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"Can our field present a united front to the new Administration? Let's start by seeing if we can develop a set of principles for public engagement we can all endorse..."

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    From http://publicagenda.org/blogs/team-obama-technology-public-engagement ...

    Public Agenda has been involved in public engagement for over thirty years, and our experience has taught us the differences between authentic public engagement and "business-as-usual" approaches to public involvement. These principles are key for true public engagement:

    1. Begin by listening. Be alert to the issues that non-experts care about, the language they use to discuss them, and their concerns, misperceptions and initial sense of direction with respect to solutions.

    2. Attend to people's leading concerns. When there are gaps between the priorities of leaders and those of the public, it is important to recognize that people will be most receptive to leaders' concerns if the issues that they themselves are already feeling most concerned about are acknowledged and being addressed by leaders.

    3. Reach beyond the "usual suspects." Find ways to include the broader public, especially those whose voices have traditionally been excluded.

    4. Frame issues for deliberation. Help people wrestle with the differing perspectives, and the pros and cons of going down different paths.

    5. Provide the right type and amount of information at the right time. It is helpful to provide people with carefully selected, essential, nonpartisan information up front in order to help them deliberate more effectively, but it is equally important to avoid overloading people with a "data dump."

    6. Help people move beyond wishful thinking. The trade-offs that are embedded in any issue that citizens must confront should be brought to the surface. Challenging leaders who pander to people's wishful thinking and providing corrective information once it's become clear the public is "hung up" on a misperception or is lacking vital information are key tasks here.

    7. Expect obstacles and resistance. It takes time, and repeated opportunities, for people to really work through problems, absorb information about the trade-offs of different approaches, and build common ground.

    8. Create multiple, varied opportunities for deliberation and dialogue. People need to go through a variety of stages to come to terms with an issue, decide what approach they are willing to support and figure out how they can make their own contribution. Community Conversations, "study circles," online engagement strategies and media partnerships are a few of the possibilities.

    9. Respond thoughtfully and conscientiously to the public's involvement. It is critical that leaders respond to the public's deliberations. For instance, participants should be informed of the ways their ideas and concerns are being incorporated into the work. Moreover, it means taking the time to explain why some ideas are not being incorporated. Doing so deepens people's understanding of the issues and fosters mutual respect.

    10. Build long-term capacity as you go. When done well, each round of public engagement will set the stage for broader and deeper public engagement in the future. The work should always operate on two levels simultaneously: On one level it is about addressing a concrete problem, such as improving education, public safety or jobs. On another it is about building the capacity for a democratic community to communicate and collaborate effectively in order to solve its common problems and enrich its public life.

    --

    This December 22, 2008 article by David White also included the following text that might be very useful for this project:

    “While Obama's team may be headed in this direction, there are still some problems that need to be worked out. Users obsessed with a fringe issues or current events can overwhelm unrelated discussions. In one case, a discussion on community service was flooded with comments on drug legalization. Another discussion devolved into an argument about the invitation for evangelical minister Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration. While problems like these may be solved by tweaking the technology, other problems require a change in attitude from users of the site.

    In a recent "Open for Questions" event on the site, Obama supporters flagged as inappropriate legitimate questions about the Gov. Blagojevich scandal. It's understandable that they feel protective of Obama, but if users with differing views on issues feel unwelcome, the site will quickly devolve into what happens so often online: a bunch of like-minded people talking only to themselves.

    The Obama team will have to decide if they're going to just apply new technology to the old goal of building a more powerful political machine, or use it to match their campaign rhetoric by embracing public engagement and changing the way the country is governed.”

  2.  

    I think these principles are extraordinarily well-done, and nicely succinct.  I'd suggest we start with these principles and see what we feel might need to be changed to represent the whole D&D and public engagement communities well.

  3.  

    I am especialy impressed with item # 4.  Framing the issues while appreciating the "range in point of view" is a challenge. We might consider expanding on this item a bit more.  I'll be testing this out over this next weekend in Minneapolis. For my part here, I'm looking at how these principles match with:

    1. Dialogue
    2. Future Search
    3. World Cafe

    In the context of University/community deliberation /engagement, this should be interesting.

    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2009
     

    What do people think of this particular set of principles?  How well do they represent the views of the larger dialogue & deliberation and public participation communities??

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