Opportunity to Win 100K with the Engaged Cities Award

Has your city worked through a local issue by engaging its community? Then check out the incredible opportunity to win $100,000 with the Engaged Cities Award from Cities of Service! There is a webinar on Nov. 29th to learn more about the award and its application process. Make sure you register by clicking here in order to join the webinar. You can read more about the award below or find the original on the Engaged Cities Award site here.


Introducing the Engaged Cities Award

Cities, more than ever, are facing an array of public challenges. Many cities are tapping into the expertise and talent of citizens to tackle these challenges head on.

That’s why Cities of Service is launching the Engaged Cities Award. We aim to find and elevate the growing number of diverse and creative ways city leaders are harnessing the power of people to solve problems.

Is your city solving problems together with citizens? Perhaps you are tapping the power of citizen science initiatives to map neighborhood issues. Or using new methods to measure satisfaction with public services. Or crowdsourcing resident ideas to find new fixes for old problems.

The Engaged Cities Award will celebrate the best and most creative strategies we find – ultimately enabling peer cities from around the world to learn from, adopt, and improve upon these strategies back home.

Join us for a webinar on November 29 to learn more about the award and the application process.

You can read the original announcement on Engaged Cities Award site at www.engagedcitiesaward.citiesofservice.org/.

Participatory Budgeting Host Training in NYC, Nov. 30th

Interested to learn more about participatory budgeting and how to bring it to YOUR community? Well, there’s an exciting opportunity for those who happen to be in the NYC area! We encourage you to check out this upcoming training with NCDD member org, the Participatory Budgeting Project and their PB 101 training in NYC at the end of November. You can read the announcement from PBP below or find the original on their site here.


PB 101 Training in NYC, November 30 2017

You know that participatory budgeting (PB) is a better way to empower communities. You know that PB engages them in finding solutions. You know that PB builds new connections that make communities more resilient.

PB makes increases trust in government and reduces corruption by making budgets transparent. PB is making healthy, actively engaged communities.

We know it’s a tough time to be working on engagement and democracy. People are tired of politics as usual, tired of their voices not being heard. Our democracy is not working. At PBP, we have a solution: Share real power over real money, launch PB in your community!

Are you ready to get started?

Thousands of people across North America and around the world are already taking budgets into their own hands and building civic power with PB. Your next step is to join us to learn the skills necessary to launch PB in your community.

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | 42 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10004 | 10a-5p
REGISTER NOW

Leaders like you, in more than 3,000 cities, municipalities, schools, and organizations have started PB, for three main reasons:

  • It’s Effective. The process motivates broad participation and engages communities in finding solutions that respond to community needs.
  • It’s Fair. PB engages a true cross-section of the community. More people get inspired and involved, including those who often can’t or don’t participate like youth and immigrants.
  • It’s Visionary. By supporting their communities to become more resilient and connected, leaders who do PB build a legacy as bold and innovative.

Now’s the time to dig deeper and learn more about how to get started!

Join us — and other PB organizers from across the East Coast — for a PB training in NYC this fall!

REGISTER NOW

At this full day PB training you will:

  • Become a PB expert.
    • You will gain an understanding of PB and why it’s a best practice for public participation through experiential learning.
    • You will practice skills including PB facilitation and implementation planning.
  • Plan to bring PB to your community.
    • You will learn how to build an advocacy plan to gain the support of key community leaders.
    • You will practice presenting PB and overcoming common obstacles.
    • You will create a detailed plan for next steps to support your organizing work to launch PB.
  • Connect to a network of civic leaders like you.
    • You will forge connections peers who are working to change the way democracy works in their communities through PB.

DATE: Thursday, November 30
TIME: 10am-5pm Eastern
LOCATION: 42 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10004
COST: $225 early bird (before November 1) / $285 (after November 1)
REGISTER NOW: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3091652

The training team will be lead by Melissa Appleton. Melissa manages the implementation of participatory budgeting projects and innovations on the East Coast for the Participatory Budgeting Project. With over eight years of experience supporting group and inter-personal dialogue as a facilitator, mediator, and trainer at the largest community mediation organization in the US (New York Peace Institute), she brings a passion for collective decision-making to participatory budgeting. Melissa is happy to be supporting group deliberation and participation with diverse communities more locally after doing conflict resolution work internationally in Timor-Leste, Kosovo, and Israel. She received a graduate degree in Peace Education from Columbia University and, though a proud Vancouver B.C. native, has called New York City home for 12 years.

You can read the original version of this announcement on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s blog at www.participatorybudgeting.org/pb101-nyc2017/.

 

Getting More Involved with Deliberative Democracy

Today’s election day and in addition to voting, NCDD Sponsor – the Jefferson Center – recently shared this piece written by Annie Pottorff to encourage people to further stretch their civic muscles and get involved with deliberative democracy. We recommend you check out this list they’ve compiled [complete with entertaining GIFs!] and find the ways that work for you to tap deeper into deliberative democracy. You can read the post below or find the original version on the Jefferson Center’s blog here.


10 Ways to Get Involved in Deliberative Democracy

Creating local change can be difficult, between finding the time, motivation, and opportunities to participate. For this week’s blog, we’ve put together a few simple ways you can become a civic leader in your own backyard (even from your own couch).

1. Listen to Community Members
Head over to your city’s website to see when the next community meeting is. For instance, here’s the calendar the City of Minneapolis publishes. You’ll likely hear grievances and suggestions from your fellow citizens, but these local gatherings may only attract a few vocal participants. While these meetings may be poorly attended, you’ll have the chance to directly introduce yourself to leaders and make your voice heard.

You can also actively listen for issues in your town while talking with your neighbors, teachers, and other community members on a daily basis. Some cities even have digital engagement interfaces where citizens can submit work requests, complaints, or suggestions to laws and ordinances. You can check out a few examples here.

2. Attend training sessions, webinars, and local events
If you want to learn more about engagement techniques, try searching for webinars and online training sessions. On October 4th, groups like the Participatory Budget Project and Healthy Democracy will share their success stories and tools you can use in your local community in a free webinar. Because it’s easy to get lost in the rabbit-hole of Google search results, using Twitter and Facebook to connect with engagement groups will likely fill up your feed with similar resources.

Shameless plug: the Jefferson Center is on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. You can follow us, and the cool people we retweet and follow, for engagement opportunities.

3. Volunteer
It can be overwhelming to know where to start when you want to volunteer. Databases like VolunteerMatch and Create the Good can help connect you with the right groups for causes you care about. If you use Facebook, you can filter local event searches by selecting the “Causes” category. Or, you can work backwards, by searching for nonprofits in your area and reaching out to them directly to see if they could use any help.

4. Bring friends
For all of the above, you don’t have to go it alone. Invite your friends to come along, and you’ll likely be more motivated to show up. Plus, you can hold each other to it.

5. Write
This option can work from the safety of your own home or your favorite coffee shop. Write about issues affecting citizens in your community, and send your drafts out into the universe. Many organizations working on civic engagement and participation want to hear from the public, to guide their own efforts, see new perspectives, or work with you to publish what you’ve written. At the Jefferson Center, we’d love to hear your ideas for new stories.

6. Listen, read, or watch
While this one may seem like a cop-out, getting informed on issues is half the battle. Instead of tuning out, find your favorite way to keep updated. If you’re not a reader, check out podcasts like Democracy Now!, or find out which organizations have their own YouTube or Vimeo accounts. You can easily share this content with others to spread the message and increase familiarity with deliberative democracy.

7. Download FREE resources
If you’re thinking about creating an engagement project, or just want to learn more about different processes involved, look online for resources. For instance, Participatory Budgeting Project has training videos, materials, and guides that are free to download. After each of our projects, we publish our full reports and findings on our website.

8. Teach Others
You can also use free resources and reports to help teach others about how deliberative democracy works. Whether you talk with your friends, family, or host a formal community meeting, involving other people will help spur new ideas and pave the way for future projects.

9. Remember all your resources
If you’re trying to contact your local government representatives, local newspaper, or other organizations, don’t give up after one phone call. Using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, sending emails, sending letters, and showing up to an office can help get your voice heard.

10. Partner with the Jefferson Center!
Sure, this last one may edge on self-promotion. But the Jefferson Center strives to shorten the gap between citizens and the institutions, policies, and issues that affect their daily lives by empowering citizens to solve shared challenges. Our process is made up of three key components: we listen to stakeholders in your community to gain a deeper understanding of the issue at hand. Then, we develop a specialized engagement process to unleash creative citizen ideas. Finally, our project partners use the public designed solutions to: advance actions in their local community, reform institutional practices and processes, and guide policy development and decision-making. For more information on our process, head over to our about us page.

Bonus: You can also make an individual donation! Every contribution makes a difference, helping everyday Americans develop and promote thoughtful solutions to challenging problems.

You can read the original version of the Jefferson Center’s piece on their blog at www.jefferson-center.org/10-ways-to-get-involved-in-deliberative-democracy/.

Apply for the 2018 Taylor Willingham Fund by Nov. 20

In case you missed it, the National Issues Forums Institute, an NCDD member org is now accepting applications for the 2018 Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund grant. The grants are intended to honor the legacy of Taylor Willingham and her contributions to the field of deliberative democracy by supporting projects in the field, and we highly encourage NCDD members to apply for a grant or donate to the fund.

Grant applications are due November 20, 2017, so make sure you submit yours before it’s too late! Click here to learn more about Taylor’s life work and/or support the deliberative democracy movement by making a donation to her fund. You can read the grant announcement below or find the original on NIFI’s site here.


Apply for a Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Grant to Help Your Community Talk about Public Issues

Applications are now being accepted (deadline is November 20, 2017) from individuals who are interested in being considered to receive a Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund grant. Grants are provided to individuals to enable them to develop an understanding of deliberative democracy and launch one or more deliberative dialogues in their communities and organizations in order to advance NIFI’s overall mission, which is to promote public deliberation about national issues.

Grants are expected to be in the range of $500-1,000.

The Taylor L. Willingham Fund was established to honor the work of Taylor Willingham in the deliberative democracy movement and is administered by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI).

Click here to download an application.

You can find the original version of this announcement on NIFI’s blog at www.nifi.org/en/apply-taylor-l-willingham-legacy-grant-help-your-community-talk-about-public-issues.

Upcoming Public Engagement Webinars from ILG

We are always excited to see NCDD members collaborating with each other, which is especially why we wanted to share these upcoming fall webinars from NCDD member org, the Institute for Local Government! Among the webinars, NCDD member Sarah Rubin will be teaming up with fellow NCDDers Ashley Trim of the Davenport Institute and later on with Gina Bartlett of the Consensus Building Institute, to share their public engagement expertise. We encourage you to check out the announcement below or find the original on ILG’s site here.


Upcoming ILG Webinars

For information about upcoming webinars in development, please contact Melissa Kuehne, mkuehne@ca-ilg.org.

The Brown Act
Date: November 1, 2017 | Time: 10:00am
Description: This webinar will provide an overview on when and how to communicate with officials to be in compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act and help attendees understand the role and rules limiting the agency’s clerk, executives and local officials in the decision-making process. Additionally, panelists will share relevant updates and hypothetical examples of missteps and how to avoid them.

Panelists:
– Peter M. Thorson, Richards Watson & Gershon
– Teresa Stricker, Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai

Are You Ready for Public Engagement?
A Conversation for Cities, Counties and Special Districts
Date: November 8, 2017  |  Time: 11:00am
Description: Join Sarah Rubin, Public Engagement Program Director at the Institute for Local Government, and Ashley Trim, Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University for an interactive webinar about how public engagement can help you build trust and develop sustainable policy within your community. We will look at setting a good foundation for public engagement within your organization, and explore some key questions to ask before you get started.

Panelists:
– Sarah Rubin, Institute for Local Government
– Ashley Trim, Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University

Tips to Promote an Ethical and Transparent Culture
Date: December 5, 2017 | Time: 2:00pm
Description: What practices can a local government put in place to promote public trust and confidence?  What practices can minimize the risk of missteps that could undermine or damage this trust and confidence?  This session will help answer these fundamental questions and provide attendees with tips to:

  • Encourage ethical best practices,
  • Promote transparency in their work place and in their community, and
  • Share information with the public about agency operations and the decision-making procession.

Panelists:
– Ruben Duran, Best Best & Krieger
– Maggie Stern, Kronick Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard

Public Engagement: When to Use a Professional Facilitator
Date: December 14, 2017 | 10:00am
Description: In the midst of planning public engagement, many face the decision of whether to contract with a professional facilitator or work with someone in-house. With limited staff and resources, this can be a difficult decision. In ILG’s 2015 survey, 69% of local government respondents in California do not feel that they have adequate staff, resources, or training to do effective public engagement.

Sometimes outside help, even in the face of limited resources, is needed. During this webinar, participants will be able to think through criteria for deciding when to use someone in-house and when to bring in a professional facilitator. What are the advantages? How can one justify the expense? Who’s qualified and how to find someone to help? The Institute for Local Government Public Engagement Program Director Sarah Rubin and the Consensus Building Institute Senior Facilitator Gina Bartlett will share insights and resources to address these dilemmas.

Panelists:
– Sarah Rubin, Institute for Local Government
– Gina Bartlett, Consensus Building Institute

You can find the original version of this announcement on ILG’s site at www.ca-ilg.org/post/upcoming-ilg-webinars.

Deadline 10/23: Apply to Host A (FREE) Nevins Fellow!

NCDD Member Organization the McCourtney Institute for Democracy is again offering the incredible opportunity for D&D organizations to take advantage of their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program. The 2017-18 application for organizations who want to host a bright, motivated, D&D-trained student is open now through Monday, October 23rd.

We are encouraging our member organizations to apply today for the chance to host a Nevins Fellow next summer! Having a Nevins Fellow work with you is a great way for your organization to take on a special project you haven’t had time for, get extra help with your big summer engagements, or increase your organizational capacity overall – all while helping grow the next generation of D&D leaders!  Nevins fellows work with organizations for eight weeks in the summer, at NO COST to the organization!

This is a unique and limited opportunity, so we encourage you to apply for a Nevins Fellow before the October 23rd deadline. You can find the application here: http://tinyurl.com/Nevins2017.

If you haven’t heard of the Nevins program before, you can start with the Frequently Asked Questions document that McCourtney created for potential applicants. The September Confab Call with Chris Beem from the McCourtney Institute also covered lots of the important details about the program. You can listen to the recording of that call by clicking here. You can also check out this blog post from a 2017 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with the the Jefferson Center, to get a better sense of the student’s experience.

We can’t speak highly enough about the Nevins program’s students or about the value of this program’s contributions to the D&D field. We know that these young people will be great additions to organizations in our field.  We encourage you to apply today!

Online Facilitation Unconference Coming Up Oct. 16-22

We encourage the NCDD network to attend the fourth edition of Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) on Oct 16-22. This digital gathering is hosted by the Center for Applied Community Engagement LLC, and is a great opportunity for anyone interested in virtual facilitation – no previous experience needed!

As part of NCDD member benefits, NCDD members are eligible for a 20% discount when you use discount code “NCDD2017”. Make sure you register and get your tickets ASAP! Follow OFU on Twitter with the hashtag #OFU17 for more #FacWeek updates. You can read the announcement below for more info or find the original on the OFU Exchange site here.


Online Facilitation Unconference 2017

Your favorite online unconference on the art and practice of facilitating in virtual environments is back!

Join us October 16-22, 2017, alongside International Facilitation Week.

Share, learn, connect, and have fun with participants from (or currently based in): the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Finland, Iceland, Australia, Peru, Canada, and the United States.

ABOUT

What is Online Facilitation Unconference?
The Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) is a community-driven event that brings together people from the public, private and non-profit sector whose work includes, or who have an interest in, facilitation in virtual environments.

OFU is about sharing, learning, making new connections and having fun.

When does the event take place?
OFU 2017 will once again take place alongside International Facilitation Week and run for exactly one week, from Monday, October 16 to Sunday October 22, 2017.

Who’s organizing the event?
The event is run by the Center for Applied Community Engagement, LLC, a private institute and social enterprise serving the growing professional field of community engagement and public participation practitioners from around the globe through market research, content publishing, industry events and other services.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

Do I have to be a professional facilitator in order to attend?
No, anyone with an interest in online or virtual facilitation – whether for professional or personal reasons – is welcome! While a good number of our attendees do facilitation for a living, many others perform the functions of convener and facilitator as part of their regular job.

Do I have to have prior experience with facilitation in virtual environments?
No, OFU aims to bring together experts and newbies alike. Everyone can contribute!

Who are the attendees?
Here are some of the job titles people are bringing to the table this year (in alphabetical order):

  • CEO
  • Coach
  • Collaboration engineer
  • Community organizer
  • Community strategist
  • Consultant
  • Director
  • Facilitator
  • Founder
  • Head of school
  • Independent scholar
  • Organizer
  • Planner
  • Program analyst
  • Program coordinator
  • Senior product manager
  • Trainer

Where are attendees from?
So far, our registered attendees are from – or currently based in – the following 15 countries from around the world (in alphabetical order):

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Dominican Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Netherlands
  • Peru
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

FORMAT & FOCUS

What is an unconference?
An unconference is a conference where the attendees create the agenda. We’ll have more to say about this over the coming weeks. Make sure to sign up for the mailing list.

What do you mean by “virtual environment”?
Anything that creates venues for people and groups to interact outside a strictly in-person context: phone conferences, online chat, video conferencing, virtual reality etc. as well as augmented in-person processes and events.

AGENDA & SCHEDULE

What is the agenda for the event?
A handful of introductory sessions will be scheduled ahead of time. These will likely take place on Monday and/or Tuesday of that week. We’ll try our best to fit them into one of three daily slots (see below).

The rest of the agenda will emerge dynamically once the unconference gets under way as people suggest potential topics, find collaborators, negotiate timing and add sessions to the schedule.

We recommend that unconference sessions get scheduled from Wednesday at the earliest, giving everyone enough time to find out about them and sign up.

Who can propose session topics?
Anyone is encouraged to make suggestions and lead sessions.

What are the three main daily time slots?
In order to maximize connection and collaboration across key time zones, we suggest that sessions be scheduled to fall into one of the following slots:

1. Americas + Europe: 8-11am Pacific Time (that’s evening 5-8pm in Europe)
2. Americas + Australasia: 4-7 pm Pacific Time (that’s 9am to 12pm in the morning in Sydney)
3. Europe + Australasia: 12-3am Pacific Time (that’s morning in Europe & afternoon/evening in Sydney)

This is simply a recommendation and has worked well in the past. However, attendees are free to pick whatever session times work best for them.

VENUES

Where will the conference be held?
Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) is a virtual event.

In terms of online meeting venues, we will provide a central space where people can introduce themselves and plan the schedule together.

Regarding individual sessions, which online meeting venues will be used is up to the session leads. In the past, people have used a wide variety of tools depending on topic, group size, where they are based etc. We’ve also had people make tools available for others (e.g., WebEx, Adobe Connect).

TICKETS

Where can I get tickets?
Please head on over to Eventbrite for to purchase your ticket and register for the event.

Will there be stipends available for students or people of low income?
Our goal is to make this event as inclusive and as accessible as possible.

As of September 20, a first batch of 10 pay-what-you-like tickets has been made available for students, people of low income, attendees from developing countries etc. Just pick the amount that best fits your needs – no questions asked!

We’ll add more tickets over time as the number of regular registrations increases.

Please subscribe to our newsletter and be among the first to get updates. Thanks!

CONTACT

How can I get in touch?
Please shoot us an email to let us know any questions, ideas or concerns. Thanks!

You can find the original version of this announcement on the OFU Exchange site at www.ofuexchange.net/

Apply to Host a Nevins Fellow – Deadline October 23!

NCDD was happy to host a Confab Call this week with our partners at the McCourtney Institute for Democracy – an NCDD member organization – who talked about the incredible opportunity for D&D organizations to take advantage of their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program. Nearly two dozen organizations participated in the call, which marked the launch of the 2017-18 application for organizations who want to host a bright, motivated, D&D-trained student who will work with their organization for eight weeks next summer at no cost.

We are encouraging our member organizations to apply today for the chance to host a Nevins Fellow next summer! Having a Nevins Fellow work with you is like bringing on a new full-time staffer, so it’s a great way for your organization to finally take on a special project you haven’t had time for, get extra help with your big summer engagements, or increase your organizational capacity overall – all while helping bring more young people into our field and growing the next generation of D&D leaders!

Opportunities like this don’t come often or last long, so we encourage you to make sure to apply for a Nevins Fellow before the October 23rd deadline. You can find the application at http://tinyurl.com/Nevins2017.

If you haven’t heard of the Nevins program before, or are looking for a little more information, you are in luck!. You can start with the Frequently Asked Questions document that McCourtney created for potential applicants. We also had an informative discussion on the Confab Call with Chris Beem from the McCourtney Institute, who covered lots of the important details about the program, and you can listen to the recording of that call by clicking here. You can also get a better sense of what the program experience is like from the student’s perspective by checking out this blog post from a 2017 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with the the Jefferson Center.

We can’t speak highly enough about the Nevins program’s students who applicants will have the chance to work with or about the value of this program’s contributions to the D&D field. We know that these young people will add enormously to the organizations they work with and that this program is helping secure the future of our field – a wonderful testament to vision of the program founder and NCDD member David Nevins. We encourage you to apply today!

Using Thick and Thin Engagement to Improve Politics

The NCDD network specializes in structures and processes for better civic engagement, which is why we wanted to share an insightful piece written by Matt Leighninger from Public Agenda, an NCDD member org. In the article, he gives concrete ways to improve politics from the ground up, by strengthening networks using both thin and thick ways of engagement. We encourage you to read Leighninger’s article below or find the original on Public Agenda’s blog here.


Fixing Politics by Strengthening Networks for Engagement

As David Brooks pointed out in his column on “How to Fix Politics,” our political system has reached a perilous state of dysfunction and distrust, and it is unlikely that any solutions to this crisis will come from the political parties or their presidential candidates.

Brooks is also right that the partisanship and incivility that plague our politics are not just due to poor manners or bad process skills. They are based in much deeper structural flaws in how leaders and communities engage each other around important issues and resulting strains in the relationship between citizens and government.

Brooks argues that strong community networks are essential for successful politics, and uses a 1981 quote from one of our founders, Daniel Yankelovich, to illustrate how long the weakening of those networks has been going on. “If we’re going to salvage our politics,” Brooks says, we’ll have to “nurture the thick local membership web that politics rests within.”

This kind of argument is often dismissed as a sentimental notion, or a lament over our lack of civic virtue, but it shouldn’t be. There are specific proposals and measures that can accomplish it.

Strengthening networks for engagement should be one of our top public priorities, and there are in fact a number of concrete ways to move forward on it. Much of our work at Public Agenda centers on these challenges, and we are part of a field of other organizations and leaders – from neighborhood organizers to innovative public officials – who have pioneered more productive formats and structures for democratic politics.

There are two kinds of communication that need to be happening for those networks to strengthen and grow. One kind, as Brooks references, is “thick” engagement that is intensive, informed and deliberative. In these kinds of settings, people are able to share their experiences, learn more about public problems, consider a range of solutions or policy options and decide how they want to act.

Other tactics produce “thin” engagement, which is faster, easier and potentially viral. It encompasses a range of activities that allow people to express their opinions, learn about other people’s views and affiliate themselves with a particular group or cause.

When thick and thin engagement activities are common and interwoven in community life, they can:

  • Facilitate faster, more far-reaching dissemination of information from governments, school systems and other public bodies.
  • Allow citizens to provide information back to the institutions, in ways that are convenient for people.
  • Foster discussion and connection, and the strengthening of personal relationships, among different groups of citizens, and among citizens, public officials and public employees.
  • Provide choices for people to make at the level of the family and neighborhood;
  • Create deliberative processes in which people can make informed public policy choices;
  • Encourage and support citizens to contribute their energy, ideas and volunteer time to improving their communities.

By understanding what thick and thin engagement look like, and what they can accomplish, communities can assess and improve their systems of engagement, or “civic infrastructure,” defined as “the laws, processes, institutions, and associations that support regular opportunities for people to connect with each other, solve problems, make decisions and celebrate community.”

Stronger civic infrastructure could include more productive and participatory public meetings, revitalized neighborhood and school associations, and vibrant local online forums. Overall, it should establish a better “ground floor of democracy” that fosters new leaders, creates social connections and helps people work together on common concerns like ensuring public safety and improving the quality of education for our young people.

The structural elements that support these activities can include:

  • new laws and ordinances on public engagement;
  • tools for engaging residents for neighborhoods and schools;
  • annual participatory budgeting processes;
  • public engagement commissions;
  • tools for measuring engagement and the strength of networks;
  • citizen advisory boards that engage rather than just trying to represent residents; and
  • protocols, job descriptions and professional development that help public employees understand how to support productive engagement.

While some of these elements are clearly the province of governments and school systems, many other components are ones that should be supported by neighborhood groups, nonprofits, businesses, faith communities, universities, foundations and other stakeholders.

David Brooks is right that strengthening the web of community networks can help fix politics, at every level of government. There are practical ways to do this – this is a matter for policy, law, cross-sector collaboration, and long-term planning. We should be proactive, and think constructively, about how we want our democracy to work.

You can find the original version of this article on Public Agenda’s blog at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/fixing-politics-by-strengthening-networks-for-engagement.

Join Call on Bridging Divides Using Civil Discourse

As part of our #BridgingOurDivides and desire to lift up this important work, we wanted to share this upcoming call with the Orton Family Foundation, which will feature practical tips on bridging divides using civil discourse. This free event on Sept 28th will feature long-time NCDD member Carolyn Lukensmeyer of the National Institute for Civil Discourse and Thom Harnett the mayor of Gardiner, Maine. We encourage you to read the post from Orton Family Foundation and register for the call below or read the original here.


Heart & Soul Talks: Bridge Divides with Discourse that’s Civil

Orton LogoTaking on controversial issues is a challenge that every community faces. How those issues are approached can make the difference between a community that thrives and one where divides erode a community’s vitality.

Join us for insight and practical ideas and tools for advancing civil discourse from nationally-recognized expert in the field, Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, and Thom Harnett, mayor of Gardiner, Maine, who has led the way in welcoming new residents, embracing the value they bring to the town, sometimes in the face of protest.

Speakers:

Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director, National Institute for Civil Discourse

As a leader in the field of deliberative democracy, Dr. Lukensmeyer works to restore our democracy to reflect the intended vision of our founding fathers. She previously served as Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks, an award-winning nonprofit organization that promoted nonpartisan initiatives to engage citizens and leaders through the development of innovative public policy tools and strategies.

Thom Harnett, mayor, Gardiner, Maine.

Thom, now serving his third term as mayor of Gardiner, Maine, recently retired from the state Office of the Attorney General where he had served as an assistant attorney general, and established Civil Rights Teams in more than 220 schools statewide. Thom was active in Gardiner’s Community Heart & Soul® project.

Fran Stoddard, moderator

A national award-winning producer of video programs, Fran produced and hosted Vermont Public Television’s weekly “Profile” interview program for more than a decade. She frequently serves as moderator for community events and has served on numerous non-profit boards.

This FREE event is 2-3 p.m. Eastern, Thursday, September 28. Can’t join us live? Register and we’ll send the call recording.

Heart & Soul Talks features stories and insight from Community Heart & Soul®, a community development model that builds stronger, healthier, and more economically vibrant small cities and towns. Learn more at orton.org.

You can find the original version of this announcement at www.eventbrite.ca/e/heart-soul-talks-bridge-divides-with-discourse-thats-civil-registration-37129446173?aff=es2.