We believe that ours is an era in which the need for fundamental structural transformation is increasingly and self-evidently dire. But the effective realization of such a systemic change requires a comprehensive movement of movements that is organized in a profoundly innovative and different manner, structurally inclusive across various nonviolent causes (i.e., peace, justice, environment, interfaith collaboration, etc.) and thus, able to generate "integra-cumulative impact" sustainably. In other words, we need a grass-roots nonviolent movement of movements capable of gathering, in effective integrated collaboration across various causes, the needed "critical mass" to effect sustained profound systemic change.
Thus, the Circles of Nonviolence/Community Collaboratives Initiative, a.k.a., the Circles Movement of Movements, is a collaborative ("in the trenches") theory-praxis work, of building the needed infrastructure for systemic collaboration, "genetically" inclusive of various causes, for a sustained post-modern (i.e., truly bottom-up) popular movement of movements, capable of generating the needed "critical mass" for EFFECTIVE and SUSTAINED systemic transformation for the better.
What We Do: A Step by Step Summary
Here is a way of summarizing what we do concretely:
- Holding many orientation/introduction meetings (as many as the local "area of integration focus" needs) to find the Circle/Collaborative's initial core participants;
- Identifying pertinent issues in the community, and concurrently starting to bring "civility actors" of the area together--in or outside the "formal" meetings of the Circle/Collaborative; and
- Nurturing genuine relationships and (non-competitive) networking, leading to initial collaborations within and among the local persons, groups, and organizations already engaged nonviolently in the area's peace, justice, interfaith dialogue/cooperation, safeguarding Mother Earth, etc.
The Circles Movement of Movement's ambitious and demanding (but not impossible) mission is to cause foundational change by facilitating the co-creation of a comprehensive grid of autonomous Circles of Nonviolence/Community Collaboratives, integrated in systemic and synergistic collaboration (through the actions of their gradually developing common-ground projects/campaigns) across the U.S., and eventually around the world.
Thus, emphasizing the initiative's facilitative nature, our mission statement emphasizes that as a "non-partisan horizontal META-organization” we are NOT yet another project to add to (and unintentionally compete with) already existing civil society efforts. Hence, by systemically facilitating mutual co-empowerment, our movement of movements' process aims to retain and indeed cherish the unique and needed roles of all participating actors (persons or organizations) within the U.S. civil society, eventually resulting in systemic synergistic impact.
In other words (and quite critically), rather than the modernist temptation toward the "unification of mission or identity" under one overall umbrella (hence unavoidable hierarchy), this is a "post-modern" method of systemic organizing that aims to build a comprehensive movement of movements through the "co-strengthening integration of the results" of civil society struggles (currently un-integrated, if not fragmented), toward generating that elusive "integra-cumulative impact" which is required unavoidably to produce the needed "critical mass" sustainably (not episodically or crisis-specifically); if one wishes actual profound peaceful change on our deeply distressed Mother Earth--before it is too late.
The Twin Structure
The ‘Socratic’ Integration Process
Perhaps the most critical characteristic of the Circles Movement of Movements initiative is that the "Circles of Nonviolence" it generates have (by design) no ideology, religion, spirituality, project, action, or any agenda of their own, except for fostering authentic nonviolence as a foundational common ground value and practice.
The Chamber of Commerce Analogy
The critical movement-building significance of the above distinction is revealed through the following analogy:
In each community of significant size there is a Chamber of Commerce with the mission of "facilitating mutually strengthening collaboration" (hence fostering "integra-cumulative impact") among FOR-PROFIT corporations; whereby the Chamber is not supposed to have an agenda favoring certain industries over others. By the way of a rather imperfect analogy, due to their exclusively dialogue-centered and networking nature, our initiative's "Circles of Nonviolence" serve to co-strengthen the not-for-profit civil society efforts (and activists) regardless of action or struggle, i.e., peace, justice, environment, interfaith collaboration, etc.
In other words, the Chamber of Commerce of each area is "genetically" prohibited from engaging in any for-profit business of its own (or favoring one corporation over another), thus preserving its systemic neutrality, so that it can be (and remain) a welcoming "container" for the systemic collaboration (despite competition) of all corporations that pursue private profit.
On the other hand, we "civility actors" (of each area/community) currently do not have a similar agenda-free welcoming container for effective systemic collaboration--among our not-for-profit nonviolent civility pursuits. Thus our efforts are not effectively connected (through systemic collaborative action) to the civility efforts in other areas/communities. This welcoming agenda-free "chamber" we call the CIRCLE OF NONVIOLENCE.
Thus, civil society activists and groups (who have accepted the Circles initiative's mission) come together in the welcoming and un-biased environment of their area's "Circle of Nonviolence" for the purpose of building systemic collaboration across cause.
This coming together (as in the "Chamber of Commerce” of for-profit corporations) will inevitably result in mutually beneficial collaborative projects or actions, reflecting each community's needs. But because the Circle of Nonviolence cannot engage in any action of its own (for the reasons explained) such collaborations (in action) are undertaken in the action-capable "Community Collaborative" co-component (or “twin”) of the area's Circle of Nonviolence. So, the mission of such a Community Collaborative (functioning organically alongside its twin Circle of Nonviolence) is to facilitate pervasive participatory collaboration, especially in systemic movement-building action, locally, regionally, nationally, and eventually globally.
In other words, participants of the Circle and of the Collaborative (who usually would be the same volunteer individuals) dialogue and network in the welcoming environment (free of pre-determined agendas) of the area's Circle/Collaborative, adding to the strength of one another systemically. And when the participants of the Circle/Collaborative decide (collaboratively--using a form of Socratic inquiry as guiding methodology) to undertake a project or action, the interested participants do the work through the area's action-capable movement-building engine, namely the Community Collaborative, which (similar to the Circle) is not focused on any pre-determined issue or struggle.
And because unlike its "twin" Circle this Collaborative is able (by design) to undertake projects and actions in any appropriate area of nonviolent community, regional, or even global concern (offering its collaborative services free of charge―like the Circle), the core mission of such a Community Collaborative is to promote pervasive participatory collaboration (in systemic action) in the authentic public interest (initially) of its immediate area/community.