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Open Govt Workshop at D.O.T. on Jan 11    

I wanted to make sure you all knew about the Open Government Directive Workshop Series — a unique series of innovative events run by several NCDD members. The next workshop, which will be partly an Open Space event, will take place on January 11th at the Department of Transportation in D.C. Over 200 people are expected at this point, and over 30 federal agencies will be represented!

NCDD is a partner, as is NAPA (National Academy of Public Administration). Although the workshop on the 11th is almost full, Lucas Cioffi has offered to make sure that any NCDD member that wants to attend is let in.

This is an inter-agency conference in collaboration with the US Department of Transportation to speed successful implementation of the Open Government Directive. This event will reoccur every six weeks to continue to build momentum at the federal, state, and local levels.

If you’re interested in attending, let me know () rather than RSVPing via the link below. I’ll be keeping track of NCDD members who are planning to attend, and sharing our list with Lucas.

I’ll be helping NCDDers who are attending to coordinate in advance of the workshop to offer a couple of high-quality, resource-rich Open Space sessions on participation (i.e. one on online engagement and one on face-to-face engagement). So if you’re already registered and want to help plan/run these sessions, let me know. I think working together to offer a couple of introductory sessions on participation is a good strategy given the Directive’s emphasis on transparency.

Here are the details…

The Open Government Directive Workshop Series (Jan 11th @ DOT)

What: The Open Government Directive Workshop Series, an inter-agency collaborative event hosted by the Department of Transportation.

When: Monday, January 11, 2010 from 9:00am-4:45pm. There will likely be a wait at the security checkpoint. Security will begin processing attendees at 7:00am. We highly recommend you allow plenty of time for security.

Where: US Department of Transportation Headquarters, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC and streamed live online.

Why: Successful implementation of the Open Government Directive requires a sustained effort by the open government community. This series of workshops builds upon previous conferences sustaining knowledge and sharing innovative ideas among pioneers of the “Open Gov” community.

RSVP by January 7, 2010 here: http://opengov-workshop.eventbrite.com

Mission:
*Develop momentum among those already implementing open government practices and those now charged with implementing openness practices because of the Directive.
*Dialogue and share knowledge that will help federal agencies implement and private industry benefit from the Open Government Directive.
*Document and make available existing and effective open government practices in the form of the OpenGov Playbook.

Background Information:
Previously, on November 16th, the first half-day workshop provided a platform for thirteen open government project presentation from agencies such as the EPA, DOT, TSA, DOD, CDC, DISA, NIH, GSA, PlainLanguage.Gov, Department of State, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Archived video and slides are available here.)

This workshop (hosted by DOT) will be a full day and include 10 presentations by federal employees engaged in open gov, and three hours of small-group conversations on key aspects of the Open Government Directive.

The agenda will be created by the attendees to maximize the value of everyone’s participation. During the event registration process you will be asked to identify what topics you want to learn about and discuss with peers.

The organizers of this event are Giovanni Carnaroli (Associate CIO for IT Policy Oversight at DOT), Tim Schmidt (CTO for DOT), Lucas Cioffi (OnlineTownhalls), Stephen Buckley (U.S. Transparency), Kaliya Hamlin (Unconferences.net), Sandy Heierbacher (National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation), Keith Moore (Open Government TV), and Jenn Gustetic (Phase One).

Please feel free to contact us at . We look forward to your participation and continuing commitment.

Open Gov’t Initiative seeks your ideas about assessment    

Below is the latest on the Open Gov’t Directive (received this via email tonight from Chelsea Kammerer of the White House Office of Public Engagement). Chelsea, Beth Noveck, etc. are asking specifically for input on the OSTP blog about what quantitative and qualitative measures they should track on the forthcoming Open Government Dashboard to assess federal agencies’ progress on implementing their open government plans per the Directive. I see this as an opportunity for our community to share what we know about public engagement progress, plans and principles, and to help ensure that agencies’ plans include the incorporation of meaningful public participation in their decision-making process as well as a focus on transparency and open data.

On Tuesday, December 8, the Open Government Initiative published the new Open Government Directive. The Directive is the latest in a long timeline of open government milestones during the course of the last year.  Since the President signed the executive memorandum on Transparency and Open Government as his first executive action, innovators across the government have been working to create a more accountable and effective government. The Progress Report on Open Government for the American People explains what’s been done to date and where we go from here.

Now we need to enlist your continued participation and collaboration with this process to help us continue to succeed in changing the way that Washington works.

Next Steps: The White House Open Government Initiative Dashboard and Data.gov

  1. Open Government Dashboard: The Open Government Directive calls for the creation of an Open Government Dashboard to measure progress and impact. Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Beth Noveck is looking for your input, including as to the metrics by which we measure success.  Click here to participate.
  2. Future of Data.gov: The Open Government Directive instructs all federal agencies to make available high-value data that promote national priorities and improve the lives of everyday Americans through Data.gov.  Yet the current version of Data.gov is just the beginning. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra asks for your help in shaping the future of this key open government platform. As part of the Data.gov Dialogue, you can download the draft plans, submit a new idea, or comment on someone else’s.  We look forward to evolving Data.gov with you.

Please share these two opportunities with your networks, and stay tuned for upcoming additional opportunities to participate and collaborate in the implementation of the Open Government Directive.

Thank you.

Chelsea Kammerer
The White House
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Office of Public Engagement

Today’s White House Press Release on the Open Gov’t Directive    

Chelsea Kammerer (White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Office of Public Engagement) sent me the following press release today along with the suggestion to visit www.whitehouse.gov/open to view the Open Government Directive in its entirety along with other useful information such as the Open Government Progress Report to the American People, new agency projects, and our open government platforms such as data.gov and apps.gov.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

_______________________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2009

Administration Launches Comprehensive Open Government Plan
Public Provides Thousands of Ideas to Spark New Administration Initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Obama Administration’s work to change how Washington does business, the White House Tuesday issued the Open Government Directive requiring federal agencies to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public.  The Administration also released an Open Government Progress Report to the American People and previewed a number of other openness commitments that are poised to be released during the next two days.

The directive, released by the Office of Management and Budget, sets an unprecedented standard for government agencies, insisting that they achieve key milestones in transparency, collaboration, and participation. (more…)

Audio of this morning’s Open Government Directive webinar    

Here is the audio from today’s announcement about the Open Government Directive in case you missed the webinar or wanted to revisit what was said:

Open Government Announcement 12-08-09

(You can also download a zip archive.)

Open Government Directive to be announced tomorrow at 11am    

Hi, all!  Looks like the White House Open Government Directive will be announced online tomorrow at 11am Eastern. This is the Directive outlining how government agencies and offices can become more transparent, collaborative, and engage the public more effectively.  NCDD members were very active in the Open Government dialogue/consultation process this past May and June. (See this blog post for a summary of activities NCDD and our peers have been active in related to the OGD.)

In an appropriate first for the White House, they’ll be announcing the White House’s Open Government Plan in a live online chat with Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra.  You can watch the announcement, then ask your questions and make your suggestions live.

See http://bit.ly/5DKKEc for more details on tomorrow’s announcement and chat.

IJP2 Article Part 4: Frame in terms of general goals and desired outcomes    

At the October 2008 NCDD conference in Austin, Texas, one theme that emerged in the “Framing Challenge” was the idea of framing dialogue and deliberation in terms of general goals and desired outcomes.

2women200pxMany times, the potential for concrete outcomes or results needs to be underscored in big, bold letters. This often means identifying language that explicitly connects the public engagement process or program to solving a particular problem people are facing. In the online dialogue we held before the conference to explore the five challenge areas, Judith Mowry described learning that an especially effective “way to bring people to the table” is to make clear for them “what’s in it for me?”

Citizens, community leaders and elected officials tend to talk in terms of solving problems and addressing issues, and think in terms of outcomes and content rather than process. Several conference attendees reported more success in drawing people to the table when they framed public engagement work in such terms. Theo Brown mentioned much greater drawing power for AmericaSpeaks events when they are able to highlight concrete action and policy outcomes. Facilitator Lucy Moore described “lofty policy goals” as key in bringing many stakeholders together for her dialogue about Grand Canyon issues.

Of course, it can be tricky to promise even general outcomes like “citizen action” or “impact on policy” for programs designed, by their very nature, to allow the participants themselves to identify specific action or recommendations. In their workshop, Virtuous and Vicious Cycles: Beyond a Linear View of Outcome and Impact, Maggie Herzig and Lucy Moore noted that overly defining outcomes from the start can undermine participants’ ownership of their efforts and underappreciate the possibilities that were unimaginable before the initiative began.

Herzig and Moore pointed out that for some groups, an overly-defined outcome is enough to turn them away. People with more conservative political views, for example, can be quickly turned off by talk of “social change” or “community organizing” that seems inherently progressive. Talk of influencing government policy can also be a red flag for conservatives like panelist Pete Peterson, Executive Director of Common Sense California, a self-identified “communitarian conservative” who would like to see public engagement efforts focus more explicitly on empowering citizens to take responsibility for community problems themselves rather than turning to government for help or demanding government action.

Peterson emphasized the importance of not allowing a more deliberative democracy to replace self-reliance. After all, government is not the answer to many of our problems, and we cannot expect it to be. Similarly, panelist Grover Norquist stated frankly, “I don’t like it when 12 people or 12,000 people get together and tell someone what to do.” Peterson, Norquist, and others on the “Conservatives Panel” suggested framing public engagement around more traditional values like “voluntary, civic solutions to problems” (rather than only political solutions) and “individual responsibility in addition to collective responsibility” in order to attract more conservative participants.

PhilipThomas200pxWhile there may not be a single framing of public engagement that works for all audiences, practitioners are increasingly finding success in focusing on the purpose or potential outcomes (in general) of engagement. Specifically, framing in terms of problem solving and identifying and working towards a desirable future seems to resonate with broad audiences. In the online dialogue, Joseph McIntyre described his efforts to frame public engagement work in a broadly accessible way:

We frame our work leading wisdom circles in sustainable agriculture as reinvigorating local democracy and specifically we create “citizen think-do” tanks that attempt to bring perspective and the common good back into the center of our communities. For us, the call to represent “our best hopes and aspirations for a future worth having” resonates strongly with both the rural conservative and urban environmental members of our alliance.

It is also helpful to consider the way organizations like NCDD member Everyday Democracy (which reinvented itself recently by changing its name from the Study Circles Resource Center) talk about the work they do in communities. Everyday Democracy’s website states simply that “we help your community find ways for all kinds of people to think, talk and work together to solve problems.”

Note from Sandy:

This is my fourth blog post featuring content of an article published in the latest edition of the International Journal of Public Participation (IJP2), titled Taking our Work to the Next Level: Addressing Challenges Facing the Dialogue and Deliberation Community.  The article outlines our learnings in two of the five challenges we focused on at the 2008 NCDD conference in Austin:  The “Framing Challenge” (How can we talk about and present D&D; work in ways that are accessible to a broader audience?) and the “Systems Challenge” (How can we make D&D; values and practices integral to government, schools, and other systems?).  You can download the full article from the IJP2 site.

IJP2 Article Part 3: Understand the specific concerns of conservatives    

A major theme in the Framing Challenge at the 2008 NCDD conference was the need to understand the specific concerns of conservatives.

menatconf_200pxThe public engagement field and related fields struggle with the fact that many more progressives than conservatives are attracted to this work. The vast majority of practitioners are politically progressive, and it is typically more challenging to recruit people with more traditional or conservative views to participate in dialogue and deliberation programs.

During the conservative panel sub-plenary on the second day of the conference, panelists Joseph McCormick, Grover Norquist, Michael Ostrolenk and Pete Peterson mentioned several words that can turn conservative communities away from public engagement: grassroots, organizing (“I don’t want anyone to organize me”), consciousness and enlightenment (“something you have and I don’t?”).

In their workshop, Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives, Jacob Hess and Reverend Greg Johnson explained some of the sources of wariness of dialogue by many social conservatives. One is the fear of being asked to give up truth or absolutes, as dialogue can seem to assume that all truth is relative.

One participant wrote this reflection about Hess and Johnson’s powerful session:

“I had a big, big revelation [during your session]. At 64, I have thought my whole life that to be open-minded, all accepting, non-judgmental toward different people, beliefs, and values was an absolute good thing. How could it be bad to be tolerant, embracing, accepting all beliefs as valid? Wouldn’t everyone appreciate that attitude, since it includes everyone? What I heard from you is that having an absolute truth is fundamentally, critically important to you. It is the most important thing. It may be easier for you to deal with each other, or with others who have conflicting versions of the truth, than to do deal with someone like me who doesn’t seem to advocate any particular truth, but sees it all as relative.”

Others shared similar realizations after this workshop. Often, dialogue is said to bring people together whose viewpoints and experiences contribute important “pieces of the puzzle” for making progress on issues like racial inequity, education reform, and youth violence. But framing dialogue in relativist terms may backfire for some audiences. According to Hess and Johnson, it may be important to reassure conservatives that “truth Capital T is still welcome” – as long as they also agree to be open to learning more.

Another concern brought up in Hess and Johnson’s workshop is the fear of a hidden [liberal] agenda. Pete Peterson confirmed this on the conservatives panel, suggesting people with more traditional views might respond better when dialogue is framed as an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. When dialogue is seen as a “tool,” the question arises from all sides “What is the hidden agenda? To change my mind so I agree with you? To challenge my beliefs or values?”

Peterson’s comment echoed another concern Hess and Johnson explored in their session: the fear of being changed. Dialogue can be seen by people with deep-rooted belief systems as something that might require them to compromise their beliefs somehow. Consider how a conservative Christian might feel when asked to participate in a dialogue on gay marriage aimed at “finding common ground” or moving forward in ways that “work for all” among people with disparate viewpoints. Panelist Grover Norquist, Founder of Americans for Tax Reform, likewise pointed out latent fear among some towards events seeking common ground.

There are many theories as to why progressives have shown more interest than conservatives in public engagement work, but the fact remains that the outcomes of public engagement projects cannot be easily categorized as serving left-wing or right-wing agendas. Participants sometimes recommend tax increases or new government programs to address the issue at hand; other times they call for business or nonprofit groups or take over tasks that had been the responsibility of government. Often, they call for citizens to take more direct responsibility for solving community problems.

Note from Sandy:

This is my third blog post featuring content of an article published in the latest edition of the International Journal of Public Participation (IJP2), titled Taking our Work to the Next Level: Addressing Challenges Facing the Dialogue and Deliberation Community.  The article outlines our learnings in two of the five challenges we focused on at the 2008 NCDD conference in Austin:  The “Framing Challenge” (How can we talk about and present D&D; work in ways that are accessible to a broader audience?) and the “Systems Challenge” (How can we make D&D; values and practices integral to government, schools, and other systems?).  You can download the full article from the IJP2 site.

Repost: Transpartisan Town Hall, Fresno, CA    

Joseph McCormick posted this today to the Transpartisan Alliance’s social network. (You can join the TA network here.)  I thought some of you would be interested…

The other night about 35 people in Fresno got together at “the big red church” to talk about Ending the Political Un-Civil War. They were real estate brokers, retirees, non-profit leaders, former senior business executives, conservative columnists and politicos from the left and right. The purpose of the evening was to engage this group of community thought leaders and networkers in the possibility of a new way to going about politics. A way that moves beyond traditional dualities and fixed positions by applying proven techniques of dialogue, deliberation, and conflict resolution.

Invitations for the evening went to all sides and was promoted on Alan Autry’s conservative radio show, but to be honest those who showed up tended to be more progressive. In the future transpartisan events will be coordinated with groups like the local Tea Party (which had a concurrent event that night) so that, ideally, participation is approximately a third progressive, a third conservative, and a third independent or unaligned. (more…)

Open Government: Strategies and Tactics from the Play Book    

Lucas Cioffi sent the following announcement to the NCDD Discussion list today. The lead organizers of the event are 3 NCDD members: Lucas Cioffi (AthenaBridge), Stephen Buckley (UStransparency.com), and Kaliya Hamlin (Unconferences.net).

To the Open Government Community,

You are invited to Open Government: Strategies and Tactics from the Play Book. This will be the first in a series around the Open Government Directive and specifically designed to create a community of support for implementation.

Who: Those who are blazing the trail of open government– this first event is for pioneers who have already begun work prior to the Open Government Directive being released.

Why: Successful implementation of the Open Government Directive will require a sustained effort by the open government community. This series of workshops will build upon previous conferences to foster sustained knowledge sharing among open gov pioneers until the open government movement goes mainstream within government.

What: This event will provide space for conversation about effective open government practices that have already been implemented, with an eye toward the upcoming Open Government Directive. Video and slides from all the presentations will be compiled into an evolving resource entitled the Open Government Play Book that to which anyone may contribute.

When: November 16, 2009 from 9:30am-12:30pm

Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room A5, 901 G Street NW, Washington, DC and streamed live online.

How: (1) 90-minute lightning round of 5-minute presentations by open government practitioners working within government agencies. (Presenters must be government employees at the federal, state, or local level. Full-time contractors who work within government agencies are also eligible. Presentations will last 5 minutes and cover a specific implementation effective practices for making government more transparent, participatory, or collaborative.) (2) 60-minute discussions about the release of the Open Government Directive.

RSVP here: http://opengov-playbook.eventbrite.com

Please note, this will not be a fancy event. Participants should come for good conversation and to listen and learn from each other.

This event has been planned with the advice from the 60+ members of this Google Group. Lead organizers are Lucas Cioffi (AthenaBridge), Stephen Buckley (UStransparency.com), and Kaliya Hamlin (Unconferences.net).

National Town Hall on Adults with Autism Coming Up    

I received an email Friday from Dianna Dauber at AmericaSpeaks about their upcoming Advancing Futures of Adults with Autism (AFAA) National Town Hall on November 13th. Dianna told me they’re still recruiting participants for the Chicago site (the Hub) and for the online virtual town meeting site. I don’t believe they’re in need of facilitators at this point.

If you want to experience some innovative online dialogue and you are concerned about autism-related issues, you may want to register as a participant in the “Virtual Town Hall.” In the Virtual Town Hall, participants will be at virtual tables with a facilitator and nine other remote participants, connected to live video webcast of the event from Chicago and a chat room for participants. Virtual Table participants will dial into a toll-free conference call line set up for their table group discussion. A facilitator will lead each table and send their table’s responses directly to the Theme Team.

Phase One of AFAA was a two-day Think Tank that took place in January 2009, where experts in a variety of fields identified key issues and possible solutions to the challenges that adults with autism face. Phase Two is the National Town Hall meeting on the 13th, where Americans will come together across over a dozen cities throughout the nation to create a policy agenda for addressing the needs of adults with autism, and to provide specific steps to provide more opportunities on a local level. Phase Three will be an Autism Congress in Washington, D.C. in 2010, with the goal of advancing the policy priorities that come out of the AFAA National Town Hall meeting with national-level policy makers. (more…)

Report on Online Town Hall Meetings from the Congressional Management Foundation    

online-town-hallsBe sure to check out Online Town Hall Meetings: Exploring Democracy in the 21st Century (2009, Congressional Management Foundation), which tackles the lack of information out there about how the internet might facilitate and enable conversations between citizens and Members of Congress.

The report is based on 20 online town hall meetings facilitated in 2006 with U.S. Representatives and one event in 2008 with a U.S. Senator, with a total number of participants in excess of 600. The “online town halls” were not remarkable process-wise; the Member of Congress and moderator spoke over VOIP (internet phone, like Skype) and constituents typed in questions and comments online (yep – online versions of the typical town hall meeting). But the research is solid, and if you’re looking for data to help you convince a Member of Congress to engage their constituents using basic online technology, look no further.

Researchers found that:

  • The online town halls increased constituents’ approval of and trust in the Member of Congress.
  • The online town halls increased constituents’ approval of the Member’s position on the issue discussed (in this case, immigration was the most popular issue discussed).
  • The town halls attracted a diverse array of constituents–including those not traditionally engaged in politics and people frustrated with the political system.
  • The town halls increased engagement in politics (voting, following elections, persuading others to vote).
  • The town halls increased the probability of voting for the Member.
  • The discussions in the town halls were of high quality (quality of information, use of accurate facts, respect for different points of view, etc.).
  • The sessions were highly rated by constituents; participants wanted to see more of these types of sessions.

What do folks think of these findings (from the Executive Summary)? How can we build on this data to make an argument for higher-quality forms of online engagement?

Notes from yesterday’s White House meeting on open gov’t dialogue evaluation    

As many of you know, a survey was conducted in August by AmericaSpeaks, the League of Women Voters, the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), OMB Watch and OpentheGovernment.org, to assess the public experience of participating in the White House’s 3-phase online dialogue process feeding into the forthcoming Open Government Directive (OGD).

Yesterday, I and eight others from our group met with six white house officials to (1) discuss our findings, (2) to get a sense of how the White House plans to evaluate future online consultations, and (3) to discuss how the open government community can contribute to enhancing the quality of future public consultations of the White House or federal agencies by playing an ongoing role in assessment. The meeting took place at 1:00 pm in DC at the White House Conference Center.

In attendance from the White House…

  • Chelsea Kammerer, Office of Public Engagement
  • Beth Noveck, Open Government Initiative
  • Robynn Sturm, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
  • Beverly Godwin, GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) Office of Citizen Services and Communications
  • Brian Behlendorf, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Macon Phillips, Director of New Media for the White House (the man behind WhiteHouse.gov)

In attendance from our collaborative group…

  • Me (Sandy Heierbacher) and Leanne Nurse (EPA Policy Analyst and NCDD Board member) from NCDD
  • Joe Goldman and Carolyn Lukensmeyer from AmericaSpeaks
  • Chery Graeve and Kelly McFarland from the League of Women Voters
  • Sean Moulton and Chris George from OMB Watch
  • Amy Fuller of OpenTheGovernment.org

I wanted to share some of my rough notes and impressions from the meeting with the NCDD network. No one had their laptops out, so I was just jotting down written notes, mostly when White House folks talked. So this is by no means a full account of the meeting, nor is anything a direct quote.

After quick introductions around the room, we began the meeting by talking about our findings. Generally, there was appreciation among respondents for the White House’s leadership and innovation in launching the online dialogue process. There was also considerable feedback offered to help improve the process for future use, in the hopes that initiatives such as this, done well, can advance good ideas and open government more fully to the public. (more…)

We Love Kai Degner    

Kai Degner just sent something to the NCDD Discussion list that I wanted to share in the blog. There’s now a great 4-minute video up that captures the energy of his Open Space “Mayor’s Sustainability Summit.”

Kai has been involved in NCDD since 2005, when he wowed us all with his innovative OrangeBand concept which encourages college students to start “conversations that matter” with each other on-the-fly about issues they care about (no tables or meetings needed!). This past year, he ran for city council in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and not only became a city councillor but won the Mayor’s seat as well due to getting the highest number of votes (by far). His campaign was based on smart growth, and on process and citizen engagement.

In his role as Mayor of Harrisonburg, Kai (who, have I mentioned, is not quite 30?!) convenes community dialogues using emergent dialogue methods such as Conversation Café and Open Space Technology. In May, Kai held a successful community-wide Open Space event called the “Mayor’s Sustainability Summit,” involving about 160 people and 120 organizations in an innovative day-long event held in public and commercial spaces throughout downtown Harrisonburg. The cost to the city? $30 for a few supplies (everything else was donated). Visit www.HarrisonburgSummits.com to learn about Kai’s summits.

In an email to the NCDD network after the event, Kai wrote:

“I’m struck how innovative people find the event to be, which is a wonderful reminder to me that no matter how obvious or useful I see these processes, there are still many folks who have no experience with these other paradigms to have community dialogues and deliberations – and this high profile seat is a way to showcase their utility while also realizing their value for our city.”

Kai just wrote to the NCDD listserv today, saying:

“I write from the Virginia Mayors Institute in Roanoke, Virginia. Yesterday afternoon, I was unexpectedly asked to present for 30 minutes in front of 35 mayors about what “citizen involvement techniques” I’m using as mayor, prompted by the statewide organizer having read about it in my local paper. I shared mainly about the Open Space meetings I’m holding, and was impressed with how engaged and interested the audience was – let that be motivation for you in your communities!”

You can also get a glimpse of Kai in this 2-minute YouTube clip of him presenting about reclaiming debate in the “D&D; Marketplace” we held at the 2008 NCDD conference in Austin.

An Online National Issues Forum on Healthcare    

As a past Board member of the National Issues Forums Institute (yes – I’m very important!), I’ve been asked to help spread the word about an important new NIFI project. To foster public dialogue on the rising costs of health care, NIFI has developed a website based on their issue book titled Coping with the Cost of Health Care: How Do We Pay for What We Need? This is NIFI’s first online issue book and online deliberation, and you are all welcome to get involved.

Here’s how: Go to the health care workbook website at http://nifi-healthcare.dialoguecircles.com and complete the quick and simple registration. Then you’ll be ready to log in and give your responses, and share your own stories in the online workbook. Completing the workbook takes about 30 minutes, but you can spend some time on it, log out, and come back later to complete your workbook or to add your own stories.

By completing the workbook and sharing your stories and ideas, you can contribute to a national dialogue on health-care affordability. After you complete the workbook, you will also be asked if you would like to register for the chance to be part of a series of online deliberations this fall.

You can also watch a new online documentary produced by the Kettering Foundation and ThinkTV about the choices now confronting the public. The documentary, Coping with the High Cost of Care: Where is the Public Voice? can be viewed in three parts (each approximately 10 minutes long):

  • View Part I of Coping with the High Cost of Care: Where is the Public Voice?
  • View Part II of Coping with the High Cost of Care: Where is the Public Voice?
  • View Part III of Coping with the High Cost of Care: Where is the Public Voice?

New Report from Knight Commission on Democracy in the Digital Age    

The Knight Commission released its report Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age on Friday (October 2, 2009). The report was officially released at an event at the Newseum in Washington, DC on Friday, with a series of panels of government officials and others.

The Commission seeks to start a national discussion – leading to real action. Its aims are to maximize the availability and flow of credible local information; to enhance access and capacity to use the new tools of knowledge and exchange; and to encourage people to engage with information and each other within their geographic communities. All are welcome to participate in the national dialogue on the Commission’s recommendations by commenting on the report via the internet or through twitter at #knightcomm.

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is a group of 17 media, policy and community leaders. Its purpose is to assess the information needs of communities, and recommend measures to help Americans better meet those needs. The Knight Commission sees new thinking about news and information as a necessary step to sustaining democracy in the digital age.

Here are the 14 recommendations in the report: (more…)

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