Envision and co-create a deeply participatory culture that generates policies and activities that support the longterm quality of life.


We seek to appreciate, evoke and engage the wisdom and resourcefulness of the whole on behalf of the whole.


This Wise Democracy Pattern Language highlights dynamic factors and design principles which can make an activity, organization or community more wisely self-governing.

Based on hundreds of real-life innovations, this evolving database of wise democracy “patterns” helps us understand, re-imagine and transform the ways we manage our shared world.

Order your card deck
You can now buy a beautiful boxed set of version 2.0 pattern cards and support materials here.  Version 2.0 is also available for free download here.

Image-Credit: Martin Rausch

The Evolution of 3D Wise Democracy
& Introductory Videos

Venn Animation

This brief animated video illustrates the progressive integration of power, participation and wisdom.

Duration: 1.20 min / To read more view 3D Wise Democracy

Venn Animation
Brief introduction to our Wise Democracy Pattern Language - 1.47 min
This brief video introduces you to the features of this website.
Duration 1.47 min
Brief introduction to our Wise Democracy Pattern Language - 1.47 min
Martin and Tom introducing our Wise Democracy Pattern Language
Tom Atlee introducing our Wise Democracy Pattern Language
Duration 8 min
Martin and Tom introducing our Wise Democracy Pattern Language

Key Concepts

Our WISE DEMOCRACY PATTERN LANGUAGE is a set of things to keep in mind while developing a wisely self-managed activity, group, organization, community, network, or society.

A PATTERN is a design element or principle that promotes vitality and wholesomeness in a specific realm of human activity and that can show up in many different forms. For more on this definition see link.

A PATTERN LANGUAGE is an interrelated set of design guidelines created to help people working in its specific domain to contribute in life-serving ways. For more on this definition see link.

DEMOCRACY is self-governance, especially collective decision-making and action of, by and for those affected or “the people” generally. For more on this definition see link.

A WISE DEMOCRACY is a form of participatory self-governance that routinely creates and implements wise guidance in its public affairs. For more on this definition see link.

COLLECTIVE WISDOM is ongoing collective responsiveness to shared challenges and opportunities that takes into account what needs to be taken into account for long-term broad benefit. For more on this definition, see link.

Your Guide to
Wise Democracy Theory and
This Pattern Language

Check out the “Three Key Assumptions” this project is based on.

21st Century Problems

Choosing and Improving

The Diversity Key


We assume that our societies need – and that visitors to this site want – a wiser democracy – that is, a participatory system for generating collective wisdom to guide ourselves in meeting 21st century challenges.  We also assume that to the extent we don’t have a wise democracy – given what’s unfolding in our world – we will continue to be in increasingly big trouble, individually and collectively.


We assume that to the extent we can identify and understand the factors that would make a society both democratic and collectively wise, we can look over existing initiatives and innovations and choose and improve what could help us create a wise democracy, as well as creating new initiatives to also serve that purpose.


We assume that something this big cannot be achieved by any one person, group or network.  It will need to be taken up as a passionate calling and commitment by widely diverse people, groups, and networks all guided by understandings like those noted in Assumption 2 and reworking those understandings together as they learn together from experience.

Image Credit: pixel2013 / valeriiaarnaud / – Pixabay/Shutterstock

Donate What Feels Right

Dear friends of the wise democracy vision,

This site has been created by the passion and care of Tom Atlee and Martin Rausch. Creating version 1.0 was a full-time 9 month common journey. Version 2.0 has involved us in a similar six month labor of love.

If you are using this site and its deck of pattern cards – or if you are simply inspired to support this project – we invite you to donate what feels right for you on our donation page.  (You can click here for some thoughts from Frederic Laloux on choosing how much to give.)

Your donation will help us expand our work to promote this vision of an increasingly wise participatory society.

Coheartedly and thank you,
Martin and Tom


What Tom Atlee is writing about is just about the most important thing that’s happening at the beginning of the 21st century. – Paul H. Ray, Ph.D., co-author of The Cultural Creatives

Tom Atlee helps us envision, in amazing detail, how we can shape democracy we believe in because we are creating it together. – Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and EcoMind

Incredible resource. Thanks for putting it together. I’m looking forward to taking it to the areas that I work and advocate in.  I think our species is at risk, and I absolutely see the value in the work you’ve been doing. Over the years, it’s consistently been the only thing that has ever made sense to me as a way to address those challenges. I watched the webinar tour you did and was inspired to re-engage. Thank you. – Dan Gooden

Tom Atlee offers a fresh and penetrating perspective on the creation of a wise democracy.  His pattern language work expands and connects our understandings of power, participation, and wisdom into a new and compelling synthesis for making a difference in today’s challenged world. – Juanita Brown and David Isaacs

Tom Atlee shows us how we can harness our collective wisdom to discern the way forward in these complex and challenging times.  Inspiring and highly recommended! – William Ury, co-author, GETTING TO YES and author, THE THIRD SIDE

Integrating even a portion of what Tom Atlee shares on Wise Democracy, will greatly improve our ability to realize our highest aspirations and potential. I suggest reading a pattern daily for reflection and experimenting. – Steve Waddell, PhD, MBA