TA Citizens Summit 2009
Report from the American Citizens’ Summit, Denver, February 2009
by Carol Brouillet
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln
From February 11th to 15th , 2009, at the American Citizens’ Summit in Denver, people from across the political spectrum gathered to speak and identify priorities demanding attention at a time of converging global crises. Processes included meeting in circles, listening, open space, and innovative feedback technologies that allowed everyone to vote on issues, ideas, and positions–anonymously and instantly–and to reflect the information to the group.
Left to Right- Joseph McCormick, Steven Bhaerman, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Cynthia McKinney
An interim Sunshine Cabinet–including Cynthia McKinney (2008- Green Party candidate for President), Congressman Ron Paul, Grover Norquist, Liberty Coalition co-founder Michael Ostrolenk, Barbara Marx Hubbard, humorist Steve Bhaerman and Committee for a Unified Independent Party director Jackie Salit–spoke about their top priorities. They included transparency, dismantling the national security state, a non-interventionist foreign policy, peace, justice, dignity, promoting liberty, following the Constitution, creating a Peace Room, and addressing the collapse of the economic system by creating a local/global sustainable economy that values solar energy, food, human invention and love.
The history and evolution of the Transpartisan Movement was mapped. Processes, some of which were developed from high school classroom ground rules and from rules adopted at the first Bipartisan Congressional Retreat, were explained. Spiral Dynamics allowed everyone to understand a framework to help people consciously transcend the limits of bipartisan thinking. People were encouraged to leave their egos at the door and to be open to all points of view, deeper truths, and surprising synergies, so they could create space in which ideas or solutions drawn from the collective wisdom of a diverse group of people could emerge.
In creating room for dialogue and compassionate listening, respect for diverse points of view, awareness of the “triggers” that push our buttons and how to overcome reactions and “stay present,” the Citizens’ Summit created a space for surprising insights, ideas, synergies, and solutions to emerge in powerful ways.
The Citizens’ Summit identified the values we held in common: the top ones were respect, listening, integrity, transparency, taking action, building trust, compassion, and love. Joseph McCormick, primary organizer of the Citizens’ Summit and co-founder of Reuniting America, deliberately chose the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday as the date of the conference to draw together people with the “courage to cooperate” across traditional ideological barriers. He voiced his concern about the increasing polarization taking place within the country. He showed a map delineating Republican and Democrat counties in 2006 and 2008 that highlighted how the red areas were becoming redder and the blue areas bluer, with very little purple.
There seemed to be many “leaders, authors, presidents, politicians, and founders of various organizations” at the summit, and few “followers.” There was a healthy gender balance but a distinct lack of ethnic and income diversity. The registration fee to attend the summit and the hotel costs were beyond the price range of struggling activists and those who have to “earn a living.” The organizers had approached the conference with a strong vision and had gone out on a limb to try to pull off a conference in the middle of February in Colorado. A poster session focused on endowing the Transpartisan Alliance, paying off the debt, and advancing the work.
Frankly, I’m not sure what the next step will be for those of us who came to the summit, were transformed, and have committed to work together during this time of crisis.
At a poster session on “Transpartisan Economics” there was a very friendly, respectful discussion regarding numerous approaches to tax reform, land reform, and monetary reform, which recognized that there is no silver bullet solution to quickly solve and retool our economic system. Wendell Fitzgerald, president of the Henry George School of San Francisco (www.henrygeorgesf.org), and Steven Shafarman, author of Peaceful, Positive Revolution: Economic Security for Every American, advocated for a guaranteed basic income, together with tax and monetary reformists, agreed that we need “an honest, above-board participatory economic system valuing community in the creation of money, land value and tax policy to serve our individual and common needs, creating income security for all, and not passing down debt and loss to the final consumer or future inhabitant.”
These are the top issues that emerged from the collective whole, framed as questions:
How do we give everyone access to affordable, quality healthcare? How do we create a system for quality education that respects the individual, encourages the desire to learn, and develops critical thinking skills? How do we achieve transparency in all government transactions including taxes and the Federal Reserve? How do we develop an alternative energy economy that provides jobs, protects our environment and creates energy independence?
Enhancing local role in decision making:
How do we deepen the quality of engagement between Americans and their government?
All people are authentically engaged in the creation of all public decisions and policy. America’s government is termed a Republic:
How do we achieve a truly representative Republic – a truly representative Democracy?
How do we create economic policies that provide the basic needs and opportunities for every American?
How do we create healthy, safe, vital, sustainable local communities?
Establishing common ground and trust in shared values and goals seemed to be the first step in working together through the more gnarled strategies and steps necessary to realize them. On the first day, a long presentation on spiral dynamics looked at the evolution of thought processes and how increasingly complex problems and crises demand new ways of thinking–first for tribes, then nations, and finally for civilizations to adapt and survive. Many have not survived.
Sometimes the most personal stories are the most universal, when someone has the courage to bare their soul, removing whatever façade they might wear to protect themselves, and exposing their weaknesses, their vulnerabilities, their heart. The revelations we offer one another–and the sensitive listening, reciprocity, and respect–are the essential first steps toward developing trust and overcoming stereotypes and prejudice based on appearances.
On the last day of the conference, we were asked to stand where we felt we were in relation to the Transpartisan Alliance–anywhere from the center to the edge. Except for getting up from my chair, I didn’t move, because I could see how I could incorporate the good ideas into my work and help promote them, and at the same time try to balance my life and continue to work on the issues that I cared about passionately. However, in the last round of stating our commitments to the group, I found myself teamed up with Robert Steele, an ex-intelligence professional (can one actually retire from the CIA?) who has strongly advocated open source public intelligence available to all, promoting the idea of Collective Intelligence–inspired by one of my mentors and friends, Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute. I subsequently found myself on the funding committee.
How can we nurture new, transparent, life serving, decentralized, local, state, national, international Transpartisan efforts to identify and solve the real problems that we face? Can we draw from the collective wisdom of the diverse many with direct knowledge and experience in the real world whose voices, concerns and insights need to be heard?
Last group photo on Sunday afternoon
The gathering focused on three key questions.
SUMMARY OF DELIBERATION AND KEYPAD POLLING OUTCOMES
Our 8 Most Important/Priority Transpartisan Values Are… (8.9 to 8.0)
Respect, Listening, Integrity, Transparency,
Taking Action, Building Trust, Compassion, & Love
Our Next Most Important/Priority Transpartisan Values Are… (7.7 to 7.0)
Patience, A Spirit of Inquiry, Commitment, Respectful Inclusion,
Fairness, Justice, Wisdom of the Whole, Evolving Beyond Positions,
& Utilizing Diversity to Create Synergy
Our 4 Most Important/Priority Transpartisan Issues Are… (8.5 to 8.2)
How do we give everyone access to affordable, quality healthcare?
How do we create a system for quality education that respects the individual,
encourages the desire to learn, and develops critical thinking skills?
How do we achieve transparency in all government transactions
including taxes and the Federal Reserve?
How do we develop an alternative energy economy that provides jobs,
protects our environment and creates energy independence?
Our 3 Next Most Important/Priority Transpartisan Issues Are… (7.8 to 7.6)
Enhancing local role in decision making. How do we deepen the quality of engagement between Americans and their government? All people are authentically engaged in the creation of all public decisions and policy. America’s government is termed a Republic:
how do we achieve a truly representative Republic – a truly representative Democracy?
How do we create economic policies that provide
the basic needs and opportunities for every American?
How do we create healthy, safe, vital, sustainable local communities?
TRANSPARTISAN CABINET ISSUES
Our 3 Most Important/Priority
Transpartisan Cabinet Generated Issues Are… (8.7 to 8.4)
Push for greater transparency in everything that the government does – so we can
all see what’s going on…more information directly out there for people to look at
Changing the rules of the game – we want to move beyond partisanship, the categories,
the ideological alignments that divide us…we have to introduce structural reforms
that allows Americans to participate much more directly in the process
How can we dismantle the national security state?
How can we create one that reflects our founding principles?
Our 5 Next Most Important/Priority
Transpartisan Cabinet Generated Issues Are… (7.6 to 7.3)
Respect vs. accusing each other, understanding and cooperation should be our focus through the mobilization of different groups; leadership academies; individually and collectively organize in our communities to connect with people we are different from
– we need to live it and engage each other in dialogues
One of the biggest problems in our country and the world is the lack of information
– we need an independent media – perhaps funded by we the people
– begin this communication at the grass roots level
– begin to get together and communicate about what we have in common
A network of networks, a transpartisan movement will
self organize a movement at the level that will motivate America
A non-interventionist foreign policy. Not our business to spread democracy
– we don’t need to police the world with troops in 135 countries
– we no longer face the threats we used to
We need peace, justice, and dignity – this formation needs to mobilize and activate
to have the dignity and consensus that this country desperately needs
ACTIONS & INITIATIVES FOR THE TRANSPARTISAN ALLIANCE
Our 4 Most Important/Priority
Transpartisan Alliance Actions &Initiatives Are… (8.5 to 8.1)
A team, maybe includes media and video experience
– to ensure the toolkit is on the website so we can train ourselves
Central source for more information on the toolbox
The transpartisan alliance seeks to acknowledge and include
indigenous populations in our outreach and our movement/work
A vehicle to facilitate dialogue and community
among all stakeholders about issues concerning our future
Our 6 Next Most Important/Priority
Transpartisan Alliance Actions &Initiatives Are… (7.9 to 7.4)
Find a way to sustain the efforts of the Transpartisan Alliance
To help us find a liberal or conservative in our communities so we can build
the foundations of trust to build the transpartisan political community in our areas
Help pay off the debt of the Alliance. about 65k right now
Develop a clear definition of terms including Transpartisanship and the movement;
continue these conversations online and email newsletter
Using the wisdom, relationships, and networks formed on the
grass roots side to co-develop goals for the Transpartisan Alliance
Have a panel of expert speakers for local groups to call on – create a speakers bureau