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Common Sense California Reports on Deliberative Democracy Conference

We just received the latest update on Common Sense California’s (www.commonsenseca.org) recent conference on deliberative democracy. By all accounts, the February 23, 2007 conference appears to have been a great success, with seventy-eight civic leaders, journalists, elected officials, foundation officers, academics and students in attendance at the conference hosted by the Pepperdine School of Public Policy and Common Sense California with additional sponsorship by the New America Foundation. For updates, visit CSC’s website above, and to see an excerpt of their report, read on… (more…)

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Citizen-Led Political Reform Pioneers in Philadelphia

An exciting effort in citizen-led political reform in Philadelphia is currently underway at www.reformballot.org. Using the power of wikipedia, this experiment in deliberative democracy that was launched on March 13 gives citizens the opportunity to edit, contribute, and vote on a R.E.F.O.R.M. Agenda for Philadelphia’ s May 15, 2007 municipal elections. The idea is to collectively articulate what it means to be a reformer and to collaboratively develop a reform political agenda. Until April 3rd, the reform agenda will exist in “wiki” form so visitors can make changes instantly as they can in wikipedia. After April 3rd, all reformers who have signed onto the R.E.F.O.R.M. Compact will be able to vote on the principles comprising the final R.E.F.O.R.M. Agenda that will be presented to candidates for Mayor and City Council on April 15th for their consideration. Finally, on May 1st, the site will unveil the candidates’ responses so Philadelphians can understand who is for this public agenda — and who is not. Keep a lookout for the results of this innovative experiment!

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Sign Up Now for News on Case Foundation's Upcoming Citizen-Centered Grants

You can sign up now for email updates on a grant competition in the works at the Case Foundation.  Case’s “Igniting Civic Engagement” Grants will support citizen-centered approaches to meet community needs, and they plan to send out more details in late spring (eligibility criteria, application guidelines, timelines, etc.).

Last year, the Case Foundation released a great article by Cynthia Gibson titled “Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement,” which suggests that getting citizens more involved in the civic life and health of their communities must begin with citizens themselves. A citizen-centered approach is a subtle, yet powerful, shift from the way service and civic engagement generally operate. Rather than asking people to “plug into” existing pre-determined programs, initiatives, or campaigns, citizen-centered approaches help people form and promote their own decisions, build capacities for self-government, and develop open-ended civic processes.

(more…)

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Fantastic Handbook on Dialogue Available Online

A great new resource on dialogue and deliberation is now available, and I’m encouraging everybody to check it out. Our friends Bettye Pruitt and Phillip Thomas have been working on a phenomenal “Handbook on Democratic Dialogue,” which is now freely downloadable from the web.

This 242-page handbook is a joint effort of CIDA, International IDEA, OAS and UNDP (the UN Development Program), receiving valuable input from a wider network of organizations (including NCDD). This handbook is the result of a joint initiative to provide decision-makers and practitioners with a practical guide on how to design, facilitate and implement dialogue processes. It combines conceptual and practical knowledge, while providing an overview of relevant tools and experiences. NCDD highly recommends this handbook. Learn more at www.thataway.org/exchange/resources.php?action=view&rid=2685.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Texas Forums Hosts Free Online Workshop on Forum Reporting

On April 2, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. (Central Time) Marla Crockett, trained National Issues Forums moderator, veteran public radio and television journalist, and John Doble, seasoned reporter of public thinking based on National Issues Forums, will lead a second online citizen journalism workshop for members of the Texas Forums and NIF network. The purpose of this workshop is to prepare volunteers to observe and report on NIF forums. Participants will learn how to identify deliberation, listen for common ground and points that are unresolved, conduct post-forum interviews and write a quality report that will be used for the national report. For our first workshop, we will use the NIF Energy Issue as a guide. (more…)

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VOMA Seeking Conference Workshop Proposals

The Victim Offender Mediation Association (VOMA), is seeking proposals for workshops at the 2nd annual Institute of Evidence-Based and Best Practices on Offender Treatment, Victim Services, and Restorative Justice. The conference is co-sponsored with the American Association of Community Justice Professionals. Location: The Institute and Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 SE Second Avenue, Miami, Florida from June 9 through June 13, 2007. The request for proposals for the 2007 Victim Offender Mediation Association conference is now available at http://voma.org/conference.shtml.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

News From ParticipatoryBudgeting.org

[via the ParticipatoryBudgeting.org discussion list] Three important tidbits from the world of participatory budgeting (PB). First, there will be an international conference on participatory budgeting in Malaga, Spain, March 28-31. See the preliminary details at http://redfal.org/en/node/98.

Second, the discussion list announced one more online toolkit for learning how to do PB. Although the site is European, most of the materials are in English: www.kate-stuttgart.org/content/e827/index_ger.html.

Finally, Josh Lerner has written a paper about the recent (and growing) experience of communal councils in Venezuela. Similar to PB, the communal councils are local citizen-led political bodies that allow residents to decide how public funding is spent in their neighborhoods. Unlike PB, the councils are part of a new national system of participatory democracy, and they receive funding from the national government. You can see Josh’s article, called “Communal Councils in Venezuela: Can 200 families revolutionize democracy?” at www.linesofflight.net/work/communal_councils.pdf

NCDD NewsNCDD News

Test Sandbox Post

This is the H1 Heading

Above this paragraph should be the H1 heading for your web page. If it is not visible, the design settings for the H1 tag is set to display:none which many WordPress Themes use to hide the blog title text and replace it with a graphic. Do not use H1 within your blog post area.

A photo of the cat, Lord Byron.

What a good looking cat!

If the design in the H1 heading looks like your blog title or blog post title, then that is the style set for that HTML tag and you should not use it within your blog post area.

Inside of this test data section are most of the basic HTML and XHTML and CSS styles that you might use within your WordPress Theme.You need to know what that will look like as part of structuring your styles.

This is the H2 Heading

While WordPress assigns the H1 and H2 headings to specific places, such as the header and post title, not always are they in the same places. For your Theme, the H2 might be the post title, or it might be used in the sidebar for the section titles, and the H3 is used for the post title. You need to know what each looks like and identify it on your Theme and layout.

Look at how the heading is styled, but also look at the space around it. It might have a huge amount of margin or padding above or below, background colors, and other effects. If you want them for that heading, fine, but if not, change them.

This is the H3 Heading

Is this the same heading as is in your post title or is this the section headings found within your sidebar? Or is it different? This is the post content heading for the HTML tag h3, as is the one below, H4, for section headings within your post to divide up topics. If there is an H3 or H4 tag in your sidebar, you will need to identify the parent HTML and CSS container for the sidebar and style those appropriate in your blog’s stylesheet.

For more information in searching for your styles in your WordPress blog, see CSS: Studying Your CSS Styles and Finding Your CSS Styles in WordPress.

Also notice how the links in that paragraph are styled so you can style links within your post content area. Links have three styles. There is the link color, link hover color, and visited link color. Be sure and design for each style.

This is the H4 Heading

In this section under the H4 heading, we’re going to look at what the post content, the meat and potatoes of your site looks like. In general, you will have multiple paragraphs, so we will add another paragraph so you can adjust the spacing in between them to the look you want.

Paragraphs are not just for typing your blog babble, they can also hold frame and hold other information within your content area to help make the point you want to make in your writing. For instance, you will commonly have three types of lists.

  • General Lists using the <ul> tag
  • Ordered Lists using the <ol> tag
  • Definition Lists using the <dl> tag
    • Definition Lists use two other tags to generate the list:
      • <dt> sets up the word or phrase to be “defined”, usually set in bold, and
      • <dd> sets up the definition, which is usually in a normal or slightly smaller font and indented under the definition.
  • And that’s the end of the lists

And we’ve just tested a paragraph before and after a general list along with a nested list to help you see what at least three levels of the list will look like. Make sure that each level of the list is styled to match your specific needs. You might want to use the default disc or circle, or you might want to add graphic bullets to your list, too.

This is the H5 Heading

While the H5 heading is not always used, maybe you might find a need for it if your H1 and H2 and H3 headings are used. You might need one to two levels of subheadings in your post content, so this one gives you another option.

We also need to look at the other two lists and then add some images and other styles to flesh out your WordPress Theme sandbox.

  1. You need to do this first.
  2. You need to do this second.
    • You could do this in between.
    • Or give this a try, too.
  3. But this is the third and last thing to do.

This should give you an idea of how a nested number list would look on your site. Now, let’s look at a definition list.

WordPress Themes
A WordPress Theme is not a “skin”. Though many young people call it one. The reality is that a WordPress Theme contains many files that come together in various ways to generate a WordPress web page. A “skin” simply changes the look, and rarely the results.
WordPress Plugins
WordPress Plugins add flexibility, features, and capabilities to your WordPress site. There are hundreds to choose from. Some add power and control like monitoring and busting comment spam and enhancing your administration features. Others add fun things like random elements and polling and rating systems.

And here is another paragraph to show the relationship between the various parts and pieces.

This is the H3 Heading

Daisy, photograph Copyright Brent VanFossenIf the H3 heading is your in-post section heading, then you need to see how it works within the post itself. If it isn’t, simply change the H3 to whatever heading number you are using.

Daisy, photograph Copyright Brent VanFossenWe need to look at how images, another major feature of most WordPress sites, are used within the site. Images tend to sit on the left, right, or middle of your post, depending upon how you are using them. For an image sitting on the left or right, you need to add appropriate padding around the image on the text side to push the text away from the image so the text won’t push up against the edges of the image.

Daisy, photograph Copyright Brent VanFossen

A centered image is a little different. It is centered in the middle and the text is pushed above and below it. NOTE: Currently, the Theme used here doesn’t feature “right” or “left” or “centered” styles. It uses the CSS deprecated “align”. Please change the code here from align to class so your site will validate and you will have much more control over image placement.

How to add the CSS styles for images is discussed in the Codex article, Using Images.

Testing Font Looks – H3 Heading

You will need to test the looks of the different font styles, too. This is bold and THIS IS BOLD. This is italic and THIS IS ITALIC. This is bold and italic and THIS IS BOLD AND ITALIC. This is code and THIS IS CODE. And now let’s look at what the PRE tag, also known as the preformatted tag, looks like:

This is the pre tag.
It should be formatted as written
     so if you add spaces to the front of the line
  it will show the spaces and the <code> as written

This should be back to the normal paragraph style and we hope you have been paying attention to the margins and padding around each element, including the paragraph, so you can position things appropriately to the rest of the content.

Your CSS Here – H3 Heading

Let’s look at the blockquote, one of the most common tags used in most blogs. It is designed to “frame” a quote from another blog, website, or reference that you are “quoting” from. For the most part, there are three examples of usage:

This is a simple quote. It is either preceded or followed by a link within the text to the credited source. A blockquote must be designed to stand out from the rest of the text content, but it does not have to “really” stand out, just separate itself from the content so we know it’s not your words.

A second style to the blockquote is one that includes a citation. Under HTML guidelines, this citation should be wrapped in the <cite> tag and then that tag can be styled to be in italics, bold, or whatever look you want in your design.

Take care with the style of the <cite> tag as some WordPress Themes use it in the comments area. I recommend you style it specifically withblockquote cite {style declarations} in your stylesheet.

This is an example of a blockquote which also contains a link to Designing a WordPress Theme – Building a SandBox to help you see what links will look link within a blockquote.
Lorelle on WordPress, your guide to all things WordPress and blogging

The citation includes a link and text to help you see what a link and text will look like within the cite tag.

There are many tags that can be found within a blockquote, just as can be found within any container within your web page design, but a last example includes an unordered list. Many bloggers love to quote examples from lists, so this is a good tag series to test.

Within this web design sandbox test page, we’ve tested:

  • Headings
  • Text styles like bold and italic
  • Ordered (numbered) and unordered (bullets) lists
  • Links
  • Code and PRE tags
  • Blockquotes
  • And much more…

Which should show you what a list looks like within a blockquote.

Each website is unique with it’s own look and feel for the various parts and pieces. This cut and paste section looks only at what you might have within your content section. So if you will have boxes for lists or little aside information, you will need to add them so you can see how they will look in the overall page layout.

Some elements in a WordPress Theme are controlled by the style sheet, while others are controlled by the Template files. Try to work on as much as you can from the style sheet first, then you can mess with the template files.

Remember, any changes you make to the style sheet and template files will be not available if you change themes. If you want them carried over, you will need to copy and paste them into the new Theme folder.

As a last element in the content area and throughout your site, check the hypertext links. These are the links to external websites and/or internal pages within your site. They come in three flavors: active, visited, and hover. Make sure you work on the styles for each of these.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Applications Invited for Kiplinger Program for Public Affairs Journalism

The Kiplinger Program for Public Affairs Journalism at Ohio State University (www.kiplingerprogram.org) provides talented, mid-career journalists with a six-month fellowship to work on an independent public affairs print project of their choice. The program is designed to help journalists seeking to increase their skills, knowledge, and leadership abilities and planning to return to the journalism profession. The program operates in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs (http://glennschool.osu.edu). The Program for Public Affairs Journalism provides $20,000 for the six-month fellowship; training in new media technologies such as podcasting, field production and editing, and video and audio streaming; medical benefits; a private office; and other resources and services. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Trauma Awareness and Resilience Seminar Coming Up April 16-20

Eastern Mennonite University is hosting the April Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience Trauma (STAR) Seminar from April 16—20. The seminar teaches individual and community trauma recovery through the lens of peace-building and restorative justice. Since its inception in 2002, the Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) program has trained over 3000 national and international leaders and lay persons in caring for themselves and their community post war, trauma, and natural disaster. Participants focus on trauma responses in individuals and groups, how to break individual and societal cycles of trauma, victimhood, and violence, and take time to evaluate and practice self-care. STAR is a program of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Ror registration and more information visit www.emu.edu/star or contact STAR personnel at star@emu.edu or (540) 432-4691.

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