Here are definitions of terms used on this site that may be unfamiliar to you — including special meanings or connotations for some familiar words.
Agency — the capacity for, fact of, and/or recognition of having an effect or causing outcomes, especially when they are intended.
Capacitance — the ability to abide (more or less comfortably) with/in uncertainty, disturbance, challenge, complexity, conflict, irresolution, etc.
Citizen — a resident or member — especially an engaged or politically active member (whether or not officially certified) — of an established place (community, society, state, world, etc.).
Collective Wisdom — ongoing collective responsiveness to shared challenges and opportunities that takes into account what needs to be taken into account for long- term broad benefit.
Commons — anything that is openly (or rightfully) shared by all members of a community or society.
Commoning — the act of creating or claiming, defending and caring for, and mindfully using and stewarding a commons.
Community of Practice — a group or network of practitioners in a discipline who learn together; share knowledge, experiences and opportunities; and collectively promote and develop their discipline.
Complexity — the presence of a tremendous number of interacting, related parts, dynamics, and factors generating a whole phenonmenon whose behavior cannot be predicted or controlled but whose patterns and probabilities can be understood and productively related to.
Democracy — self-governance, especially collective decision-making and action of, by and for those affected or “the people” generally.
Field — a potent energy-space which brings forth and shapes what’s next — e.g., “field of influence”.
Generative — evoking and/or nurturing greater creativity.
Glocal — embracing both global and local — geographically and situationally (e.g., both hometown and planet) and/or cognitively (e.g., both universal and particular).
Deep Time — embracing the full extension of time (and often its evolutionary unfolding), including the distant and recent past, the textured reality and potency of the present, and a broad sense of possibilities and probabilities in the near and distant future.
Deliberation — thoughtful, thorough consideration of the factors relevant in a situation and the possibilities for resolving it, creatively engaging with it, or transcending it entirely.
Governance — the management of collective affairs (institutionalized government being only one approach to or facet of that function).
Holigraphics — the phenomenon through which the whole – or patterns from it – show up in or through its parts.
Holistic — embracing, engaging with and through, and utilizing (a) the whole (of a life, topic, population, situation, resource, etc.), and (b) the dynamics and dimensions of wholeness (e.g., synergy, vitality, spirit, mutuality, flow, resolution, integrity, etc.).
Holon — a part which is also a whole; a whole which is also part of greater/other wholes. Every entity is a holon embedded in holonic patterns and scales of inclusion.
Integral — having diverse parts or aspects well integrated into a coherent whole with its own qualities above and beyond those of its parts or aspects, often to such an extent that the parts or aspects become reflections or manifestations of the whole.
Intelligence — the capacity to learn; to solve problems; to recognize and apply patterns, models, and narratives; and to otherwise align understanding and action to the demands of reality, especially in the presence of challenge and change — to sustain and enhance life, individually and/or collectively.
Life Energy — that which motivates a living being, organism or system from within — ranging from urges, feelings and needs, to interests, passions and love, to purposes, values, visions, longings, callings and aspirations.
Metabolize — to transform something (often by deconstructing it) in ways that help get more value from it, when in its original form it would be useless or even toxic.
Microcosm — a group that reflects (to a greater or lesser degree) the diversity or characteristics of a larger community or population.
Pattern — 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.
Pattern Language — an interrelated set of design guidelines created to help people working in its specific domain to contribute in life-serving ways.
Polarities — seemingly opposite or incompatible ideas, energies, etc., that are fundamentally related to each other, such that efforts to eliminate or maximize one pole evoke unhealthy manifestations, imbalances or reactions in the other and/or in the whole system they share. Although polarities are often experienced as problematic, we cannot “solve” a polarity, but we can seek to facilitate healthy balance or synergy between the poles or to transcend them.
Political Will — determination and commitment to a particular approach for addressing a public issue, concern or problem — often, but not only, among diverse players in support of official decision-makers.
Power-over — the underlying dynamics of management, direction, domination, control, destruction, etc.; the effort or capacity to get specific things to happen regardless of obstacles. (Power-over is usually contrasted with power-with, or cooperation.)
Prime Directive — the mandate underlying the entire wise democracy pattern language: to evoke and engage the wisdom and resourcefulness of the whole on behalf of the whole. Every pattern in this pattern language serves some aspect of the prime directive.
Regenerativity — the capacity of a living entity to continually renew, promote or
develop its wholeness, health and functionality.
Social Capital — the quantity, density and quality of interpersonal, intragroup and/or intergroup relationships that can potentially be engaged to address shared concerns or projects.
Sortition — random selection used in political systems and governance.
Stakeholder — any (type of) person, group, or life form that plays a role — or could play a significant role — in a particular realm or situation in which all such entities are involved. They all influence and/or are impacted by how it unfolds — and thus they will collectively determine (and can change!) what happens next.
Story — a sense, experience or articulation of an event, unfolding of events, or pattern of events — past, present, or future — real and/or imagined. This is usually accompanied by an interpretation of those events — of their meaning and their impact on those involved.
Subsidiarity — the principle that governance functions should be managed at the lowest level they can effectively be addressed. Subsidiarity covers all scales but with a bias towards decentralization.
Transpartisan — a person, activity or attitude where secure partisan identity co- exists with open, respectful, curious and potentially co-creative engagement with the other side(s) of a partisan divide.
Universal Intelligence — transpersonal forms of intelligence (cognitive potential or the dynamics or traces of cognition at work) manifesting or accessible in shared cultural, natural, cosmic, and/or spiritual realms.
Universal Participation — the principle (or recognition) of ongoing co-creation by virtually all entities in the unfolding of any given situation — and the implications of that for causality, responsibility, blame, inclusion, etc.
Whole — adj.: entire, complete; inclusive, embracing all aspects. noun: that which includes all parts or facets (notably “ultimate reality”) and/or is characterized by wholeness.
Wholeness — presence of one or more of the qualities that make a whole more (or other) than its parts, such as integrity, health, synergy, non-duality, dynamic balance, interdependence, complexity; and/or holistic part/whole phenomena such as holographics, holonics, fields, or fractals; or holistic forms of consciousness such as humility, compassion, inclusivity, enlightenment, transpersonal spiritual experience, etc.
Wisdom — the capacity to take into account what needs to be taken into account for longterm broad benefit; an expanded form of ongoing intelligence. Wisdom can be individual or collective.
Wise — taking into account what needs to be taken into account for longterm broad benefit. This includes, significantly, the realization that one can never fully succeed at this, so its approximation requires ongoing humble engagement with and response to new understandings and changing realities.
Wise Democracy — a form of participatory self-governance that routinely creates and implements wise guidance in its public affairs.
Wise Democracy Pattern Language — a set of things to keep in mind while developing a wisely self-managed activity, group, organization, community, network, or society.