Community Escapes

I recently joined in with a gathering of people who have identified themselves within the Dialogue & Deliberation community. It marked the fourth community coming-together I've been involved in with Tomorrow Makers this year—each of a very distinct nature and intent. From each and from the collection as a whole, I'm left with a clear recognition of the growing interest in and sophistication of organizing structures and processes used to compliment the content and body of knowledge.

Good "process tools" are plentiful and getting more so. Importantly, a significant number - hundreds, in my estimation - of them have been around long enough - 5, 10, 20 years or more - to benefit from the practice effect. The level of expertise in using and teaching the use of these tools has progressed enormously, as well. The result is that annual meetings and conferences are generating more information and more information about the information. Among other things, this creates more relationships and adds complexity to the participant's experience.

At another level, there is a growing willingness and, in many cases, eagerness among organizers, speakers and participants to not only use these process tools themselves, but innovate how they can fit together to amplified effect as a whole. Community gathering is on the verge of finding meta-structures and -processes which can transform the relationship among the "participants" (including articles, handouts and other non-embodied content) from something approximating "+" (addition)  to something closer to "x" (multiplication), and producing deeper, more meaningful connections. Successful design on this level utilizes and leverages the complexity and relationships created in the discrete modules. The whole becomes not only 'greater' than the sum of the parts, it emerges a different, deeper quality of experience. The system escapes to a higher order.

These escapes – or phase transitions – are the fascination and the essence of Tomorrow Makers' raison d'être. It is precisely these situations for which the system and method that we have been practicing and coming toward knowing since 1979 was invented. We are scaffolding artists. Our design work is guided by the desire to put in place processes that enable a community to bring common goals to life, grow its creative capacities for innovation and renewal, and–together–live into being the world they imagine. It is the deepest aspiration of Group Genius.