Tools of the Trade

The must-have books of our field, spanning the spectrum of practice. If you haven't read these fabulous works, you should at least be familiar with many of them.

Animating Democracy: The Artistic Imagination as a Force in Civic Dialogue

Bacon, Barbara Schaffer, Cheryl Yuen and Pam Korza. 1999. Americans for the Arts.

This report reveals pivotal and innovating roles that the arts can play in the renewal of civic dialogue as well as challenges faced by arts and cultural organizations as they engage in this work. Download at

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

Putnam, Robert D. 2000. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors and our democratic structures - and how we may reconnect. Putnam warns that our stock of social capital - the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities. But America has civicly reinvented itself before, and can do it again.

Bridging the Racial Divide

Du Bois, Paul Martin and Jonathan Hutson. 1997. Brattleboro, VT: Center for Living Democracy.

Includes lessons, tips and success stories from 65 intergroup dialogues across the country, plus an annotated reading list of resources.

Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets

Kretzmann, John P and John L. McKnight. 1993. Evanston, IL: The Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research.

This book includes a step-by-step description of asset-based community development, a strengths-based approach for identifying and building upon the human resources that are already present in any community.

By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy Through Deliberative Elections

Gastil, John. 2000. University of California Press.

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.

Calling the Circle: The First and Future Culture

Baldwin, Christina. 1998. Bantam.

The original small-press edition of Calling the Circle has become one of the key resources for the rapidly-growing "circle" movement. This newly revised edition brings Baldwin's work to an even broader audience ranging from women's spirituality groups to corporate development teams. Includes detailed instructions and suggestions for getting started, setting goals, and solving disagreements safely and respectfully.

Civic Index: Measuring Your Community's Civic Health

1999. The National Civic League.

This revised edition of the Civic Index is a 12-point community self-evaluation tool. The Civic Index assesses what the National Civic League calls civic infrastructure (the characteristics that communities possess to effectively solve problems). Whether the challenges being faced are economic development, low-income housing, transportation planning or any other, the healthy functioning of the 12 components of the Civic Index is vital for success.

Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy and the Movement for Civic Renewal

Carmen Siriani with NCDD's Sandy Heierbacher in Boston.

Sirianni, Carmen and Lewis Friedland. 2001.

This book is a scholarly examination of the civic renewal movement that has emerged in the United States in recent decades. In contrast to some recent studies that stress broad indicators of civic decline, this study analyzes innovation as a long process of social learning within specific institutional and policy domains with complex challenges and cross-currents. The study is based upon interviews with more than 400 innovative practitioners, as well as extensive field observation, case study, action research and historical analysis.

Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World

Yankelovich, Daniel. 1991. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Yankelovich, co-founder of Public Agenda, focuses on the public's waning ability to influence its future and offers a prescription for strengthening the public's hand in the 'silent power struggle' with the experts.

A Community Builder's Tool Kit: 15 Tools for Creating Healthy, Productive Interracial/Multicultural Communities

2001. Anti-Racism Initiative of the Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change.

This primer for revitalizing democracy from the ground up can be downloaded for free or ordered for $1.50 per copy from

Community Resource Manual

1997. Richmond, VA: Hope in the Cities.

This manual taps into the powerful grassroots movement to heal racial division through community-based dialogue. Focuses on a proven process emphasizing honest words and effective action by teams of people of all races, many faiths and diverse political views. Offers case studies and specific principles that can be adapted by dialogue organizers to meet local needs. $30. Email [email protected] or call 804-358-1764 for ordering info.

Creating a World that Works for All

Abdullah, Sharif. 1999. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publications.

Exclusivity - the desire to stay separate from other people - is at the root of most of the world's problems, according to Abdullah, who then presents a unique blueprint for social justice. Demonstrates how we can change our world by changing our consciousness. Reveals how to turn from a mentality that disconnects us to one that embraces the goals of restoring balance to the Earth and building community with all others.

Creating the Commonwealth

Boyte, Harry C., Nancy N. Kari, Jim Lewis, Nan Skelton and Jennifer O'Donoghue. 1999. The Kettering Foundation.

The authors had two purposes in this study of conceptual organizing and public work: to explore the potential impact of political concepts in three settings, all concerned in different ways with education for democracy, and to examine what impact the experiences of public work might have on individuals and institutional cultures. Their work helped to clarify the obstacles facing democratic renewal, as well as resources and experiences on which democratic renewal efforts can draw.

Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance

Archon Fung (right) with Len Krimerman of the University of Connecticut and Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute.

Fung, Archon and Erik Olin Wright.

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.

Democracy and Deliberation: New Directions for Democratic Reform

Fishkin, James S. 1997. Yale University Press.

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.

Democratic Education in an Age of Difference: Redefining Citizenship in Higher Education

Guarasci, Richard and Grant Cornwell. 1997. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This book addresses the need for colleges and universities to design educational experiences that promote the objectives of a free society while recognizing and embracing difference. The authors detail some of the experiments taking place across American campuses and reveal how each approach fosters the development of democratic sensibility, citizenship skills and multicultural appreciation.

Developing Competency to Manage Diversity

Cox, Taylor and Ruby Beale. 1997. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Building on Taylor Cox's acclaimed book, Cultural Diversity in Organizations, this companion volume provides managers with the tools they need to successfully manage a diverse workforce.

Dialogue: Rediscover the Transforming Power of Conversation

Ellinor, Linda and Glenna Gerard. 1998. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ellinor and Gerard draw upon their combined 50 years of experience in organizations to show how dialogue can change the way we work by widening information arteries so that employees at every level begin to think along "leadership" lines and take responsibility for how their actions affect the whole organization. Leading companies including Levi Strauss, Shell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and AT&T are unleashing the wellspring of power that flows naturally from the trust, mutual respect and spirit of inquiry that are at dialogue's core.

Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together

Isaacs, William N. 1999. New York, NY: Currency.

Isaacs is a colleague of organizational learning guru Peter Senge (who wrote the introduction) and one of the founders of MIT's Organizational Learning Center. He also directed MIT's Dialogue Project, on which this book is based. Isaacs argues that organizational learning cannot take place without successful dialogue. For more info, go to

Dialogue, Conflict Resolution, and Change: Arab-Jewish Encounters in Israel

Abu-Nimer, Mohammed. 1999. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Through a critical examination of Arab and Jewish encounter programs in Israel, the book reviews conflict resolution and intergroup theories and processes which are utilized in dealing with ethnic conflicts and offers a detailed presentation of intervention models applied by various encounter programs to promote dialogue, education for peace, and democracy between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace

Peck, M. Scott, M.D. 1987. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Psychiatrist Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, explores how the nature of community can be recognized by the vulnerability, honesty, and theological cultural inclusiveness of its participants. Born of a yearning for world peace, this draws analogies between the ways communities emerge and the dynamics of individual spiritual development.

Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms

Brookfield, S. D. and S. Preskill. 1999. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Includes a variety of practical ideas, tools and techniques for creating democratic classrooms. The authors suggest exercises to get discussion started, strategies for maintaining its momentum, ways to elicit a diversity of views and voices, ideas for creative groupings and formats, and processes to encourage student participation. In exploring the role of the teacher in discussion, they address the tensions and possibilities arising from ethnic, cultural, social class and gender differences.

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization

Senge, Peter, Art Kleiner, Charlotte Roberts, Richard B. Ross, and Bryan J. Smith. 1994. New York, NY: Doubleday.

While "The Fifth Discipline" laid out the principles particularly applicable to long-term organizational improvement, the Fieldbook clearly describes how to get started in the practice of the principles of organizational learning, reflecting not just one person's theory, but the experience and reflection of an entire community of practitioners. Senge promotes dialogue as an important tool for promoting team learning and fostering shared meaning and community within an organization.

Healing Into Action: A Leadership Guide for Creating Diverse Communities

Brown, Cherie R. and George J. Mazza. 1997. National Coalition Building Institute.

A manual containing a collection of simple, common-sense principles that can be put into practice immediately to deal with diversity and leadership issues in any community, corporation, trade union, academic, religious and political setting.

Improving Intergroup Relations

Stephan, Walter and Cookie Stephan. 2001. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

A comprehensive review and evaluation of various techniques for improving intergroup relations, including intergroup dialogue.

Intergroup Dialogue: Deliberative Democracy in School, College, Community and Workplace

Schoem, David and Sylvia Hurtado (editors). 2001. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

This book presents twelve case studies of leading intergroup dialogue programs from higher education, K-12, community and corporate settings, as well as a comprehensive discussion of the theory and practice of the field. To order, call UM Press at 734-764-4392 or go to

Involving Citizens in Community Decision Making: A Guidebook, 2nd Edition

Creighton, James L. National Civic League.

This public participation manual focuses specifically on the community level of public decision making. The author based this comprehensive "how-to" guide on many years of professional experience designing and implementing public participation programs. Creighton takes the reader from the basics through practical issues such as designing, staffing, and evaluating public participation programs, preparing a public participation plan, and utilizing specific implementation techniques. Go to for this and other NCL publications.

The Magic of Dialogue

Yankelovich, Daniel. 1999. Simon and Schuster.

The author is the co-founder of Public Agenda, an organization which helps policy makers better understand the public's point of view on major policy issues while helping citizens better understand critical policy issues so they can make their own more informed and thoughtful decisions. Public Agenda's conversation process and materials present issues in a nonpartisan and stimulating way.

Multicultural Teaching in the University

Schoem, David and Linda Frankel, Ximena Zuniga, Edith Lewis. 1995. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Rather than representing a homogeneous view of multicultural teaching, this volume reflects the debate and dialogue that surround the issue. This book integrates new scholarship that reflects a more expansive notion of knowledge, and suggests new ways to communicate with diverse populations of students.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion

Rosenberg, Marshall. 1999. PuddleDancer Press.

NVC is an approach that can be effectively applied at all levels of communication and in diverse situations from self-talk to international politics. The NVC model for communications includes: observing, without judgment, actions that effect our well-being; stating our feelings as we observe the action; saying what needs, values, desires are connected to the feelings; and requesting the concrete actions we would like.

On Dialogue

Bohm, David (Lee Nichol, Editor). 1996. Routledge: New York, NY.

David Bohm was one of the greatest physicists and foremost thinkers of this century. This revised and expanded edition is the most comprehensive documentation to date of David Bohm's dialogical world view.

Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community

Pranis, Kay, Barry Stuart and Mark Wedge. 2003. Living Justice Press: St. Paul, Minnesota.

This book provides an overview of how peacemaking circles can be used with the justice system as a form of restorative justice. Includes numerous stories and guidelines to support the work that many pioneering community members and criminal justice professionals are doing around the world to explore a more healing, constructive response to crime.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Freire, Paulo. 1970 (revised 1996).

The thought and work of Paulo Freire has had a fundamental impact in the field of education and on the overall struggle for national development in the South. In this landmark account, first published over 20 years ago, Paulo Freire argues that the ignorance and lethargy of the poor are the direct result of the systems of economic, social and political domination.

Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice, Second Edition.

Mathews, David. 1999. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Drawing on the practical experience of a wide variety of civic groups, David Mathews explores how individuals and communities can create a politics relevant to their everyday lives. This second edition of Mathews' work includes a new chapter on the National Issues Forums, convened in settings ranging from libraries to churches to prisons to promote greater public involvement in politics.

Hal Saunders

A Public Peace Process

Saunders, Harold. 1999. NY: Palgrave.

Harold Saunders, former Assistant Secretary of State and negotiator of the Camp David Accords and now Director of International Programs at the Kettering Foundation, distills over 35 years of experience working with conflicts across the globe. This book describes how sustained dialogue can help conflicting groups of citizens move toward resolution.

The Quickening of America: Rebuilding our Nation, Remaking our Lives

Lappe, Frances Moore and Paul Martin Du Bois. 1994. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers.

This book reveals how a new citizen-driven approach to solving community problems is working - in local government, education, the workplace, human services and the media. The authors criss-crossed America in search of democracy in action and found moving stories of ordinary people coming together to make their institutions meet their needs.

Reconciliation, Justice, and Coexistence: Theory and Practice

Abu-Nimer, Mohammed. 2001. Lexington Books.

Abu-Nimer provides lessons and insights for post-settlement peacebuilders. Essays focus on the conflict dynamics in regions such as Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine, South Africa and Rwanda.

Society's Breakthrough! Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People

Rough, Jim. 2002. 1stBooks.

This book suggests that the U.S. adopt a Citizens Constitutional Amendment which says: Each year, 24 registered voters will be randomly selected in a lottery to form a Citizens Wisdom Council. This Wisdom Council will be a symbol of the people of the United States. With the aid of a dynamic facilitator, the group will meet for one week to choose issues, talk about them and determine consensus statements.

Socrates Caf?: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy

Phillips, Christopher. 2001. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

This book explains how and why the questioning style of Socrates, revived in recent years by Christopher Phillips, works well with children and adults. Phillips overviews the fundamentals of philosophical thought, re-creates some of his most invigorating and revealing sessions, and offers tips for facilitating Socrates Caf?s.

Steps Toward an Inclusive Community

Potapchuk, Maggie. 2001. Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies.

The book begins with the story of how Clarksburg, WV responded to a KKK rally by conducting a counter-rally which, in turn, led to the Clarksburg Unity Project. The latter part of the book includes a tool to help predominately white, moderate-sized towns assess their process of becoming inclusive. It also includes suggestions for next steps based on a community's current inclusivity stage. Go to for more information or to order.

Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics For A New Age

Barber, Benjamin. 1984. University of California Press.

Barber offers liberal society a new way of thinking about and of practicing democracy.

The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All

Atlee, Tom. 2003.

How can we generate the collective wisdom to creatively address our 21st century problems, opportunities and dreams? The Tao of Democracy offers hundreds of ideas and tools to heal and transform the world, including new forms of activism, citizenship and politics; ways to bring wisdom to politics and governance; and powerful approaches to collaboration, dialogue and deliberation.

Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice

Adams, Maurianne, Lee Bell, Pat Griffin. 1997. NY: Routledge.

This sourcebook is aimed at educators working in the field of social justice education. It addresses theoretical and practical issues that confront teachers who introduce diversity and social justice issues in their classrooms.

The Way of Council

Zimmerman, Jack, with Virginia Coyle. 1996. Ojai, CA: Bramble Books.

The Council process was inspired by Native American traditions, Quaker meetings, extended family gatherings and many contemporary techniques of group dynamics. This book includes numerous stories that convey the spirit of the process, as well as practical guidance for conducting council in a variety of settings and situations.

Wisdom Circles: A Guide to Self-Discovery and Community Building in Small Groups

Garfield, Charles, Cindy Spring and Sedonia Cahill. 1998. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Shows readers how to form their own wisdom circles with friends and community members based on ten simple guidelines. The wisdom circle serves many purposes: it is a place to practice communication skills, to heal wounds, to find the courage to act upon that small voice within, to share a vision or define a mission. Readers learn how to open and close the circle, how to mutually agree upon a topic or intention, and how to create a safe space for truth telling.


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