Land of Plenty: How Should We Ensure that People Have the Food They Need? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The 25-page issue guide, Land of Plenty: How Should We Ensure that People Have the Food They Need?, was published June 2017 from National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation.. The issue guide offers participants three options to use during deliberation on how to address the inequities within the current food system and how to create a world where all people have the food they need to thrive. The issue guide is available to download for free on NIFI’s site here, where you can also find a post-forum questionnaire.

From NIFI…

All of us affect, and are affected by, the food system: students who grow and eat carrots and tomatoes from their school garden; farm owners who maintain patches of natural habitat for bees; immigrants who hand-pick our apples, grapes, and oranges; public employees who design food-nutrition labels and monitor food safety; restaurant workers who take our orders and serve our meals; food reporters who write about ethnic cuisine; local groups of gleaners who keep edible food out of the dumpster and put it to good use; food pantries that teach teenagers to garden on vacant lots; parents who work to stretch their food budgets to the next payday; policymakers who determine agricultural subsidies; community members who advocate for policies to ensure that all of us have the food we need.

While we have one of the most productive and efficient food systems in the world, millions of people in the US still fall between the cracks. People who may have enough to eat today worry about the availability and quality of food for future generations.

This guide explores different approaches and actions that are, or could be, taken to create a food system that works for all of us. While the approaches overlap in some respects, they do suggest different priorities and involve different trade-offs. With this in mind, what should we do to ensure that people from all walks of life have the food they need?

This issue guide placemat presents three options for deliberation:

Option 1: Improve Access to Nutritious Food
Despite our nation’s abundance of food, some people still don’t have enough to eat, which undermines their health, productivity, and overall well-being. According to this option, we need a food system that ensures everyone has a stable source of affordable, nutritious food. We must strengthen our school nutrition programs and food assistance for low-income families, as well as improve access to fresh food in rural and low-income communities.

Option 2: Pay More Attention to the Multiple Benefits of Food
We have drifted away from traditions and principles that once helped us enjoy a healthier relationship to food, according to this option. We all need to be better informed about the foods we choose, their nutritional value, and how they’re produced and processed. Rather than allowing food advertisements to determine our choices, we need to pay closer attention to what we value about our food, traditions, and well-being.

Option 3: Be Good Stewards of the Food System
We are not managing our food system as well as we should, according to this option. We must do more to safeguard the quality and availability of food for generations to come. Good stewardship is needed at every link in the food-supply chain, from the seeds we plant to the reduction of food waste. It also includes preserving our natural resources, choosing sustainable methods of production, and strengthening the food-system workforce.

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NIF-Logo2014About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/land-of-plenty

Shaping Our Towns and Cities (IF Discussion Guide)

The 40-page discussion guide, Shaping Our Towns and Cities, was published by the Interactivity Foundation in 2014 and edited by Jeff Prudhomme.  The guide offers seven contrasting public policies to consider when shaping our towns and cities. These policies are broad approaches on how to design our communities; and while not exhaustive, these are mean to provide a starting point for creating public policy that supports thriving communities.

You can view the discussion guide in full on IF’s site and it can also be downloaded as a PDF for free here.

From the introduction…

As we look to the future of our towns and cities, what choices might we face about their design and development? From this one core question many more follow.

What basic vision of community design might guide our decisions? What makes good community design? What makes a good place to live? What values might guide our community design decisions? What if our values are in conflict?

The appearance of a community (its aesthetic qualities) is often a key value for many people. What would it take to design beautiful towns or cities? What about designing a community for a thriving economy? Some people value a sense of social connection in a community. Can we design towns and cities for a thriving community life? Can we have communities where young and old live together, where people are urged to stay rather than move to a new community in their later years? Can we design communities in a way that encourages interactions among all kinds of people who live there?

Cities and towns grow beyond their boundary lines as newcomers and immigrants arrive. Populations change with new languages and cultures. Cities also shrink as industries die off or as young people seek opportunity elsewhere. How can community design take account of such changes? What are the environmental considerations regarding community size or community design? How might we harmonize the constructed environment of our communities with the natural environment surrounding them?

Many community design and development decisions depend on transportation policy. Could our transportation decisions be the key to designing our communities? What model of transportation might we embrace as we design our towns and cities? The sprawling design, or lack of apparent design, of many communities depends on widespread car ownership.

What if people need or want other transportation options? What happens if fuel and energy costs spike to the point where car-centered designs are no longer tenable for most people?

Of course many of our community design decisions depend on funding. Our models for funding housing, infrastructure, public spaces, and so on determine much about the design and development of our towns and cities. Finance models determine who gets to live where, in what kind of housing, in what kind of neighborhood, and with what kind of transportation options. They determine the kind of infrastructure we have and the public and private spaces that make up a town or city. What different funding models might there be?

The direction of community design decisions also depends on who gets to make them. These decisions depend on governmental structures based on boundaries that might no longer make sense for a highly mobile society. What happens when the realities of our cities expand beyond the reach of traditional governance structures? Over time, we’ve seen cities expand into “greater metropolitan areas,” megacities, or interconnected urban corridors with increasingly urbanized suburbs and edge cities. Could we coordinate community design policy across a region rather than patching together policies from isolated jurisdictions? Could we harmonize community design decisions across various governmental agencies so we could better integrate, say, our environmental, transportation, economic, and housing policies?

These are just some of the many questions that might come up when you think about public policy for shaping our towns and cities. What other big questions can you imagine emerging in our future?

A group of your fellow citizens explored questions and concerns such as these over the course of roughly a year as part of an Interactivity Foundation discussion project. Some of the participants were experts in various fields related to community design and development. Others were simply interested citizens. All of them agreed to explore perspectives beyond their own and to develop diverging policy possibilities beyond their own preferences.

These explorations are loosely focused on “urban design.” In this case, “urban” isn’t limited to major cities or high-population centers. Instead, you could think of urban as indicating a settlement where people are living in proximity to one another and where they face shared decisions about how to design and develop the built environment of that community. As you explore these ideas, try not to get bogged down in disputes over what counts as “urban” or over the size of the communities under discussion. In this project, the participants used “town” or “city” in non-technical ways to talk about settlements of various sizes where communities face public decisions about how to design or structure their settlements.

The PDF version of this report is available for download here.

About the Interactivity Foundation
The Interactivity Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to enhance the process and expand the scope of our public discussions through facilitated small-group discussion of multiple and contrasting possibilities. The Foundation does not engage in political advocacy for itself, any other organization or group, or on behalf of any of the policy possibilities described in its discussion guidebooks. For more information, see the Foundation’s website atwww.interactivityfoundation.org.

Follow on Twitter: @IFTalks

Resource Link: www.interactivityfoundation.org/discussions/shaping-our-towns-cities

Citizens at Work: An Interim Report [KF A Public Voice 2016]

The 24-page interim report, Citizens at Work, was released by Kettering Foundation at their annual event, A Public Voice 2016 in May 2016. The interim report describes Kettering’s two series of deliberative forums held between 2015-2016. The two series revolved around the issue guides, Health Care: How Can We Reduce Costs and Still Get the Care We Need? and Making Ends Meet: How Should We Spread Prosperity and Improve Opportunity?, which were prepared by Kettering and used for National Issues Forums. Below is more info from Kettering on the report and you can read the original on KF’s site here.

From Kettering…

At A Public Voice 2016, representatives of NIF and other deliberative democracy groups discussed the concerns that have emerged from forums on heath-care and economic security issues. A panel of elected officials and policymakers responded to that discussion.

The interim report is drawn from the work of NIF members and forum participants. To compile the report, researchers from Kettering and Public Agenda attended forums; talked with forum moderators; reviewed questionnaires filled out by forum participants, and analyzed transcripts of forums.

A Public Voice 2016: An Introduction

For more than 30 years, the Kettering Foundation has reported to policymakers and government officials about the characteristics of public thinking on key policy questions. In 2016, the foundation is reporting on citizen deliberations on two separate but important questions:

• How can we reduce costs and still get the health care we need?

• How should we spread prosperity and improve opportunity?

The 2016 citizen deliberations have taken place in public forums around the country, using two issue guides prepared by the Kettering Foundation for the National Issues Forums (NIF): Health Care: How Can We Reduce Costs and Still Get the Care We Need? and Making Ends Meet: How Should We Spread Prosperity and Improve Opportunity?

About 2,800 people from across the country have participated in more than 250 forums on either health care or making ends meet. About 210 of the forums have been in face-to-face meetings. The remainder have taken place online, using a platform called Common Ground for Action, which is designed to reflect what happens in in-person deliberative forums. This platform was developed by Kettering using the same principles used in preparing issue guides.

Download the interim report for free here.

About Kettering Foundation
KF_LogoThe Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.

Follow on Twitter: @KetteringFdn

Resource Link: www.kettering.org/blogs/apv-2016-interim-report

Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The 25-page issue guide, Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet?, was published April 2016 from National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation, in collaboration with, North American Association for Environmental Education. Climate change is undeniable, this issue guide offers participants three options to use during deliberation on how to address our warming world. The issue guide is available to download for free on NIFI’s site here, where you can also find: the moderator’s guide, an options chart, and a post-forum questionnaire.

NIFI_Climate ChoicesFrom NIFI…

The Environment and Society Series is designed to promote meaningful, productive deliberation, convened locally and online, about difficult issues that affect the environment and communities.

All around is evidence that the climate is changing. Summers are starting earlier and lasting longer. Heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense. Dry regions are getting drier and wet regions are seeing heavier rains. Record cold and snowfalls blanket some parts of the country, while record fires ravage forests across the West.

The effects are being felt across many parts of the United States. Farmworkers in California’s Central Valley, snow-weary New England business owners, crab fishermen in Alaska, and cattle ranchers across the Great Plains have all seen uncommon and extreme weather. Occasional odd weather and weather cycles are nothing unusual.

But the more extreme and unpredictable weather being experienced around the world points to dramatic changes in climate— the conditions that take place over years, decades, and longer.

Climate disruptions have some people worried about their health, their children, their homes, their livelihoods, their communities, and even their personal safety. They wonder about the future of the natural areas they enjoy and the wild animals and plants that live there. In addition, there are growing concerns about our national security and how climate change might affect scarce resources around the planet and increase global tensions.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “Sharply Reduce Carbon Emissions”
We can no longer rely on piecemeal, voluntary efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The only way to protect ourselves and the planet is to tackle climate change at its source by taking coordinated, aggressive action to reduce the CO2 we put into the atmosphere—enforced by strict laws and regulations, and supported by significant investment. If we don’t make averting further climate change our top priority, warming of the land and oceans will accelerate, increasing the frequency of droughts, fires, floods, and other extreme weather events, and damaging the environment for generations to come.

Option Two: “Prepare and Protect Our Communities”
Preparing for and coping with changing conditions must be our top priority. We should work together now to secure our communities and strengthen our resilience in the face of climate-related impacts. That includes protecting our infrastructure—roads, bridges, and shorelines—and ensuring that the most vulnerable members of society have the support they need to adapt to the effects of a warming planet.

Option Three: “Accelerate Innovation”
Across the country and around the world, many private enterprises are already responding to climate change by seeing opportunity. Agricultural biotech companies Monsanto and Syngenta, for example, are poised to profit from newly patented drought-resistant crops. The water giant Veolia, which manages pipes and builds desalination plants, has expanded its operations to 74 countries on five continents. Lucid Energy, a startup in Portland, Oregon, generates electric power from the city’s domestic water pipes.

NIF-Logo2014About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/climate-choices

Economic Vitality: How can we improve our communities?

The 11-page issue guide (2016), Economic Vitality: How can we improve our communities?, was collaboration effort by the Southern Governors’ Association, Southern Economic Development Council, Consortium of University Public Service Organizations and Danville Regional Foundation. The Issue Guide was found on National Issues Forums Institute‘s blog and offers three options for participants to use for deliberation on the current economic situation in the US.

You can find the issue guide, moderator guide, and a post forum questionnaire, available for free download on NIFI’s site here.

Economic Vitality_coverFrom NIFI’s blog…

[Via Linda Hoke…]

Despite positive signs in terms of overall economic growth, the economy remains a key concern among many Americans. According to a Harris poll conducted in January 2016, Southerners were the most pessimistic about the future. For many in communities across the South, rapid change and an unclear future can create a sense of uneasiness, or even impending doom.

The Southern Governors’ Association, Southern Economic Development Council, Consortium of University Public Service Organizations and Danville Regional Foundation have partnered to develop materials designed to help communities come together to deliberate about the following key question: What should we do to improve economic vitality in our community? We encourage you to take a look at these materials to see if they can help your community – or a series of communities in your state – think through their options and paths forward.

We are glad to provide advice and assistance if you are potentially interested in holding a forum to help your community discuss the important issue of economic vitality. Please feel free to contact Ted Abernathy, Economic Development Advisor to the Southern Governors’ Association at ted[at]econleadership[dot]com or Linda Hoke, Director, Consortium of University Public Service Organizations at lhokesgpb[at]gmail[dot]com.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: Make our community attractive to good and stable employers
This option holds that more attention is needed to the foundations that will make the community attractive to good and stable employers. This includes physical infrastructure such as airports and roads, as well as quality of life issues such as low crime rates and good schools. Annual surveys of business leaders identify these foundations as among the top factors influencing business location decisions. And, investments in infrastructure improvements such as broadband access offer rural communities the ability to overcome potential locational disadvantages in terms of accessing customers and employees. Without these investments, poorer or smaller communities may fall even further behind.

Option Two: Prepare workers and communities to be more self-reliant
This option holds that we need to do more to make workers and communities more self-reliant, to reflect the fact that employers- faced with global competition and the need to be more flexible – no longer provide the long-term security they once did. As a retired computer systems developer recently told Tulsa World as part of a series on the changing American dream, “There was a whole different atmosphere in the ’50s and ’60s as far as work went. Companies expected loyalty from you, but the company provided loyalty to their people.”

Option Three: Provide everyone in our community with opportunities for success
Unfortunately, many people who work hard and play by the rules still can’t get ahead because they have little access to opportunities for success, be it because of their lack of family support, lack of connections or simply their address. This option holds that we need to do more to ensure that everyone has opportunities for success.

About Issue Guides
This issue guides was done in the style of NIFI Issue Guides, which introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/groups/issue-guide-economic-vitality-how-can-we-improve-our-communities

Making Ends Meet: How Should We Spread Prosperity and Improve Opportunity? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The issue guide, Making Ends Meet: How Should We Spread Prosperity and Improve Opportunity?, from National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation, was published December 2015. NIFI_MakingEndsMeetThis guide will provide the framework for deliberation that will happen in 2016 between January and May. The results from the deliberation will be given to U.S. policy makers and elected officials in May 2016. Below is an excerpt from the guide and a short video about the guide. Download a free copy of the PDF on NIFI’s site here.

From the guide…

For many Americans, the recovery from the 2007  recession, a recovery that officially began in 2009, feels very remote, or nonexistent. Even as the stock market surges and millions of jobs have been created, they see a very different picture.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “Create New Opportunities”
We should make it easier for people to start new enterprises that will improve their circumstances. Whether it’s starting a house painting business on the side or opening a restaurant, when individuals start new firms, it helps spur economic growth. More skilled tradespeople are needed, for example, as construction bounces back. Half of all private-sector jobs in the US are at small businesses, and in recent years small businesses have supplied two-thirds of all new jobs.

Option Two: “Strengthen the Safety Net”
We should secure and expand safeguards so that changes in the economy don’t push people into poverty or leave families with children homeless or hungry. In the last decade, millions of people found themselves unemployed or underemployed with few or no benefits, sometimes indefinitely. Fewer people work with one company for decades, employee benefits have shrunk, technology and globalization have eliminated jobs, and more people are employed in freelance work. We need to make sure people will not face catastrophic losses as they adapt to these changes. To do this, we should strengthen the unemployment insurance program, protect workers’ retirement, and make benefits more portable.

Option Three: “Reduce Inequality”
We should shrink the income gap. Today, the richest 10 percent of the country’s population earn more than half of its total income. It is not right that CEOs make hundreds of times more than their employees, even as their companies cut workers’ hours to avoid paying overtime and offering benefits. Some inequality helps drive people to succeed and become wealthier, but if people can’t move into or stay in the middle class, or if the wealthy manipulate the system to their benefit, then we all lose. To reduce the large gaps between the very rich and the rest of society, schools should be funded more equally, we should do more to control college costs, and people who don’t go to college should be able to get decent-paying jobs that allow them to stay in the middle class.

About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/groups/new-issue-guide-making-ends-meet-how-should-we-spread-prosperity-and-improve-opportunity