunications technology can enhance democracy, an approach called teledemocracy. One experiment in a small town is described in E-Democracy Thrives in Winona, Minnesota.

Holistic Management Allan Savory's step by step process for holistic decision-making. See also Natural Capitalism ... and New Rules -- THE site for local economics.

There's a practice called consensus organizing, in which community organizers learn all they can about the "downtown interests" (the local powerholders) and about the community and its grassroots leaders. The downtown interests and grassroots community leaders often oppose each other and tell themselves and their associates stereotyped stories in which their opponent plays an ineffective or malevolent role. Consensus organizers try to identify a project -- such as a job training program -- that is of interest to both the community leaders and downtown interests. Then they engage the parties in real dialogue about that program only, leading to productive collaborations and new relationships. Later, those relationships can be used to make real progress on other community issues, since the stereotyped us-vs-them stories have been replaced with a belief in the possibility of shared exploration and shared benefits.

Consensual Democracy is a grassroots way to renew, revive and sustain local community. It focuses on achieving results based on the shared visions, values and goals of local citizens.


Sites that can help you understand more about community sustainability, self-reliance and resilience: deals with the global eco-village network of conscious eco-living experiments around the world. The Rocky Mountain Institute provides guidance for communities that want to be economically and ecologically more sustainable. People interested in intentional communities will find the Fellowship of Intentional Communities site fascinating; it, too, has great links to sustainability subjects. John Curl provides compelling history about how people have worked together for mutual aid, including an inspiring story of Oakland, CA, in the 1930s ("Living in the UXA"). And the Simple Living Network provides "tools and living examples for those who are serious about learning to live a more conscious, simple, healthy and restorative lifestyle."

TraNet, In Context, Grassroots Economic Organizing, and Yes! are all magazines that provide inspiring, educational and practical articles about building a sustainable, humane, positive future. Many useful articles are on-line, and they can lead you to more resources. Listserv archives are another good source of information. Check out the Ecobalance archives or some of the other archives compiled by Communications for a Sustainable Future.

Among my favorite sites which offer link-lists to other community and sustainability websites are Empowerment Resources, People in Action for a Better World, One Earth, Motherheart (especially the community section), Sustainable Development and Communications for a Sustainable Future (which has a permaculture and sustainable living page and a self-sufficient sustainable village page, neither of which are easily accessible from the home page). Many of these provide interesting online articles, as well as links. The Alliance for a Paving Moratorium promotes depaving many roads for food gardens, pedal-power transport, and restoration of local food supply/distribution for "sustainable village economics." For information about the basic principles of sustainability, see The Natural Step.

Resilient Communities Project: "We believe that there are large numbers of folks in the U.S., Canada, Australia and other parts of the world who are looking for new ways to talk with each other about things that matter -- and to begin to make changes in our lives."

Among the community-building organizations with web sites, you might find The Institute for Local Self-Reliance and The Center for Neighborhood Technology interesting. Some others without web sites are listed on the "community-building organizations" page of this site. There are many regional community-development organizations, such as the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.

Still-relevant Y2K-related community-building documents


Y2K wasn't a catastrophe, but if you believe (as I do) that catastrophes (natural disasters, wars, economic collapse, infrastructure breakdowns, etc.) could affect your community sometime in the next decade or two, these articles may be of interest to you. They were written for Y2K, but are broadly applicable. They come from a web page on Y2K and community that has many other articles you might be interested in, as well.


Why Community-Based Responses Make More Sense than Survivalism by Tom Atlee.
Finding each other in hard times by Cynthia Beal
The Transformational Dance Between Communities and Y2K by Tom Atlee

All Together Now: The "Y2K Neighborhood" takes on the "Millennium Computer Bomb" by Larry Shook. This article is as emotionally compelling and inspiring as the Petersen/Wheatley/Rogers piece is convincing and visionary. This is what it feels like on the inside, to wake up to the reality of Y2K. Shook explores how the media has missed this remarkable story of human challenge and human healing that is unfolding in our communities.

Protecting Ithaca from Computer Chaos by Paul Glover
An Alternative Community Response Vision by Tom Atlee
The Year 2000 Problem: An Opportunity to Build Sustainable Community

Local currencies and Y2K community organizing by Tom Greco
Will We Use Y2K and Local Currency to Find Our Way Back to Each Other? by Tom Atlee

The Year 2000 Problem and Sustainability by Tom Atlee. An extensive description of the kinds of things communities could do to prepare sustainably for Y2K.

Let's Use Y2K as a Doorway to Resilience and Renewal by Tom Atlee. Adventures in a permaculture site provide insights into the nature of resilience and how to build it in communities facing Y2K