Leading edge of democracy - IAP2 Australasia Leadership ForumPresentation Transcript
The Leading Edge of Democracy: Where to next for community engagement? IAP2 Australasia Leadership Forum Melbourne, Victoria October 12, 2012
Opening question What are some inspiring examples of where community engagement has changed the way democracy happens?
The context:How have citizens* changed? More educated More skeptical – different attitudes toward authority Have less time to spare Use the Internet to learn and connect* “citizens” = residents, people
Families with young children Have the most at stake in community success Even more motivation to engage, but even less time Want to engage in community, not just politics
20th Century institutions
Successful tactic: Proactive recruitment Map community networks; Involve leaders of those networks; ‘Who is least likely to participate?’ Use online as well as f2f connections; Follow up!
Successful tactic: Small-group processes No more than 12 people per group; Facilitator who is impartial (doesn’t give opinions); Start with people describing their experiences; Lay out options; Help people plan for action.
Successful tactic: Many levels of action
Successful tactic: Online toolsParticularly good for: Providing background information Data gathering by citizens Generating and ranking ideas Helping people visualize options Maintaining connections over time
In other (fewer) words, the key success factors are: Diverse critical mass Structured Deliberative Action-oriented Online and f2f
Is this a democratic system – or just occasional democratic practice?Successes: Making policy decisions, plans Catalyzing citizen action Building trust Fostering new leadership
Is this a democratic system – or just occasional democratic practice?Challenges: Time-consuming (esp. recruitment) Unsustainable (not intended to be) Meets goals of ‘engagers,’ not always ‘engaged’ Doesn’t change the institutions Limited impact on equity Trust, relationships fade over time
Hmm. What do you think of this? Does this match your experiences with public participation? What would you add?
Why is democracy a good idea?1. Sustain the benefits of participation2. Allow the ‘engaged’ to set the agenda3. Better address inequities4. Increase community attachment and economic growth5. Increase residents’ sense of legitimacy and “public happiness”
What are the leading edges of democracy?
Community engagement planners should consider some key building blocks::
“Democracy needs a place to sit down” Communities need places that are:1. Permanent2. Not just “open,” but actively welcoming3. Centered on citizen needs and priorities4. Powerful5. Political, social, and cultural
Ingredient: Neighborhood online forums More sustained Larger, more diverse numbers of people Easier for ‘engagers’ – recruitment doesn’t have to start from scratch More open to ideas from the ‘engaged’
Ingredient: Fun “Sometimes you need ameeting that is also a party.Sometimes you need a party that is also a meeting.” ─ Gloria Rubio-Cortès, National Civic League
Ingredient: Youth leadership
“Portsmouth Listens” Portsmouth, NH Ongoing process since 2000 Several hundred participants each time Addressed a number of major policy decisions: bullying in schools, school redistricting, city’s master plan, balancing city budget, whether to build new middle school
Jane Addams School for Democracy West Side of St. Paul, MN 50-200 people in “neighborhood learning circles” every month since 1998 Involves recent Hmong, Latino, Somali immigrants Young people involved in circles and other activities Cultural exchanges - food, crafts, storytelling Has resulted in newprojects, initiatives,festivals, and a changein INS policy
Participatory Budgeting in Brazilian cities Commitment from gov’t to adopt budget; Wide range of ways to be involved; A carnival atmosphere; Started small, now huge – 60,000+ people
“Kuna Alliance for a Cohesive Community Team” Kuna, ID Recurring input-gathering process, used on all major decisions Organized by Kuna Alliance for a Cohesive Team (Kuna ACT), in collaboration with local government Issues include: school funding, downtown development, planning and growth 500 participants annually (city of 6,000)
“Kuna Alliance for a Cohesive Community Team” Kuna, IDOutcomes: New comprehensive plan Passage of school bond issue Improvements made to downtown New strategy to market community as hub for “Birds of Prey” area
Concluding question What inspiring ideas have you heard that would improve democracy? [feel free to Tweet them #iap2aforum]
Resources• www.participedia.net• www.deliberative-democracy.net• www.soulofthecommunity.org• www.everydaydemocracy.org• www.publicagenda.org• www.kettering.org• On Facebook: “Deliberative Democracy Consortium” group page• The Next Form of Democracy
Resources (continued)• On YouTube: the DDC channel• Using Online Tools to Engage – and Be Engaged by – the Public at http://bit.ly/iwjgqn• Planning for Stronger Local Democracy at bit.ly/rWeHaU – and other resources at www.nlc.org