Deliberative Democracy eBulletin v.6 no.8 October 29, 2007
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lars hasselblad torres
editor, ddc ebulletin
*** FROM THE BLOG ***
1 | Deliberation in Cuba
[From NPR] In the past month, something new has been happening [in Cuba] -- kicked off by a July speech given by acting leader Raul Castro in which he admitted that there were many structural problems in the system that should be discussed.ÊThousands of meetings have been taking place across the island, organized by the local Communist Party in workplaces and communities, to discuss things that used to be taboo. More at: http://www.deliberative-democracy.net/blog/?p=241
2 | Millions of Voices
Joe Goldman writes, "For those who care about the health of our democracy, something special happened in Keene, New Hampshire today. While unveiling his government reform agenda, John Edwards called for the creation of "Citizen Congresses" that will convene one million Americans in national deliberations about issues of high public concern that make official recommendations to Congress and the President." More at: http://www.deliberative-democracy.net/blog/?p=238
3 | Democracy Is A Shared Global Project
Matt Leighninger writes, "...The North keeps trying to give, export, or dictate by force a particular, outdated form of democracy in other parts of the world.ÊCountries of the Global South are starting to question the "gift assumption" more and more, pointing not only to the attitudes of Northern citizens, but to the new accomplishments and -- in some cases -- the longstanding democratic traditions of Southern nations." More at: http://www.deliberative-democracy.net/blog/?p=237
*** OTHER NEWS ***
4 | [Article] European Citizens' Consultations Project Win Public Affairs Award
Can citizen participation serve as an effective public affairs tool? This is the opinion of a jury consisting of top-level communication experts representing the German PR association, DPRG. On 14 September 2007, they selected the European CitizensÕ Consultations project as winner in the category "Lobbying and Public Affairs". This is the first time the prestigious award was given to a political dialogue project. The European Citizens' Consultations prove a successful example of how dialogue and participatory processes can be implemented in a way that suits the current political context and enables citizens' involvement across the boundaries of language, culture and geography. The awards is a positive example, which demonstrates that participatory dialogues are increasingly recognised among PR-experts.
More information on the European Citizens' Consultations: www.european-citizens-consultations.eu
More information on the DPRG: www.dprg.de
5 | iSolon.org: One-stop for the Latest News on Citizens Assemblies "Movement"
iSolon.org is a recently-formed policy institute committed to exploring and advancing opportunities for democratic reform brought about by new information technologies. iSolon.org focuses its activities on some of the most difficult areas of democratic reform - where elected officials have a conflict of interest in bringing about reforms that might reduce their power and re-election prospects.
In this month's posts, iSolon.org reports the defeat of Ontario's Citizen Assembly on Electoral Reform's recommendations to overhaul its "first past the post" electoral system: "On October 10, 2007 Ontario held a referendum on the recommendations of the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform... the referendum to change the electoral system went down to defeat 63.1% to 36.9%, with less than 5% of the political districts providing majority support for MMP.
Read more at: http://www.isolon.org/
6 | [Resource] National Charrette Institute Offers "Model" Public Involvement Request for Proposals
The National Charrette Institute has developed the first model Request for Proposals (RFP), a general guide for the procurement of services relating to a community planning project that includes a NCI charrette. The NCI charrette is an accelerated, collaborative planning process. Lacking a charrette specification, sponsoring agencies have been left to simply call for a charrette and hope for the best. Such a lack of specificity in the RFP typically results in a confusing set of proposals representing a wide range of processes. This makes it very difficult to judge the proposals and often leads to a less than satisfactory public involvement process.
Download the template at www.charretteinstitute.org.
7 | Cuba's Emerging Spaces for Public Deliberation - Under A Shadow of Repression?
[From NPR] In the past month, something has been happening [in Cuba] -- kicked off by a July speech given by acting leader Raul Castro in which he admitted that there were many structural problems in the system that should be discussed. Thousands of meetings have been taking place across the island, organized by the local Communist Party in workplaces and communities, to discuss things that used to be taboo.
One teacher, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution from government officials, said people are happy to open up: "This was an opportunity to vent," she said. "I think it was good and good for the country. Years ago, people were afraid to talk, but now people aren't afraid and say what they like."
The meetings last for a few hours. One person is appointed to write down all the complaints, which are then supposed to be passed to the next level of government. "We spoke about everything -- transportation, how bad it is," she said. "We talked about the salary we teachers receive. We earn $16 dollars -- nothing. We spoke about how expensive food on the island is. We don't have enough to cover the basic needs of our children, often. We spoke about clothing -- how we can't afford the uniforms they require of us. We spoke about housing -- how people aren't allowed to build."
Read the full text at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15436610
8 | UK's Involve Launches Government-backed Participation Site
People and Participation.net (www.peopleandparticipation.net) is a new resource to help people across the United Kingdom influence Government decision-making launched earlier this month. The interactive website was built by citizen empowerment group Involve and e-democracy pioneers Headshift. It is funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government, the Ministry of Justice and the Sustainable Development Commission. Among the sites features are:
- Interactive tool to select participatory methods based on specific circumstances
- Methods database covering over 30 traditional and innovative approaches to public participation from around the world
- Case studies showcasing good practice and allowing site users to post their own success stories to inspire others
- A section for site users to post their questions about participation. Involve staff will respond to these questions and thereby create an ever growing knowledge bank of answers to common.
Visit the new site at: http://www.peopleandparticipation.net
9 | [Report] CPRN Offers Latest Insight into Canadian Youth's Political Attitudes
"Lost in Translation: (Mis)Understanding Youth Engagement" was released today by Canadian Policy Research Networks. It analyzes and expands upon six individual studies commissioned by CPRN since it held a groundbreaking "National Youth Dialogue and Summit" in 2005.ÊThe central finding is that "Generation Y" -- those born after 1979 -- is far from apathetical and apolitical. However, while very much tuned into small "p" political life, young Canadians are increasingly disenchanted with formal Canadian political institutions and politics.
"The challenge for all Canadians, and especially for the political parties, is to find a way to better reach out and involve young people in the formal political process before their disengagement threatens the very underpinnings of our democratic system of government," said Sharon Manson Singer, CPRN President.
Young people think and talk about their civic and political engagement much differently from other Canadians. Unfortunately, much of this is missed by traditional research methods and academic discourse about what constitutes political participation. As a result, their engagement has been misunderstood and misrepresented. It seems to get lost in translation between the old and the new -- between their perspectives and a traditional perspective of what engagement is and is not.
Read the full report here: http://www.cprn.org/doc.cfm?doc=1769&l=en
10 | [Book] Why Community Matters
In his most recent book, "Why Community Matters," politics and education scholar Nick Longo provides a fresh perspective on the relationship between education reform and democratic revitalization, uncovering and examining practical models in which communities play an essential role in teaching the art of democracy. The book has garnered high praise, including these words from Harry Boyte, Codirector of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota:
"Longo's Why Community Matters is an outstanding work that unearths unknown connections between Hull House and Highlander Folk School, two pivotal community-rooted sites in America in the twentieth century, and their contemporary offspring, the Neighborhood Learning Community in St. Paul, Minnesota. It brings all these to life with vivid stories, gripping history, and a compelling interpretative framework that recasts 'education for democracy' in citizen centered terms. This is a book of abundant hope, expressed through voices of new immigrants, organizers, young people, and educators of all kinds."
Nicholas V. Longo is Director of the Harry T. Wilks Leadership Institute and Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University in Ohio as well as Associate at the Kettering Foundation.
Learn more about the book at: http://www.sunypress.edu/details.asp?id=61491
11 | Canadian Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation
Please check visit http://www.c2d2.ca for the latest information about the second Canadian Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation which is taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, November 12 to 14, 2007. Drawing from suggestions C2D2 organizers received from their volunteers, the conference structure includes a blend of interactive plenary and break out sessions and generous time for networking and connecting. Program highlights include:
- A rich slate of interactive sessions -- plenary, concurrent and poster -- as well as innovative and fun "after hours" sessions designed to stimulate and inform -- see the programme and register for C2D2.
- Presenters, speakers and panelists you'll want to hear -- including Matt Leighninger (author of "The Next Form of Democracy"), Bettye Pruitt (a social historian, Boston University who develops practices and tools for collective learning and action), David Beers (Editor of the Tyee), Mark Winston (researcher, teacher, writer) and Ian Hanomansing (CBC television journalist)
- Gala dinner and dialogue with Hope as an Antidote to Cynicism as an appetizer, our gala dinner dialogue will stimulate and engage participants in questions about public involvement in democracy. Animated by Carolyn Bennett, MP and Carolyn Lukensmeyer, AmerciaSpeaks/21st Century Town Hall (TBC). For more information and to register, visit http://www.C2D2.ca
12 | [Paper] Community Change Processes and Progress in Addressing Racial Inequities
Community Change Processes and Progress in Addressing Racial Inequities is a recent publication that includes case studies of four community initiatives: in Charlotte, North Carolina; Long Island, New York; St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Seattle, Washington. It is the authors' hope, by showcasing these initiatives, to begin to illustrate what is possible when a community makes a high level of investment and commitment to address racial inequities comprehensively.
Over the long term, the racial equity field needs much more systematic and consistent support. This report identifies the kinds of capacities that are needed and demonstrates that, when they exist, significant progress can be made. For the field to advance, more must be done to encourage and sustain a community of practice around community change initiatives to address racial inequity.
The paper was produced by MP Associates, in partnership with the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change, and was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The authors invite your feedback.
Download the paper at: http://www.mpassociates.us/documents/CCIRpaperfinal.pdf
13 | Australian Citizens' Parliament
An Australian Citizens' Parliament composed of 150 ordinary citizens (one from each federal election division) will be run in 2008-2009, funded by the New Democracy Foundation and Australian Research Council. This will differ from existing citizens' assemblies in giving agenda control as far as possible to the citizens themselves, framed by an initial starting point of the strengths and weaknesses of Australia's adversarial political system. Those involved in organizing and analyzing the project include John Dryzek and Simon Niemeyer (Australian National University), Lyn Carson and Ian Marsh (University of Sydney), Janette Hartz-Karp (Murdoch University) and Luca Belgiorno-Nettis (New Democracy Foundation).
For more information visit: http://deliberativedemocracy.anu.edu.au
14 | eDemocracy Barcamp
The first BarCamp with a focus specifically on e-democracy, eDemocracyCamp aims to bring together practitioners, enthusiasts, explorers and professionals to share the current state and their visions for the future direction of e-democracy. Topics may include (but aren't limited to): e-democracy, e-participation, e-government, e-voting, online civic engagement, online political campaigning, online dialogue and deliberation, importance of open standards, hacktivism, mashups etc.
The Barcamp will take place in Washington, DC and kick-off Friday, February 29 (details tbd), continuing Saturday, March 1st (11:00 AM - 6:00 PM) and Sunday, March 2nd (10:00 AM - 4:00 PM). Note: This is the weekend prior to 2008 Politics Online Conference, to be held March 4-5, 2008 in Washington D.C. Hopefully, some of the people attending POLC will be able to make it to eDemocracyCamp as well.Ê Barcamp is free to attend.
BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussion, demos, and interaction from attendees.
For more information and to get involved, visit: https://barcamp.pbwiki.com/eDemocracyCamp
15 | [Report] Framing-to-Persuade vs. Framing-for-Deliberation
Public Agenda's Center for Advances in Public Engagement has released an interesting report on "framing" in democratic politics. "Reframing Framing," authored by Center director Will Friedman, argues that, "The current infatuation with framing is concerned virtually exclusively with the power politics of parties and interest groups, and the winning or losing of their respective battles." Instead, the report asks, "What if we asked instead about the relationship of framing to fostering citizenship and enabling democratic deliberation and dialogue? What if we were to reframe framing to focus less on how it can help one side or another win the political game and more on what it means, and can mean, for strengthening the democratic process?" In the report, Dr. Friedman delineates "Framing-to-Persuade vs. Framing-for-Deliberation" and tackles honest vs. dishonest framing.
Read the full report here: http://www.publicagenda.org/pubengage/pdfs/reframing_framing.pdf