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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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    Core Principles for Public Engagement

    Developed collaboratively by members of leading public engagement organizations

    Draft 3-10-09

    There are many ways government officials and community leaders can engage the public around the myriad issues that affect people's lives.  It is our stance that quality public engagement must take into consideration seven core principles if it is to effectively build mutual understanding, meaningfully affect policy development, and inspire collaborative action among citizens and institutions.

    The following seven principles overlap and reinforce each other in practice.  They serve both as ideals to pursue and as criteria for judging quality.  Rather than promoting partisan agendas, the implementation of these principles generates authentic engagement in public problem-solving.

    The Seven Core Principles

    1. Preparation - Consciously plan, design, convene and arrange the engagement to serve its purpose and people.
    2. Inclusion - Incorporate multiple voices and ideas to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.
    3. Collaboration -  Support organizers, participants, and those engaged in follow-up to work well together for the common good.
    4. Learning - Help participants listen, explore and learn without predetermined outcomes -- and evaluate events for lessons.
    5. Transparency - Promote openness and provide a public record of the people, resources, and events involved.
    6. Impact - Ensure each participatory effort has the potential to make a difference.
    7. Sustainability - Promote a culture of participation by supporting programs and institutions that sustain quality public engagement.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    1.  PREPARATION

    Plan, design and convene the engagement in accordance with the other six principles.

    At its best: Participation begins when stakeholders, convenors and process experts engage together in the planning and organizing process. Their unique context and aims shape the process design as well as venue selection and set-up.  They create hospitable, accessible, functional environments and schedules that serve the participants' logistical, intellectual, biological, aesthetic, identity, and cultural needs.  In general, they promote conditions that support all the qualities on this list.

    What to avoid: Untrained, inexperienced, or ideologically biased organizers design programs that do not fit the purpose of the effort or the community involved, or that do not respect and engage the relevant stakeholders.  The venue is inaccessible, ugly, and confusing, and the poorly constructed schedule is inflexible or rushed, with inadequate time for doing what needs to be done.  Facilitation is weak or too directive, interfering with people's ability to communicate with each other openly, adjust their stances, and make progress.  Logistical, class, racial, and cultural barriers to participation are left unaddressed, effectively sidelining marginalized people and further privileging elites, majorities, "experts", and partisan advocates.

    2.  INCLUSION

    Incorporate multiple voices and ideas to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.

    At its best: Convenors and participants reflect the range of stakeholder or demographic diversity on the issue at hand. Alternatively, participants are randomly selected to represent a microcosm of the public. Participants have the opportunity to grapple with data and perspectives that fairly represent different “sides” of the issue. Participants feel they are respected and their views are welcomed, heard, and responded to. Special effort is made to enable normally marginalized, silent, or dissenting voices to meaningfully engage -- and fundamental differences are clarified and honored.

    What to avoid: Participants are mostly "the usual suspects" -- perhaps with merely token diversity added. Biased information is presented, and expert testimony seems designed to move people in a specific direction.  People have little chance to speak out and, when they do, there is little sign they are actually heard.  Participants, stakeholders, or segments of the public feel their interests, concerns and ideas -- and they, themselves, as people -- are suppressed, ignored, or marginalized.

    3.  COLLABORATION

    Support organizers, participants, and those engaged in follow-up to work well together for the common good.

    At its best: Organizers involve public officials, “ordinary people”, community leaders, and other interested parties as equal participants in conversations where differences are explored rather than ignored, and a shared sense of a desired future can emerge.  People with different backgrounds and ideologies work together on every aspect of the engagement -- from planning and recruiting, to gathering and presenting information, all the way through to presenting outcomes and implementing agreed-upon action steps.

    What to avoid: Unresponsive power-holders deliver one-way pronouncements or preside over adversarial, disrespectful or stilted conversations.  Experts and authorities feel they already have "all the answers" and “listen” only to appease.  Engagement has no chance of impacting policy because relevant decisions have already been made or are in the pipeline, or because those in power are not involved or committed.  Loud voices, mainstream views, or suppressive "reason" dominate, and other voices and modes of expression are silenced or tolerated.  Engagement feels pointless, lacking shared purpose and a link to action.

    4.  LEARNING

    Help participants listen, explore and learn without predetermined outcomes -- and evaluate for lessons.

    At its best: Skilled facilitators encourage everyone involved to share their views, listen, and be curious in order to learn things about themselves, each other, and the issues before them.  Shared intention and powerful questions guide participants' exploration of useful information and their own disagreements in an open and respectful atmosphere.  This exploratory atmosphere enables them to delve more deeply into complexities and nuances and thereby generate new understandings, possibilities, and/or decisions that were not clear when their conversation began.  Participants and leaders take away new skills and approaches to resolving conflicts, solving problems and making decisions.  Careful review and evaluation improves subsequent engagement work.

    What to avoid: "Public participation" exercises go through the motions required by law or the dictates of PR before announcing a pre-determined outcome.  Participants get on soapboxes or are repressed; fight or conform; get overridden or overwhelmed; and are definitely not listening to each other.  Available information is biased, scanty, overwhelming, or inaccessible -- and experts lecture rather than discuss and clarify.  Poor facilitation, lack of time, or inflexible process make it impossible to deal with the true complexity of the issue. And organizers and facilitators are too busy, ideological, or insecure to review and evaluate the event.

    5.  TRANSPARENCY

    Promote openness and provide a public record of the process, resources, outcomes, and people involved.

    At its best: People's attitudes and actions engender trust.  Relevant information, activities, decisions, and issues that arise are shared, while respecting privacy where necessary.  People experience planners, facilitators, and participants with official roles as straightforward, concerned, and answerable.  Members of the public can easily get involved, stay engaged, and contribute to the ongoing evolution of outcomes or actions the process generates.

    What to avoid: It is hard, if not impossible, to find out who is involved, what happened, and why.  Research, advocacy, and answerability efforts are stymied.  Participants, the public, and various stakeholders suspect hidden agendas and dubious ethics.  Participants not only don't trust the facilitators but are not open about their thoughts and feelings.

    Continued in the next comment...

  2.  

    6.  IMPACT

    Ensure each participatory effort has the potential to make a difference.

    At its best: People sense -- and can see -- that their engagement was meaningful, influencing government decisions, empowering them to act effectively individually and/or together, or otherwise impacting the world around them.  Media and communications ensure the appropriate publics know the engagement is happening and talk about it with each other.  The effort is productively linked to other efforts on the issue(s) addressed.  Because diverse stakeholders understand, are moved by, and act on the findings and recommendations of the program, problems get solved, visions are pursued, and communities become more vibrant, healthy, and successful -- despite ongoing differences.

    What to avoid: Participants have no sense of having any effect -- before, during, or after the public engagement process.  There is no follow-through from anyone, and hardly anyone even knows it happened, including other people and groups working on the issue.  Participants' findings and recommendations are inarticulate or useless to policy-makers -- or seem to represent the views of only a small unqualified group -- and are largely ignored or, when used, are used to suppress dissent.  Any energy or activity catalyzed by the event quickly dies out.

    7.  SUSTAINABILITY

    Promote a culture of participation by supporting programs and institutions that sustain quality public engagement.

    At its best: Each new engagement effort is linked intentionally to existing efforts and institutions (government, schools, civic and social organizations, etc.) so quality engagement and democratic participation increasingly become standard practice.  Participants and others involved in the process gain knowledge and skills in democratic methods of involving people, making decisions and solving problems.  Ongoing spaces are built in communities and online, where people from all backgrounds can bring their ideas and concerns about public affairs to the table and engage in lively conversation that has the potential to impact community and national issues.

    What to avoid: Public engagements, when they occur, are one-off events isolated from the ongoing political life of society.  For most people, democracy means only freedoms and voting and perhaps writing a letter to their newspaper or representative.  For activists and public officials, democracy is the business-as-usual battle and behind-the-scenes maneuvering.  Few people -- including public officials -- have any expectation that authentic, empowered public participation is possible, necessary, forthcoming, or even desirable.  Privileged people dominate, intentionally or unintentionally undermining the ability of marginalized populations to meaningfully participate.

  3.  

    A summary of changes made to the previous version...

    1. I changed the "What this looks like:" headers to "At its best:".  We don't want to discourage people from doing public engagement work because the space isn't aesthetically pleasing or decision-makers refused to participate as equals.  As one commenter said, many times you have to forge ahead with what you've got.

    2. I tried to simplify the text a bit, removing or rephrasing things that were unclear, redundant, or too jargony or liberal sounding.  I feel like most of these changes were pretty minor.

    3. I incorporated a lot of comments Tom hadn't worked into his newest version from DeAnna Martin (on the forum) and Chris Gates of PACE (who had written on a draft I gave him when I saw him last weekend). Not all their comments were worked in, but many of them were.

    4. I changed the intro text for the Impact principle from "Engage official and public attention and follow up -- in context -- so that each participatory effort actually makes a difference" to "Ensure each participatory effort has the potential to make a difference."  I found the previous intro text confusing and unnecessarily complex (after all, things are explained in the longer descriptions). Plus I do feel a potential to make a difference is much more realistic than ensuring each effort actually makes a difference.

    5. I renamed and reframed the 7th principle.  The feedback I was receiving about that principle was that it didn't flow with the other 6.  I changed the name of the principle from "participatory culture" to "sustainability," since it's about sustaining quality engagement and democratic culture.  I also changed the text associated with the principle under "At Its Best" to text I feel is more relevant to people organizing and implementing a public engagement process. I removed the text about how people expect to participate and leaders plan for and initiative long-term programs to enable engagement.  That text seemed more suited for a vision statement than one of the 7 principles, and I wonder if we should include it in a follow-up statement to the principles anyway, so we don't end on a negative "what to avoid" statement.

    Hope everyone's okay with these changes!  None of them are set in stone, of course, so please comment here on what you disagree with.

    • CommentAuthorTim
    • CommentTimeMar 15th 2009
     
    Not sure if this is intentional, but the following three principles differ slightly between intro text and the longer description:

    1. Preparation -
    Consciously plan, design, convene and arrange the engagement to serve its purpose and people.
    Plan, design and convene the engagement in accordance with the other six principles.

    4. Learning -
    Help participants listen, explore and learn without predetermined outcomes -- and evaluate events for lessons.
    Help participants listen, explore and learn without predetermined outcomes -- and evaluate for lessons.

    5. Transparency -
    Promote openness and provide a public record of the people, resources, and events involved.
    Promote openness and provide a public record of the process, resources, outcomes, and people involved.

    I think I'd prefer if they were all identical. Makes for a more consistent read in my view.

    • CommentAuthorTim
    • CommentTimeMar 15th 2009 edited
     

    As far as I can see, the need for providing participants with high-quality information is addressed threefour times, yet mostlymore detail is given in the "what to avoid" sections:

    Under #2 Inclusion:
    (1) At its best: "Participants have the opportunity to grapple with data and perspectives that fairly represent different “sides” of the issue."
    (2) What to avoid: "Biased information is presented, and expert testimony seems designed to move people in a specific direction."

    Under #4 Learning:
    (3) At its best: " Shared intention and powerful questions guide participants' exploration of useful information..."
    (4) What to avoid: "Available information is biased, scanty, overwhelming, or inaccessible -- and experts lecture rather than discuss and clarify."

    Maybe there's room for something a little more specific in either one of the "at its best" sections?

    Creighton talks about the need for "complete and unbiased information" (see my latest blog post for the full quote).

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists "objectivity, utility and integrity" as their main criteria for information quality (see section 5.1 in their information quality guidelines, PDF).

    Something along those lines: complete, objective, useful

    • CommentAuthorTim
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2009
     
    Here's the quote from the EPA guidelines:

    5.1 What is “Quality” According to the Guidelines?

    Consistent with the OMB guidelines, EPA is issuing these Guidelines to ensure and maximize the quality, including objectivity, utility and integrity, of disseminated information. Objectivity, integrity, and utility are defined here, consistent with the OMB guidelines. “Objectivity” focuses on whether the disseminated information is being presented in an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner, and as a matter of substance, is accurate, reliable, and unbiased. “Integrity” refers to security, such as the protection of information from unauthorized access or revision, to ensure that the information is not compromised through corruption or falsification. “Utility” refers to the usefulness of the information to the intended users.

  4.  

    Thanks Sandy for being so thorough in including people's comments and suggestions. Two things that come up for me in this version and the comments that follow are:

    • Tim's plea to be more specific about the "at its best" definition of "information" brings up for me the feeling that I don't think there is truly "unbiased" information. I support the current wording, "Participants have the opportunity to grapple with data and perspectives that fairly represent different “sides” of the issue." I think that's what we strive for...
    • On changing the 7th principle to "Sustainability" concerns me in these two ways. 1) this was a trigger word for many conservatives on our panel at the last conference, making them think some kind of liberal agenda is behind whatever's going on. 2) this word makes me think we believe all our processes should last forever... but, in the world of evolutionary biology and emergence, some things aren't meant to last forever. In our work we need to be able to adapt and evolve our processes or end them when they aren't in service of life, i.e. recognizing the life cycles of things. I wish I could think of a suggestion for some other word, but nothing's coming to mind for me... I'll keep thinking...
    • CommentAuthorTim
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2009
     

    Thanks, DeAnna. Missed that reference and have updated my comment above.

    I agree that information can never be perfectly objective, but would it be helpful to at least state more clearly the ideals that organizers or conveners should strive for (objectivity, completeness, usefulness etc.)?

    Just something that occured to me while reading the latest draft. I'm ok with leaving it as is if you all think this is clear enough already.

  5.  

    1. One small spelling correction, twice in the first paragraph, "effect people" should be "affect people" since it is a verb and does not mean "to produce as an effect [people/policy]" and instead means "to act on [people/policy]".  Please compare http://dictionary.reference.com/dic?q=effect&search;=search and http://dictionary.reference.com/dic?q=affect&search;=search

    2. I would add that a deliberative process should have at least some type of outlet for anonymous ideas.  This is especially necessary when government is concerned.  The only discussion about this so far is that it isn't common in our processes, but does anyone have a reason why?  If we don't ask for anonymous ideas, we literally don't know what we're missing; sometimes the ideas we need to hear are not what we want to hear and people require anonymity in order to say them.

    3. With reference to transparency and inclusion, closed-door "national" deliberations sponsored by the federal government should be broadcast live online-- not the intimate small-group discussions, but the public presentations and discussions that involve the whole group.   The purpose of doing so would be to provide online access to those that are not fortunate enough to attend.  This would also be a way to minimize objections from folks who claim that the process is not legitimate after the process is complete-- this is critical to #6 Impact.  If 3 million Americans participated in a "national discussion" that would seen as a runaway success, but we still have to convince the other 99% of Americans that didn't participate that the process is legitimate.  Additionally, the tools required to do this (Ustream, a cheap video camera, etc) are virtually free and are relatively easy to use.

    • CommentAuthorkenoli
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009 edited
     

    It's looking better and better. Some thoughts:

    Planning:

    As well as dealing with the venue and hosting, there are three additional tasks:

    1) Clarifying the task: An important part of planning is clarifying and articulating the task in a simple phrase or two, i.e. the reason for getting together. Even where people start out with a reason for getting together, it always improves greatly when a group with perspectives from across the constituency reviews this purpose. This also makes sure it is articulated in a way that people with various viewpoints really understand it and are attracted to the process

    2) Identifying who needs to be there and figuring out how to get them there.

    3) Working collaboratively with consultants experienced in process to come up with a process design that fits the task, the desired outcomes and the culture of the group. Just as it is important not to start with an assumption that any particular result is the right result, it is important not to start out with the assumption that any particular process is the right process. Process needs to meet task, what kind of outcomes are desired and the culture of the group involved. The group needs to work with consultants on to come up with an appropriate design.

    Inclusion:

    Another cut on stakeholders that we make, in addition to demographic stakeholders, is what we refer to as "functional" stakeholders. You could stretch demographic to mean this, but people usually mean things like age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, wealth and the like when referring to "demographic." Having people with different kinds of experience related to role is critical.

    Collaboration:

    Good section with one comment (and a few more below). I would use a different word that "presenting" toward the end of the paragraph which is in some ways the opposite of collaboration. When we work collaboratively, everyone is "presenting" all the time, which I would describe more as sharing. We refer to this as listening to all voices present. I'm not sure what you mean by "presenting" outcomes, unless you mean presenting to an official body. If members of official bodies are present in the room, they have collaborated on the outcomes and the next step feels a bit different than "presenting." Taking something to an official body, writing and getting legislation passed, influencing a public action are all outcomes and also actions.

    I think there is something here in our fundamental orientation. If we start out assuming everyone is working as equals to discover something that grows out of our "equality" through collaboration, then we are empowering everyone equally. I think this orientation implies "action," as opposed to "presenting" or "reporting" as a natural form of outcome, since we are all assuming responsibility for creating the reality we have cooked up together. Given the reality of our world, action may take on the form of influencing bodies of power. If we set up our process well, however, members of those bodies will be present in the process working collaboratively with us towards common outcomes and action.

    More to come. Don't want to get too long.

    • CommentAuthorkenoli
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009
     

    Great sections on learning and transparency.

    • CommentAuthorkenoli
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009 edited
     

    "Impact" as a heading is dicey, as it implies something other that full empowerment and responsibility for outcomes and actions, as if there were something out there we are trying to effect. Whenever we take this view, we are in some ways disempowering ourselves. If everyone is in the room, anyone with statutory power or wealth, then people able to "disempower" or "empower" us with their capacity to influence, will be in the room sharing power with us. In spite of the fact that we never get all these people in the room, it seems to be an important goal as well as a fundamental principle to make full empowerment and full responsibility for action core principles.

    Would something like, "full responsibility for action" work for what we are trying to achieve here better than "impact?" I think it might be worth struggling a bit with this heading.

    • CommentAuthorkenoli
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009
     

    Sustainability:

    I like this section. What isn't explicit here, though, perhaps implied, is the fact that we work toward sustainability by building in factors that support sustainability, rather than by force, mandate, money. Key here are two phrases I use a lot: ownership and buy-in. Building these dynamics into the process has a lot to do with who is present, acting collaboratively and other key principles.

    • CommentAuthorkenoli
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009 edited
     
    In reference to one of Tim's comments, I think "providing people with high quality information" is best in the avoid section. People will provide each other with their own knowledge, wisdom and experience. I think the concept of "objective" or "high quality" information is more divisive than useful. It gives a kind of power to people with that information and takes it away from others. If we get all the needed voices in the room, the information necessary will show up with those people.
    • CommentAuthorkenoli
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009
     

    In response to Deanna. I am interested that you say "sustainable" is a trigger for conservatives. Is that because it is often used in relation to the environment and conservatives don't like the environment? Actually, what we are talking about here is producing outcomes that get carried forward, something I hear as a complaint against liberals, that they are all talk and no "do." I'm not advocating for anything here, except that I think sustainable is a good description of something we are trying to achieve and not clear on what would be objectionable about it.

    I also don't read this as "locked in stone," either in relation to outcome or process. Inherent in our principles (maybe even worth articulating as a principle) is that we keep everything live, responding to the moment, changing, growing, evolving adapting, but doing this through authentic engagement. As far as "our" processes, I simply see them as touchstones that we have discovered along the way, things to bring along and use as they seem useful. As we go, we discover more about them, exchange them for each other, assemble them in different ways, all staying with the deeper principles we are also constantly discovering, rediscovering and re-articulating, always remaining authentic as individuals and as communities.

  6.  

    One of the areas that could set us apart from the others in terms of principles would be a piece on the use of technology + web resources prior, during and after the engagement event.  I'm checking to see if others are open to includng this in our list of principles.  I could see setting up a Facebook /Twitter account per event and using a range of other tools during and after the event.  IBM has a tool that will data mine participant comments in an open/on-line forum. [see Habitat Jam]

    If others are comfortable with this idea, I could take a crack and writing this up as a principle.

  7.  

    The previous post from "FlyingAfrican" is Reynolds-Anthony Harris

    • CommentAuthorTim
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009 edited
     
    Regarding the use of online tools (and technology in general):

    Not surprisingly, I am quite convinced that the web will play an ever increasing role in public participation or civic engagement work. At the same time, however, each project or initiative is unique and will always require finding a good balance between offline and online components: while some projects may strive in a purely online environment, others will not benefit from online at all.

    For the purpose of this document, I’m not sure that we need an additional principle dedicated to the use of technology, online tools, social media etc. Maybe a simple statement somewhere in the text saying that "use of technology is generally encouraged whenever appropriate" and that the seven principles apply to both online and offline efforts alike (at least in my view, they do) is all we need at this point.

    • CommentAuthortree
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2009 edited
     

    Continuing to appreciate everyone's good work + comments here.

    1. Usually i am a details kind of person, but in this case i find myself returning to the core, over and over again. Maybe because that's where i think the real influence will come from, as many users will not pay attention to the full descriptions. I'm not sure what to say about it that i haven't said already in comments appended to earlier versions, but the concern still seems insufficiently addressed. My question is, would a public engagement process that fulfills the qualities listed here so far:

    1. Preparation
    2. Inclusion
    3. Collaboration
    4. Learning
    5. Transparency
    6. Impact
    7. Sustainability

    thereby avoid "pseudo-dialogue" (which according to the introduction posted on this project was a primary goal) or not? I think the answer right now is "Not necessarily," and we need to change the names in boldface until the answer is "Yes." As i mentioned previously, if you look at the UK principles posted by Bill Potapchuk http://www.thataway.org/2009/pep_project/discussion/28/9-principles-of-effective-deliberative-public-engagement-uk/#Item_0 i think the difference will resonate.

    I know that Tom and likely others are concerned with keeping these principles broad enough to provide a big tent that the whole field of D&D; can get under. I agree that's important, but not worth losing core values at the heart of the matter. While there is some risk in keeping standards high that a few organizations will refuse to sign on, more likely they will be pulled along and perhaps even make their work better as a result. Writing core principles that provide guidance for an entire emerging field is not the time to let political concerns water it down . . . realistically, we will have to continually struggle for full implementation of the principles in any case.

    2. Ditto DeAnna on avoiding the buzzword "sustainability"--i thought "participatory culture" was better. Perhaps there is some other term that would be better than both?

    3. Correct spelling on subheading would be "Principles."

    Cheers,

    --Tree

  8.  

    Some very interesting comments from Roger Bernier at the CDC...

    I apologize in advance for not having shared my thoughts earlier with those who worked on these principles, but I understand the process is still underway and that input can still be considered.

    I think the idea of having principles is a good one and applaud that effort. The effort at achieving unity is important.

    I must ask if the target audience for this is federal managers who must decide what goes into the Directive on Open Government. I assume this is our target audience, and if it is, I do not believe the draft as it stands has much chance of being useful to federal managers.  As a federal manager myself, I think the following changes would be important to make. I apologize if this federal perspective is too narrow for what you had in mind.

    1. What appears to be 7 principles is actually a much larger number. Actually, a seemingly overwhelming, unworkable number.

    2. What is included under each principle often does not relate to the name of the principle. Too much content in one principle.

    3. The elements mentioned often seem unrealistic or way too numerous and not relevant to what a manager would be concerned with (e.g., ugly venues)

    4. Including a section on what to avoid gives an overall adversarial tone to the principles. Federal managers are not the enemy here but the sponsors who must be seen as co-creators of the desired products. If we want to point out the potential pitfalls and harms that can be caused by poor public engagement, I think something much simpler should be used. I have seen a list of the six most common sins in public engagement. Something like that is short and catchy and has a chance of getting attention. The long laundry list of violations included in the principles now will not be useful, in my view. Packaging is important and this packaging still needs work in my view for effective communication.

    5. The level of interactivity that is assumed to underlie this type of public engagement is not specified. Not all people think we need to intereact this intensively to have public engagement.

    6. Other past efforts to articulate principles are not described.

    7. How will these principles fit in with other ongoing efforts by others in the field to provide input on the Open Govt Directive? For example, some of us in the federal government may be providing input through the OMB website.

    8. What is the main purpose of the public engagement being described by these principles?  I assume it is policy making and not one of the other main purposes such as mutual understanding or conflict resolution.

    9. The principles talk about involvement in implementation, but this is not the focus of the Open Government Directive as I understand it. The president's memo calls for involvement in policy making. I may need to be corrected on this. But if the focus is on policy making, we should address our principles to that product as an outcome and not others, however laudable they may be at other times and in other places.

    10. I would not describe public engagement at its best because that might make people consider these practices unrealistic. Rather I think we should describe what is required to have "consequential public engagement" that meets the needs of both the sponsors for a better decision and the participants for contributing meaningfully to that decision. That is a stretch from where we are now at the federal level I believe, yet is achievable.

    Roger H. Bernier, PhD, MPH
    Senior Advisor For Scientific Strategy and Innovation
    National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, MS E-05
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Atlanta, GA 30333
    [email protected]

  9.  

    Very, very interesting comments, Roger. Thanks for taking the time to think about the draft carefully.

    A couple of quick reactions...

    I think Roger may be right, that there is too much content and too many points under each principle.  I think it may be time to start cutting things that aren't absolutely critical (like his "ugly venue" example) and things that don't pertain to all effective types of public engagement (or public dialogue and deliberation) work.  I'm going to start asking organization and network leaders, "what in this draft would prevent you from endorsing this document?" and see what doesn't seem to work for people.

    I've asked Roger to send me the "6 sins in public engagement" he mentioned.  The "what to avoid" paragraphs are long and might dissuade people from doing public engagement work.  A "6 sins" type of list might be more effective.  I think some of the what to avoid content is critically important, so an alternative way of packaging it would definitely be needed.  Then again, we could consider ways to reframe those paragraphs, like "Potential pitfalls."

    And I wanted to mention that influencing / contributing to the open governance directive is certainly a goal, but we want to create something that can be used much more broadly as well.

  10.  

    Something from NCDD member J. Allen Johnson...

    Thanks so much  for your hard work at creating a core frame of principles. For sometime, like many others, I have focused on thinking about how to weave restorative healing as an intergral part of the public dialogue dynamics.  Most efforts for inclusion usually reflects or bring forward the viruses empowering from which the marginalization sprouted.  My suggestion is to give thought to an Inclusion which is organically included. As a core principle, it is certainly valued (who could be against apple pie?), yet the mechanism by which the value maybe included seems headed for a "mere grafting on" as opposed to organically infused.

  11.  

    From NCDD member MaryBeth Merritt ([email protected])...

    Perhaps as part of #1, there is a pice about identifying and stating the intention of the convening.  Has anyonbe looked at "PeerSpirit Circles"? They have good languaging.

  12.  

    Some comments from Debby Sugarman ([email protected])...

    This is looking so good.  It is like night and day from the first version I read.  It's really fun to watch this change and grow!

    1. The "what to avoid" section under #2 inclusion and #3 collaboration seems like they are very similar.  I wonder if there is more differentiation that could happen.  In my mind the not being heard is the important point for #3 and #4.  Inclusion is about not even getting to the event or not getting to the point of feeling comfortable speaking.  Now that I look at it, that is said under #1.  I don't have a good suggestion about how to make #2 "what to avoid" different from #1 or #3.

    2.  Under #4 learning- "at it's best", even though I suggested the wording I wonder if it would be more succinct to change "be willing to be curious" to just  "be curious"?

  13.  

    Some comments from NCDD member Terry Amsler...

    This is a very impressive and important effort and congratulations and thanks to all who have contributed.

    I have a couple of brief thoughts.  First, while the phrase “And careful review and evaluation improves subsequent engagement work.” is appended to the Learning section, that section is primarily about learning within the process and I’m not sure that’s enough to say on the subject of evaluation – especially as there is so little of it done at present (at least by cities and counties which is who I work with primarily).  Evaluation is not only a good idea for reviewing process appropriateness, quality and effectiveness; done well it can also contribute to enhancing the potential for understanding how these processes can help develop additional competencies in both institutions and in the community for appropriate “repeat” uses of public deliberation. The section on Sustainability touches on this point of course, but I think that this further underscores the importance of evaluation having its own category.  Also, not only should “process experts” do it but convenors should know how to do their own as well, and this could be additionally stressed in its own section.

    Second, these core principles, at least in part, suggest what the best and ethical practices of public engagement providers/”experts” should be.  Coming out of “wars” within the conflict resolution field over the years about what the various “schools” of mediation practice offered and significant differences on how best practices should be defined, I came to the conclusion that a core “ethical practice” of conflict resolution providers should be to explain to their potential “clients/participants” (in addition to their relevant experience) how they viewed their assumptions about their own practice, the sort of process options they offered and the sort of (not substance of) outcomes that might be expected of each.  There are of course (and fortunately) multiple public engagement experts/providers who offer a particular range of process choices to potential convenors/clients; but potential “clients” won’t often know the range of practice options available in the world.  It’s helpful if practitioners “place themselves” (in terms of “their” processes) in the field as this is part of good consumer education that leads to a greater likelihood for success of the field as a whole over time. This may be more that can be contained in the Core Principles and I offer it only as a thought.

    Relatedly perhaps, claims by some experts for potential process outcomes and impacts sometime exceed any reasonable expectations. A part of “disclosure” by process experts should be a realistic assessment of what needs to put into a process in order to get out what is desired.  The content under Preparation about “inadequate time for doing what needs to be done” touches on this hugely important point but I wonder if the larger message is clear enough.  To the degree that authentic deliberation, dealing with real differences, and coming to consensus on recommendations is envisioned (especially on complex matters), the whole structure (and time period) of the process has to be in synch with these goals.  Is this clear enough in the Principles?

    Anyway, just passing thoughts…

    Best,

    Terry
    Terry Amsler | Program Director
    Collaborative Governance Initiative
    INSTITUTE FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
    1400 K Street, Suite 301
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    email     [email protected]
    web       www.ca-ilg.org

  14.  

    Some comments from NCDD member Eryn Kalish...

    Hi all...this looks great and I so appreciate the changes that have been made in bringing an even more grounded tone and set of expectations to the document...I like the two sections approach, too.

    I agree with and really like all of Terry's suggestions, esp appreciate articulating where we are as facilitators in the wide field of process options.

    I would also suggest adding something to the third point on collaboration. Perhaps because I work in an arena where there is more misinformation than most, I have found that "experts" can be very helpful in bringing needed information that can truly shed needed light on an issue. In fact I just facilitated a very large, more conventional process than I would have liked (but chosen by a planning committee from across a wide political spectrum of the community over months of thoughtful meetings) and it opened up the entire community. If we had done only dialogue and deliberation without getting additional information, the movement that has taken place would have stalled out over impassioned arguments that were not grounded in core information.

    So perhaps saying something about balancing the need for expertise with inner wisdom, vision, intuition, concerns etc. might be helpful?

    Thank you all so much for putting this together...I'm sure it will be a helpful resource to our field.

    Warmly,
    Rachel Eryn Kalish

    • CommentAuthorRosaZ
    • CommentTimeMar 19th 2009
     

    Sandy, Tom, all...

    lots of excellent comments above...

    I'm realizing that both Roger Bernier and Kenoli Oleari have been pointing at something that may need clarification (although they appear to be coming at it from different ends.)

    On the one hand, there is Kenoli's point above about the difference between "taking action together", vs "reporting out" to influence policy. On the other, there is Roger's reading of the president's memo as primarily calling for involvement in policy making.

    Going back to the original memo, I'm realizing that I actually DON'T read it as limited to participatory policy making. I'm also realizing that I don't agree with Stephen Buckley's reading of the "transparent" and 'collaborative' as mere descriptors of the "participatory policymaking" element.

    The 'collaborative' section states the following, "Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector". When I read this, it seems to point right to where Future Search fits in (the powerful community-building and community-organizing philosophy and methodology that Kenoli practices and which informs his perspective.)

    I had earlier assumed that Kenoli's perspective as being adequately represented by the far end of the IAP2 spectrum, but taking a closer look, I’m realizing that I was wrong -- the entire IAP2 spectrum is still about “creating policy”, NOT about the practice of creating “shared action” in a particular situation or community, in a way that is uniquely responsive to that particular situation or community.

    Part of the reason why the whole "shared action" perspective may be so "invisible" to some of the "participatory policy design" folks, is that we may have an embedded assumption about "policy" needing to come FIRST, in a linear manner, before action, (as in, writing a manual) and action as being a direct and simple "implementation" of policy (as in, "executing" the manual, in a relatively context-free manner).

    In contrast, approaches like Future Search, bring people together in particular situations or communities, to create shared actions in out-of-the-box ways. These shared actions may LATER result in new policies being created, but the creative action generally comes FIRST; not in a way that is "opposed" to any existing policy, but somehow reaching beyond it.

    So, from this perspective "collaboration" is clearly its OWN category, NOT to be simply subsumed under "participatory policy making". And that the kind of "participatory" conversations that we have, when we are engaging in creating shared possibilities for specific and concrete action in particular contexts, are both similar and different than, the kinds of "participatory" conversations that we have, when we are engaging in the relatively more abstract and generic level of shared policy design.

    (And this feels to me like something that some of us have been struggling to articulate for a while, within the larger NCDD conversations... )

    It seems clearer to me now, that President Obama wants all three -- transparency, participatory policy design, and collaboration (what I am describing here as "shared action") -- and that none of these three is reducible to one another. And, that while the "dominant discourse"within NCDD may be that of "participatory policy design", there are also some of us who have significant experience in the related yet distinct arena of "collaboration/shared creative action"...

    And, I don't know what the practical applications of this theoretical distinction may be, except maybe to make it somewhat easier to craft the final product, by having less pressure to come up with a "one-size-fits-all"?

    Anyway, thanks to everyone, and all best wishes --

    Rosa

     

    • CommentAuthorrogerb
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2009
     

    I would like to comment on Rosa's clarifications about the difference between policy and action. I think she brings up a useful question which I also raised in my recent post, namely, what is the purpose of the principles we are developing. NCDD has talked about four streams of dialogue and deliberation, and which stream are we in now? Are we in more than one as Rosa I believe suggests? Or maybe the boundaries between the streams are not real or valid? I think it is important to go back and read the President's memo and to get a clear reading on what is meant by transparency, participation, and collaboration. I plan to do that. In the meantime, I would caution folks that I think the collaboration piece has alot to do with working together by taking advantage of social media tools. I believe the focus is on the tools more than the challenges of collaborating, as if the tools will somehow solve the problems inherent when people try to collaborate. I will stand corrected if I learn differently, but alot of online discussion about this has involved IT folks more than deliberative democracy folks I believe.

    I have been focused on public engagement for decision making and have always resisted getting into considerations about action simultaneously, not because they are not important but because I think action requires having made up your mind and having your mind made up is antithetical to good public engagement for decision making. It is undeniable that decision making ultimately exists for the sake of action, however, I do believe decision making precedes action and therefore deserves to be treated separately.

    It may even be that considerations of implementation or action should come into play in the decision making process, but I believe until the decision to act is actually made and a course of action selected, then it serves us well to keep the distinction.

    I asked Steve Rosell from Viewpoint Learning about this problem once because I found that when talking about getting people interested in public engagement to help with decisions, they were more interested in action and solving the problem than they were in the intracies of good process for making decisions. Steve told me that to get people to stop and focus on the decision process rather than the action, and to realize that making a good and sound decision is important to produce a good and sound action, he says he tells people  "Having the answer is a learning disability!"

    The other point I would make to Rosa is that I believe we need principles for guiding joint policy development when or after government has put a decision on the table for consideration. I think this is the most frequent situation that will arise. In contrast, determining principles for when the decision has not crystallized enough to be on the government's radar screen as a pending decision may be a different enough situation to involve different principles and methods such as Future Search approaches.

    Roger B

    • CommentAuthorTim
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2009 edited
     
    Here's the quote on participation again (emphasis mine):

    "Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government."

    Clearly, participation is seen mainly in the context of policy crafting and decision making.

  15.  

    I agree with many of Roger’s and Tim's comments. Most of our work is with elected/administrative officials (albeit at the city-level) here in California, but there may be some applicable things:

    1. While I understand this might not be the right place for it, answering the “why” question of civic engagement is still important. Recent training with city leaders on civic participation has taught us that these folks have one of four perspectives vis-à-vis the subject:

    A. Unaware: People who are completely unaware that this work exists.

    B. Supportive, but limited knowledge: People who think they understand civic engagement, but understand it at only it’s simpler levels – like informing.

    C. Afraid, but limited knowledge: People who think that civic engagement is akin to direct democracy or “Lord of the Gadflies” (I just made that up, but I like it), and are deathly afraid of doing anything remotely close to it.

    D. Get it: Leaders who get civic engagement, who understand it as a “leadership skill”. They know when to use it, and at what level they want to engage the public.

    In this sense, these “Principles” can also serve as a marketing document for the field. It will simply not be enough for government officials to see some official “Memorandum” on the subject - knowing “why” and “how” is vital. As such, this document needs to speak to each of these audiences.

    One part of our recent training that seemed to surprise attendees (again, these were mostly city and civic/NGO leaders) was the understanding that “civic engagement” can be seen on a continuum. One model is the “inform/consult/participate-deliberate” framework that Tim Bonneman mentioned in another part of this discussion. This format (or something like it) speaks to those in the “B” group (above), letting them know that there can be more to this work than just an information session, but it also, and I would argue, just as importantly, lets the folks in “A” and “C” know that they can “dip their toes in the water” with some simpler, more safe efforts. Connecting this with the “Principles”, this could be inserted into “Preparation”, as a way of making sure that those who undertake this work, clearly state their intentions for a civic engagement project.

    2. Continuing this “why” discussion, I wonder if some statement in the introduction about the practical/pragmatic nature of this work might be helpful. Based on some feedback we at CSC had gotten from city officials on this point, we added a “Why engage citizens in policy-making?” button to the homepage of our website. While the reasons we offer are more California-specific, I offer some language here to consider:

    “The desire of Americans to play some role in the policy decisions that affect their everyday lives has never been greater. In part this has been enhanced by the internet, which makes both information-gathering and networking easier than ever before. To government leaders this presents important challenges, but also significant opportunities, and it is why we view involving citizens in policy-making as the major civic leadership skill of the 21st century.

    Experience has demonstrated that, done legitimately, civic engagement provides compelling benefits to both government leader and participant alike. At the root of each of these is the desire on both parts to reach the best policy outcome possible – this is about better decision-making:

    1. Better, more creative decisions: We are a creative people. As President Obama described in his “Transparency and Open Government” Memorandum, “Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge.” Obviously, those who work in the various fields of public policy have developed an expertise based on education and experience. But policy makers cannot be expected to know how often very complex decisions will affect everyone. The participation of the public in these processes offers perspectives that cannot be gained in any other way. A myriad of examples from across the country show that public involvement provides creative solutions to policy challenges – saving both time and money.

    2. Better, more legitimate decisions: True participation by the public gives them ownership not only of the process, but the outcomes. Given the opportunity to play a role in policy-making, participants (and even those who refuse to participate) see a deeper connection between themselves and the problem at hand as well between themselves and their representative government.

    3. Better, more informed citizens: Policy-making is a tough business. When allowed to “wrestle” with difficult policy options, participants get a fuller sense of the challenges policy makers face on a daily basis. As mentioned earlier, citizens will learn about an issue whether you provide the information or not. Their sources may or may not be factual, but they are usually presented without context. Many civic engagement projects are efforts in contextualizing competing options. This awareness of the scope of a policy problem also allows for opportunities to create solutions, which may be extra-governmental. Depending on the issue, many public participation exercises have resulted in resolutions grounded in civil society, as residents both learn about a problem and sense the role they may play collaboratively in solving it.”

    There’s some great work here. If there’s anything else I can offer, it’s that there seems to be some cross-over in the “Preparation” , “Impact” and “Sustainability” sections and the “Inclusion”, “Collaboration” and “Learning” sections. To me, civic engagement (at its deepest level” is about: getting a group of diverse (ethnically and ideologically), yet representative group of people, to wrestle with information from a variety of viewpoints, in conversations that are well-facilitated, providing information to our elected and hired policy-makers that will be legitimately considered.

    P.

     

    Pete Peterson | Executive Director Common Sense California Malibu, California 90263 http://www.commonsenseca.org

    • CommentAuthorRosaZ
    • CommentTimeMar 20th 2009 edited
     

    Tim, I agree completely with you, with regard to the "participation" component. Yes, the "participation" component is specifically aimed at what Pete is describing above as 'civic engagement". I think we are all in agreement about that...

    However, I was speaking to the "collaboration" component, not the "participation" one. Maybe that is not NCDD's emphasis, and our role here is to only speak to the "participation" component?

    Nonetheless, what I am reading in the Open Government initiative IN THE SECTION ON COLLABORATION does not seem to me to be reducible to participatory policy design. Instead, it seems to be much more along the lines of "participatory management", or good organization development as applied to public administration.... as well as its close cousin, community development.

    Of course, "collaborative" could be used simply as an adjective to describe "participation', just as "participative' could be used simply as an adjective to describe "collaboration". Still, it seems more and more to me that we are talking about two distinct albeit related fields, each of which has value in its own right, and only one of which is being acknowledged here. (Of course, it may be completely appropriate that we are focusing primarily on one rather than on both, but it could be helpful to make that explicit.)

     

  16.  

    Not sure if there is still time to comment or this is the appropriate way to comment- but thought of a couple of addtional suggestions you may consider (in red) below.  Great set of principles!  Cheryl Graeve, League of Women Voters.

    2.  INCLUSION

    Incorporate multiple voices and ideas to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.

    At its best: Convenors and participants reflect the range of stakeholder or demographic diversity
    within the community or on the issue at hand.

     

    5.  TRANSPARENCY

    Promote openness and provide a public record of the process, resources, outcomes, and people involved.

    At its best: People's attitudes and actions engender trust.  Relevant information, activities, decisions, and issues that arise are shared
    in of the advance of decision making process, while respecting privacy where necessary  …..  Members of the public can easily access information, get involved, stay engaged, and contribute to the ongoing evolution of outcomes or actions the process generates.

    6.  IMPACT

    Ensure each participatory effort has the potential to make a difference.

    At its best: People sense -- and can see
    or receive follow up “report back”-- that their engagement was meaningful, influencing government decisions, empowering them to act effectively individually and/or together, or otherwise impacting the world around them.  Communications (media, government, business and/or nonprofits involved) communications ensure the appropriate publics know the engagement is happening and talk about it with each other.  The effort is productively linked to other efforts on the issue(s) addressed.  Because diverse stakeholders understand, are moved by, and act on the findings and recommendations of the program, problems get solved, visions are pursued, and communities become more vibrant, healthy, and successful -- despite ongoing differences.

    • CommentAuthorEcoResolve
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2009
     

    Quite often I have found myself engaged in dialogue where the status quo was assumed to be the only option because so much effort [financial and ideological] had been invested in it; whereas in fact the root of our environmental dilemmas today are because of an overwhelming illiteracy on the part of people in the over-developed world about ecological reality.

    So under the category of Inclusion -- [i.e.: Incorporate multiple voices and ideas to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy], I think that content is a real concern, and the inclusion of even totally opposing ideas needs to be guaranteed.

    Ernest Muhly

     

    • CommentAuthorTom Atlee
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2009 edited
     

    Riffing on notes from Kenoli, Rosa, Peter and others -- and inspired by a conversation with my daughter Jennifer -- I wonder if -- even within the goal of advising the Obama administration -- the distinction between

    1. Engaging the public in policy-related decision-making and
    2. Engaging the public (as "citizens" or "stakeholders") in on-the-ground community work

    may be a useful one.

    Many of today's problems require BOTH policy-level decisions AND on-the-ground community action.  Federal policy can provide guidance and resources (including funding) for local efforts to deal with some widespread condition (unemployment, foreclosures, carbon emissions, etc.) -- and public participation can be a major factor in both activities.  I believe the Johnson administration's War on Poverty included a lot of local empowerment efforts, and I know that the EPA sponsors watershed stakeholder dialogues -- and I'm sure there are many more examples of this two-level governance dynamic.

    My intuition suggests that the existing principles MAY be applicable to both domains (national policy and local action), but that the way those principles manifest may be different in each of those domains.  For example, inclusion in a policy-making effort might involve deliberations of demographically selected citizens and/or a stakeholder council giving recommendations to the President, agencies, or Congress -- whereas in local community action it might involve practical conversations among an interatively, increasingly inclusive web of engaged stakeholders.  Same principle, different manifestations.

    The public can participate in designing federal programs that give guidance and support for involving the public in local efforts.  And NCDD (and others) could encourage the Obama administration to use such an approach at every opportunity, and provide guidance for how to do that.

    Thoughts?

    • CommentAuthorTom Atlee
    • CommentTimeMar 23rd 2009
     

    To follow up on my post above, and to (at least attempt to) incorporate Roger Bernier's comments, I thought of the following three potential sets of principles, which may or may not have significant common ground.  I have also sketched out some (and by no means all) of the realms in which I think some practices and practitioners are pioneering new forms -- and new or more rigorous principles -- i.e., our field's leading edges (embodied by comments from contributors like Kenoli, Rosa, DeAnna, etc.).

    I also envision a time when any particular set of principles is backed up online by more extensive, nuanced, and even dissonant information, argumentation, stories, resources, etc., to which those using (or interested in) that set of principles can refer for deeper understanding -- or even to participate in the ongoing development of those principles.

    I'm curious how this way of cutting the pie strikes people.

    Basic Quality D&D; Principles: These principles underlie conversations that provide officials with public judgment on policy decisions, productively engage diverse citizens with each other around public issues, resolve conflicts, support community revitalization and/or promote organizational development and transformation.

    Community Engagement Principles: These principles guide the engagement of diverse stakeholders in collaborating on solutions and initiatives that benefit them all and their community at large.

    Consequential Public Engagement Principles for Government Managers: These principles govern processes that help sponsors get a better decision and participants contribute meaningfully to that decision.

    And beyond these, there are various leading edges in the public engagement field for which principles have been or could be developed by pioneers, including the following:

    • the extent, variety, and process of inclusion
    • the empowerment of those involved or the impact of their outcomes
    • the collective intelligence or wisdom generated by the engagement
    • the use of online forums and computer-assisted engagement, and their integration with face-to-face modes
    • the engagement of the media in various citizen participation efforts
    • the engagement of spirit in conversational activities
    • the use of multi-modal forms of intelligence and expression, including art, music, intuition, performance, etc.
    • CommentAuthorrogerb
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2009
     

    Roger Bernier

    I think Tom's idea of thinking about priniciples that are tailored to a limited number of broad categories of dialogue and deliberation is worth exploring.

    An alternative might be to cut things along the lines used recently by the National Academy of Sciences in issuing their principles for environmental public participation. They stated that public participation projects have aspects in common with projects of all kinds, some that are specific to public participation, some that are specific to environmental public participation, and finally some that relate to the implementation of the principles. So in this way of thinking we have principles that apply to:

    1. the management of the project, 2. the practice of public participation, 3. the special needs of the topic area being worked on, and finally 4. the regime for implementing the principles in differing contexts. The idea of principles is different but closely related to the idea of having a best-process regime.  I have a powerpoint summary of the NAS report for anyone who is interested and contacts me directly at . I do not believe I can post an attachment here, otherwise I would.

    Roger

  17.  

    Tom, I appreciate your new idea and clarification. Two distinctions for me come up from your post and Pete's earlier post...

    • Tom, you seem to make the distinction between "policy-level" and "on the ground community action", later you refer to this distiction with the words "national policy" and "local action." I don't see your distinctions in the same way because some of our "community action" processes could be brought to scale to affect the national level and some of our "policy-level" processes could be used in local policy making efforts at city, county, and state levels.
    • In addition, Pete ends his post with something like at the deepest level civic engagement is about... "providing information to our elected and hired policy-makers that will be legitimately considered". I think it's deeper and is more accurately reflected in Rosa's comments about shared/collaborative action or the spirit of Tom's community action words. For example, there is some community (small or large scale) change that could be imagined and enacted that doesn't require policy change. We facilitated some public meetings for a county where the citizens involved said they wanted more trails for hiking, but instead of saying to the county "make us more trails" there were citizens involved with private land that they decided they would commit to public hiking trails. Their outcome didn't require policy change, rather they could organize it themselves and let the government agencies know what they had done. Or, another example would be the "moral force" that is generated by a Wisdom Council process - where there is a shift of heart and sense of community values is articulated that sparks all kinds of change. It might inform policy makers, but the ultimate power is in how it shifts the whole population - of which policy-makers are a subset of.


  18.  

    A couple of insights from Cheryl Honey (creator of Community Weaving)...

    It's important to include the concept of ground rules, or a common set of values (creating a container for this work).

    Also, it's important to mention the importance of listening / reflective listening practice. That participants listen to each other, to themselves and what's going on for them internally, and together for what is coming up for the group.

    • CommentAuthorTom Atlee
    • CommentTimeMar 26th 2009
     

    Tree liked these 9 principles:

    1. The process makes a difference.
    2. The process is transparent.
    3. The process has integrity.
    4. The process is tailored to the circumstances.
    5. The process involves the right number and types of people
    6. The process treats participants with respect.
    7. The process gives priority to participants' discussions.
    8. The process is reviewed and evaluated to improve practice.
    9. Participants are kept informed.

    This is a fabulous list of qualities, of comparable value to the one we've been developing, but it has its own shortcomings and I'm afraid I disagree with Tree that a shallow reading of it is any more likely to avoid pseudo-D&D; than our current PEP version.

    For example, while this talks about "the right kind of people" it doesn't specify the values of inclusion and diversity.  And while it treats participants with respect and gives priority to their discussions, it does not specify the importance of people learning through the process.  So you could have someone designing a process that includes only white propertied males (they were, after all, the "right kind of people" to the founding fathers the US) in which participants argue with each other and don't change at all, and it could perfectly fit the criteria above. And of course, "integrity" can mean SO many things, it borders on the meaningless as an unexplained criteria; in this case, the deliberation described in this paragraph could be honestly undertaken by a bunch of educated white men comfortable with debate who are simply blind to their assumptions. Voila!  Integrity.   And I would call it pseudo-dialogue.

    Of course in a full reading of the source document pdf, these points are addressed.  But that is the deeper reading that Tree warned us readers would not undertake with our own set of principles.

    Luckily the creators of these "Nine principles of effective deliberative public engagement" are very explicit that this is a draft document (they solicit feedback), and that they want to influence government decisions about public engagement.  So they are very much our co-evolutionary twin in the UK and we should connect with them about our comparable efforts, in search of synergy as we proceed with our revisions of our own document.

    At this point, I find most of the points in their document are covered somewhere in the short descriptions of each principle in ours, albeit with different emphases.  I do find their one-sentence list appealing and think it might inform our next major revision of the principles, as a possible structure.  The switch would require a creative integration of our one-word principles and the subsequent one-sentence elucidations.  Unfortunately, I do not have the energy to tackle that transformation at this stage.  Other folks are free to take a try.

    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeApr 1st 2009
     

    Latest version of Principles, v. 3.0, is now added to the forum.

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