Pacific Green Party invites members to join formal discussions of our most divisive issues
The Pacific Green Party seeks to model respect for diversity, including diversity of thought. At the January 2023 winter convention, Pacific Green Party members agreed to enter into mediation to continue discussions of complex issues, such as COVID, the war in Ukraine, and police brutality.
One approach to large-group mediation is inspired by the Green Party key value of grassroots democracy: "...to create new types of political organizations that expand the process of participatory democracy." The structural elements of this large-group consensus model are based on one of the oldest continuously functioning participatory democracies in the world.
Pacific Green Party members who choose to participate in a discussion self-select into one of three groups:
the Initiating group, initiating a proposal,
the Responding group, responding to the proposal, or
the Mediating group, which reviews the proposal for consistency with Green values, to find common ground, and to suggest possible next steps towards consensus.
Any person or group may initiate a proposal. Members can also choose not to participate in a discussion.
Allowing free association with any group on any discussion is inspired by a series of organizational structure discussions led by long-time Green Party member Brian Setzler. His presentations demonstrated how complex behavior can arise from simple first-order rules, as in a murmuration.
"Community clubs and activities, new businesses, cocktail parties, marches, rallies, unions, churches, cliques, gangs, beach cleanups---people self-organize all the time," said Brian, the 2022 Green Party candidate for Portland City Auditor. "Organizations are complex, adapting systems, self-organizing all the time. They are living systems."
An Initiating group may choose to be anonymous and manage its own meeting times and spaces, for the greatest possible personal safety. An anonymous Initiating group would select a Pacific Green Party member to serve as its public liaison, managing all public communications on its behalf.
An Initiating group may be open to all members or restricted to a specified identity, to create a safe space for those discussions. A caucus based on shared political views, such as the Green Liberty Caucus, may choose to restrict its Initiating group to caucus members only. All Pacific Green Party members can still participate in the overall discussion, by joining the Responding or Mediating groups.
Some Initiating groups may choose to be both: restricted and anonymous. For example, a discussion of aggressive and violent language and behavior directed towards women may restrict its Initiating group membership to women, and request anonymity, creating a safe space for its discussions.
Software is available to track individual discussion items as each one moves sequentially from left to right through each step in the sequence. A discussion item starts as "Submitted" and is reviewed before a "Call for members" invites PGP registered members to join the Initiating, Responding, and Mediating groups. The item then moves through each of those groups.
The discussion item moves to the next step of the process when the group organizer explicitly selects the group's consensus position. Here are the options for the mediating group in Round 1:
When there is no consensus, the Mediating group offers a mediating proposal for both groups to consider.
The Initiating group and Responding group independently consider the original proposal and the mediating proposal. If both groups consent to the same proposal, there is consensus; if both groups do not consent to the same proposal, there is no consensus and the discussion is recorded, as a potential starting point for the next discussion.
To start a discussion anonymously, approach a trusted member to initiate the discussion on your behalf and act as your liaison.
To start a discussion and share your contact information: https://airtable.com/shrbatdWxmfWK4mWl .
To follow current discussions, join the discussion group LargeGroupConsensus, watch your email for the latest updates on the discussion, or see the most recent calls for discussions of specific topics at https://www.pacificgreens.org/mediation.
For more information, see the slide deck about the Greens' 1-2-3 Consensus process or attend a meeting of the Greens Watershed Democracy group every second Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Green Party members share a focus on ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence. To register as a member of the Pacific Green Party, visit the Secretary of State website at https://sos.oregon.gov/voting/pages/registration.aspx?lang=en .