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Governance & Political Action

Here are all of the resources in this category that NCDD recommends most highly. Too many choices? Narrow your results

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AmericaSpeaks Highly Recommended

Promoting the founding belief that every citizen has a right to impact the decisions of government, AmericaSpeaks serves as a neutral convener of large-scale public participation forums. Through close consultation with leaders, citizens, the media and others, AmericaSpeaks designs and facilitates deliberative meetings for 500 to 5,000 participants. Its partners have included regional planning groups, local, state, and national government bodies, and national organizations. Issues have ranged from Social Security reform to redevelopment of ground zero in New York.

Resource Link: http://www.americaspeaks.org

Brisbane Declaration on Community Engagement Highly Recommended

The Brisbane Declaration drew on numerous definitions and aspirations for community engagement, including IAP2's core values and the Queensland Government's community engagement resources. A draft of the Declaration was reviewed and revised to reflect the feedback from the community of practitioners, academics, policy advisers, government and citizens who responded to a questionnaire. Importantly, there were also a number of deliberative sessions on the Declaration held during the 2005 International Conference on Engaging Communities. Feedback from these sessions was incorporated into the final version of the Declaration.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/brisbane_declaration.pdf

Building Democratic Governance: Tools and Structures for Engaging Citizens Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

National League of Cities, 2005.

As the role of local officials in reforming public involvement increases, the National League of Cities (NLC) believes there is a need to assist them as they choose how to get citizens involved and at what level of engagement. This 84-page report from NLC's CityFutures Program provides principles, suggestions, and ideas for local elected leadership on citizen involvement.

Resource Link: http://www.nlc.org/ASSETS/6B83BE044C544D4AA963D48B884434FF/demgov.pdf

By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy Through Deliberative Elections Highly Recommended

John Gastil. University of California Press, 2000.

Building on the success of citizen juries and deliberative polling, Gastil proposes improving our current process by convening randomly selected panels of citizens to deliberate for several days on ballot measures and candidates. Voters would learn about the judgments of these citizen panels through voting guides and possibly information printed on official ballots. The result would be a more representative government and a less cynical public.

Resource Link: http://faculty.washington.edu/jgastil/

By the People Highly Recommended

By the People: America in the World, an initiative of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, aims to energize and enhance the national conversation on America's role in the world through a series of national and local broadcasts and events that demonstrate the relevance of foreign policy issues to local concerns. The project includes three national PBS specials, two cycles of local programming to be produced by PBS stations in cooperation with community organizations, national and local forums for civic dialogue, and an interactive web site.

Resource Link: http://www.macneil-lehrer.com/btp/

Canadian Policy Research Networks Highly Recommended

CPRN creates knowledge and leads public debate on social and economic issues important to the well-being of Canadians. The birth of CPRN's Public Involvement Network (PIN) in 2002 reflects the growing conviction in policy circles that effective public policy requires effective public engagement.

Resource Link: http://www.cprn.ca

Center for Collaborative Policy Highly Recommended

The Center is a joint program of California State University, Sacramento and the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. The mission of the Center is to build the capacity of public agencies, stakeholder groups, and the public to use collaborative strategies to improve policy outcomes. The Center produces a quarterly newsletter called The Collaborative Edge.

Resource Link: http://www.csus.edu/ccp/

Changing the Way We Govern: Building Democratic Governance in your Community Highly Recommended

National League of Cities, 2006.

Drawing on case studies of successful projects, this guide: explains how to educate, involve, and mobilize citizens in a variety of events and initiatives; describes how communities have used democratic governance approaches to address key issues; builds on city strategies for accomplishing key tasks using shorter-term mechanisms; and describes some of the more permanent, structural forms of democratic governance that have emerged recently. Changing the Way We Govern is an essential tool for anyone who is tired of the conflict and apathy created by old-fashioned citizen involvement methods – and who wants to tap into the full potential of citizens and public life.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/NLC-ChangingTheWay.pdf

Citizens Health Care Working Group Highly Recommended

Established by the US Congress in 2003, the Citizens Health Care Working Group is mandated to create a nationwide public debate about improving the health care system to provide every American with the ability to obtain quality, affordable health care coverage. Congress is expected to vote on the recommendations that result from the debate. The group is holding a series of small and large-scale public meetings throughout 2006 aimed at engaging the American public in establishing the values and priorities that must drive health care reform in 2008 and beyond.

Resource Link: http://www.citizenshealthcare.gov

Citizens Jury Process Highly Recommended

The Citizens Jury process is a method for gathering a microcosm of the public, having them attend five days of hearings, deliberate among themselves and then issue findings and recommendations on the issue they have discussed. No deliberative method has been more carefully designed or thoroughly tested than this method.

Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform Highly Recommended

The unique Citizens’ Assembly process was pioneered in British Columbia (Canada) in 2004. The process gathered a randomly-selected group of voters together over the course of a year to learn about electoral systems, conduct public hearings, and spend an extended amount of time deliberating about what new electoral system (if any) should replace the existing one. Ontario is following the BC process pretty closely. The Ontario Assembly will meet in three phases: a learning phase, a public hearing phase, and a deliberation phase. The Assembly is empowered to craft a recommendation for a new electoral system that will be put directly to a public referendum....

Civic Minded blog Highly Recommended

Catch up on the latest in online politics and democracy with the Corante blogging network's Civic Minded group blog. Civic Minded is a guide to the political impact of the Internet, looking at issues ranging from online organizing and campaigning to the big picture of how new technology is changing democratic communities.

Resource Link: http://civicminded.corante.com/

Collaborative Democracy Network Highly Recommended

A network of over 100 interdisciplinary and international scholars has been established to focus on the need to enhance the role of deliberative and collaborative methods in democratic governance. The goal of the network is to collaborate on research and theory building to strengthen the capacity of democratic governance institutions to produce better public policy. The Collaborative Democracy Network is being coordinated by the Center for Collaborative Policy at California State University Sacramento.

Resource Link: http://www.csus.edu/ccp/cdn/

Collaborative Governance: A Guide for Grantmakers Highly Recommended

Doug Henton and John Melville (Collaborative Economics), with Terry Amsler and Malka Kopell (Hewlett Foundation). The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2006.

This 47-page guide focuses on collaborative governance, an emerging set of concepts and practices that offer prescriptions for inclusive, deliberative, and often consensus-oriented approaches to planning, problem solving, and policymaking. Collaborative governance typically describes those processes in which government actors are participants and/or objects of the processes.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/Collaborative_Governance.pdf

Common Sense California Highly Recommended

The mission of Common Sense California is to serve as a civic bridge between the citizens of California and our elected officials. We hope to improve and reform the broken system of governance in California so that, together, we can face and resolve the significant, long term challenges facing our state. We span a broad spectrum of professional disciplines and perspectives. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Resource Link: http://www.commonsenseca.org

Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance Highly Recommended

Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright. Verso Press, 2003.

This book presents case studies which demonstrate how people are inventing new political forms that realize the deeper democratic ideal of government of, by and for the people. The four contemporary cases explore the participatory budgeting process in Porto Alegre; decentralized school councils and community policing groups in Chicago; stakeholder planning in environmental protection and habitat management; and new participatory governance structures in Kerala, India.

Resource Link: http://www.archonfung.net

Deliberation Day Highly Recommended

Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, USA, 2004.

Two leading political thinkers offer an audacious proposal to energize the electoral process. 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.

Resource Link: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300109644

Deliberative Democracy Meets Dispute Resolution (DVD): Reflections and Insights from the 2005 Workshop on Deliberative Democracy and Dispute Resolution Highly Recommended

Carri Hulet (producer), under the supervision of Lawrence Susskind. Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, 2006.

The Workshop on Deliberative Democracy and Dispute Resolution was a two-day conference held in June 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The event brought together 30 individuals who share a common interest in civic engagement, but represent two distinct fields that approach the project very differently. One group included public dispute resolution professionals; the other, political theorists and innovative practitioners of deliberative democracy. This 2.5-hour DVD attempts to capture the most interesting moments of dialogue from this workshop in order to illustrate the overlaps and divisions of opinion both between and within the respective fields.

Resource Link: http://www.pon.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=394

Deliberative Polling Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Deliberative Polling® is an attempt to use television and public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available.

Democracy and Deliberation: New Directions for Democratic Reform Highly Recommended

James S. Fishkin, Center for Deliberative Democracy. Yale University Press, 1997.

Fishkin makes an important proposal to reform the U.S. presidential nomination process. He supports the proposal with a concise, intelligent discussion of democratic theory, emphasizing the importance of genuine deliberation versus transient, media-generated public opinion. The book centers on the idea of a National Issues Convention - a televised caucus in which a representative sample of voters meet face-to-face with presidential contenders in order to reflect and vote on the issues and the candidates.

Resource Link: http://cdd.stanford.edu/

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