CHANGE DESIGN LAB
Our mission is to shift the dynamics underlying power, politics, and participation in the U.S.
Power: To empower civic organizations and social movements to inspire individual participation and cooperative action for sustained influence that rises to balance the influence of established power structures.
Politics: To enable our public servants to work together effectively creating policies and programs that build healthy, resilient and responsible playing fields for our business, social and governance institutions.
Participation: To provide processes, opportunities and pathways for people to engage in purposeful conversations and actions that realize their responsibilities as contributing citizens.
CHANGE DESIGN LAB
How can we Change the Game of Power, Politics and Participation more effectively?
In the spring of 2010 a small team of transpartisan change agents identified the need and opportunity to create a new initiative. Its name is its purpose: Changing the Game; Power, Politics and Participation (CTG). We observed that to change the dynamics of one part you have to change the dynamics of them all. Tom Atlee, a thought leader in many fields, makes that point (and more) very clearly:
“…. I want to add one more hopeful, overlooked story that I see as an emerging trend: A rising spirit of citizens coming together outside of the partisan battle to find common sense solutions to local problems and national policies. For years the “dialogue and deliberation” and “transpartisan” movements have been gathering steam and coming together. Last year the populist Tea Party exploded into the political battleground and was promptly hijacked by the Republican Party and various extreme ideologues. In progressive reaction, the Coffee Party suddenly appeared this year and is now creatively re-visioning itself into an increasingly sophisticated transpartisan role grounded in the deliberation of diverse citizens. Also we see the rise of NoLabels, which urges citizens to support transpartisan efforts by their leaders — a message easily interpreted as an effort to co-opt the emerging grassroots transpersonal energy to sustain top-down power arrangements (as happened with the Tea Party). Although these efforts are extremely diverse, they together constitute a major new trend, a profound disturbance of politics-as-usual. We can’t predict where it will land, but I suspect it might qualify in hindsight as a significant overlooked story. And if we support the transpartisan citizen-based aspects of it, it will turn out to be an extremely hopeful story, as well.”
Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, http://www.co-intelligence.org 12/28/2010
Changing the Game’s “Change Design Lab” and Living Room Conversations Project
Changing the Game has formulated a unique vehicle for doing “breakthrough” projects that are practical, impactful, sustainable, creative and integrative. The “Change Design Lab’s” purpose is to develop high leverage, rapid prototype, action research projects. The projects are intended to help translate the rising spirit for cooperating across political divides into practical, replicable and scalable mechanisms for transpartisan conversations, relationship building and cooperative work at the living room, community and national coalition building levels.
In the fall the of 2010 the Living Room Conversations project (LRC) was conceived, funded and launched; a very strong start for the “Change Design Lab”. Living Room Conversations is a simple but powerful process (prototype) to make very practical what Tom Atlee so keenly observed: “… citizens coming together outside of the partisan battle to find common sense solutions to local problems and national policies”. LRC is a self-guided, friend-to-friend based, small group, transpartisan conversation process that successfully builds new relationships and reveals common ground on politicized issues and across political divides.
Once the prototype is tested and refined (February 2011) the materials that constitute the Living Room Conversations process will be considered “open source” and made available online for anybody to use. Changing the Game intends to provide services for a fee (sometimes underwritten in part by partners/sponsors) to organizations interested in designing local / grass roots / citizen campaigns or initiatives based on this approach and materials.
The Change Design Lab is very fortunate to collaborate with Joan Blades, a transpartisan leader and the originator (and a co-funder) of the LRC idea. Joan is a co-founder of Mom’s Rising and a co-founder of MoveOn.org. Not everyone remembers that the initial inspiration for MoveOn was in part about reaching across political divides. MoveOn helped Republicans deliver MoveOn petitions to “Censure and MoveOn” to GOP headquarters. MoveOn’s first petition was a huge success precisely because it was unifying. You could love or hate Bill Clinton and agree that the best thing for the country was to censure him and move on. The impeachment disregarded average citizen’s desires and was one of the highly visible steps down into the ugly polarized dynamics we now deal with. MoveOn did not become partisan until a month after the election in ’98when it committed to help members engage in electoral action in 2000.
Joan’s personal journey to reach across political divides continued in 2004 through Reuniting America, working with Michelle Combs of the Christian Coalition to protect net neutrality as just one example. Joan Blades is a valued partner in our endeavor.
Growing and Developing the Change Design Lab
Changing the Game is focusing on the Change Design Lab as its top priority for growth and development. Our intention is to invite partners and contributors to endow a “matching funds pool” that will be used to underwrite up to ½ the budget of the next several projects (if and when needed). We have two very promising and immediate project opportunities in development that could benefit from the “matching fund pool”.
1) The Coffee Party
At the time of this writing we are in final stages of formalizing a Change Design Lab project in support of and in partnership with the Coffee Party. The approach focuses heavily and immediately on phase one and based on success moves progressively through two more possible phases as follows:
· Phase One: Provide Engagement and Coalition Building Design and Facilitation Services in support of the “For The People Summit” happening on the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, January 21st, in Washington DC. (Complete by end of January 2011)
· Phase Two: Integrative Design and Planning Process Support Services for Local Meet-Ups, Coalition Impact Activities, The Coffee Party’s Fall National Conference, and a Strategic Organizational Development and Funding Plan through the end of 2012 (Complete by end of May 2011)
· Phase Three: Integrated Strategy Implementation Support Services for the execution and fulfillment of the Integrated Organizational Development Plan. (Complete by end of 2012)
2) Crossing Political Divides Meet-Up Processes and Materials
There is a strong demand for the Living Room Conversations process and materials. Also in demand are medium and large group transpartisan process and meeting formats based on the same LRC design principles. To that end the Change Design Lab will be seeking partners and financing to develop a Change Agent Conversations (medium size groups of up to 20 people) and a Community Cooperation Conversations (large groups of any size) that complete a set of three processes for citizens coming together outside of the partisan battle to find common sense solutions to local problems and national policies. In addition to the Coffee Party, NoLabels may be a candidate for deploying these processes for the 435 districts monthly meet-up campaign that launches in January 2011.
Changing the Game / Change Design Lab Partners
Our fiscal agent and partner is The Performance Center (TPC). TPC is a recognized 501(c)3 organization and can receive charitable donations.
· The link to TPC’s registration with The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office is:http://egov.sos.state.or.us/br/pkg_web_name_srch_inq.show_detl?p_be_rsn=877067&p_srce=BR_INQ&p_print=FALSE
· TPC’s Federal Tax ID Number is 91-2173265. Checks supporting Changing the Game’s “Change Design Lab Fund” can be made payable to The Performance Center
Changing the Game is working to create the conceptual and practical materials necessary to engage formal relationships with individuals and entities that will become Lab partners and/or Lab Project Partners. Our intent is to model the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL) organizational construct as we constitute the Change Design Lab organizational structure. The design will be in support of a collaborative coalition of uniquely talented people and leading organizations from a spectrum of fields related to changing/impacting power, politics and participation.
We currently have and good working relationships and informal partnerships with:
· The Transpartisan Center
· The Co-Intelligence Institute
· The National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD)
· Transformation Systems International, LLC
· The Performance Center
· Center for Community Engagement (Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling)
Changing the Game / Change Design Lab; Organizing Principles
Finally, we are using the rapid prototyping approach to design and refine Changing the Game and the Change Design Lab. We are learning and refining or design by acting and doing real work. We have a strong set of design principles that include:
· Provide unique contributions primarily by empowering, connecting, resourcing and concentrating the effort and impact of existing entities as well as emerging, high leverage, and “promising” initiatives. We don’t plan to build/develop anything that someone else has already done well, we will only provide / convene things that are missing.
· Offer frameworks, processes and a structures for connecting and creating synergy between: 1) those doing cross political divides work 2) issue coalition conveners/builders 3) participative engagement processes practitioners and programs, and 4) cooperative solution initiatives for communities and our country.
· We only work on projects that are high impact, high leverage, synergistic, and that are clearly and completely purposed, scoped and funded.
· We are an extremely low overhead, action/project based, virtual enterprise, and are largely sustained by partner “matching fund pool” contributions and on a “fees for services” basis.
Walt Roberts, Integrated Change Strategist and head of the Change Design Lab
Debilyn Molineaux, Supporting and connecting people who change the world