Our Organization

Current Description (2019)

The Group Pattern Language Project continues to be stewarded by a volunteer collaborative. These days our collaboration happens primarily online, though we can gather face-to-face if need arises.  The past few years have been a quieter time for the project.  A three-person team (Dave Pollard, Tree Bressen, and Caitlin Robertson) serve as formal board members of the nonprofit, and attend to ongoing administrative work such as keeping decks in print and distributed, the website running smoothly, and adding people to email lists on request.  While we no longer have a formal Stewards' Circle, we reach out to our user community when questions arise, such as changes for the 3rd edition.*  Several people continue to serve as active ambassadors and evangelizers getting the deck out into the world, for which we are grateful.  The project essentially functions as a self-funding "social enterprise," with the proceeds from sale of decks being sufficient to fund reprints as well as occasional staff labor (primarily distribution plus occasional website maintenance). 

*In case you are curious, as of this writing we've sold 4500 printed decks:  2500 from the first printing at the end of 2011, and 2000 from the second printing in 2014; and we're about to print 1200 more in 2019.  We have not tracked closely the number of free electronic downloads, but we think it's a lot. 

Description from Earlier Years

This describes how our project functioned during development and in the early years after publication.  We are keeping it here on the website in case this description is useful to other groups and projects engaged in collaborative work.

This project is stewarded by a volunteer collaborative. Our collaboration happens both online and at face-to-face sessions. 

There is a Core Team (currently consisting of Sue Woehrlin, Daniel Lindenberger, Dave Pollard, and Tree Bressen) that evolved from work sessions held up and down the west coast and is the heart of the organization.  The Core Team holds the vision and works closely with the Stewards' Circle to make decisions and implement work of the Group Pattern Language Project.  We have also formed a nonprofit corporation that has technical legal and financial responsibility.  Our board (currently the same people as the Core Team) performs essential administrative duties to support the development of the Group Process Pattern Language. Current Board Officers:  President - Tree Bressen; Treasurer - Dave Pollard; Secretary - Sue Woehrlin.

The Stewards' Circle focuses on hands-on work promoting the use and development of Group Pattern Language and the Group Works deck.  It is composed of people who are taking active responsibility for one or more areas of the project.  Active members of the Stewards' Circle may be invited to join the Core Team.  The Stewards' Circle currently consists of the Core Team members plus Christopher Allen, Wesley Lucas, and Caitlin Robertson.  We are always on the lookout for new people who might want to get involved, as the more of us who help, the more Group Pattern Language can go out into the world and make a difference.  So if you are potentially interested in exploring with us, please get in touch.  As of fall 2014 we are also exploring having Interns for the first time, so if you are a student seeking opportunities (unpaid at this time), talk to us.

Ambassadors are people who are excited to "evangelize" or do outreach about the deck at events, in groups they are part of, and/or out in the world.  Their role may be formal and known, or informal, but is basically self-appointed.   We try to provide free stickered stock (Group Works cards with an extra sticker specifying the title & website) or other material to Ambassadors to aid them in spreading the word.  Ambassadors occasionally join in Steward Circle calls to touch base, or host local public events or workshops.  Current acknowledged ambassadors include:  Raines Cohen, Betsy Morris, Michael Wolf, Keala Young, Looby Macnamara, Delvin Solkinson and Kym Chi.

Helpers are people who have offered to assist with occasional tasks or implementation.  Rather than shepherding an ongoing area of development like a Steward, Helpers might cook for a workshop or proofread a document or do some one-time research or any number of other potential tasks.  Helpers are a list we look to when needs come up, to see if anyone might be a fit.  If you'd like to be on our Helpers list, please let us know! 

In addition we are lucky to have many special friends, other people helping spread the word who we know and love, such as Sandy Heierbacher, Nancy White, Tom Atlee, John Abbe, and Leon Janssen.  If you are actively spreading sharing and promoting Group Works, let us know and we'll add your name to the list, too!

In occasionally revisting how we are organized, we find ourselves repeatedly returning to basic principles: 

  • How can we welcome each person’s potential contribution, inviting energy as it’s available, while still maintaining a coherent core?
  • What is the minimum structure that allows us to collaborate on this effectively? 
  • Power is commensurate with responsibility, they go hand in hand.

We enthusiastically welcome new involvement.  The most common route in during the years of development of the original deck has been that someone shows up to an in-person gathering and becomes part of our more active circle through participating in the work of the project:  website editing, adding new functionality, thinking up activities to do with the deck, helping fill out patterns, or whatever else is a happy fit for that person and the group.  There are also some people who have made substantive contributions from afar without ever meeting all or most of the group face-to-face—either way is fine with us.

Some of our early organizing principles, from before publication:

We expect patterns to be written and edited by multiple people. No one "owns" any of the patterns. All content on this site is contributed and available under a very open license.

We are committed to ensuring that the knowledge/wisdom gathered in development of this pattern language is publicly available and proactively distributed. With web tools the patterns and information gathered can be an evolving document that is stewarded by a community.

Those proactively working on the project can use information and insights arising from this project in diverse ways. In using the collaboratively created intellectual property, we are committed to staying in timely communication about these uses, and reuses, letting other people involved know what we are up to. We expect that in time a set of normative practices will be articulated by the community.

Decision-Making:  We aim to match power with responsibility. Thus the more concrete, productive contributions someone has made to the project, the more their input is likely to be considered in guiding future developments.  The responsibility is on individuals who want to participate or give input into a decision to show up to the conversation on that topic. (Or, if you are not available at the scheduled time, to communicate your input in advance.) We generally move forward with whoever is present, without worrying too much about who is and isn't there.

Scope:  While maintaining our focus on a pattern language for group process in face-to-face settings, we are happy to connect and exchange with people involved in other pattern language development that is either more broad (e.g. pattern language for social transformation), more specific (strategic planning event design), or in overlapping fields (online community practices) or different fields (permaculture, architecture, software).

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