Mary Parker Follett

Until I knew better, I was one of millions who regularly use the terms “power over” and “power with” without knowing who coined them. I also relied on a quote of hers in being able to explain Convergent Facilitation as an integrative process, a major node within the NGL framework. When I finally read some of her work after having heard of her for years, I came to understand that I had a big sister I never knew I had never known about (she died thirty three years before I was born). The entire approach to global governance that I sketched in Reweaving Our Human Fabric is uncannily reminiscent of her vision in The New State without me even knowing about what she did. And this is only one piece of it. I wrote a chapter titled “Finding Collective Will in Perilous Times” for an anthology to mark the centennial of her original The New State. That book is called The Future of Progressivism: Applying Follettian Thinking to Contemporary Issues, edited by Margaret Stout. In that chapter I anchor many aspects of the NGL framework directly in Mary Parker Follett’s work.

Her influence on NGL (the community; not the framework) is the most direct and intense. I conceived of what is now NGL only after I took in the degree to which her work didn’t outlive her (though it’s now being re-discovered, finally) and the frequency with which this has happened to women. I then went through a major dark night of the soul in which I grasped the likelihood of my work not outliving me, and understood that a big part of the influence of being female is because of fewer people taking on continuing the work of women. That clarity then propelled me to bring what is now NGL into life.

NGL Lineage

Nonviolent Global Liberation Community