Three Dimensions of Wise Democracy

Venn diagrams use overlapping circles that illustrate relationships between various elements or factors being considered. In this project we use a 3-part Venn diagram to make sense of the dynamics of wise democracy and of the diversity of patterns offered on this site to help us develop such a democracy.


The Venn diagram linked on this page depicts overlapping circles representing power, participation, and wisdom.  These factors – which we think of as the three dimensions of wise democracy – don’t overlap much today:  Power is seldom very participatory or wise. Participative activities are seldom empowered and are not always wise.  And what wisdom we have is seldom participatory or powerful.  


The wise democracy vision calls on us to develop approaches that help all three of these dimensions be present at the same time – that is, to develop their areas of overlap in the Venn diagram.  Ultimately we can envision a time when most power is participatory and wise, most participation is wise and powerful, and we flourish in an abundance of participatory wisdom generating powerful, long-term, broad benefits in the world.

So this Venn diagram has a visionary function, inviting us to imagine how power, participation and wisdom evolve to become manifestations of the same thing.   

The Venn diagram also provides a framework within which to place the wise democracy initiatives in relation to power, participation, and wisdom. 

To learn more about Wise Democracy and the Pattern Language that has evolved to support it’s evolution, visit ---

Tom Atlee is founder of the Co-Intelligence Institute, author of three books on wise participatory democracy, and creator of the wise democracy pattern language.  A prolific writer for his blog and numerous alternative journals, he also offers occasional speeches and workshops.  Networking extensively, he is always involved as a thinking partner with efforts to catalyze a wisely regenerative culture.  He played major roles in creating the Core Principles for Public Engagement (for Obama in 2009), creating the GroupWorks pattern language for group process, and inspiring Oregon’s Citizen Initiative Review, among many other initiatives.  His close attention to all possibilities from the most promising to the most dire inform his life’s work, which has evolved over seven decades from peace activism to catalyst for conscious collective evolution.  For the last 18 years his life has centered in a co-op house in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.