Tom Atlee

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Tom Atlee "is founder, co-director, and research director of the non-profit Co-Intelligence Institute. From the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, his work focused on developing a society's capacity to function as a wise democracy. Since 2005, his work has increasingly focused on the dynamics of conscious evolution -- in particular the conscious evolution of social systems. These intertwined undertakings are motivated by a desire to turn our social and environmental challenges into positive developments for our society

"Tom's social change vision is based on new understandings of wholeness which recognize the value of diversity, unity, relationship, context, uniqueness and the spirit inside each of us and the world. Co-intelligence is a form of intelligence grounded in that kind of wholeness. It has collaborative and collective dimensions, which we see clearly in higher forms of politics and governance. Co-intelligence theory also acknowledges many facets of intelligence (like head and heart), wisdom, and the higher forms of intelligence (natural and sacred) that move through and beyond us. Although Tom and the Institute focus on very practical issues of group, social and political dynamics, co-intelligence has many esoteric dimensions as well.

"His work in conscious evolution has unfolded in close partnership with Peggy Holman, lead editor of The Change Handbook, and Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution! Tom collaborated with them on both books, on organizing a series of "evolutionary salons" and, along with Susan Cannonl, on organizing a new nonprofit, Evolutionary Life. With Peggy he has undertaken intensive research on evolutionary dynamics that can guide the transformation of social systems (one key paper is here, others are here) and envisioning and building a movement for the conscious evolution of social systems. He is lead editor of the Evolutionary Life newsletter.

"Tom has written extensively on leading-edge issues in politics, philosophy, and social transformation and evolution. Much of this writing has been shared with his mailing list and/or published on this website or his blogs, and a number of articles have been published in alternative journals. The core of co-intelligence and Tom's political vision were published in his 2003 The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World that Works for All. -- a book first envisioned in 1993 with Eryn Kalish and, after years of manuscripts reviewed by over 100 people, finally completed in 2002 with his long-time colleague Rosa Zubizarreta. He was co-editor with Judy Laddon and Larry Shook of the 1998 book Awakening: The Upside of Y2K, which provides a good example of how to view major social crises as opportunities for personal, community and societal transformation. He has also worked with a number of other leading authors on their books.

"Tom's current work has grown out of years of exploring and writing about collaborative dynamics. In Jan 1991 he did community-building work in Belize and, funded by the German Marshall Fund, toured Czechoslovakia with his partner Karen Mercer at the request of the Federal Environmental Ministry, introducing activists and government officials to ecologically sound, community-centered alternatives and writing reports on the "green status" of Czechoslovakian cities they visited, for the Ministry (Apr-June). In 1993 he organized an 8-month written dialogue on "societal intelligence" involving Robert Theobald, Fran Peavey, Howard Rheingold, Willis Harman, Hazel Henderson, Andrew Schmookler, Arnold Mindell, Duane Elgin, Charles Johnston, Eleanore M. Cooper and a dozen others. From 1989-1994 he edited and published Thinkpeace, a national journal of peacemaking strategy and philosophy for which he wrote a bi-monthly column for 8 years (including 3 years before he took over publishing it). From the early 1990s into early 2000s, he became a thinking partner with Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, Ned Crosby, Jim Rough, Sandy Heierbacher, Carolyn Shaffer, Peggy Holman, Jay Earley, Rachel Bagby and others at the leading edge of transformational exploration.

"In addition to giving workshops, presentations and organizing and/or facilitating a number of conferences, he has served on several boards and has co-organized a number of groups, including

  • a weekly meeting to learn and practice the dialogue methodologies of quantum physicist David Bohm and others (which continued from 1991 into 1993), during which he began his long friendship with Kenoli Oleari;
  • a community of readers of In Context [a journal of sustainable culture] and Yes! magazine [a journal of positive futures] which met twice-monthly between 1995 and 2001 (successor to a 9-month group of In Context readers he organized in 1991);
  • a twice-monthly Utne Reader Salon which met for five years;
  • a two-year long project which successfully promoted the film about sustainable economics, Who's Counting: Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics, getting hundreds of copies sold and shown on TV -- during which he met Susan Strong who later founded the Metaphor Project;
  • dialogues during 1998-1999 about many aspects of Y2K - from community preparation to spiritual challenges to cultural transformation opportunities, during which he connected with colleagues like Margaret Wheatley, Vicki Robin, Sharif Abdullah, Halim Dunsky, Rick Ingrasci, John Steiner and others;
  • the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Group Learning, through which he met Eileen Palmer, John Abbe and others, between 1993 and 1999;
  • group inquiries into new, non-adversarial, holistic modes of activism that take into account the new sciences (quantum mechanics, chaos and complexity theories, ecology, field theory, etc.)(2000-present time);
  • The Sunshine Facilitation Collective in Eugene, OR, with practitioners of numerous group practices mentioned on this website, notably Dynamic Facilitation, consensus, listening circles and The World Cafe." [1]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Tom Atlee, Co-Intelligence Institute, accessed January 2, 2009.