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The Next Form of Democracy?


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Slides for the 2012 Civic Engagement and Democracy, hosted by the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement at the University of Illinois-Chicago, given by Matt Leighninger of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

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The Next Form of Democracy?

  1. 1. The Next Form of Democracy?Civic Engagement and Democracy Lecture Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement University of Illinois-Chicago April 4, 2012
  2. 2. Slides available I’ll mention:Planning for Stronger LocalDemocracy - Online Tools to Engagethe Public -
  3. 3. Notable public participation projects• “Geraldton 2029,” Geraldton, Australia• “Kendall-Whittier Growing Together,” Tulsa, OK• “Lee County Pulling Together,” Fort Myers, FL• “Horizons,” seven states, USA• Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil• “Decatur Next,” Decatur, GA• “Portsmouth Listens,” Portsmouth, NH• “Multi-Channel PB,” La Plata, Argentina• “Kuna ACT,” Kuna, ID• “Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform,” BC
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. Successful recent public engagement tactics Proactive about recruitment – a “critical mass” Bringing together people with diverse views Sharing experiences Giving people chance to make up their own minds (facilitated, deliberative) Different levels of action: volunteers, teams, organizations, policy decisions Increasing use of online tools
  6. 6. Successful tactic: Online tools Complement face-to-face communication, don’t replace it Particularly good for: o Providing background information o Data gathering by citizens o Generating and ranking ideas o Helping people visualize options o Maintaining connections over time
  7. 7. Digital divides (plural) Overall, Internet access growing “Access” – to Internet, to government – has never been enough Different people use different hardware Different people go to different places on the Internet Communities just as complex online as off – recruitment must be proactive
  8. 8. Successes, limitations of engagement so farSuccesses: Making policy decisions, planning Catalyzing citizen action Building trust Fostering new leadershipChallenges: Time-consuming(especially recruitment) Unsustainable (usually not intended to be) Meets goals of ‘engagers,’ not ‘engaged’ Doesn’t change the institutions Trust, relationships fade over time
  9. 9. Why plan for more sustainable kinds of participation?• Sustain the benefits• Allow the ‘engaged’ to set the agenda• Better address inequities• Increase community attachment and economic growth• Increase residents’ sense of legitimacy and “public happiness”
  10. 10. “Democracy needs a place to sit down” Communities need places that are: Permanent Virtual and physical Not just “open,” but actively welcoming Centered on citizen needs and priorities Powerful Political, social, and cultural
  11. 11. Social media is a critical tool for new forms of participation  Can sustain networks in ways that are convenient and interactive  Capitalizes on face-to-face relationships and makes people more likely to seek them  Adaptable to what people want
  12. 12. “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
  13. 13. Local democracy planners should consider some key building blocks::
  14. 14. Resources••••••• On Facebook: “Deliberative Democracy Consortium” group page• The Next Form of Democracy
  15. 15. Resources (continued)• On YouTube: the DDC channel• Using Online Tools to Engage – and Be Engaged by – the Public at• Planning for Stronger Local Democracy at – and other resources at