Who are the people behind this? Click here to see the people
currently working to actualize this vision on the Implementation
I'm wondering how this differs from other social networks? It seems there are so many. Please tell me if I'm missing something. We have not found anything like NST. Social networking is only the vehicle. Our idea is to build the critical mass needed to sociocratically plan for and execute actions that will build a world where all people have an equal voice in the decisions affecting them. We are building an entirely organized, friendship and trust based, egalitarian, efficient, non-sectarian parallel government -- or even, perhaps, full fledged government -- that connects all individuals and groups into a hyper-democratic decision-making structure that plans and fosters actions that meet our common goals.
What does the logo mean?
- It incorporates the astronomical symbol of the sun, which is 98% of the mass/power in the solar system. By definition, at least 98% of people are in the Next Step Together.
- It has a single dot in the middle, which means you, and every single other living being. No more throw-away people. Every voice, every being, matters.
- It has the circle. When you sit in a round(ish) circle and you can see all the eyes on you, and you sense everyone at once, something clicks-in somewhere in your heart, in your gut, where the power waits, ready. Around the rim of the circle we all share power equally, fairly, honestly.
- It has eight sun rays. Eight is great size for a working/governing group (though 4-12 works ok).
- It has four sections in each ray. Four is the suggested number of First Circle groups that each send two representatives up the sociocratic hierarchy. So, your group of freinds and family will select two reps to meet in a Second Circle. In Second Circles. four pairs of reps represent four First Circles.
- There is also a target. Martin Luther King was a target. So were the Kennedys, Gandhi, Malcolm X and millions of others. Most of us fear being targeted, so we acknowledge our fear in the circle, where there is the safety of numbers, bringing it up and out into consciousness. We feel the fear and do NST anyways. Either we have our feelings, or they have us.
How is this going to work, specifically? Until we have achieved adequate representation of a critical mass of groups, we will all focus on
- inviting everyone we know and key organizations,
- publicizing this process, and
- welcoming, training and connecting people and circles as they join.
Whenever a circle at any level decides there is critical mass to make a decision or start a project, proposals will be made, discussed and refined.
All First Circles may use sociocratic decision-making methods. Second Circles (and above) will use them, unless they first sociocratically decide not to.
Sociocracy is a version of consensus and doesn’t consensus take too long? Sociocracy's consent process is faster and more efficient than consensus, first because the goal is always to keep steering forward and, second, because all debating and deciding is in small groups where it is easiest to deal with individuals' needs. If a First Circle cannot consent, other circles may, after considering the circle’s objections, consent to keep moving forward. And yet, though a minority may be efficiently set aside after serious consideration, the results are more satisfying to minorities than majority rules decision-making wherein minorities are routinely out-voted and ignored. The sociocratic process is very, very democratic. Every voice counts equally. It may feel a little awkward at first, and require a few hours of training, but, with just a little practice, groups are able to use the process efficiently and effectively.
Sociocratic governance uses new power structures and a different way to make decisions: consent. Consent is the most fundamental form of decision-making, and, by consent, a group can decide to use other ways to make decisions: majority vote, tradition (belief), chaos, consensus, autocratic fiat, etc. Until the development of contemporary sociocracy, no one really knew how to make a consent decision except by expressing their paramount objections in violence or by stubborn refusal (like strikes and resigning your job). The U.S. Declaration of Independence even says, "...governments exist by the consent of the people." (i.e., organizations only exist by the consent of their members.) After we withdrew consent to be governed by England, we chose to rule ourselves first by the Articles of Confederation and then by the Constitution - but not by a consent structure.
Now, for the first time, we know how to set up such a structure that enables us to surface paramount objections peacefully in such a way that they launch a creative thought process. Consent is very, very democratic. It is more egalitarian than majority vote and faster and more efficient than consensus (for one thing, there is no such thing as a block). Sociocracy incorporates the efficiency of autocratic leadership but keeps people's needs and rights secure; it incorporates chaos but prevents the destruction that can accompany chaos (i.e., sociocracy is a chaordic system).
The goal of consent decision-making is always to keep steering forward. All dialog and deciding happens in small groups where it is easiest to focus on the common aim of the circle and create an organic "we."
Although it's based on healthy small group human behavior, consent decision-making requires a few hours of training. With a bit of practice, people are able to use the process fluidly and often report feeling energized by a circle meeting.
What if I want to belong to more than one circle? It’s perfect. Because we are using sociocratic decision making, you can belong to many circles and working groups and voice your opinions in each. It’s not possible to stack or dominate the process. Just one principled voice can stop a proposal. At least in theory, there are no throw-away people in a sociocracy and no tyrannies.
What geographical area will Next Step Together work with? Just Earth, for now. We envision linked circles permeating every level of human society, local to global. Oppressive governments and corporations organize globally, so must those of us who want power equivalent democracy (almost everybody!).
What actions are we going to take? Here are 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action. But to say which one, if any, a Next Step Together circle should use would put the cart before the horse. Circles at all levels will do whatever members agree is both important and achievable, given their numbers. There are no limits in any direction, since deciding rests totally in the hands of the Governance Circles. The Implementation Circle is only building and maintaining a container, a structure, for linking groups in order to achieve critical mass and facilitate decision making. What is decided is up to the Governance Circles.
What is the Implementation Circle? The group that builds the NST structure, or container. It stops functioning in any geographical area as soon as a Top Circle representing critical mass is established there.
I’m already a part of an organization doing good work. I’ve hardly even heard of the Next Step Together. Why should I bother to get involved? Your organization may still perform its important work while cooperating with other groups to accomplish shared goals. By working together, by linking with other groups, your group will be even more effective; and by using mass movement and barn building your group could reach its goals almost immediately (scary, huh?).
Can I get involved if I represent a business? Absolutely! Simply gather your employees and/or customers into First Circles, select representatives to Second Circles and begin sharing proposals. And, read We The People . In addition, you may offer goods or services to enable other circles and projects to flourish: meals or meeting/retreat/lodging space, web design, printing, donations, etc.
Will there be an affirmative action to guarantee that women and minority projects are favored? One of the many beauties of sociocracy is that a minority of even one has huge power! The Next Step Together Mission, directs that the mass of people facilitated by Next Step Together must work to empower minorities and women everywhere. Our goal is to sociocratically bring together people and organizations that share deep democratic values. Some would insist that global warming, peace or world hunger are more pressing issues than minority rights. Each group that links in continues to focus on their specific mission; but once we combine our forces, and achieve critical mass, we should quickly accomplish change on any and all projects we take on.
What if I only want to do my group’s project and I insist on doing it first? A common and okay question! You will need to convince the circles representing the mass of people you need that your project is the best project to do first. In a city of 500,000, the 8th Circle is the Top Circle. Your project will have to seem important enough to a critical mass, and seem efficiently doable. Very likely, you will only convince higher circles, representing many people, if your group arranges to work on other groups’ projects after they accomplish yours. This is a barn-building agreement.
You may however withhold consent from other group’s projects, which will give your group another chance to convince others of the value of your project. Your objection (niggle) must be based on the NST Mission. It is critical that all circles operate in the spirit of listening and consensus building, and that the facilitators maintain a peaceful and efficient process.
Even if the appropriate circle does not consent to doing your project first, it may consent to do it after your group participates in other groups' projects. If, for whatever reason, you can’t convince enough people, then you might modify your proposal, or step aside and let something else emerge.
You may of course still continue to work on your project outside Next Step, and some Next Step groups may join you.
Can this work? It’s so ambitious! We envision Next Step Together as an enduring global sociocracy. It, or something similar, will likely be the only way humanity thrives. Although saving life on Earth seems daunting, never doubt what a giant movement of connected, committed circles can accomplish. Consider the African National Congress and their allies ending Apartheid; the velvet revolutions recreating whole Eastern European nations; the Civil Rights Movement transforming the U.S. and a black man getting elected President of the U.S. Few even dared dream, and yet….