Desert Conversation Community



Values &

The Process

About the ISI

About the DCC

Values & Boundaries:

Systems grow and evolve around "influential centers" that catalyze action and interaction among all the parts of a system. In community, this "center" which binds and catalyzes a group are the shared values, understanding and purpose of the community. The Desert Conversation Community's centralizing values and purpose are summarized below.

Values || Shared Understanding || Stewardship || Shared Commitment

In order to include diverse cultural, religious, and generational perspectives, members of the DCC commit to being together in ways which reflect the values shared by cultures and communities around the world:

5 Global Values as identified by the Institute for Global Ethics:

  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Compassion


by Bela H. Banathy, Ed.D.

These propositions help me to organize my thinking about social systems design. They (should) comprise an internally consistent and integrated system. The system is open. I want to continue to create it.

  • It is the basic right of individuals, groups and communities to be involved in making decisions that affect them.
  • They can reclaim and exercise this right and forge their destiny only if they develop competence that empowers them to take part directly and authentically in the design of the systems and communities in which they live and work.
  • It is unethical to design social systems for someone else. In social systems people who live in the system are the experts.
  • The role of the design professional is to develop resources and create arrangements and opportunities by which a designing community can learn how to engage in the design of their system.
  • A designing community is comprised of people who serve the system, who are served by it, and who are affected by it. They collectively are the designers and users of their design: they own the design. They are user designers.
  • Designers of social systems are trustees for future generations. They must constantly ask: How will the system we design affect the unborn?
  • Collective design capability empowers us to practice authentic, truly participative democracy. It enables us to guide the activities that enrich the quality of our lives, add value to the systems in which we live, and organize our lives in the service of the common good.


by Bela H. Banathy, Ed.D.

The notion of STEWARDSHIP emerges as a driving idea that can powerfully characterize the nature of our community. We have to come to understand that stewardship:

  • is shared commitment--shared responsibility--and shared accountability--in carrying out shared purposes;
  • is willingness to be accountable individually and collectively for the well-being of the community;
  • is choosing service over self-interest: service is central to stewardship;
  • means holding something in trust for each other and respecting and honoring each other;
  • means becoming stewards for future generations. (At some of our conversation events we placed in the center of the room an empty chair, as a reminder--a metaphor for future generations.)

So, we move on as a stewardship community: with shared commitment to our shared purpose and shared responsibility and accountability to tasks that bring our community alive.


by Bela H. Banathy, Ed.D.

  1. We have created a community, whose members develop a deep and significant commitment to a shared vision & purpose.
  2. We communicate with each other openly and honestly.
  3. We feel that we belong together and individually and collectively we can make a difference in the world..
  4. We organize ourselves with total absence of hierarchy, as equal partners in stewardship and mutual assistance.
  5. As stewards we assume responsibility for specific tasks in building our community and advancing our shared purposes.
  6. We practice genuine & authentic participation so as to create the common future of our community by continuous design.
  7. We apply maximum flexibility in our work and take full advantage of our individual and collective knowledge, abilities, competence, and creativity; and take responsibility for the continuing development of these qualities.
  8. We take responsibility for applying what we learn "back home," creating resources for others in systems and design learning and expanding the reach of the conversation movement.
  9. We are bonded; we can rely on, honor, trust, and support each other. We share values and expectations; and live by our collectively defined code of ethics.

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