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Archives for May 2004

Update from Taylor Willingham on Forums in Texas    

Here’s an update from Kettering’s Friday Letter written by Taylor Willingham ([email protected]), an NCDD member who’s doing incredible work in Texas. Taylor, a longtime National Issues Forum activist had this to say about her recent work:

I�m way behind on reporting the activities of Texas Forums, but that�s only because we�ve been so busy! On March 27, Texas Forums moderators convened three simultaneous forums on race relations. These forums followed a two-day Civil Rights symposium organized by Dr. Ed Dorn, Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Kettering Board Member. We conducted these forums in partnership with Future Forum, an organization founded by Catherine Robb, LBJ�s granddaughter and my office mate at the LBJ Library…..

Managing Diversity eCoach Book    

Dr. Billy Vaughn’s Managing Diversity eCoach Book is available at - the first 500 to purchase this ebook will receive a 69% discount. According to Vaughn, the book provides you with everything you need to avoid mistakes and disastrous interpersonal situations, develop high impact newsletters and training, offer expert consultation, manage both a national and international workforce, and learn the secrets that separate those who walk the walk from those who merely talk the talk. Click below for his full message.

New Book by Harry Boyt to be Published in September    

Harry Boyte recently sent me some info about his forthcoming book, “Everyday Politics: Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life.” A pioneer in our field, Boyte is founder and co-director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota ( In Everyday Politics, Boyte transcends partisan politics to offer an alternative. He demonstrates how community-rooted activities reconnect citizens to engaged, responsible public life, not just on election day but throughout the year. Boyte demonstrates that this type of activism has a rich history and strong philosophical foundations. It rests on the stubborn faith that the talents and insights of ordinary citizens�from nursery school to nursing home�are crucial elements in public life and everyday politics. Click below for the full announcement.

New Book on “Civic Revolutionaries”    

I received an email this morning from Senator Les Ihara, Hawaii State Senator, NCDD member and Board member of the National Issues Forums Institute. He attached an interesting article entitled “The Rise of the New Civic
Revolutionaries: Answering the Call to Stewardship in Our Times,” which was published recently in the National Civic Review. This article, by Douglas Menton, John Melville and Kim Walesh, is adapted from their recently-published book, Civic Revolutionaries: Igniting the Passion for Change in America’s Communities.

Here’s a compelling quote from the article: “A new grassroots movement is underway in the regions of the United States today. Once again, a movement is beginning in communities across the nation, urged ahead by leaders who see the need for fundamental change in how their regions define and solve problems and ultimately how they are governed. They represent a new kind of regional civic leadership attuned to the economic and social realities of our times. Traditional top-down leadership styles and stovepipe government models simply do not work in the fast-paced, global economy and diverse societies of today.” Email me ([email protected]) if you’d like a copy of the article.

Public Agenda Offers Discussion Guide on Same-Sex Marriage    

A choicework guide about same-sex marriage, titled Gay Rights: Which Way to the Altar? is available on the Public Agenda First Choice 2004 website. The guide presents three approaches: 1. Extend equal rights to all our citizens, including gay people; 2. Let states and communities choose their own solutions; 3. Protect traditional institutions and values. Each approach is accompanied by arguments for and against the approach. The guide also includes a section titled Status Report: Where are we Now? and a listing of additional resources.

In addition to the downloadable issue guide, there is a link to “create your own choicework” that allows users to modify a framework of the issue by selecting from a list of actions under three broad approaches, or adding other actions. Other issue guides in Public Agenda’s First Choice 2004 program include: Terrorism, Health Care, Race and Affirmative Action, Paying for College, The Environment, Jobs and the Economy, Taxes and the Deficit, and Immigration.

This Year’s Presidential Election Campaign May Include Public Deliberation    

I just read an exciting segment in May 14th’s Friday Letter from the Kettering Foundation. The segment started off with this eye-popping (for us, at least) statement: “There�s a chance public deliberation will become a part of this year�s presidential election campaign.” Click below to read about what transcribed when the Director of Voter Education for the Commission on Presidential Debates (the folks who have organized the presidential debates since 1988) visited Kettering on May 11.

Update from Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform    

I received an email today from Paul Harris of British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens� Assembly on Electoral Reform. The Assembly is an independent, representative, non-partisan group of 160 randomly-selected British Columbians. They must decide by December 15 whether to propose a change to B.C.’s electoral system. If they recommend a change, it will be the subject of a referendum for all voters in the May 2005 provincial election. Click below for an overview of this week’s public hearings.

Use of E-government Increases 50% from 2002 to 2003    

The Pew Internet & American Life Project issued a press release recently with the title “Use of E-government Increases 50% from 2002 to 2003, But Citizens Want Multiple Channels Available to contact government.” According to the release, internet users are increasingly turning to e-government sites to carry out their business with government. But Internet users and non-users alike value having more than one way to get in touch with government. Read the full report at or click below to read the press release.

New e-participation Pilot Launch Looking at the Use of Gaming Techniques    

Chris Quigley, the Director of DELIB, sent an interesting message to the DO-WIRE discussion list today. Working with their partners at the New Economics Foundation, DELIB has put together an interactive pilot of e-DEMOCS for use by Napier University’s Teledemocracy unit. This pilot looks at how gaming technology like e-DEMOCS can be used to engage young people in difficult policy issues - in this case RadioActive Waste Management. Focus groups will be taking place in Scotland over the next couple of weeks, and results of the pilot will be published in June. Chris also mentioned a paper they’ve produced on using gaming techniques in citizen engagement. Chris, who is based in London, can be reached at [email protected].

Collaborative “Calling the Question” Project to Launch this Summer    

The Mainstream Media Project and the Harvard Global Negotiation Project, in cooperation with, are launching a joint initiative this summer called the Calling the Question project. The Calling the Question initiative is a multi-year initiative to shift the national conversation from partisanship to problem-solving by engaging a broad spectrum of the public in calling in to talk radio, querying candidates in media and live appearances, and reframing policy debates by asking open, breakthrough, �third side� questions that blame no one but encourage us to think in practical terms about what we can do together to resolve the challenges that confront us all. The aim of this initiative is to reach across the divide between thoughtful progressives and thoughtful conservatives to catalyze �convergence conversations� that could contribute to a broader de-polarization of an increasingly divided electorate and society. Click below for more details and contact info.

Peter Levine’s Blog Entry on the September Project    

I’ve posted about the September Project already, but Peter Levine’s blog May 10 blog entry about the project is more detailed that mine… so here it is.
Peter starts by saying “The September Project is a great idea for promoting public deliberation. Libraries across the country will hold public discussions on the third anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. The library systems that have already signed up are shown on this map.” Click below to read his full blog entry, or go to to check out Peter’s blog.

Canadian Citizens’ Assembly Breaking New Ground    

In case you haven’t heard about the British Columbia Parliament’s innovative experiment in deliberative democracy called “Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform,” I thought I’d post an update. Formed last year by that province’s government to get meanngful citizen input into reforming its entire electoral system, the Citizens Assembly has been holding hearings for months now. As it says on the Citizens’ Assembly website, “nowhere else in the world has such power been handed to randomly selected citizens. Click below to read more, or go to for more details or to sign up for the e-newsletter.

New Article on Citizen Involvement in Environmental Governance    

Just received an email from Pat Bonner at the Environmental Protection Agency. There’s not too much detail here, those of you interested in environmental issues, can follow up if you’d like to. Her email said “In Vol 18, Number 4, Spring 2004 of Natural Resources & Environment (ABA) (which is not online — except for members;individual issues are $15 plus shipping) has an article ‘Enhancing Citizen Involvement in Environmental Governance’ focusing on enforcement/compliance participation.”

AmericaSpeaks Returns to Charlotte, NC    

From AmericaSpeaks 4/29/04 enewsletter for their facilitators: In September 2004, AmericaSpeaks will return to Charlotte, NC to again partner with the Lee Institute in the development of a 21st Century Town Meeting for Mecklenberg County. The �United Agenda for Children” will bring together somewhere between 1500 and 2000 residents to discuss child and family services, and education. This 21st Century Town Meeting� is part of a comprehensive 3-year effort to implement a shared action plan ensuring all children in Mecklenburg County are healthy, safe, and well educated. Congratulations to Anne Udall and Cyndee Patterson for their great work with the volunteer Steering Committee over the last several months. And kudos to Tracy Russ for bringing a team from Charlotte to “Behind the Scenes” at Listening to the City in July, 2002. The team that came to New York went back to Charlotte and got commitment to run the Feb. 2003 “The Region Speaks,” a smaller meeting to expose more community leaders to what is possible in the world of citizen engagement. Out of that spark, with a lot of significant work in the community, this initiative for the well-being of children has evolved.

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