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Peter Pula participates in an Open Space process during a community gathering he recently co-hosted in Peterborough, Ontario. (Photo: Ben Wolfe)

Deep democracy, as we refer to it, comes down to the basic idea that each one of us is inescapably responsible for creating, or trying to create, the workplace, community, society, economy, and political climate in which we live. That responsibility does not lie ‘elsewhere’ or with ‘them’ — it lies with us and how we interact and co-create.

  Acting in deep democracy means we include our participation in structural democracy and transcend it in our day to day affairs and citizenship.
   

It also differs, in our view, from structural democracy for example. Exercising our right to vote in a structural democracy means that we vote for representatives who are working within legal democratic structures and institutions to deliver peace, order and good government. While these methods are the best we have for managing a democratic political system they are only one facet of democracy — and are necessary. That being said, the act of voting in the western world is often an act of consumerism and even, of giving our power away. We do choose who to give that power to, so it is a democratic peaceful way to transition power.

It is a necessary component of democracy but it is not sufficient for full citizenship to take effect.
 
Hence deep democracy. Exercising deep democracy confronts each one of us with our power to create the world we live in, our gifts, the gifts of others and the creative and stressful tensions in between. Enacting deep democracy demands that each of us learns how to sense and stand up for what wants to be born through us and our relationships with fellow citizens and figure out the tricky bits of inter-personal tensions. Acting in deep democracy means we include our participation in structural democracy and transcend it in our day to day affairs and citizenship.
 
As to research and theory. The team at Axiom News was a long time awardee of Worldblu’s Democratic Workplaces for having experimented with workplace democracy. The informing theories of deep democracy as we refer to them include the work of Peter Keostenbaum and Peter Block, Social Capital Theory — Nan Lin in particular and our own experiments in workplace and organizational democracy and deep dialogue. The term deep democracy as we use it does not necessarily subscribe us to a prevailing theory or practice. Our practice has preceded our theory. We also know there are those out there with deeper theory (and practice) than us.

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Peter
Pula

Peter is the Founder and CEO of Axiom News. During his 22 years in business he has also founded and led a community newspaper and a corporate communications agency. He has served as a member and chairperson on the boards and committees of children's services, schools, municipal grants, arts, and local exchange organizations.

Peter has been invited to host workshops in Canada, Europe, and the United States on the practice of Generative Journalism, an open communications approach for emergent and constructive change in organizations, networks, and communities.

He has been integrating lessons from the Asset-based Community Development, Appreciative Inquiry Gifts and Possibilities communities with the journalistic arts as practiced at Axiom News.

To bring dialogic and narrative arts together Peter has hosted dozens of conversations shaped by Appreciative Inquiry, A Small Group, Open Spaces, and Rapid Prototyping. Most recently, he has been exploring the wisdom in the Art of Hosting community.

Alongside international colleagues, Peter is bringing complementary practices and business models together to support ongoing community-building, new narratives.