Tom Atlee

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Tom Atlee (born 1947) is an American social, peace and environmental activist and author.


Personal life

Born in an intellectual, activist family of Quakers, Atlee experienced social change from an early on. In 1968, he dropped out of Antioch College to organize draft resistance to the Vietnam War. [1] In 1976, daughter Jennifer was born. Participating in the Great Peace March of 1986 – a "watershed experience" [2] to Atlee, he "spent the next 15 years exploring group and organizational phenomena". [3] Atlee lives in an intentional community in Eugene, Oregon.

Professional life

From 1989–1994 Atlee was editor of Thinkpeace, a national journal of peacemaking strategy and philosophy. In 1991 he went to Belize and to Czechoslovakia as a consultant on ecological social change and community-building. From 1991–1992 Atlee served on the boards of the Ecology Center (Berkeley). In 1996, he founded the Co-Intelligence Institute, a non-profit organization facilitating and researching self-organization, collective intelligence, participatory modes of governance and collaborative democracy. An article in Utne Reader identifies him as a radical centrist thinker. [4]


Co-intelligence according to the FAQ on Atlee's institute website is "shared, integrated form of intelligence that we find in and around us when we're most vibrantly alive. It is also found in cultures that sustain themselves harmoniously with nature and neighbor. ... [it] shows up whenever we pool our personal intelligences to produce results that are more insightful and powerful than the sum of our individual perspectives." [5]

Wise Democracy Pattern Language

Atlee developed the Wise Democracy Pattern language with the support of Martin Rausch. [6] The first edition was created in 2016. [7] According to their website the Wise Democracy Pattern Language is a pattern language that, "highlights dynamic factors and design principles which can make an activity, organization or community more wisely self-governing." The "prime directive" or fundamental principle of Wise Democracy is "“evoke and engage the wisdom and resourcefulness of the whole on behalf of the whole.” [8] [9]



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  1. "Self-Portrait - Tom Atlee". Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  2. "Tom Atlee Biography". Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  3. "Self-Portrait - Tom Atlee". Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  4. Utne, Leif (September–October 2004). "The Radical Middle". Utne Reader, issue no. 125, pp. 80–85. Includes brief interviews with 10 radical centrist thinkers and activists. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  5. "What is Co-Intelligence?".
  6. "About Us - A Wise Democracy Project".
  7. "Archive v1.0 - A Wise Democracy Project".
  8. "Wise Democracy's Prime Directive - A Wise Democracy Project".
  9. "Tom Atlee: A New Wise Democracy Pattern Language".