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I need your ideas by July 23!

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Joined: 13 Jul 2004
Posts: 7
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:38 am?? ?Post subject: I need your ideas by July 23! Reply with quote

I have been invited to join a small group of colleagues in the democracy reform movement for a day-and-a-half gathering at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Conference Center at Pocantico on July 26 and 27. The roundtable gathering will bring together leaders of two related and critical ?“fields of practice?”, deliberative democracy and election reform. I am sending this e-mail to you in the hopes that you can provide me with any thoughts, research, or hypotheses you might have that will help prepare me to be a worthy contributor to this meeting.

According to the invitation, ?“We will use our time together to learn more about both disciplines, or perhaps movements, and to explore ways in which we might establish better working connections between the two, as we work toward our common goal of bringing about the fullest, most vibrant and inclusive democratic system for our country.?”

The invitation further states, ?“Many scholars and practitioners have begun to make connections between the election reform and deliberative democracy realms, and those of us organizing this conference realize that the limits of our own working areas are not sufficiently wide to make democracy full. However, how the two fields fully relate has not often been explored, and not nearly enough has been done to find ways that the two approaches might undertake initiatives in collaboration. We are excited to have this opportunity to begin that process.?”

The primary work that I have done in looking at the intersection of deliberative democracy and election reform is the Easy Voter Project I launched in California in 1994. After a year of research to identify barriers to voting and civic participation in partnership with adult literacy students, we learned that one key barrier was the sense that ?“my voice doesn?’t count, I?’m not smart enough to have a say.?” The National Issues Forums led by adult literacy students using materials that they wrote was a powerful tool for changing the perception that they had nothing to add to the civic discourse on public policy issues. See: for a research report we published in 1996. (For grins, you can check out: for a photo of a much younger, more energetic me. I?’m fairly easy to spot ?– one of the few white chicks!)

Below are some of the organizations that will be represented. If you have worked in the area of deliberative democracy and election reform and have some insights into the intersection of these two movements, I would appreciate your insight. I want to be a worthy representative of NCDD!

Common Cause
Brennan Center for Justice
Brennan Center for Justice
National Council of La Raza
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Yale University
National Issues Forum/Texas Forums
John F. Kennedy School of Politics at Harvard University
Howard Law School
The Electronic Republic
Center for Regional & Neighborhood Action
Open Society Institute
William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
America Speaks
Study Circles Resource Center

Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Choice Work/Dialogue
National Civic League

Here are some starter questions:

What is the connection between deliberation and voting?
Why do both ?“big ideas?” seem to resonate with the more liberal thinkers?
Is ?“election reform?” an advocacy position that could taint our neutrality as conveners and supporters of deliberative democracy? What are the warning signs we should look for if we want to maintain our neutrality and credibility?
What other questions should we be asking?

Taylor Willingham
Austin-Pacific Consulting Co.
P.O. Box 1255
Salado, TX 76571
866.215.0843 (National Issues Forums)
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Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 7
Location: Monterey, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:19 am?? ?Post subject: Transparency and Faith in people Reply with quote

Hi Taylor

Today is the 22nd and I hope I can share some of my recent experiences and respond to your questions a bit.

I just attended the FCC hearings and wrote a bit about it in Check in and say hello. The experience gave me hope regarding the public's capacity to participate and I feel we are indeed in a time of shift that we can help allow by d&d; practices. How wonderful that Rockfeller is convening your event and combining d&d; with election reform.

While I know some in this movement are truly moderators and facilitators who do a great job of staying nuetral I do not believe that this is what actually happens and I may be stating the obvious. But facilitators who can have their own beliefs and assumptions and still allow PROCESS to emerge answers or ways to move are what I think is most effective and what really happens.

I am gaining also a new respect for people to understand what is just and fair, if they are included in the process of d&d; and the facilitation is grounded, mature and as transparent as possible.

I am also reappreciating transparency as I watched a bit of the 911 commission today. One of the things they tried to do as a commission was be transparent as possible (even with security needs being met) and they believe it did impact their efforts positively and differently than other commission. Look how fast they are publishing and the book of 500 pages is only $10. Talk about transparent and accountable!

Back to the FCC hearing. While the commission in my view is very flawed in the way it works and in Powell's leadership, they are, due to the law suit Media Alliance and others just won, going to be doing more hearings next year, even though by then maybe we will have a new commission.

That's it for now. I do not think facilitators need to remain nuetral only grounded and mature in a way that has the respect of participants as much as possible. And, I believe transparency of process and ongoing inclusion with the public can be powerful and effective.

People really do want to particpate; they just need some help on how to do it. That is where d&d; comes in and I believe election reform is a fine thing to be doing with your skills.

Oh, one last thing. People seem to love numbers and statistical analysis as a vivid way to understand situations. Not my preference but pretty impressive to hear especially when the research numbers come from a leader in the media studies field and the Annenberg School as in the FCC hearings case.

Many thanks.
Nancy Peden, M.A.
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Michael Briand

Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Posts: 18
Location: Denver, Colorado

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 12:54 pm?? ?Post subject: Reply with quote

I've already replied to Taylor and recommended the most recent books by John Gastil and Ethan Leib. But the main reason I'm posting this reply is so I can have the distinction, however briefly, of having been the person who has replied most recently to all five toipics in this category.
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