Deep Democracy and a Solidarity Fund: chapter 4 of GM SC Temporary Stewards’ collective journey

Group photo of the temp stewards


The Greater Manchester System Changers Temporary Stewards came back together in April and decisions were the order of the day again.  They are a hot topic as the stewards look to what’s working well and what could be better around ways of organising, making decisions, accountability aka governance. Building on from the last meeting, Viv, the Transformative Governance temporary steward led on the first part of the day. 

We started with a beautiful ritual, our check in. Today everyone spoke about what had brought them joy. This was a great way to start before we moved back into the heavier subject of governance. 


Decision Making & GMSC

Viv did a brief re-cap on what was looked at last time.  GM SC needs enough agreements in place so it can work well, but not too much so we do not lose the creative, intuitive and the spontaneous. It’s a fine balance between the two. 

To ensure the group is working as a collective, agreements need to be in the same space to be seen and reviewed by all. This led to the first group discussion of the day –  looking at initial thoughts on how we might achieve this and the shared experiences of conflict resolution processes within the group. 

It was agreed that:

  • GM SC needs to create a culture where feedback is integrated into all that we do (to help avoid conflict).
  • Formal structures need to be in place but also it needs to be a healing space where conflict is resolved more creatively and intuitively.
  • Policy and processes need to be accessible and clearly communicated at the start.
  • Feedback needs to be dialectal and interactive, not just one way.

Viv left with an action to write up proposed agreements following what has been discussed around conflict resolution for all to reflect on and review at a later date. 

GMSC Selva visual April 2024

Deep Democracy decision making process

After a break for lunch, the group dipped its toe into the world of Deep Democracy

Deep Democracy is a powerful and practical method for enabling inclusive decision making. It’s a process where every opinion is heard, acknowledged and counted. Deep democracy can be seen as a method, vision, theory and tool of practice all rolled into one. The method acknowledges, recognises and includes alternative points of view. It is also a method of conflict resolution. The method has been designed to work for highly diverse groups. The aim is for inclusive decision making, where good quality, robust decisions are reached. 

Now the group knew the rationale behind using the method, Carrina led them through a thorough Deep Democracy exercise with the solidarity pot as the focus. The solidarity pot is a fund for people who might need financial support for public transport or childcare to participate in the research of ‘What do we want to be without Lankelly Chase?’. Here, the Temporary Stewards needed to consider: how do we invite people and what are we inviting them into? 

The activity involved each of us stating a opinion from the state of ‘I’ (e.g. ‘I think…’) and others in the room physically moving closer to that person depending on how much we agree/disagree with their statement until there is a state of polarity, at which point, the group temporarily transitions into a debate.

The group was then asked to share what had emerged for them in doing this process. Some of the initial thoughts were:

  • We found the process liberating; we were able to let go and it’s enabled them to hear other people’s opinions
  • Parameters help highlight how far we can stretch the resources
  • Organised / safe chaos
  • How can we maintain unharmful parameters moving forward as a collective?
  • Money is a resource to get things done
  • The power and energy were really positive
  • Want to remember to stay brave and courageous in this process and radical; have the courage to take a risk 


Nature is good for your soul 

The consensus was that the group was to take collective ownership of conflict and resolution. Deep democracy is just one of the processes that GMSC will look to employ in regards to decision making throughout this journey. It’s important to ensure the group don’t lose sight of the creative and intuitive vs the structured when making decisions – finding a balance between the two is key.

Everyone was very much looking forward to the next additional ‘in person catch-up’ that was to be in nature. This extra catch-up meant we would get to explore together: community-stewarded capital and wealth-building rooted in love, interconnectedness and abundance for all beings, now and future generations. 

Everyone agreed it was going to be splendid to be outside surrounded by plants in the middle of a busy city.  


Blog post written by Sal Browning

Visual by Selva Mustafa

Photo by Tom Quaye