Issues Forums - Online Town Halls from E-Democracy.Org
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Issues Forums - Online Town Halls from E-Democracy.Org



E-Democracy.Org's "Your Voice. Your Community Presentation" given in Bemidji and Cass Lake Minnesota.

E-Democracy.Org's "Your Voice. Your Community Presentation" given in Bemidji and Cass Lake Minnesota.



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    Issues Forums - Online Town Halls from E-Democracy.Org Issues Forums - Online Town Halls from E-Democracy.Org Presentation Transcript

    • Your Voice. Your Community Online Steven Clift and Steve Kranz, E-Democracy.Org
    • 1. Introductions 2. Citizen Media Examples 3. Online Engagement - Issues Forums Story 4. Short Break 5. Issues Forums – How to
    • Citizen Media Examples, Online Engagement “e-democracy” context
    • Citizen Media
      • Use of online tools by the public to express themselves, share news, etc.
      • As individuals, as hosted by “media,” or via new associations
      • “Rural voices” – Our interest is in local/geographic uses by local people for local people
    • Citizen Media Examples
      • Local “Placeblog” – Pelican Rapids , Cass Lake
      • Local Flickr Photos – Bemidji , Grand Marias
      • YouTube – Minnesota Minute Video Contest – Tree Climbing
      • Topix – PioneerPress Example
      • Local Wikipedia Pages – Bemidji , Leech Lake Indian Reservation
      • Local Facebook Group – Bemidji , Cass Lake , Save the Language
      • Dozens of rural Minnesota examples from:
    • Defining e-democracy
      • E-democracy is:
        • the use information and communication technologies and strategies
        • by “democratic sectors”
        • within the political processes of local communities, states, nations and on the global stage.
        • What’s missing?
      Political Groups Private Sector Government Media and Commercial Content
    • Defining e-democracy
      • E-democracy …
        • is now, what kind is it?
        • is accelerating “as is” politics
        • will promote active citizen participation only by taking the “e-citizen” perspective
        • E-Democracy.Org focuses on the that perspective, reaching across the political spectrum, embracing local geography
      Political Groups Private Sector Government Media and Commercial Content E-Citizens
    • E-Democracy.Org Issues Forums Steven Clift, Founder and Board Chair E-Democracy.Org
    • The Problem
      • Lack of Participation in Local Democracy
        • Time
        • Trust and accountability
        • Loss of civility
        • Sense your voice won’t be heard
    • The Problem
      • Need to Make Participation More Effective
        • Timely access to information and opinions when it matters
        • Openness and inclusion
        • Building social capital
        • Need more deliberative opportunities
        • People need to experience lasting power and influence
    • We Are Building
      • Any time, anywhere democracy
      • Two-way online town hall meeting
        • NOT typical male-dominated political blogs (Hyde Park) or reactionary anonymous reader comments on news sites
      • Demand for local information and news in a democracy
      • Low-cost, volunteer-based, network of service club like local democracy committees – 10+ communities
    • World First – Democratic Roots
      • We created the world’s first election web site way back in 1994 …
      • After the election, people kept talking in our Minnesota Politics forum.
      • We realized that it was our job to be a trusted, neutral host of ongoing dialogue among those from diverse perspectives and backgrounds.
      • Talk is cheap. Actually, “Conversation is cost-effective.”
    • Blogs are not everything. Need to pick and choose among multiple tools based on your goals. Goal: Two-way local dialogue. Tool: E-mail list/web forum
    • Need Public Spaces – Online Versions of Town Halls, Capitols
      • Online public spaces, not just “public” commercial spaces
      • Need
        • Decorum and civility
        • Local relevance
        • Agenda-setting and impact on decision-makers
        • Real names and accountability
      • <- The Minnesota Capitol Rotunda
    • Local Issues Forums
      • The online town hall
        • City-wide, neighborhoods as well
        • Where is local power? – We place an online public space in the center
        • “ Government websites don’t have sidewalks.” (Or public hearings online.)
        • Need for independent online spaces for media accountability
        • Locally “owned” by civic-inspired citizen committee as part of E-Democracy.Org
    • Some Stories
      • Dairy Queen in the public parks
        • Park board members starts discussion
        • Daily paper absent from board meeting
        • Vigorous debate online gets in paper
        • Decision reversed at next meeting packed with the public
    • Dori from St. Paul
      • Active citizens and “average” citizens raise their voices
      • Ten minute “GSE” (Gopher State Ethanol) video at
      • Dori Ullman raises her voice about the stench
    • Jamal from Minneapolis
      • Large Somali community in Minneapolis
      • Their “voice” was missing despite past outreach
      • Bus strike provided motivation and real world reason to join and post to forum
      • Contacted by Mayor, media after forum posts
    • Mayor Rybak from Minneapolis
      • In 2001, RT Rybak announced mayoral candidacy on forum before press conference
      • More video clips
        • The Seven O'clock Meeting
        • Budget Issues - Informing
        • Let’s Ski - Gathering Ideas
        • Two-way Won’t Kill You
      • More video:
    • Issues Forums – E-Democracy.Org Recent Topics
      • Local schools
      • Support for area war veterans
      • Neighborhood park changes
      • Water quality and shortage
      • Crime and policing
      • Candidates and elections
      • Feral cat problem
      • Racetrack noise pollution
    • Issues Forums
    • Local Issues Forums Today
      • Minneapolis, MN – 969 members
        • Seward NHood – 165 members
        • Standish-Ericsson NHood – 238 members
        • Powderhorn – Opening Soon
      • St. Paul, MN – 590 members
      • Roseville, MN – 191 members
      • Winona, MN – 85 members (relaunch in progress)
      • Las Vegas, NM Start-up – 107 members
      • Central Ohio Region – 118 members
      • Brighton and Hove, UK – 275 members
      • Newham, UK – 174 members
      • Bristol 3 NHoods, UK – 153 members
      • Oxford 3 NHoods, UK – 318 members
      • Canterbury (Christchurch), NZ – 227 members
    • Local Issues Forums Next
      • 3+ New rural Minnesota communities
        • With interest, in this community with KAXE/MN Northern Community Internet connection
      • 2 Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods with high immigrant/low income/ communities of color populations – Cedar Riverside in Mpls, Frogtown in St. Paul, plus other neighborhoods
      • 1 with KAXE in Grand Rapids, MN
      • Birmingham, Michigan
      • Interest in Bloomington + Mahtomedi, MN
      • More “neighbourhoods” in Bristol and Oxford, England
    • How Issues Forum Work, Starting One Steve Kranz
    • How Issues Forums Work C i t i z e n s Starting with “private” citizens moving toward public e-citizens Extensive personal online networks exist – friends, family, co-workers Personal Networks
    • How Issues Forums Work Local E-Democracy group creates the public “space”, defines charter (scope) C i t i z e n s Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view Personal Networks
    • How Issues Forums Work C i t i z e n s Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view Subscribe once Commitment secured Recruit citizens, elected officials, media, etc. with “sticky” opt-in Personal Networks
    • How Issues Forums Work
      • Participants agree to rules
        • Sign real name
        • Post no more than twice a day
        • Stay within scope of local charter
        • Understand they can be suspended for violations
        • Forum is facilitated, NOT pre-moderated, those posting content are 100% responsible for what they post
    • How Issues Forums Work Position forum in center of real power Political Activist Reporter Citizen #1 Mayor Citizen #2 Candidate Researcher City Council Neighborhood Leader Student Forum Manager Citizen #500 Gadfly C i t i z e n s Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view Post via e-mail/web e-publish, many-to-many Personal Networks
    • Issues Forums Agenda-setting discussions, “e-mail leaks,” facilitation and rule enforcement key Political Activist Reporter Citizen #1 Mayor Citizen #2 Candidate Researcher City Council Neighborhood Leader Student Forum Manager Citizen #500 Gadfly C i t i z e n s Issues Forum GroupServer e-mails posts web view Online discussions in the heart of local power Subscribe once Commitment secured Post via e-mail/web Leader’s Office “ Secondary Networks ” e-mail forwards media agenda-setting Council Department Personal Networks Local Media Coverage
    • GroupServer – E-mail/web
      • Easy to find
        • By geography
      • E-mail or web - your choice
      • Technology enhancements
        • Share through open source
        • Leveraging blogging standards, web feeds
        • More:
    • Sample Forum – Web View Entering reply here
    • Sample Forum – E-mail View
    • Winona Story
      • Starting Point
      • City of 25,000
      • Existing channels of civic engagement (newspaper, public meetings, speaking events, etc.)
      • Reasonably accessible elected officials.
      • Content
    • Winona Story
      • Goal
      • To give everyone a greater voice in decisions that affect the community, increase civic participation, and help encourage more input into solutions to local problems.
    • Winona Story
      • Held and event like this.
      • Contact information was collected.
      • Invitation to follow up meeting to discuss implementation in Winona.
      • Eight people attended & agreed to form a steering committee.
      • Email list created for organizing.
    • Winona Story
      • Created website with more detailed information, so that interested people could find out more.
      • Virtual Door Knocking.
      • Recruited local organizations to do virtual door knocking. (LWV, teachers’ union, city government, local universities) – 850 email addresses.
    • Winona Story
      • Endorsing Organizations & Founding Members to build credibility.
      • Offline recruitment: brochure, newspaper coverage, cable-access television, table events.
      • Launched with 106 members.
      • First topic: What are the three most important issues in the community?
    • Winona Story
      • Snapshot of First Eight Weeks
      • 238 posts by 53 different authors. (4.5/day)
      • Participation included elected officials and government administrators.
      • Variety of Discussions, including:
    • Winona Story
      • Example Discussion Topics
      • Identifying dangerous intersections. (mayor)
      • Improving digital divide. (county human services)
      • Shortfalls in education funding, rebuilding historic courthouse, plans to increase railroad traffic.
    • Winona Story
      • Expanded to 230 people
      • Hosted mixed live/online events
      • National/International attention.
    • Our Approach
      • Leverage democratic information from government, media, political sectors
      • Open sharing of lessons, how-to
      • Open source software
      • Local up – do not colonize
      • Low cost – volunteer driven, shared infrastructure and org. identity
    • Start Up Overview
      • 5-10 Person Steering Committee
      • Volunteer Forum Manager
      • Other participant roles
      • Recruit 100 initial participants
      • Open forum and facilitate
      • Enforce civility/scope rules
    • Form Steering Committee
      • A local “democracy committee”
        • based on the service club model – Lions, Rotary
      • Can form in association with related efforts
        • e.g. KAXE’s online community media initiative
      • Needs convening spirit
        • Key to community trust is a mix of public members not all part of one political faction
    • Drafting Your Charter
      • Two-three sentence description will determine scope, set tone for years
      • Longer charter is your local detailed description that guides the forum
      • Supported by universal E-Democracy.Org rules (terms of participation)
      • Use charter drafting to involve the community in a “what do we really want” conversation to ensure broad sense of ownership
    • Mapping Local Power
      • Recruitment to make the forum “matter” politically is essential, best upfront
      • Elected officials, community leaders, local journalists, active citizens
      • “ Average” citizens will not waste time in a forum that does not matter
      • Work from the “center” and avoid marginalization
      • Gives the deliberations reach and local agenda-setting power
    • Recruiting 100+ Members
      • Build it and they will NEVER come
      • Most similar efforts fail on recruitment not technology
      • One at a time – In-person recruitment, community events
      • Outreach - local media, “virtual door knocking”
    • Forum Facilitation
      • Forum manager guides the forum, enforces the rules
      • Selected and held accountable by local steering committee
      • Peer training/support with E-Democracy.Org’s network of forum managers
      • Issues Forum guidebook chapter, Minneapolis lessons:
    • Participant Roles
      • Readers – Active “listeners” are crucial to forum’s value
      • Opinionators – Everyday talkers, often have views on everything
      • Starters – Discussion starters, look for topics in the news, etc., ask questions
      • Seekers – Seek out and share community announcements, links to government agendas, documents, etc.
      • Goal – A mix, with 15-20% posting participation rate of registered users each month
    • Open the Forum
      • Introductions – Humanize forum with round of introductions
      • Seed Discussion Topics – If/as needed
      • Special Events in Forum – Guest speakers (Canterbury), State of the City Text/Video (St. Paul)
      • Build “e-citizen” skills of community overtime
      • Think long term, encourage sense of community ownership, value based on what people contribute not how they are served
    • Conclusion
    • What Makes Us Different
      • Many to many with real names and civility
      • Strength in people-based model and processes that allow us to adapt technologically
      • Agenda-setting – Real world pragmatic approach versus empowering citizens isolated from influence
      • Recruitment process leads to far deeper geographic participation that pure blogs or social networks
      • Technology choice – e-mail, web, blog feeds, future social network application
    • One final story …
      • Steven Clift posted humorously about the “public health risks of a large squirrel population” in the Minneapolis forum’s early days.
      • From Southwest Journal newspaper
      • by Martiga Lohn
      • Most days, mpls-issues is a substantive discussion of important public policy issues…
      • However … here are a few excerpts from this burning issue …
      • > Go to hardware store…buy trap…set track…kill squirrel. End of public policy question.
      • > Grab a trap and KILL the squirrel????????? Why must we destroy a living thing as a solution?
      • > Rocky and his friends are out of control. … If you want evidence, try to eat a sandwich on a bench in Loring Park.
      • > Quit telling people to move their nasty attack squirrels to wooded areas (i.e., Minneapolis parks) — we already have our fair share.
      • > I ran on an anti-squirrel platform for Student Legislature at Syracuse University in my freshman year in college. I promised to eradicate the nuisance squirrel population. It was my first election loss.
      Squirrel Story
    • Conclusion
      • If this inspires you …
        • Let’s form a steering committee
        • Find a local forum manager
        • Draft a charter
        • Recruit 100 people
        • Open to dynamic and useful local public issue discussions online – any where, anytime participation
        • Change local democracy forever
    • Extra Slides
    • What Makes Us Different
      • Some comparisons
        • Blogs – Hyper-individualistic and more male, democratize national punditry more than empower locally – Our model equitable two-way conversation with greater female participation
        • Citizen media/online news – Vastly more expensive starting point per community – Our model create demand for better local news, brings stories to the surface
        • Social networks – Publicize private life – Our model make real geographic public life accessible anywhere, any time
        • Independent efforts – Often fail due to lack of knowledge or use of inappropriate technology – Our model is tried and tested over a decade with a shared network for support and proven technology that reduces volunteer burn-out and help local democracy online efforts launch successfully – That said we hope that for every community that joins our network, 10 other projects will learn from or be inspired by us including citizen media projects
    • Small Groups
      • Come up with a rule and a technology feature that would:
        • 1. Increase the diversity of opinions
        • 2. Increase participation by women/youth/older citizens – diversity of participants
        • 3. Make posting by elected officials more likely
        • 4. Increase respect for those with differing opinions, increase trust or civility among members
        • 5. Help readers/posters find value more quickly
        • 6. Move participants toward consensus or allow group to agree on what they disagree about
        • 7. Avoid alienating political minorities while allowing majority positions to become known
        • 8. Hold forum managers/hosts more accountable to their responsibilities
        • 9. Troll group – List strategies for destroying an online community, technologies you prefer
    • Your Questions/Challenges
      • What do you need to know?
      • What are you concerned about?
      • Have you had a different experience you’d like to share?
      • There are 5 right ways and 95 wrong paths. How do you choose which is better?
    • Report Back
      • Small groups – Write down:
        • One rule
        • Best tech idea
      • Questions:
        • Top question
        • Best advice/example
    • Who makes a good Forum Manager?
      • Sincere belief in value of dialogue
      • Respect for diverse ideologies
      • Patience
      • Thick skin, can handle public criticism
      • People skills – easier to teach tech skills
      • Not intimidated by technology
      • Common sense approach to facilitation, ability to ask questions, guide diplomatically, act quickly when required
      • Time available, committed
    • Forum Management Tasks - 1
      • Keeping the space “safe” or civil for all participants
      • Encouraging/enforcing compliance with forum rules
      • Keeping discussions on topic (within scope or purpose of forum)
    • Rules
      • Rules summary -
        • 1. Sign Posts - Use your real name.
        • 2. Limits on Posting - Two per member per day in most forum charters.
        • 3. Keep Topics within Forum Purpose - Local issues on a local forum, for example.
        • 4. Be Civil - This is a public forum with real people. Respect among citizens with differing views is our cornerstone.
        • 5. No Attacks or Threats - This keeps the forums safe. If content is illegal it will be forwarded to the proper legal authorities.
        • 6. Private Stays Private - Don't forward private replies without permission.
        • 7. Avoid False Rumors - Asking for clarification of what you've heard in the community can be appropriate if issues-based. You alone are responsible for what you post.
        • 8. Right to Post and Reply - Sharing your knowledge and opinions with your fellow citizens is a democratic right.
        • 9. Items Not Allowed in Forums - No attachments, etc.
        • 10. Public Content and Use - You are sharing your content, but you retain your copyright.
        • 11. Warnings - You may receive informal or official warnings from the Forum Manager.
        • 12. Suspension - With your second official warning in one year, you are suspended for two weeks. It goes up from there.
        • 13. Appeals Process - You can appeal a warning(s) once you receive a third warning and six-month removal. About one in 1,500 forum members each year have appealed a six-month removal in past years.
    • Forum Management Tasks - 2
      • Welcoming new members
      • Managing message volume
        • in both unmoderated and moderated forums
      • Introducing new topics
        • Sharing media/website links
        • Asking a question
      • Encouraging alternative viewpoints
        • Moving discussion along
    • Forum Management Tasks - 3
      • Supporting and encouraging good behavior
      • Responding to participant questions or complaints
        • Waiting for complaints versus public/private action
      • Ongoing recruitment
      • Tasks can be distributed/shared
    • Additional Models
      • E-Debates – Candidates (parties) on the virtual stage for two weeks
        • Four major themes debated, rebuttals required
        • Ten short answer questions
    • Additional Models
      • Voter Voices response to e-debate and more - Video, pictures, blog posts tagged “mnpolitics”
      • E-Democracy.Org’s Wiki
        • Election links directory
        • Community links
        • Citizens Guide to St. Paul