Purpose-Driven Community Dialog

In response to the concerns I expressed in Purpose-Driven Community Survey Responses and the Postscript, Steve Ma replied:

Thanks so much for your interest and thoughtful comments. Speaking personally, this community will indeed have both an outside and inside strategy. It feels very much like we are building a new model that is outside the norm, but at the same time, we are working to build power so we can influence existing structures and institutions. And when I think of “systemic transformation,” I think of policies, economic systems, schools, community infrastructure, how we interact with each other as fellow humans, how we impact our environment, and more. That said, big transformations don’t happen easily which is why we want to build a model that has power and sustainable resources to make big changes a reality.

If you’re willing to lend some help, it would be great if you could fill out this very simple volunteer interest form. It will help us plug people in based on their interest and experience.


I replied:

Hello Steve,

Great to hear. Thanks much for your comments. Though they did not surprise me, they are reassuring.

I just submitted my volunteer interest form.

I wonder, what is your structure thus far? Are you and Joshua making the key decisions as a two-person team? And what do you envision for the future? Will a new, independent organization emerge?

Keep up the great work! I look forward to contributing as best I can. I could easily participate in meetings near a BART station.

Carry on,

Wade Hudson

Following are the questions and my responses on the volunteer interest form.

What calls to you about this proposed purpose-driven community?

I desire to help transform the world into a compassionate community dedicated to the common good. To achieve that goal, I believe it would be helpful to develop new user-friendly ways for political activists to support one another in their ongoing self-development efforts.

If people take time to examine themselves and their actions honestly, they tend to tap deep feelings of love and want to treat others respectfully as full human beings, rather than reduce them to instruments. So I believe that a project rooted in “holistic politics” and “deep nonviolence” could be more effective than traditional organizing methods and contribute to what Gandhi called “evolutionary revolution.”

This transformation could be enhanced by a network of semi-autonomous small groups that share a common worldview and use the same or similar methods to conduct their activities. Sharing those experiences could nurture deep community. If those methods were simple and easy to learn, they could be rapidly replicated and spread spontaneously. As the community grew and became larger, the sense of community could deepen.

My interaction with Generation Waking Up inspires me to believe that the “purpose-driven community” could achieve those goals. For years, sensing that those ideas were widely percolating in the culture, I’ve hoped they would someday bear fruit and I would find a community of that sort to join. It seems I may have found what I was looking for.

Are there things that you are particularly interested in helping with as we build this purpose-driven community (check all that apply)?

Strategic Planning
Group facilitation
Other: help develop one or more formats, or structures, for self-governing, easily replicated groups that would facilitate political activists supporting one another in their personal-growth efforts – somewhat similar to 12-step groups.

Please list any specific skills/experience that you have that you think might be helpful as we build this purpose driven community.

Concerning experience, in 1967, I dedicated my life to “organizing communities of faith, love, and action,” which has since been my primary commitment. Over the years, I’ve worked on various issues with various communities. In 2005, I pulled back from organizing and, while working part-time as a cab driver, convened the first in a series of Strategy Workshops to evaluate how the progressive movement might be more effective. Later, I organized two Compassionate Politics Workshops and a Gandhi-King Three-Fold Path Workshop, which was co-sponsored by the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. I also participated in workshops and events convened by organizations such as stone circles, the Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation, Generation Waking Up, and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. I’ve also read related books and reports circulated by others (especially the Movement Strategy Center), initiated the Occupy Be the Change Caucus, and currently serve as President of the Western Park Residents’ Council. I’ve circulated a number of online questionnaires on related issues, written about my conclusions on my Wade’s Weekly blog, and self-published two books, Global Transformation: Strategy for Action and My Search for Deep Community.

Concerning skills, I’ve been told, “You bring people together.” I believe I facilitate meetings skillfully, write fairly well, enjoy research, and listen carefully. I am reliable, work hard, and enjoy life.


“Purpose-Driven Community” Survey Responses

Joshua Gorman and Steve Ma recently circulated a report on the responses to their “purpose-driven community” survey. They concluded:

Given the positive responses we’ve received, we are very committed to moving this process forward beginning with some pilots in the East Bay (California). We’re still in the early planning stages but if you’re interested in volunteering, helping us launch, attending one of our first events, providing additional feedback, etc., please let us know at stevejamesmaATgmailDOTcom and joshuaATgenerationwakingupDOTorg.

They attached a summary of the answers and offered these highlights:

1) Out of the 204 people who answered the questions about their interest in the proposed purpose-driven community, 64 (or 31.4%) said they were extremely interested (5 out of 5), and 63 (30.9%) ranked it a 4 out of 5. Only 17 people ranked it a 1, and 14 people ranked it a 2. Our sense from these numbers that there a pretty broad level of interest, and for a good number of people, there is a very deep level of interest. The group with the strongest interest was folks in a ‘spiritual community but not very active.’ However, there was strong interest with a host of others including people of color, young people, and people along the spectrum of spirituality.

2) The offerings that came out the strongest were: ‘Uniting with others to create systemic change,’ and ‘Connecting and engaging with a community of diverse people.’

3) In terms of names, ‘Thrive’ came out the strongest, and ‘circle’ and ‘gathering’ were the front-runners for a name referring to the Sunday event.

In their postscript, Gorman and Ma commented:

In case you’re wondering who we are, we are East Bay (California) residents who have a long history in working for social justice with non-profits and social enterprises. We both have a great interest in building a model for people to come together in community to support one another for personal and societal transformation. We began planning for this purpose-driven community recently and are eager to take the next steps to make it a reality.

I replied:

Thanks much for the report. I am heartened by the strong interest in “integrating the personal and the political,” a long-time interest of mine. From the summary, I took particular note of the fact that only 8% of the respondents said that they were not at all interested in a community that would help them “overcome personal challenges and injustices.”

I am interested in further participation. However, one element of the Generation Waking Up event I attended causes me some concern. That event affirmed a Buckminster Fuller quote with which I strongly disagree: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

I favor instead an outside-inside strategy. Building alternative communities is important. At the same time, reforming existing public policies to alleviate suffering and environmental damage is also critical. It is not either/or. Each can reinforce the other.

If this new project is committed to the Fuller perspective, it would diminish my interest. Otherwise, I am very definitely interested.

Regardless, I want to stay informed about your efforts, especially with regard to designing one or more user-friendly models that political activists could use to support one another in their self-development.

I also consider it essential to be clear that “the system” includes ourselves as individuals and our dominant culture as well as our major institutions. When most people talk about “systemic transformation,” they refer only to politics and economics. What you’ve written thus far implies a deeper analysis. Being more explicit could help clarify the point.


A “Purpose-Driven Community”

I know Joshua Gorman through his work with Generation Waking Up, a very vibrant project. He recently sent me (and others) the following email. I found his survey to be quite encouraging. You may as well.



I’m on a team that is working on a concept around “purpose-driven community.”

We would love your honest, unfiltered feedback on a short survey that will only take a few minutes to fill it out.

Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/purposedriven

Also, please feel free to send this out to others who may value contributing to this. The more feedback the better for the process.

Thanks & appreciation,