The Deliberative Democracy Consortium

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Funding Local Democracy

The DDC has worked with PACE (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement) to develop "Funding and Fostering Local Democracy," a guide designed to help the philanthropic community grapple with the question of how to support innovative and effective forms of democratic governance. The guide is free and can be downloaded here or on the DDC resources page.

The guide provides a detailed description of how local civic engagement has grown and developed over the past decade. The strategies described in the guide—and the stories of how communities have used them to break policy deadlock, reduce tension and galvanize volunteerism—can help funders, public officials and community activists better understand the possibilities, and limitations, of various approaches to working with the public.

Read more...
 

Where is Democracy Headed?

Where is Democracy Headed?Peter Levine and Lars Hasselblad Torres describe the key lessons and insights to emerge from five years of collaborative research by leading academics and practitioners in the field of deliberative and participatory democracy. Research carried out draws extensively from participants of the DDC's series of "Researcher & Practitioner" meetings from 2002-2007. Supported by the Kettering Foundation, the report can be downloaded here. The report was discussed in a webinar hosted by Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) and Grassroots Grantmakers; the slides used in the webinar can be found here.

The Deliberative Democracy Handbook

The Deliberative Democracy Handbook

The Deliberative Democracy Handbook is the first book to bring together the best practices and thinking on citizen participation processes. Citizen participation is both the heart of democracy and a mandatory part of many public decisions. Deliberative democracy is the nationwide movement to make citizen participation meaningful and effective.

Most citizen participation events fail to truly engage citizens and affect decisions. The Deliberative Democracy Handbook helps readers figure out which method of engagement is right for them and guides them through using the appropriate method. A top flight collection of experts critiques a wide range of deliberative practices to improve readers understanding of the best ways to bring citizens together to engage in thoughtful, respectful discussion of complex public issues.

The Deliberative Democracy Handbook is edited by John Gastil, faculty member of the University of Washington's Department of Communication, and Peter Levine, Research Scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy in the University of Maryland?s School of Public Policy. The book enjoys contributions from more than 40 scholars and practitioners in the field.

Learn more about "The Deliberative Democracy Handbook" and order the book online at Jossey-Bass Publishers.

The Next Form of Democracy

The Next Form of Democracy

In the 20th century, public life revolved around government; in the 21st century, it will center on citizens

Beneath the national radar, the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic shift. More than ever before, citizens are educated, skeptical, and capable of bringing the decision-making process to a sudden halt. Public officials and other leaders are tired of confrontation and desperate for resources. In order to address persistent challenges like education, race relations, crime prevention, land use planning, and economic development, communities have been forced to find new ways for people and public servants to work together.

The stories of civic experiments in "The Next Form of Democracy:
How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance -- and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same" by DDC Executive Director Matt Leighninger show us the realpolitik of deliberative democracy, and illustrate how the evolution of democracy is already reshaping politics.

FROM THE FOREWORD BY U.S. SENATOR BILL BRADLEY:

“In 1995, I learned firsthand about an idea that was stirring among public officials and community organizers across America. Shortly after O.J. Simpson's acquittal, Los Angeles city officials convened “Days of Dialogue” to give people throughout the city an opportunity to share their views on the complex and intensely personal topic of race relations. . . .

“Seeing the willingness of people to come together amid highly charged circumstances to talk about their lives, their fears, and their hopes made a deep impression on me. I was moved by the participants' civility and honesty, and I believe these discussions may have helped avert a wave of violence like the one that accompanied the 1992 Rodney King verdicts. Just as important, the dialogues gave participants a much-needed chance to talk plainly about racism and racial division with people from backgrounds different from their own. The Days of Dialogue - which expanded to take place nationally in the late 1990s - were an early example of the sort of civic engagement Matt Leighninger describes throughout The Next Form of Democracy. . . .

“The phenomenon - which is taking shape across the country in many different ways - is fueled by the notion that public life is too important to be left solely to the professionals. . . .

“Leighninger brings outstanding credentials to his task of documenting the rise of democratic governance. Through his work with the Study Circles Resource Center, the National League of Cities, and many other civic organizations, Leighninger has helped hundreds of communities in 40 states launch local efforts to bring citizens to the table on many issues . . . The stories he tells are rooted in his own experience - he really knows these people and has worked side-by-side with many of them. He has learned why civic engagement initiatives work - and how they sometimes fail.”

 

Learn more about "The Next Form of Democracy" and purchase a copy from Vanderbilt University Press online.

The Change Handbook

The Change Handbook

In 1999, the first edition of The Change Handbook provided a snapshot of a nascent field that broke barriers by engaging "whole systems" of people from organizations and communities in creating their own future. In the last seven years, the field has exploded.

In this completely revised and updated second edition, lead authors Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, and Steven Cady profile sixty-one change methods--up from eighteen in the first edition. Nineteen of these methods are explored in depth, with case studies, answers to frequently asked questions, and details on the roles and responsibilities of the people involved, conditions for success, and more. This tremendously expanded second edition--400 pages longer, nearly twice the length of the first edition--will undoubtedly become the definitive resource in this rapidly expanding area.

The "Change Handbook" features descriptions of sixty-one change methods--up from eighteen in the first edition--and new chapters on selecting a method, mixing and matching methods, and sustaining results. It also describes each change method's essential concepts and processes and provides advice on when to use each method.

Including ninety contributors, with many of the originators of the change methods described.

Learn more about the book and read reviews at Barrett-Koehler Publishers online.

Taking Democracy to Scale: Trip Report

by Chris Kelley, the Kettering Foundation

So persuasive is the power of the institutions we have created that they shape not only our preferences, but actually our sense of possibilities. --Ivan Illich

On May 8-10, 2002, I attended the conference hosted by AmericaSpeaks on Taking Democracy to Scale. The goal of the conference was to take deliberative dialogue, using all advanced technologies, to the national scale. Assembled at the conference was a diverse group of theoreticians, foundations, government officials, and practitioners to offer insight into how this might be achieved.

AmericaSpeaks is a non-profit organization that is designed to make the best use of innovative mechanisms that will allow citizens to reconnect to their representative institutions and have an impact on how policy is shaped. 

There were four questions that drove the conference:

  1. What is the current state of knowledge and research in the field of deliberative democracy at the national level?
  2. What are the opportunities for synergy and integration of face-to-face and online practices?
  3. What are opportunities and challenges to institutionalizing deliberative democracy on a national scale?
  4. What are areas for experimentation and research that require investment to advance the field?
Read more...

Thrilling Show of People Power

by Pete Hamill, New York Post (reproduced with permission of the author)

New York, July 20 -- We came to the vast hangar at the Javits Center expecting the worst. Put 5,000 New Yorkers in a room, charge them with planning a hunk of the New York future, and the result would be a lunatic asylum. We would erupt in waves of mega-kvetch. Shouts, curses, tantrums, hurled objects, nets hurled to make mass arrests. All laced together with self-righteous sound and obsessive fury.

None of that happened.

Instead, our 5,000 men and women, including people from the suburbs, New Jersey and Connecticut, were broken down into groups of 10, seated at tables equipped with a computer. Their opinions - essentially votes - would be fed all day to a central computer base. Called to assembly by the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, there were representatives among them of every race, religion or ethnic group.

Read more...
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JPD

JPD logoThe Journal of Public Deliberation is a collaboration between the DDC, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and the Center for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University. An online, refereed journal, JPD is the flagship publication in its field, and an important catalyst for the rapid growth of interest in democracy, citizenship, and participation. Find it at http://services.bepress.com/jpd.

 

DDC eBulletin

  • Want training in public participation? Choose the courses you want to see at the IAP2 Skills Symposium in late May – http://ow.ly/KctPx Trainers include Matt Leighninger, Tina Nabatchi, Steve Clift, Anne Carroll, Kyle Bozentko, and Marty Rozelle.
  • If we gave citizens more ways to measure democracy, they would have more ways to improve it – http://ow.ly/JHmLn @TechPresident
  • Nonprofits that take advantage of new thick and thin forms of engagement can thrive – http://ow.ly/JKfdR @GatesSunlight
  • “If forms of government can be likened to operating systems, current variants of democracy are like early, primitive versions of Windows.” http://ow.ly/KQ0dg “They are neither optimally functional nor user-friendly – they are buggy, susceptible to malware, and lack desired features.”
  • The “People’s Lobby,” which allows people to generate legislation for City Council consideration, and includes a deliberative phase, starts up in Provo, Utah – http://ow.ly/L32e2
  • “Morris Engaged,” which combines education, deliberation, and citizen-led action on climate change in rural Minnesota, has been named a finalist in the Environmental Initiative awards – http://ow.ly/L2WIU @JeffersonCtr
  • The National Civic League has announced the finalists for the 2015 All-America City Award – http://ow.ly/L0AbM @allamericacity
  • Can we fix voting, a part of democracy, without strengthening the other aspects of democracy? Probably not. http://ow.ly/Krz2N And why would we, when the more participatory aspects of democracy offer so many other benefits? Unfortunately, none of those are mentioned in this piece, which is another example of why conflating “democracy” with voting doesn’t help.
  • “Rather than blame our leaders for the dysfunction, we need to change the game.” http://ow.ly/KsHDx This article includes some examples of how engaging citizens in participatory ways – and treating democracy as more than just voting – can tackle problems like climate change that seem politically impossible to address.

DDC on social media

For news, resources, and updates on deliberation, participation, and democratic governance around the world, like DDC on Facebook, follow @mattleighninger on Twitter, or connect with mattleighninger on LinkedIn.

The Next Form of Democracy

Beneath the national radar, the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic shift. The stories of civic experiments in "The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance -- and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same" by DDC Executive Director Matt Leighninger show us the realpolitik of deliberative democracy, and illustrate how the evolution of democracy is already reshaping politics. Learn more...

Deliberative Democracy Handbook

The Deliberative Democracy Handbook is the first book to bring together the best practices and thinkin on deliberative citizen participation processes. Deliberative democracy is the nationwide movement to make citizen participation meaningful and effective. Learn more...

Deliberative Democracy Handbook Cover

Journal of Public Deliberation
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