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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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    Hello folks,

    I had written a long entry about this issue but lost it after I realized I was not signed in.

    I would like to have more conversation about how to address political priviledges and how those who have them often seek to protect them by limiting attempts at inclusion and empowerment of those who do not.

    We typically hear a great deal of discussion about the need to be inclusive, yet when these attempts fail or fall short, there is rarely mention of some main factors as to why.

    Social and Structural Barriers to participation in addition to issues of Civic Education and Capacity Building are major barriers to participation. Privileged groups often may not support the inclusion of these elements as central facets of participation systems. There-by limiting the ability of marginalized groups to participate either because they can not or they are so alienated by it that they refuse.

    I hope to hear more from you all on these issues.


    Khalil Tian Shahyd

    New Orleans Citizen Participation Project


    This topic is important because typically when we talk about inclusion and civic engagement in public decisions we conceive it under the often false assumptions that local elites are willing to share democratic space and influence over local decisions with impoverished and marginalized groups.

    In many cases this just isn't so. For instance, neighborhood groups who consist primarily of homeowners and take as one of their primary motivations as a group to limit the construction of new affordable and low income housing units in their area will resist attempts to incorporate the voices of those who favor affordable housing in their decision-making process.

    Similarly, others may support the use of public resources to create democratic space to influence local decisions, but will not support the use of public resources to broaden civic education and civic capacities to enable more equity in access to public decisions.

    Our movements, campaigns and advocacy for increased public engagement must deal with these barriers to enagement.

    Khalil Tian Shahyd

    New Orleans Citizen Participation Project

    • CommentAuthorRosaZ
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2009

    Hi Khalil

    I don't assume that anyone is necessarily willing to share power...

    it seems to me that often non-violent action is needed to create a seat at the "participatory decision-making table"...

    and that those two strands, activism and dialogue/deliberation, are in a continuous interactive  "dance" in order to create a "world that works for all".

    however, i don't necessarily see it as the role of the dd community, to "organize the activists..."

    though of course we all need to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively....


    but maybe i am not understanding what you are saying?


    all best wishes,






    Perhaps not. The design of the participation or deliberation process must account for the inequalities that exist within society and address them within the structure of the process. Otherwise it will simply be captured by those in the best position to make use of it. Unless the system include both rules of engagement that ensure equity in access and control over the process as well as capacity building measures to help those who may not have the resources as others to be involved effectively it will lose support and fail as a tool for empowerment and better decision-making.


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