[part 3 of a series]

Two friends and long time residents of the small town of Lake Wobegon looked at each other nearly a year ago, and said, ok, it’s time to quit bitching. The town hall ain’t gonna do it. If we want our town to be resilient in the face of all that’s coming our way in the near future, we have to do it ourselves.

So they began to invite their neighbors and coworkers to movie showings and presentations with discussion afterwards. The group grew slowly at first, but 9 months later, they have about 25 people who are showing a high level of commitment and eagerness to get going. They want to make the leap from study to action. And they don’t want to wait past the time when the group grows too large to gather in one place and set the foundation.

They are all familiar with sociocracy as they recently took a two-day workshop. There is a strong feeling in the group in its favor. Plus, some people are already gathering into small groups following their interests: local food, water, and alt.energy. What’s our next step, they ask one another?

Their sociocracy trainer who has agreed to stay in touch and help them during the first year, suggests they form another small group for governance implementation. It is this group that puts on a “Resilient Lake Wobegon in one afternoon” extravaganza. A pleasant room is secured, munchies and drinks, and one afternoon in late winter, all 25 people pile into the room and lay down the foundation of their organization in one fell swoop.

They already know the consent process. All the 25 gather into a big circle, and consent to several foundational proposals that were prepared ahead of time by the organizers. One of them of course being about accepting sociocracy as their governance method, for how long (say a year) and setting the criteria for evaluation.

Then people break up into the four groups already informally established. Each group selects its log keeper, facilitator, and two linkers. Then each circle decides on its aim. Vision, mission, and main responsibilities are just sketched out, to be fine-tuned later.

The two linkers from each group come together in the center of the room, and the general circle is born. They too select their log keeper, and facilitator, and decide which of the eight people will be the ops-linkers which will represent the general circle in each specific circle. The remaining four linkers will be the rep-linkers, representing their specific circle within the general circle. With the rest of the group watching and contributing, they come up with a vision, mission, aim and domain of responsibility for their circle. But only the eight general circle members engage in the formal consent sequence.

To finalize the afternoon, the general circle walks one proposal through all the steps from start to finish, seeking to consent on how to welcome new members and prepare them to participate in the sociocratic process. Then the organizers draw a quick chart of the organization with double links.

lake wobegon

Done! Time for champagne and fireworks!

Sociocracy makes creative new solutions possible. There are many ways that this group of people could alter this particular pattern to customize it to their needs as those needs emerge.

Well then. Hm. It was a nice exercise for the anal part of me (here is a step by step list, yish!), but does a group of friends wanting to increase local resilience need a governance structure? When does a group need one, and when would it be better for the energy of the group just go and do stuff? And how about letting governance evolve rather than imposing it in one fell swoop?

It is dawning on me that sociocracy really is a culture. And a culture cannot be imposed; it can only be nurtured and evolved. And it can only be nurtured and evolved if it is internalized and embodied. I will be thinking about how sociocracy can be gently seeded among people seeking to share power within collaborative endeavors.

And my advice to our friends at Lake Wobegon? Gather into a small circle to do something that excites you. That’s your aim. Learn the consent process for making decisions. Then go implement them. Toggle back and forth between thinking and doing. Have fun. When you run into a possible sister group, double-link with them. Let it all grow from the grassroots.

moving to sociocracy