A new Fact Sheet from CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research On Civic Learning & Engagement), entitled “Attention to Media and Trust in Media Sources,” examines the role of mass media in the development of young people’s civic knowledge and engagement in three countries – Chile, Portugal, and the U.S. The Fact Sheet shows that young people in all three countries use television most often to get information about politics. Newspapers are also used by a fair number of young people, especially in the U.S. In all three countries, students who frequently read newspaper stories about their country had higher average levels of civic knowledge. The Fact Sheet can be found at www.civicyouth.org/research/products/fact_sheets.htm.
Archives for February 2004
�The U.S. Role in a Changing World� is one of the newest units published by the Choices for the 21st Century Education Program of Brown University. This new unit helps students reflect on global changes, assess national priorities, and decide for themselves through informed deliberation the role the US should play in the world today. Click below for info about other resources and ordering details.
The American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) just created four new web-based COPs (Communities of Practice) — on assessment, cognitive development, electronic portfolios, and democratic dialogue. The Society for Values in Higher Education (SVHE) is facilitating the COP on democratic dialogue, and they are inviting academics who are studying and experimenting with various models of discourse (study circles, National Issues Forums, intergroup dialogue, and others) to participate. Newcomers to the field are welcome! The group will convene a few times a year (optional) and exchange resources, ideas, and announcements via the web site.
The Mary Parker Follett Foundation announced on February 22 that the past several years have seen the re-issuing of several books by Mary Follett. Two of her important works/collections have recently been reissued. Creative Experience has been re-issued by Thoemmes Continuum as part of a series, and is available in the U.S. through the University of Chicago ($45, ISBN 1843714884). Dynamic Administration, a collection of papers by Follett that was published after her death, has been re-issued by Routledge ($170, ISBN 0415279852).
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A great article by Gloria F. Mengual outlines how the Study Circles Resource Center and the Annie E. Casey Foundation have helped neighborhoods in Indianapolis, Indiana, solve their problems through dialogue and collaborative action. According to Mengual, �Since 2000, 780 residents have participated in the 92 Family Circles held in 30 neighborhoods. Participants identified many action ideas they wanted to pursue, including new playgrounds, mentoring programs, after school programs, safe houses for teens and more.� Click below for the full article.
NCDD has been working with the Utne Institute, Conversation Cafe and The World Cafe to organize a nation-wide dialogue called “Let’s Talk America.” LTA is featured in the March/April Utne that I just received in my mailbox this morning, and I encourage all of you to go out and get this month’s Utne if you’re not a subscriber.
A very cool 2-page ad (p. 48-49) with a red background encourages people to participate in this “new nationwide movement to revitalize our democracy.” And on pages 60-61, a great article by Leif Utne provides background and info on how to get involved. Everyone in the dialogue & deliberation community is invited to participate in this election-year initiative. Go to www.letstalkamerica.org to find out more about the different levels of involvement.
NCDD’s 2004 conference will take place in Denver, Colorado, October 23-25 at Regis University. We plan to have this conference surpass the groundbreaking 2002 conference in every way – in numbers, in quality, in networking opportunities, in learning and skill-building.
Like our first conference, the 2004 conference will be planned as collaboratively and creatively as possible, and your input and involvement are more than welcome. Go to www.thataway.org/conference/2004/index.html for more info.
A case study on Perseverance Theatre has been posted on the Animating Democracy website. A statewide tour of the Theatre�s adaptation of �Moby Dick� in Barrow, Fairbanks, and Anchorage engaged a diverse citizenry in dialogue about contentious issues of subsistence rights and the urban-rural divide in Alaska. The case study is adapted from reflective analysis by Perseverance’s executive director Jeffrey Herrmann, former artistic director Peter DuBois, and dialogue coordinator Susan McInnis. They recount their commitment to bolstering a nonofficial level of public engagement after experiences with the “gatekeepers” of civic discourse. They describe a shift from envisioning civic dialogue in terms of large public gatherings that address policy to valuing more intimate gatherings in which personal story is a potent motivation and a stepping stone to civic deliberation.
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Andrea Assaf of the Animating Democracy Initiative has written up a fascinating, inspiring review of the January 2004 National Convergence of Artists, Educators, and Activists. Inspired by Grace Lee Boggs and conversations on art and social change at the Animating Democracy National Exchange on Art & Civic Dialogue (October 2003), the National Convergence attracted more than 200 people to New Orleans last month. In her article, Assaf reflects on the impetus, unfolding, and impacts of this convening. To read the article and additional reflections by participants, visit the Community Arts Network (CAN) website.
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Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin argue that Americans can revitalize their democracy and break the cycle of cynical media manipulation that is crippling public life. They propose a new national holiday�Deliberation Day�for each presidential election year. On this day people throughout the country will meet in public spaces and engage in structured debates about issues that divide the candidates in the upcoming presidential election. Order from http://yale.edu/yup/books/101015.htm or amazon.com.
�We the People� seeks city hosts for lamppost art exhibitions www.republicart.org �We the People,� a lamppost banner series based on the theme of democracy, is seeking city hosts. The show, currently debuting on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut, with 35 lampposts displaying 50 different works by local artists, plans to be in Boston during the Democratic National Convention in July. The exhibit intends to increase public awareness and participation in our political process. As part of its tour, rePublicArt.org offers the banner exhibition or can send artists to conduct local workshops to create local banners.
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The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, in partnership with the Dialogue Project, hosted a series of dialogues among Jewish-Palestinian groups in New York through their presentation of the John Adams opera �The Death of Klinghoffer.� The Klinghoffer Dialogue Project, led by Ted Wiprud–Animating Democracy veteran through the American Composers Orchestra project �Coming to America�–consisted of three pre-production dialogue sessions, each focusing on one aspect of the production: the words, the staging, and the music of the opera; and one postproduction dialogue offering an opportunity for participants to reflect and discuss related issues. In addition, as part of the ongoing Open Rehearsal Initiative, classes at three diverse Brooklyn high schools studied �The Death of Klinghoffer.� Animating Democracy supported this project; a profile of the project is being developed for our website. www.brooklynphilharmonic.org/2003_2004/KlinghofferDP.htm
In January, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle awarded the 2003 Outstanding New Play Award to playwrights Bernardo Solano and Allan Havis, and director Sam Woodhouse for �Nuevo California,� the Rep�s Animating Democracy project. The world premier of this multilingual theatre work explores physical and cultural boundaries along the United States/Mexico border. The play and its development process engaged citizens on both sides of the border in dialogue about reducing or increasing cross-border economic, cultural, transportation, and employment exchange. San Diego critics chose �Nuevo California� from over 100 productions produced in San Diego last year.
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In a January 18, 2004 email, Colleen Cordes of the Loka Institute wrote �Congratulations and sincere thanks to all of you who signed the letter to Congress and the White House last summer urging a strong provision for public participation — especially through citizen panels or consensus conferences — in the big nanotech R&D bill that Congress was then considering: THE BILL HAS PASSED AND HAS BEEN SIGNED INTO LAW WITH A PROVISION THAT DOES MUCH OF WHAT WE JOINTLY REQUESTED.� NCDD supported this provision and is excited about this development.
In a February 6, 2004 message to his email list, Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute wrote about how citizens can use games – computer simulations and other scenario-based games – to learn about the trade-offs involved in making decisions about public issues. When combined with deliberation, he says, this can greatly improve the sophistication of citizen recommendations and the level of public buy-in for whatever fair policies are approved.