Executive summary


The Commons: an Institute of the Whole

a California non-profit founded in 1979

Executive Summary - Draft Statement from 2/25/97

Mission:  "Our mission is to create a dynamic community of service which:

  •  Builds processes of cooperation
  •  Provides awareness of the abundance all around us
  • Values every voice &

Empowers individuals to give their gifts

Our Primary Focus: The Challenge of Full Participation

Basic Strategy:
Facilitate linkage and collaboration among individuals of goodwill (versus institutions) who have a strong personal stewardship ethic. They express this ethic through high levels of competence in their chosen fields, plus active participation and leadership in their communities. This parallels the example of the Committees of Correspondence during the American Revolutionary period.

The Commons' Objectives: toenable individual and community self-reliance and self-determination by:

  • applying existing solutions
  • developing collaborative intellectual properties and mechanisms
  • facilitating the free flow of information to the right person at the right time in the right form without regard to economic, educational or cultural background

Ethic of the Commons:

We aspire to the goals of spiritual freedom, social equality and economic mutuality for all people. We are accountable to these goals in our missions, our personal and our work life.

Commons Practice Values:
To be accountable to our Mission and Ethics, We:

  • Practice full disclosure in all our business activities.
  • Draw on all the available wisdom to address our challenges.
  • Work with suppliers who strive for parallel missions, ethics and practice values.
  • Support the Principles for Business as put forth by the Caux Roundtable.*
  • Follow through when we give our word or make commitments, and when we can't follow through we notify the affected parties as soon as possible, acknowledging the situation and listening to the feedback that results.

In order to respectfully relate to one another, We:

  • Speak truthfully from personal experience; use 'I' statements whenever possible.
  • Work to suspend certainties and assumptions.
  • Respect each other by deepening the inquiry, building on the previous thoughts.
  • Treat each other as colleagues and peers.

Ask questions which help the whole group to truly understand what another person is trying to express.

Understand and apply the distinction between facilitating of process and directing of outcomes: we do this as a means for resolving the inherent conflicts between how we do things and what we accomplish as a group; always affirming the positive intentions of each team member.

Practice dialogue as put forth by the Global Dialogue Initiative.
* For a copy of the Principles for Business as put forth by the Caux Roundtable, contact the U.S. Secretariat at 1156 15th St. NW, ste 910, Washington, D.C. 20005-1704
202-872-9077 fx 202-872-9137

We foster an environment for dialogue to emerge through flexible guidelines.

Use moments of silence as a tool:

  • to open the dialogue with an attitude of reverence for what is about to take place.
  • to allow the group to reflect on the thought of others, and what feelings and meanings they evoke in us.
  • to support whatever group and individual needs this tool can address.

Empower everyone in the group to do 'process checks' (interrupts) when necessary to assure that the spirit of the guidelines is being supported and experienced by all the participants, i.e. requesting an 'I' statement.
Affirm the guidelines and a spirit of learning before beginning dialogue.
Have a brief moment of silence and, when appropriate, a brief introduction to the subject for the group to respond to and build on in the dialogue.


There will come a time, we know, when people will take delight in one another, when each will be a star to the others, and when each of us will listen to our fellows as to music.

The free people will walk upon the earth. People great in freedom.

We will walk with open hearts, and our hearts will be pure of envy and greed. Therefore all humanity will be without malice, there will be nothing to divorce the heart from reason.

Then life will be one great service to humanity! Our figure will be raised to lofty heights, for to free people, all heights are attainable.

Then we shall live in truth and freedom, and in beauty; and those will be accounted the best who will the more widely embrace the world with their hearts, and whose love will be the profoundest. Those will be the best who will be the freest, for in them is the greatest beauty;
Then life will be great, and the people will be great who live that life.
'Esperanza' excerpted from The Mother by Maxim Gorky (modified to 1st person plural)

The World Game Challenge: To make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone. 
- Buckminster Fuller
Adopt whatever part of this fits, and let's do it. Now is the time!

708 Gravenstein Hwy. N. #135, Sebastopol, CA 95472
contact: jballard@commons.org
(707) 829-3976  tel

Maximize use of the available wisdom