Understanding patterns to gain insight and new perspectives

June 7, 2019
By: 
Rob Newell

In April, Ann Dale, Hilary Leighton, Leslie King and I (Rob Newell) attended the Climate Change and Consciousness Conference in Findhorn, Scotland.  The conference attracted a diverse group of researchers, practitioners, civil servants, students and community members from around the world, and the workshops and sessions were equally diverse in topic and format. I participated in a particularly interesting session run by Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute, where we played with a deck of ’wise democracy pattern cards’ developed by him and his colleagues.

The cards feature patterns associated with social dynamics, values and governance, such as diversity, deliberation, citizen-stakeholder integration, civil rights, big empathy, etc.  They provide descriptions of these patterns, as well as relationships that illustrate how the patterns are connected. Atlee intended for the cards to be used as tools for supporting and enhancing participatory approaches to governance; however, he mentioned that they could have a number of applications in multiple contexts. I suggested that the cards could be used for classroom activities that involve exploring sustainability issues, and we discussed how students could apply the patterns (and their connections) to modern day problems and challenges. Such activities could lead to valuable insights and new perspectives on the social dimensions surrounding the critical issues facing communities, societies and the world.

More information on the cards can be found on the Co-Intelligence Institute’s Wise Democracy Project website, and they can be downloaded for free (in PDF format).