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Collaborative "Calling the Question" Project to Launch this Summer

The Mainstream Media Project and the Harvard Global Negotiation Project, in cooperation with MoveOn.org, are launching a joint initiative this summer called the Calling the Question project. The Calling the Question initiative is a multi-year initiative to shift the national conversation from partisanship to problem-solving by engaging a broad spectrum of the public in calling in to talk radio, querying candidates in media and live appearances, and reframing policy debates by asking open, breakthrough, “third side” questions that blame no one but encourage us to think in practical terms about what we can do together to resolve the challenges that confront us all. The aim of this initiative is to reach across the divide between thoughtful progressives and thoughtful conservatives to catalyze “convergence conversations” that could contribute to a broader de-polarization of an increasingly divided electorate and society. Click below for more details and contact info.
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Peter Levine's Blog Entry on the September Project

I’ve posted about the September Project already, but Peter Levine’s blog May 10 blog entry about the project is more detailed that mine… so here it is.
Peter starts by saying “The September Project is a great idea for promoting public deliberation. Libraries across the country will hold public discussions on the third anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. The library systems that have already signed up are shown on this map.” Click below to read his full blog entry, or go to www.peterlevine.ws/mt/ to check out Peter’s blog.
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Canadian Citizens' Assembly Breaking New Ground

In case you haven’t heard about the British Columbia Parliament’s innovative experiment in deliberative democracy called “Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform,” I thought I’d post an update. Formed last year by that province’s government to get meanngful citizen input into reforming its entire electoral system, the Citizens Assembly has been holding hearings for months now. As it says on the Citizens’ Assembly website, “nowhere else in the world has such power been handed to randomly selected citizens. Click below to read more, or go to www.citizensassembly.bc.ca/public for more details or to sign up for the e-newsletter.
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New Article on Citizen Involvement in Environmental Governance

Just received an email from Pat Bonner at the Environmental Protection Agency. There’s not too much detail here, those of you interested in environmental issues, can follow up if you’d like to. Her email said “In Vol 18, Number 4, Spring 2004 of Natural Resources & Environment (ABA) (which is not online — except for members;individual issues are $15 plus shipping) has an article ‘Enhancing Citizen Involvement in Environmental Governance’ focusing on enforcement/compliance participation.”

From the CommunityFrom the Community

AmericaSpeaks Returns to Charlotte, NC

From AmericaSpeaks 4/29/04 enewsletter for their facilitators: In September 2004, AmericaSpeaks will return to Charlotte, NC to again partner with the Lee Institute in the development of a 21st Century Town Meeting for Mecklenberg County. The “United Agenda for Children” will bring together somewhere between 1500 and 2000 residents to discuss child and family services, and education. This 21st Century Town Meeting™ is part of a comprehensive 3-year effort to implement a shared action plan ensuring all children in Mecklenburg County are healthy, safe, and well educated. Congratulations to Anne Udall and Cyndee Patterson for their great work with the volunteer Steering Committee over the last several months. And kudos to Tracy Russ for bringing a team from Charlotte to “Behind the Scenes” at Listening to the City in July, 2002. The team that came to New York went back to Charlotte and got commitment to run the Feb. 2003 “The Region Speaks,” a smaller meeting to expose more community leaders to what is possible in the world of citizen engagement. Out of that spark, with a lot of significant work in the community, this initiative for the well-being of children has evolved.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Update and Call for Support for the U.S. Consensus Council

I received an email on April 23 from Rob Fersh, Director of the vital National Consensus Initiative. As Rob says, “there is no natural constituency for the USCC or any special interests who can put muscle behind it. Our main constituency is people, many from the field of conflict resolution, who understand the promise of the USCC to serve the nation in developing potentially wiser, more broadly supportable policy options to address important national problems. The goal of the USCC is to synthesize the insight and experience of people with differing points of view into policy proposals that reflect ‘highest common denominator’ solutions.

Rob needs all of us to fax the Congressmembers who have the power to move forward. Click below for contact info and instructions for doing this.
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If Gandhi and Bin Ladin Were to Engage in Dialogue…

If he were alive today, how might Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest apostle of non-violence, challenge Osama bin Laden’s worldview? A piece by Bhikhu Parekh, a professor of political philosophy and author of three books on Gandhi, featured in this month’s issue of Prospect Magazine answers this question through a bold fictional dialogue between these two figures. This unique and fascinating effort at “translating” and giving Gandhi a contemporary relevance is based on a lecture first delivered at Boston University. A longer version will appear later this year in “The Stranger’s Religion: Fascination and Fear” edited by Anna Lannstrom (University of Notre Dame Press). Click here for the piece, called “Why Terror?”, or click below to read the author’s preface.
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Democracy In America Convention to Take Place this August

I received an e-letter from David Wick a few days ago about the upcoming Democracy in America Convention. The Convention is happening in conjunction with Let’s Talk America, the project NCDD is involved in with the Utne Institute, Conversation Cafes and the World Cafe.

The Convention will take place this August 19-22 in Springfield, Illinois, and it will bring together people from all 50 states to “ignite the unified voice of ‘We the People'” through dialogue and deliberation. Click below to read the full message.
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An Inspirational Report on National Issues Forums Held in Russia

I receive “Friday Letters” each week from the Kettering Foundation. The April 16th Friday Letter started off with an inspirational report from KF Associate Phil Stewart about his recent trip to Russia. Phil and his colleagues observed several deliberative forums, and noticed a clear commitment to learning and practicing the norms of democratic deliberation. One elderly teacher is quoted as saying “Only if my grandchildren learn to think critically, think for themselves and to deliberate in public, only then will they have the opportunity to grow up in a democratic Russia.” Click below for the full report.
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New Book Shares Learnings from Pew Partnership for Civic Change Research

A new book called “Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leaders Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future,” offers community leaders teh information they need to build a civic infrastructure and to create community readiness that will help avert problems before they begin. Written by Susan W. Morse, executive director of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change and member of the Board of Trustees of the Kettering Foundation, the $34 book is based on the results of over a decade of research by the Pew Partnership, and includes a chapter on “Doing Democracy” which features the Kettering Foundation’s work in Owensboro, Kentucky, as well as National Issues Forums in general.

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