(For related information, click on WHO are we? (the network))
I am concerned about the health of our democracy. The “non-organization“ is an antidote; it enables citizens to take back power and control, to assume responsibility. It does not replace the need for, but rather works with traditional organizations.
The non-organization is individuals and organizations sharing information through email networks (inexpensive communication independent of the established media). The non-organization can assert active citizen participation into the decision-making process. Consider:
– Individuals receive information, to do with as they like. External expectations are non-existent.
– Different approaches are accommodated. People work toward the same goal; how they each get there is unimportant. Various strategies complement each other.
– The network is self-organizing.
– Time expended is truly in pursuit of the objective:
- no administrative time for filling out forms, membership lists, etc.
- time is action-based: no long-winded debates, power struggles, personality conflicts, no requirement to “organize”.
- no fund-raising, or jumping through hoops to get funding.
- no follow-up to see that things get done.
- no, or few meetings.
– If you are dependent on an external body for funding, for certification, for authorization, you are curtailed in your ability to act expeditiously in accordance with what you believe to be right and effective. You give power and control to others. In the non-organization the individual is independent, but highly INTER-dependent. The communal objective is achieved only if the efforts of one person are joined to those of another, until critical mass is achieved, sufficient to affect the decision outcome.
– Great faith in each other is an absolute requirement. You must “know” that as long as people have the information they WILL do what they can to help, and you “know” that whatever that is, it will be enough. From simple awareness, to passing information along, to making a telephone call, to providing one’s own input, to writing a letter, to attending a public meeting – – each action, small or big, has unpredictable ripple effects.
– Participants have to be comfortable with a lack of control, with “not knowing”. Information goes out and is re-sent into the networks of other people; there is no one who knows how many people receive the information, who will react or how they will react.
– When you add what you know to what I know from my perspective, a more complete picture emerges. The non-organization assembles the pieces of a puzzle held by individual citizens. Decision-making is thus more wholistic.
– Many people become well-informed (provided the subject is meritorious and compelling). Bad decisions are possible when there is an uninformed public and/or a corrupt system of governance.
– Speed of response is rapid, a tactical advantage. People are not held up awaiting “authorization” or a group decision. The decision to do something belongs to the individual.
– Governments tend to control both information and process, which bestows control of outcome. Email networks can provide balance to this power, a restoration of health to the democracy.
– The networks operate on the principle that experience, curiosity, passion for a subject, and self-teaching all have value. All participants have access to the same information regardless of title or status. Titles are generally not used; paternalism is not at work. It is horizontal, not hierarchical organization.
– There are no labels. The “non-organization” is people from diverse backgrounds. “The system” is robbed of its ability to dismiss an individual on the basis of membership in a group discredited by innuendo (“she’s one of THEM” – dirty words like environmentalist, activist, etc. ).
– Ideas and information are visible; appearances are invisible in email networks. People become known, and the process becomes driven by content, not cover.
– Our “non-organization” is a collaborative as opposed to an adversarial model. Information is shared with everyone, including those traditionally seen as the adversaries. Equality is achieved through equal access to information, by acting in good faith and with integrity.
Our email network has a strong base in Saskatchewan and Alberta because it originated with the fight against the proposal to build the Meridian Dam on the South Saskatchewan River near the border. We joined hands across the border.
With each issue we tackle, the network grows. There are now people from across Canada, with some representation from other countries.
We have a steady flow of new participants; occasionally some people drop off. (I am not offended if anyone wants off the distribution at any time!)
There are different distribution lists. I have tried to focus on one issue at a time. Today I don’t. We follow a number of issues; they are connected.
The purpose of providing information and ideas for action is to create a body of people who can have influence over what happens in their world, by working together in the service of community.
In order to have influence, our work (the information) must be solid. I rely on you to correct me if I am wrong or getting off-track. In this way, you get better information. We are inter-dependent.
We have been working together now since about 2000. And have won some major battles.
As I understand it, this is a pretty pure form of democracy. My letters and emails mean twit-all by themselves. It is only when others add the soprano, tenor and bass (I’m an alto!) that we make awesome music that will be heard. If I’m off-key no one will sing with me!
The network has no name. It is lots of “you’s” and lots of “me’s” feeling good working together.
(WRITTEN: in 2002 0r earlier)