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Reports & Articles…

Reports and articles on dialogue, deliberation, public engagement and conflict resolution.

Working Effectively with Public Engagement Consultants: Tips for Local Officials (ILG Report)

In planning and implementing public engagement activities, local officials often contract with external consultants for services. These may be consultants who design and lead activities devoted solely to public engagement, such as a series of community conversations contributing to the development of a local agency budget. Or they may be consultants who carry out tasks well beyond public engagement alone, such as assisting in the overall development of a general plan update. This tip sheet from the Institute For Local Government offers several recommendations to […] (continue)

Testing the Waters: California’s Local Officials Experiment with New Ways to Engage the Public (ILG Report)

This report—the first of two—presents the perspective of California’s public officials. It concludes with practical recommendations emerging from this study and its companion study on civic leaders’ perspectives for how to encourage productive relationships between local officials and the public and expand opportunities for broad sections of the public to meaningfully participate in local decision making. (continue)

Legal Issues Associated With Social Media (ILG Report)

What legal issues do public agencies face relating to their use of social media?  This paper chronicles a number of them. It also offers “dos and don’ts” advice for reaping the benefits of social media while minimizing the pitfalls.  A version of this paper was delivered to the May 2010 City Attorneys Spring Conference. (continue)

Workshop Findings – Bringing Citizen Voices to the Table: Infrastructure Needs in a Democracy

This report describes the findings of the May 22, 2014 workshop “Bringing Citizen Voices to the Table: Infrastructure Needs in a Democracy,” hosted by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue in partnership with SFU Public Square. The feature speaker was Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, founder of AmericaSpeaks, and one of the foremost citizen engagement practitioners in North America. The report summarizes participant evaluations of the citizen engagement infrastructure in British Columbia, Canada, as well as participants’ […] (continue)

Playing for the Public Good: The Arts in Planning and Government

Arts and culture play a crucial role in increasing, diversifying, and sustaining public participation, navigating contentious issues, and fostering productive public dialogue and decision making. In 2013, Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, published Playing for the Public Good: The Arts in Planning and Government – a trend paper that highlights a wide range of arts and culture-based projects or programs that broaden participation and deepen meaning beyond typical planning processes and/or governmental systems and structures. When governmental and civic entities employ the arts to engage people in public processes, […] (continue)

Community Rhythms: Five Stages of Community Life

Communities have rhythms to them that we must come to understand so that our approaches, programs and initiatives — and the building of public capital — work with those rhythms, take advantage of them, even accelerate them. This 1999 report from the Harwood Institute describes five stages of community life: The Waiting Place, Impasse, Catalytic, Growth, and Sustain and Renew. According to the Harwood Institute, while a community can accelerate its movement through the Stages of Community Life, it cannot violate, or simply pass over, […] (continue)

Envisioning the Role of Facilitation in Public Deliberation

This 2013 article by Kara Dillard argues that academic research has neglected a critical factor in promoting successful citizen deliberation: the facilitator. In outlining a continuum of a facilitator’s level of involvement in deliberative dialogues, the author finds that facilitators are important to the forum process. More academic investigations into facilitator actions should reveal more of the logic that turns everyday political talk into rigorously deliberative forums emphasizing quality argument and good decision-making. (continue)

The Future of Family (IF Discussion Guide)

The Future of Family, a discussion guidebook from the Interactivity Foundation (IF), examines possibilities for public policy on family life distilled from a series of small-group discussions that wrestled with a wide range of questions and concerns for the future of family, including— In a culturally diverse society, what roles should cultural heritage play in policy decisions about the family? Different cultures have different ideas about how families are formed, how big they should be, and the roles people have within them. How should we address our […] (continue)

Making Public Participation Legal

Most of the laws that govern public participation in the U.S. are over thirty years old. They do not match the expectations and capacities of citizens today, they pre-date the Internet, and they do not reflect the lessons learned in the last two decades about how citizens and governments can work together. Increasingly, public administrators and public engagement practitioners are hindered by the fact that it’s unclear if many of the best practices in participation are even allowed by the law. Making Public Participation Legal, […] (continue)

Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better

In November 2013, Monitor Institute and the Foundation Center released a new report called Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better. As part of the research, we looked at more than 170 different technological tools now available to funders, dove deeply into the literature on philanthropic collaboration, analyzed the results of recent Foundation Center surveys, and spoke with a wide range of experts from the worlds of both technology and philanthropy. The Harnessing Collaborative Technologies report helps readers make sense of the dizzying array of technologies that are now […] (continue)