A THOUSAND BRIDGES
AN ACTION PLAN FOR AMERICA
Bruce Schuman, Interspirit Foundation
firstname.lastname@example.org, (805) 966-9515
Filegroup101428, Draft C, October 14, 2010
We are proposing an ambitious activist development, that we believe can transform the spirit of the
American conversation and profoundly revitalize American democracy.
We are convinced, as Bill Clinton has often said, that “there is nothing wrong with America that cannot
be fixed by what is right with America.”
We are offering a new design for identifying and organizing the “thousand points of light” throughout
American society, that can in some way contribute to a powerful new national politics.
We are network designers and developers. We are building internet systems, and have been building
internet systems since before there was an internet. We have a strong and evolving platform in place
today, and thousands of connections and insights that we can bring to bear, or draw together into an
absolutely inclusive national conversation. We know who to talk to, or we can find them. We know who
has solutions, or who is creating them. Those we don’t know, we can find.
We believe we know how to “convene the collective intelligence of the American electorate”. We
believe we know how infuse great spiritual energy and authenticity into this process, in a way that is fully
resonant with the American civic tradition of church-state separation.
And we know, or strongly believe, that we can and should and must act now. We want and need your
help, we need your ideas, we need your partnership, we need your insight, we need your contributions.
Thanks for helping us take on this great work.
The thesis and argument we present:
1. The USA is being overwhelmed by many simultaneous issues that are too complex for our
leadership and citizens to fully comprehend. This situation is increasingly dangerous, and many
of our most respected social commentators are telling us this in no uncertain terms.
2. The situation is further inflamed by a partisan spirit of anger, accusation and misunderstanding,
that is in part a “blind men and the elephant” problem, in part a semantic and “duality” problem,
in part the fruit of cultural memes and evolutionary forces that encourage the splintering of
culture, and partly the consequence of a two-party political system that is heavily invested in a
divisive “us against them” spirit.
3. This confusion and weakness opens the USA to sophisticated acts of piracy, theft and abuse,
which we are barely able to comprehend, and to which we are failing to adequately respond. In
this circumstance, our nation and citizens can be plundered and we simply don’t understand it.
4. The most powerful possible approach we can bring to this increasingly dangerous situation
emerges from “integral engineering” and a fully transpartisan and communitarian approach to
collective decision-making and politics. We should, and probably must, bring all voices and all
issues into a common framework, where all factors in the complexity we are facing can be
confronted in their full detail and interdependence. We need a framework where all points of
view or ideological perspectives can be brought together in a collaborative and communitarian
spirit. This process can be based on common humanity, mutual respect, and the emerging power
of well-connected and well-informed collective intelligence.
5. We are capable of designing and developing an internet-based solution to this project, that can
draw in the engineering skills and vision of America’s top technology and network companies. If
we can get this project moving, we can rapidly accelerate into a powerful and transformative
network process that can change the fractious and corrosive spirit of our current politics into a
thrilling explosion of creative response that transforms the country and reaffirms our national
6. The long-range vision and “answer” we are proposing can be understood in a single word:
community. We are proposing to rebuild and reconnect “The American National Community” ,
through a process of personal engagement and network connection, that pulls together all the
pieces – all the “dots” – into a single integral framework combining all the best energy and ideas
in the USA. We believe this is do-able, we think it is essential, we think it is the key to an
American national renaissance.
The Bridge Metaphor
The Golden Gate Bridge is a California symbol of heroic and visionary engineering, a project conceived
by people who knew it had to happen, and who found the courage and the imagination to design and
initiate the actual work. It was a large-scale collaborative job, demanding courage, strength, good design,
tenacity and solid financing. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, in USA politics today we need a strong
interconnecting force developed under high engineering standards for integrity and strength, based on
deep human values and mutual respect. We need to build connections throughout our society, that
empower our people, open new pathways, foster creativity, and facilitate economic development.
1. Begin to socialize this vision. Create a conversation, contact responsible and committed people,
build a community of interest and expertise.
2. Develop an institutional framework that can support and contain this creative conversation; we
can use the 501c3 standing of the Interspirit Foundation.
3. Unfold an initial design into concrete actions steps, including the development of initial funding.
Who can see the power of this vision and potential, and wants to help actualize it?
4. Undertake the initial development of a national network process, that convenes expertise and
existing political momentum. Work with existing networks and organizations, designing a
framework for building understanding, trust and cooperation across ideological and cultural
5. As funding and staffing for this work becomes available, begin a systematic outreach across all
demographic sectors in the USA, contacting leading organizations in each sector, inviting their
participation and input. What are their main issues of concern, and what are their positions on
these issues? Can they work within the framework of our transpartisan agreement?
6. Continue to build and organize a grass-roots “People’s Lobby”, working with groups like the
Coffee Party and the Transpartisan Alliance.
Sources of Leadership and Vision
1. Existing political movements and organizations with transpartisan objectives
2. Consultants and organizations working with “group process”, including
a. Dialogue and deliberation
b. Theory of democracy
c. World Café, Appreciative Inquiry, Art of Hosting, Open Space, Women’s Circles
d. Community development and organizing
e. Other collaboration and organizational development methods
3. System theorists, semanticists, holistic and integral thinkers, psychologists and philosophers
4. Computer and networking corporations
5. Experts on particular issues
6. Spiritual and religious leaders
7. Civic-minded business leaders
8. Community developers and activists, community and civic organizations with on-the-ground
expertise or broadly inclusive vision
EACH BRIDGE A SEPARATE PROJECT
We are suggesting that this movement and development can occur at a thousand places around this
country at the same time, each one individually developed, following its own local guidance and instincts
and cultural aesthetics. Each group entering the network must be seen in its own terms, understood in its
own language. Each region, each culture, each city, each state, each political group, has its own unique
cultural character, and can develop its own unique and independent construction initiatives.
These images below are local to Santa Barbara, and show the Cold Springs Arch bridge, and the civil
engineering plaque that commemorates the work, vision and skill of the engineers who developed it.
An Organized Outreach
We are suggesting that the power and capacity of this project flows from our ability to reach out from a
common center to hundreds of separate demographic groups, building an individualized and customized
relationship with each group.
We expect that this will require careful attention to detail, a fine-tuned capacity for diplomacy, patient
listening and co-creativity, and the ability to generate detailed specific responses to specific questions and
concerns. We must “speak the language” of those with whom we wish to engage. We must meet them on
their own grounds, understand them in their own terms, and build a foundation of trust and collaboration.
We are inviting people with a specialized cultural perspective, into a framework we hope can contain and
support a universal humanism, taking a form that is acceptable and perhaps inspiring to all cultural and
political groups that see themselves as acting in a constructive way within society.
We believe that we can reach all major political groups, most or all cultural groups, and most or all
spiritual and religious groups. We believe there is a kind of simple universal philosophy emerging
throughout the USA and around the world, that is based on a few basic common values, that are
consistent with the fundamental principles and vision of almost any healthy or successful cultural group.
We hope to convene this process at a high level of illumination, with fine-tuned diplomacy and a process
of inclusive engagement that our participants find inviting and attractive. We hope to open a pathway for
them, that does not ask them to compromise their fundamental values or unique cultural identity, but is
based on deeply shared universal principles they hold in common with other groups.
We hope to open a process of dialogue that builds a pathway – a bridge – for this unique organization or
demographic, as we seek to draw them into constructive relationship with all other participating groups.
This work may be conducted through direct personal contact, through telephone calls, in writing, or
through the internet.
Our initial approach might take this form:
1. We are hoping to engage you in a broad process of cocreative dialogue, as we convene voices and
perspectives from the full spectrum of the American conversation. Please join us.
2. Can you participate with us in the emerging transpartisan agreement that we are shaping through
engagement with all participating individuals and organizations? How would you suggest we
reframe this agreement? What would prevent you from stepping into this framework? How can
or must we amend it so as to open the way for your full engagement?
3. What are the specific issues of concern of your organization, and what are the positions you take
on those issues? How do you document those positions? Who are the experts who help you
document and corroborate these positions?
4. Please allow us to engage you with other organizations and individuals who are concerned with
the same issues, but may take different positions, as we come together to develop solutions that
work across borders, boundaries and differences.
Solutions (bridges) we develop for one organization or group we will hope can illuminate and strengthen
a bridge we might be developing for some other group.
ORIGIN RESEARCH AND THE INTERSPIRIT FOUNDATION
Origin Research and the Interspirit Foundation are organizational frameworks that have supported the
growth and development of the networks and visions we are presenting today.
Origin Research is a small business framework, originally concerned with technical theory and vision,
and involved in the development of an ambitious theory of epistemology, conceptual structure and
semantics. Over the years, Origin Research became a framework for our web development and
programming business, and we have left behind us a substantial trail of database-driven web projects
based on the ColdFusion programming language.
The Origin Research website is located at http://originresearch.com, and its primary use today is the
presentation of our general algebraic theory of semantics, to which we have given the name “Synthetic
Dimensionality”. Our network and community projects are reinforced by our past history working with
conceptual structure, artificial intelligence, the theory of languages and cognitive psychology. To some
degree, we believe that the problems of “Babel” – the confusion of incommensurate languages, concepts
and world-views found in the world today – can be addressed through a common language. This common
language might be framed in terms of simple human understanding and spiritual values, or it might be
understood in the precise algebraic terms defined through Synthetic Dimensionality.
Our work in conceptual structure strongly reinforces our convictions regarding a new approach to
semantics and intercultural understanding, that we like to call “resonant semantics”. The key to a
resonant semantics is that the people involved in an act of communication agree that they actually want to
understand each other, and from that initial stance, each participant negotiates the semantics of word
meaning and interpretation, until it is clear that all parties understand one another. This is profoundly
different from the kind of language use we see in politics today, where it is clear that competing parties
intentionally misunderstand and distort the meaning of the words each uses.
The Interspirit Foundation is a 501c3 framework for developing intercultural projects and networks.
Through Interspirit, and the interspirit database system, we have built many web systems, networks and
websites, supporting many groups and agencies. Our initial work was in the area of interfaith, and we
have provided network support for several major interfaith organizations, including the Parliament of
World Religions, the United Religions Initiative, the North American Interfaith Network, and the
Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San Francisco.
Some of our web projects include
1. Interspirit – http://interspirit.net – system that supports many independent but related groups,
similar to Yahoo Groups or Google Groups
2. Lightpages – http://lightpages.net – runs on the Interspirit platform, support many groups, mostly
oriented to the “women’s circle movement”, with many other projects also included
3. Purple Alliance – http://purplealliance.us – initial political site, developed in early 2010, offers a
political philosophy and vision similar to the Coffee Party, influenced by sustained interaction
with the Transpartisan Alliance
4. Shared Purpose – http://sharedpurpose.net – currently supporting Coffee Party applications, also
housing our “Bridges” project and some earlier models for developing “electronic coalitions”