Juicy Compilations about Big Empathy and Transformational Conversation

In the last ten days two major compilations have been posted related to the co-intelligence work – one on Big Empathy and one summarizing the work of the Dialogue and Deliberation Transformation initiative in January (“D&DTrans”). Here are overviews and links to both.



I have been studying empathy pretty intensively for about a year, inspired largely by the Credere “Empathic Individualism” Award I received last year.

I’ve now written many blog posts on empathy and co-intelligence and I just completed a “final” major paper on “Big Empathy”. It is accompanied by an edited mp3 of the talk I gave at the award ceremony – “Big Empathy: Creating a Wise Democracy and a Caring Economy” – and a graphic model to summarize the three main elements of big empathy. In them I suggest that we need to expand our empathy in three ways:
1. widening our “circle of care” to include more beings of more species over greater time periods;
2. becoming better practitioners of empathy; and
3. embedding empathy in our cultures and social systems.

You can review an extensive brainstorm of ways these three developmental realms can be nurtured.

I invite you to explore summaries and links of all these new materials and my various empathy blog posts on a newly dedicated Empathy page on the Co-Intelligence Institute website.

(Also, I just got word that a video interview I had several days ago with Edwin Rutsch of Culture of Empathy has been posted. In addition to exploring my ideas on Big Empathy, the last 2/3rds of the video show a more spontaneous conversation about what might be involved in building a movement around empathy. It provides an interesting example of what I think of when I talk about being a “thinking partner” with someone who has a compelling vision, as Edwin does. Among other topics, we explored how people may not respond to the term “empathy” because they think of it only in terms of feelings (especially sympathy) rather than in terms of everyone being well heard and getting their needs met (which is more the way Edwin and I and others think of it). In addition, you’ll find tons of laughter in the video, providing a good glimpse of the lighter side of my personality not often seen online. Now, back to business…)




In December and especially January my work was largely devoted to a project inspired by a question I raised in a post to the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD):

What do we, as members of the dialogue and deliberation
community of practice, have to be and do to enable our
most positive transformational impact in the face of
emerging global crises which fundamentally challenge
our business-as-usual habits and systems?

Many NCDDers offered a rich flood of diverse responses. Several of them – notably Bohm Dialogue pioneer Linda Ellinor and online conversation maestro Ben Roberts – took initiative to organize actual conversations around my question. I joined them as a thinking partner in a dozen organizing calls and countless emails.

Their efforts drew more than 60 people into almost 40 hours of conversations exploring the role of dialogue and deliberation in addressing extinction level issues like climate change. This massive undertaking included 3 virtual World Cafes, 2 virtual Open Space meetings, and 6 virtual Bohm Dialogues using audio (and sometimes video) phone conferencing platforms which enabled participants to talk in breakout groups as part of the larger virtual gatherings. Participants and organizers both took extensive notes on a wiki-like online platform called Hackpad and added further comments between conversations.

You can explore a recently completed final report describing highlights of the whole process. It includes many links to the original Hackpad material. I reported to you the results of conversations I personally convened in the virtual Open Space about “Sixteen Approaches to the Strategic Use of Conversation”. But that report represents only my personal slice of a much larger collective whole that is worth exploring in the final report if you find the convening question (above) compelling.

May all these rich resources be of interest and use to you.

Blessings, always, on all our individual and collective journeys.



Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440
“Calling forth the wisdom and resources of the whole for the whole”



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