Virginia Climate Fever – Author Stephen Nash Speaks Weds. 3/25

From Superstorm Sandy to Typhoon Haiyan, climate change is already causing extreme weather, sea level rise, droughts, and more – all around the globe. In his book Virginia Climate Fever:  How Global Warming Will Transform Our Cities, Shorelines, and Forests, environmental journalist Stephen Nash details the current impacts and future threats of climate change in our very own state.

Stephen Nash will speak on Virginia Climate Fever at Charlottesville’s Central Library on Wednesday, March 25, at 7pm in the McIntire Room. You are invited to join the Sierra Club for this important discussion. Refreshments will be provided. For more information, please contact Suzanne at (434) 245-9898 or or

Virginia Climate Fever – The book we’ve been waiting for.

Book Review by John A. Cruickshank, Chair of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club

A group of fifteen activists met four times this winter to discuss how climate change will affect the Old Dominion during the 21st century.  To provide a framework for our discussions, we all read Virginia Climate Fever by Stephen Nash.  This recently released book provides a detailed description of the climatic disruptions we can expect in Virginia and the steps needed to adapt to these changes.  Nash warns that Virginia has made little progress in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are a major cause of climate change and is not making the necessary preparations for the challenges we face in the decades ahead.

Climate change has already come to Virginia.  Average temperatures have risen, flora and fauna across the state have been affected, and our coastal areas are experiencing significant flooding.  Nash allows the research to speak for itself.  His book provides essential data with easily understood maps and charts.  He describes his many conversations with respected scientists, government leaders, and Virginians who are now dealing with climate disruption.

During most our meetings the participants examined what is happening in our own community. We discussed actions citizens can take to reduce our carbon footprint and prepare for the inevitable problems ahead.  Most of us will not live to see the worst effects of climate disruption, but we are concerned that our children and grandchildren’s lives will become more difficult because of the actions (or inaction) taken today.

We recommend that everyone read Virginia Climate Fever.  It brings home the seriousness of this issue that will affect the lives of Virginians for many years to come.  It is available at the library and local book stores.

Our book group was organized by the Sierra Club, 350 Central Virginia, and Transition Charlottesville Albemarle.  To become involved and learn more about what you can do to prepare our community for climate disruption, please go to the websites of these local groups.

Beyond Democracy 6 – How People Who Use Sociocracy Grow and Change

As I said in my last vlog, in 2007 I got a high definition video camera and some editing software and made a video about sociocracy. I traveled to Vermont, Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, and recorded at a medical company here in Charlottesville.
One theme that I didn’t anticipate kept presenting itself
and now I’m going present that knowledge to you.
We’ll listen to a number of people at CMR, Charlottesville Medical Research, where they call DG DSG, for Dynamic SELF-Governance. It’s a nice name and I like being able to sprinkle it on my stir fry.

Here is my vlog

and, if you get this in an e-mail message, here is a link to the vlog.

So let’s start with Pieter van de Meche, a consultant at the Sociocracy Center in the Netherlands.

Pieter: “It encourages people to grow. To grow as a person. A human being.”

Chike: “I personally think I’ve grown as an individual, as a dad, as a husband because of DSG.”

Nancy: “The method in DSG of being sure everyone is heard does force people who possibly might not speak up to do so.

Chike: “You can come out of this with a deeper understanding of even yourself and being able to speak up and raise your concerns for some people that can be liberating because they’re speaking up and saying these concerns for the first time in their lives.”

Paul: “…and it takes awhile for people to even get used to that [being asked for their input]. We have employees that have never really been asked how they felt about something, or a policy that was going to be set that they actually helped create the policy and it can’t be implemented without their consent. And that is scary for some people and it takes supporting them to learn how to work with the tool and work in the circle environment.”

Nancy: “When you do that you are putting yourself out there. You’re making yourself more vulnerable.”
“You are more accountable. You’re accountable for the decisions that’s being made in that group just as much as anybody. So when the decision is made, you are part of that decision.”

Pieter: “And that’s a shift of perspective and this shift of perspective – there you encounter most of the problems because it’s not in our culture. It’s not in our conditioning. We’re not used to it.”

Nancy: “I think everybody really wants to be heard in life.

Gregg: “So it is about ultimately creating an environment where people trust that they can speak up and it won’t be punished. They they can speak up and it will be valued, and I do believe it takes time for that to happen.”

Pieter: “So this process to let it in and really grasp the meaning of what it means to be equivalent with others.”
“It’s also an internal development process which takes time. And which for us is a challenge – us here as consultants and trainers and that’s the biggest question I think that is on the table.”

Joyce: “Some people develop skills where they become more comfortable with what they would have previously seen as conflict. And it’s really not conflict. It’s just putting yourself out there.”
“This last general circle meeting we had just this week – usually I’m the only one putting forth agenda items – bringing things like that up. There were 8 items on the agenda. I only contributed to one. So the rest of the staff brought items that they wanted to discuss, and they were policy items. They weren’t operational. So now they get it.”

Paul: “It’s powerful. People feel different. You know it’s so much more than a way to run a business. It really gets down to a very deep level of empowering people to helping them become free in their lives, to be able to make choices and create a reality that they choose, that feels right to them inside. It’s really quite magical.

So, this transformation that people go through can be roughly outlined like this: your circle has to make a decision that may be higher stakes than you are used to making decisions about; you listen to other people and also research the issues; you declare your decision in a meeting, perhaps changing your opinion as new information comes to light; then others in your circle do the same and the group builds up trust over time.
As Paul said, it feels different. It feels different because it is different!
So I hope you feel different now and I’ll see you again for my next blog at a different time…

Beyond Democracy 5 How People Who Use Sociocracy Talk About It

So now we know the rules of the game, what’s the experience of playing the game? What does sociocracy look like in practice?
Well, in 2007 I got a high definition video camera and some editing software and made a 28-minute video about sociocracy. I traveled to Vermont, Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, and one mile from my house to a medical company that was adopting it that year. I later also got an interview with a school director in North Carolina. I’m just going to show you some clips that will help paint a picture of what using sociocratic processes results in.

If you’re getting this in an e-mail message, you can check out my vlog here.

Below are the transcriptions from those interviews.

Renee Owen, Executive Director of Rainbow Mountain Children’s School in Asheville, North Carolina: “One thing that was very interesting that somebody said at the very beginning of the school year – right after we adopted dynamic governance – was something like, ‘It seems like we have so much more work to do. We’ve taken on so many more jobs, but my job seems easier.’ And I think the reason for that is because the organization was running so much better.”
“So, at first, it was taking a little bit more time, but that only lasted a couple months and now it’s actually running more efficiently, but even if that had continued, and it was taking a little bit more time, I think most of us would rather go home after an 8 ½ hour day that we felt empowered, and we were satisfied and we were successful than going home at the end of an 8 hour day feeling belittled and inefficient and ineffective.”

CMR is Charlottesville Medical Research in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Nancy Bolton, former CEO, CMR: “No one is really saying ‘pass’ or ‘I don’t have anything to say’ unless they truly are just neutral with the subject. Whereas before some people would not be saying anything. So I think it’s created much more of a trusting environment actually.”

Penny Amos, research assistant, CMR: “We have never left a meeting with something just hanging in mid air and said,
We’ll have to get back to that. We’ll have to think about it.’ We go in and we discuss it and we make a decision.”

Chike Delmore, patient recruiter, CMR: “It’s sped up the process by which our group has been able to make decisions.”

Renee Owen: “It’s completely, really taken us by surprise. We didn’t expect to adopt it originally. We didn’t expect to adopt it so quickly. And we had no idea the results would be so incredible. And I would like to find a way to let more organizations know about it.”
“It was really kind of a benign monarchy before we had dynamic governance because I prefer to run an organization in a way that everyone is empowered and they have a voice, but we didn’t have the structure for that.”
“Since we’ve adopted dynamic governance, it’s much easier and more efficient for me to delegate. I’m able to receive information from different committees in a much more efficient fashion. I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable my job is.”

Piet Slieker, CEO of Endenburg Electronics where sociocracy was first developed over thirty years ago: “My clients, they are convinced that this is the method they want, because we have better motivated people. They know that we want to listen to them and that they are not a number or something.”

Renee Owen: “Dynamic governance has created a fabulous model because they are watching everybody in our community now work together and everybody’s empowered. We’re always talking to the kids about being creative. We’re always wanting them to be inspired and to use their own intuition and creativity and now they’re seeing a much better model amongst the adults in the organization because we’re being more creative and we’re working together in a much better fashion than we were before.”

Joyce Womack, current CEO: “It’s taken us a year to really understand ourselves to a certain extent, to set up all of our domains, to really understand what is each circle’s mission and aim, how it fits with the mission and aim of the company overall, and what is your personal level of responsibility to that circle.”

Renee Owen: “Since we adopted dynamic governance it has been easier for parents to integrate into policy making at the school. Dynamic governance has ended up becoming one large, ongoing visioning process at our school. Dynamic governance naturally creates visioning all the time. It’s naturally pulling the opinions of all stakeholders at all different times.”

Bert Lambeck, principal of the Roombeek Schools in Enschede in the Netherlands: “In this school and also my former school the people get more involved. We are more productive. The quality is better. There is less illness by the teachers. There are less problems. The atmosphere is better. It’s good for the children. It’s good for the parents.”

Joyce Womack: “A more satisfied staff including me. I like coming to work. They like coming to work. We care about each other in a way and things that matter. It’s not just about the bottom line. It’s about human individuals and why else are we on this earth? I’m not here to make a dollar for someone. I’m here to make a contribution.”
“I’ve been in business for 30 years and I haven’t run across a better way.”

What I learned while making my video is that sociocracy is not only a great way for people to self-organize, it also fosters personal transformation.
My next vlog will have more clips of people talking about that transformation. Please join me again for that one.

Beyond Democracy 1 – Let’s move beyond democracy – First in a series

Hi! my name’s Ted Millich and I live in Thomas Jefferson’s town, Charlottesville, Virginia, and I call this blog series ‘Beyond Democracy.’ I’m also posting a vlog version which is available here.

It’s being posted on the Charlottesville Albemarle Transition website, but feel free to post it anywhere because it’s revolutionary information that everyone needs to know.

I’d like to tell you about the next step in the evolution of human governance. That’s right, democracy isn’t the ultimate way for us to govern ourselves.

Emile van Danzig, a trainer of this governance method at the Dutch car rental company Wheels4All says: “Democracy is not the right way to come to a solution. It was a good one, but now there are better methods.”

I’ll show you what those better methods are – what is beyond good ol’ democracy – and you’ll find out why it’s a revolutionary way of working, how it works, why it’s better, and what it looks like in practice. I’ll show you some video clips of interviews I’ve done with people who use it, and how we can bring it from businesses, where it’s forty years old and has gained traction in hundreds of organizations around the world, into government.

This is a pretty big subject, but I’ve condensed it into a series of blogs that explain everything. Please read my next blog about this innovation which is called Dynamic Governance, or Sociocracy, because Larilee Suiter, who lives at the Champlain Valley CoHousing, near Burlington, Vermont, where she’s used it for ten years, thinks sociocracy works pretty well…

Larilee Suiter: “Sociocracy isn’t just a little bit better. Sociocracy is a quantum leap better!”

Also Rene Owen, the executive director of the Rainbow Mountain Children’s School in Asheville, North Carolina, says what a lot of us in the dynamic governance movement say – that it’s more than just a method of governance.

Rene Owen: “Dynamic governance certainly is a new paradigm, but it’s … …it’s a whole different paradigm.”

Please tune in again for my next blog entry where I reveal more about how to move beyond democracy.
After you’ve read enough to realize that this is possibly humanity’s most important technological innovation ever, look to your right and sign up to get the blog in your inbox so you can join me in changing the dominant paradigm by a quantum leap!

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