decision making

The “decision making” stream of practice is focused on influencing decisions and policy, and improving public knowledge. Some of the methods that fall under this category are National Issues Forums, Citizens Juries, Deliberative Polling, 21st Century Town Meeting, Citizen Choicework, and Consensus Conference.

Federal Agencies and Depts Release Open Gov Plans    

I wanted to share an important press release I received today from Chelsea Kammerer of the White House Office of Public Engagement.  Many U.S. departments and agencies released their Open Government Plans today.  Here’s how Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, describes this milestone on the White House blog:

For too many years, Washington has resisted the oversight of the American public, resulting in difficulties in finding information, taxpayer dollars disappearing without a trace, and lobbyists wielding undue influence.  For Americans, business as usual in Washington has reinforced the belief that the government benefits the special interests and the well connected at the expense of the American people.

No more. Since coming to office, the President has launched a series of initiatives to let the sunshine in, including posting White House visitor records, disclosing lobbyist contacts regarding stimulus funds, and launching data.gov and recovery.gov. That’s why independent groups recently gave the Administration an A grade for transparency.

Please help spread the word about this development on your blogs, websites, facebook groups, etc. This is big news for our country, but since this story doesn’t “bleed” it may not get the press coverage it deserves!

Here is the press release… (more…)

Four job openings at Kearns & West firm (Portland and D.C.)    

NCDD organizational member Kearns & West, a strategic collaboration and communications firm specializing in water, energy, natural resources and environmental facilitation/mediation, collaboration and public involvement, seeks additional facilitators, mediators, and public involvement specialists in their Portland, Oregon and Washington, DC offices. They may also be looking to hire in their San Francisco office in the near term. Resumes from interested senior mediators and public involvement specialists should be submitted to [email protected] (no faxes or phone calls please). Resumes will be accepted until the positions are filled.

The four positions are:

  1. Project Coordinator Opportunity in Washington DC
  2. Public Involvement Specialist Opportunity in Portland, Oregon
  3. Senior Associate/Facilitator Opportunity in Washington DC
  4. Senior Mediator/Facilitator Opportunity in Portland, Oregon

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Three Great OpenGov/Participation Events in DC    

As federal agencies near the April 7th deadline to release their implementation plans, there’s no shortage of energy surrounding the Open Government Directive.

There are two great events in DC that you won’t want to miss if you’re within driving distance: ParticipationCamp on April 17th and 18, and the half-day April Open Government Directive Workshop on April 28th.  Both events are using the Open Space method.  You’ll also see information below about a significant discount to the Politics Online Conference on April 19-20th.

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Previewing Agencies’ Open Government Plans (by Lucas Cioffi)    

In accordance with the White House’s Open Government Directive, top-level agencies will post their open government plans on April 7th.  Several agencies gave a public preview of their plans on Monday at the White House Conference Center, and I had the opportunity to represent NCDD at this meeting.

The bottom line is that I was highly impressed with how much effort has been put into these plans behind the scenes; there is a tremendous amount of buy-in from senior officials at these agencies.  The biggest challenge- and a significant concern of mine- is that agencies will have to find ways to implement their plans without additional funding or resources.  It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

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Featured Member: John Spady and the Countywide Community Forums    

Today is our first in a series of NCDD “Featured Member Days.” All day, we will be using our social media tools (our blog, our listservs, our facebook group, our twitter feed, our linkedin group, etc.) to introduce as many people as possible to an extraordinary NCDD member.  Today we’re featuring John Spady and the Countywide Community Forums.

Feel free to add a comment here or respond to a post you see on the listserv or in our social media groups!  John will be responding to any questions or comments you ask him today.

John is the Executive Vice-President and Director of Research for the Forum Foundation in Seattle, and he’s been an active and supportive member of NCDD since the beginning. John’s story intersects considerably with that of his father’s. John’s father, Dick Spady, is the owner of 5 iconic Dick’s Drive-In restaurants in Seattle, and he has been a strong proponent of quality dialogue and citizen engagement for decades.

Last year, at the age of 83, John’s father submitted Initiative 24 — not to the voters of the State of Washington, but instead to King County, home to the largest city in the state: Seattle. After over 80,000 valid signatures were collected, King County (Seattle area) Councilmembers decided to directly enact Initiative 24, which created the Citizen Councilor Network. The Citizen Councilor Network’s first project is called the Countywide Community Forums, which are designed “to enhance citizen participation, civic engagement, and citizenship education in government through a network of periodic public forums….”

With the backing of his family, Dick Spady pledged that his private business, Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants, would underwrite the cost for the first two years of the Countywide Community Forums. This included the cost of the county employee in the Auditor’s Office, and all the costs associated with production, distribution, and website creation: a stated commitment of $350,000. Now in its third year, Dick’s Drive-In has recommitted itself through the end of 2010. This was critically important for the project, as King County Councilmembers stipulated that no tax dollars would be used to establish and maintain the new Citizen Councilor Network.

Our featured member, John Spady, is one of three coordinators appointed by the King County Auditor. His official title is “Deputy Citizen Councilor Coordinator.” (more…)

Audio from NCDD Confab with Guest Martin Carcasson    

Here is the audio recording from last Thursday’s (March 18) NCDD Confab call with Martin Carcasson, director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University. We talked to Martin about his must-read Public Agenda occasional paper titled Beginning with the End in Mind: A Call for Goal-Driven Deliberative Practice (Summer 2009).  We had a great group of leaders on the call, and Martin was asked some quite challenging questions.

Martin’s article, which can be downloaded for free from www.publicagenda.org/cape, outlines three broad categories of goals for deliberation. The essay explores how a clearer understanding of the goals and purposes we are trying to achieve through public engagement can sharpen our methods and increase our impacts. It offers a practical framework to help practitioners systematically consider both their short-term and long-term goals and the strategies that will set them up for success. Please also check out the July NCDD blog post titled New Framework for Understanding the Goals of Public Engagement, which reflects on Martin’s article and introduces a graphic I created that expands on the article’s three orders of goals slightly.

Press the play button or download the mp3 file to listen to the audio.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Or download: NCDD Confab – March 18, 2010: Goals of Deliberation (~50 MB)

Note: “NCDD Confabs” are conference calls for NCDD members where we explore dialogue & deliberation’s role in current issues, learn about exciting projects and interesting methods from fellow NCDD members, and encourage new connections among members.

Job opening: Alberta Climate Dialogue project lead    

The newly-funded Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD) project is looking for a great person to serve as Project Lead. NCDD is involved in this project, as are a number of other leading organizations in our community. The position is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The project currently has five years of funding in place, and the Project Lead’s initial term will be for two years. Starting salary of $51,000-$64,000 depending on qualifications, plus a comprehensive benefits package and yearly cost of living and merit increases. Additional details below. (more…)

NCDD Project Report for the Kettering Foundation    

I submitted a report to the Kettering Foundation last October that I wanted to finally share with the whole network.  Before the 2008 conference, NCDD embarked on a research project with the Kettering Foundation to learn about how attendees at the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation see themselves playing a role in democratic governance.  Kettering was also especially interested in two of the five challenge areas we took on at the conference (the Systems Challenge and the Action & Change Challenge).

Many NCDDers are quoted in this report, and I write about a number of your innovative projects and initiatives.  88 of you were surveyed or interviewed as part of this research project, and others contributed through our graphic recording team at the conference, and during the online dialogue we held on the 5 challenge areas at CivicEvolution.org before the conference.

I think this report is worth a read.  It’s 38 pages long, but it’s full of gorgeous photos and graphic recordings from the conference (so it’s shorter than it looks!).

The report represents a snapshot of a specific time in this rapidly growing, maturing field of practice.  An exciting time, when process leaders and networks in our field are being brought into discussions about federal policy, and when our field is exploring how and whether it fits into a broader “democracy reform” movement.  It’s also a time in which we’re seeing clear shifts in approach in the field.  Practitioners, organizations and institutions are starting to think in terms of capacity building and find ways to demonstrate perceptible shifts in civic capacity.  Practitioners are focusing more on developing ongoing relationships with institutions, decision-makers and other power-holders in the communities they serve.  And people are becoming more and more adept at using multiple models, combining elements of different models, and designing unique processes to fit different contexts.

You can download the full report here, download a 3-page overview of the report here, or learn a bit more about the report by clicking on “more.”  Feel free to share this report or the overview with others. (more…)

How to Hold a Public Meeting    

Archon Fung (professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) sent me an email a few days ago letting me know about a short article he wrote that was published in the March/April 2010 edition of Capitol Ideas, the magazine of the Council of State Governments.

Archon’s article can be seen online at www.csg.org/pubs/capitolideas/mar_apr_2010/howto.aspx, and outlines 5 tips for holding an effective public meeting: be clear on the purpose, get help (he links to NCDD here!), avoid the usual format, go beyond the usuals, and avoid promises you can’t keep.  It’s a nice, concise one-pager worth sharing with public officials and others.

No Better Time 2010 report released    

In July 2009, more than 250 campus and community leaders (including myself and many members of NCDD) came together at the University of New Hampshire to talk about the “deliberative democracy” field, the tide of civic change on campuses and in communities, and what those changes mean for the practice and teaching of democracy. “No Better Time: Promising Opportunities in Deliberative Democracy for Educators and Practitioners” was hosted by two NCDD organizational members, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) and The Democracy Imperative (TDI).

TDI and the DDC work to promote best practices, research, and teaching for a strong democracy. “No Better Time: A 2010 Report on Opportunities and Challenges for Deliberative Democracy” not only summarizes what happened during the conference, but brings you up to date on projects and activities that began there, as well as other related developments in the field. It is now available at www.unh.edu/democracy/pdf/NBTReport_1.pdf.  NCDD member Tim Bonnemann of Intellitics has reviewed it at www.intellitics.com/blog/2010/02/08/no-better-time-conference-report-available/.

Florida court says “open to the public” doesn’t mean citizens can speak up    

Steve Zikman brought an interesting article to my attention today, suggesting we share it with the network…

In a brief article titled “Appeals court rejects public comment time” at PNJ.com, a Florida appeals court upheld a year-old judgment that, in essence, found that government meetings required to be “open to the public” don’t necessarily have to give citizens a chance to speak at them.

View the whole article here at PNJ.com, but I’ve copied it below so we have an archive of it.  Please comment on this post and share what you think about this judgment and its implications. (more…)

Kettering Foundation Names ALA as Center for Public Life    

The American Library Association (ALA) and the Kettering Foundation have signed a research agreement to establish a Center for Public Life.  The Center will train librarians from different types of libraries to convene and moderate deliberative forums and frame issues of local and national concern, using National Issues Forums materials and processes.

During the first year, ALA will form an advisory committee and begin training moderators to convene and conduct local deliberative forums.  Initially, the new Centers will tap into the experience of libraries already convening deliberative forums.  They will form the hub of a network of active mentors capable of strengthening and expanding their work locally, statewide and nationally and connecting it with other forum conveners throughout the country. (more…)

2 great YouTube videos on deliberative democracy    

Check out these two videos on YouTube by Matt Leighninger (pictured), E.D. of NCDD organizational member the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

The videos feature photos of deliberation, voice-over about how democracy is evolving to incorporate more citizen input, and footage of Matt’s three boys. The videos were produced for the No Better Time conference and the recent Recentering Democracy Around Citizens meeting.  One of the videos is about 6 minutes long and the other is 4 minutes long, and most of the content of the shorter one is included in the longer version.

You can view both videos at www.youtube.com/user/mattleighningerddc.

I also added these to a couple of the public playlists I’m managing on YouTube. The 7 playlists organize over 100 videos that either show or introduce people to dialogue and deliberation, and they can all be found at this shortcut link: www.thataway.org/6fa6ec.

Using deliberative polling to identify republican presidential contenders    

NCDD member Jim Fishkin sent this out to the main NCDD listserv the other day…  Jim wrote, “see veteran columnist Walter Shapiro’s musings about whether a deliberative democracy process could be used among republicans to start the next presidential nomination process.”

Shapiro’s article, titled Taking Republicans’ Presidential Pulse at a Political Reality Show appears on Politics Daily.

Healthy Democracy Oregon seeks Outreach and Research Coordinator    

NCDD member Tyrone Reitman sent us this opening to share with the network…

Healthy Democracy Oregon is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that was founded in 2007.  The mission of the organization is to develop and implement innovative political reforms based upon deliberative methods of public engagement.  The organization is currently focused on a reform to Oregon’s ballot initiative process, called the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR). The Citizens’ Initiative Review is an application of the Citizens Jury model of public deliberation, designed to evaluate ballot measures, and provide voters with a new source of clear, useful, and trustworthy information during elections.  A bill passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2009 allows for one to three Reviews will be conducted during the 2010 election cycle.  Healthy Democracy Oregon is currently working to convene these Reviews in August, 2010.

Healthy Democracy Oregon is seeking an Outreach & Research Coordinator.  The Outreach and Research Coordinator will raise awareness of the Citizens’ Initiative Review though community event organizing, and public relations work both with print media and online.  The Outreach & Research Coordinator will also work with HDO’s Directors and Staff to coordinate presentations, and conduct background research, for the Citizens’ Initiative Reviews.  The ideal applicant for this position will have both strong communications and research skills.

Download the February 23, 2010 job announcement for more details.

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