Home – The Wise Democracy Project2017-11-07T20:58:43+00:00

Hello, lover of democracy.  Welcome to an exploration
of how we can make democracy more wise…


The Wise Democracy Project
exists to help us envision
and co-create a deeply participatory culture
that generates policies and activities
that support the longterm quality of life.

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

To learn more about the Wise Democracy Prime Directive click here.


The 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.

The Evolution of 3D Wise Democracy
This brief animated diagram illustrates the progressive integration of power, participation and wisdom.
The Wise Democracy Pattern Language
Wise Democracy Pattern Language Trailer
Wise Democracy Pattern Language Trailer

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this project is based on.



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 / Brian A. Jackson / geralt – Pixabay/Shutterstock

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A 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.

Different Portals into
Wise Democracy Theory and
Its Pattern Language

Donate or Pay What Feels Right

Dear friends of this site, of co-creating a wiser democracy and of pattern languages,

This site has been created by the passion and care of Tom Atlee and myself, Martin Rausch. It was a full-time 9 month common journey. Tom Atlee is supported by his annual fundraising efforts through the Co-Intelligence Institute which covers his modest living costs. My costs have been covered by workshops I lead regurlarly which also gave me enough time to work on this project.

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 the donation page of the Co-Intelligence Institute, which is sponsoring this Wise Democracy Project. (You can click here for some thoughts from Frederic Laloux on choosing how much to give.) Your donation will be used to support Tom Atlee and our efforts to promote this vision of an increasingly wise participatory society.

Co-heartedly and thank you,



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

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

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

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


  1. Ruben Nelson March 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    This is a timely and much needed initiative. Great start.
    Thank you.

  2. Lion Goodman March 20, 2017 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Tom: This is great work – thank you for your immense contribution to the conversation about democratizing the world. Are you familiar with MiVote.org and Richard Hames, founder of Centre for the Future in Melbourne? His work has the same aim – to change the face of democracy and making government and governance a truly global force, rather than force used by elites to maintain power. I assume you know him – if you don’t, be sure and check out his work.

  3. Jason Diceman March 20, 2017 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Beautiful new site, Tom. Thank you for your ongoing contributions to the field of participatory democracy.

  4. Joel Levey March 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    What at timely and inspiring gift you are offering to us all and to our world at this critical time. Heartfelt thanks Tom!!

  5. Anonymous March 21, 2017 at 6:04 am - Reply

    Wonderful website! My deepest hanks, Tom, for your inspiring contributions and heartfelt wisdom to the great conversation that humanity and Nature are engaged in.

  6. Susan Michael March 21, 2017 at 8:53 am - Reply

    The website is beautifully designed and contains such timely wisdom.
    You continue to inspire and reach for greater heights! I am ever hopeful that your work takes hold.
    I am always looking for ways to utilize your wisdom where I can.

  7. Pedro March 21, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    It’s time to fix Democracy.
    Check blockchain based Flux framework.

    • tomatlee April 3, 2017 at 8:27 am - Reply

      Interesting, Pedro. While the wise democracy perspective is more about deliberation and other factors than voting, we’re exploring how to talk about voting (e.g., the proposed pattern Wholesome Choicefulness at https://www.wd-pl.com/patterns-under-development/). I’m really interested in understanding leading-edge voting systems. From what little I got from your video, I’m wondering about its similarities and differences when compared to Argentina’s DemocracyOS and Net Party https://www.wired.com/2014/05/democracy-os/. I’d love to read your comparison(s). – Tom

  8. Kerry Lindsey March 26, 2017 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Love it!

  9. Varun Vidyarthi April 30, 2017 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Excellent site Tom !
    I an usually silent in networks being actively engaged with multiple stakeholders from village level self help group members to policy makers. But I am preparing to move out now and engage with people in other societies. The concept of self help is almost equivalent to the pattern language as it embraces all aspects of life and is built on understanding and relating to human nature. There is a practical method of sharing it and training facilitators of change anywhere. Hope we can tie up sometime to start something together.

  10. MamieKSW May 25, 2017 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Your means of explaining everything in this post is truly good,
    all be able to easily know it, Thanks a lot.

  11. Diana June 7, 2017 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Love your question, “What is it good for?” Gets right to the point!

  12. Eliz Warrington July 17, 2018 at 11:38 am - Reply

    I must voice my enthusiasm for your kindness giving support to those individuals that should have advice on this important matter.

  13. Dawn Kimble December 19, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Tom, I lost my internet connection at 1:38. I did hear your five aspects of wholeness. Thank you for all the work you’ve done on understanding and elucidating the facets and relationships involved in wise democracy. Now that I feel personally (virtually) connected with you, I want to make some time to learn more about it. Should I start with the website, the cards, your book? With gratitude, Dawn

    • tomatlee January 20, 2019 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Dawn – Sorry for the delayed response. I’d suggest playing with the cards (physically or virtually, as in the “Portfolio Views”, exploring ones that either interest you or you have questions about by referring to their individual pattern pages and/or following their “related patterns”. We are developing an expanded version of 96 patterns that will be released in a few months, but it includes most of the existing patterns so your explorations now will be totally fine. Note that the pattern language is by far the most comprehensive output of my life, but many find my book The Tao of Democracy a great introduction. Coheartedly, Tom

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