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Equity through Learning to Listen: The Case of Public Discussion on Body-Worn Cameras in Madison, Wisconsin

The 17-page article, Equity through Learning to Listen: The Case of Public Discussion on Body-Worn Cameras in Madison, Wisconsin, was written by Katherine Cramer and published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 12: Iss. 2. In the article, Cramer discusses the process around gathering public input on whether the Madison police department should implement body-worn cameras on their officers. She gives details around the context for the process and the four lessons learned throughout the whole experience.

Read an excerpt of the article below and find the PDF available for download on the Journal of Public Deliberation site here.

From the article…

We expect deliberation to achieve many things—better-informed opinions, tolerance, efficacy, well-rounded decisions, and decisions that have legitimacy (e.g., Barabas, 2004; Fishkin, 1995; Gastil, 2000; Jacobs, Cook, & Delli Carpini, 2009; Karpowitz & Mendelberg, 2014; Mill 1859 [1956]). Deliberation supposedly enlarges our ability to incorporate moral values into governance (Gutmann & Thompson, 1996); enables an enlightened interpretation of the general will (Mansbridge, 1999); and increases the legitimacy of the decisions reached (e.g., Young, 2001). The expected democratic benefits of deliberation are numerous. But each of those outcomes relies on a particular quality: that a range of people and perspectives be included in the discussion. This means that ideal deliberation should involve equality of access as well as equality of who talks and who gets heard (Mansbridge, 1999; Mendelberg & Oleske, 2000).

But ensuring these things is difficult. As with all political participation, people with resources, particularly income and education, are more likely to show up. Also, people within social networks of politically active people are more likely to be recruited to participate (Jacobs, Cook & Delli Carpini, 2009; Ryfe & Stalsburg 2012; Verba, Schlozman & Brady 1996). Even when people representing a wide range of perspectives are in the room, deliberative processes privilege the views of privileged people (Sanders, 1997; Young, 2001).

Nevertheless, the belief endures that democratic governance is best achieved when people inform the decisions that affect them, and so the field of deliberative democracy continues to strive for ways to incorporate marginalized voices into the process to enable democracy to live up to its promise.

This brings us to the concept of equity. If striving for equality of access, and equality of voice and authority within deliberation is not enough, then perhaps it is time to focus on equity—intentional inequality such that those typically marginalized have the opportunity to voice their preferences and perspectives in all of their complexity, and have those concerns, with all of their nuances, enter into processes of democratic decision-making. Perhaps as a society we are still relatively unskilled at listening to one another. In order to input a wider array of perspectives into the discussions that affect our decisions about how to govern one another, we need to first exclude the voices that typically get heard, and then teach those in power how to listen to that who do not.

This possibility seems particularly acute in the United States with respect to issues concerning racial justice. Race has been a powerful line of exclusion/inclusion in the United States for centuries and these categorizations contaminate deliberative processes as well (Cramer Walsh, 2007). How then does a community use a deliberative approach to move toward racial equity? (more…)

Promoting Inclusion, Equity and Deliberation in a National Dialogue on Mental Health

The 15-page article, Promoting Inclusion, Equity and Deliberation in a National Dialogue on Mental Health, was written by Tom Campbell, Raquel Goodrich, Carolyn Lukensmeyer, and Daniel Schugurensky, and published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 12: Iss. 2. In the article, the authors share their experiences with the project, “Creating Community Solutions” (CCS), in which six organizations partnered to better understand how the public is engaged around mental health. By implementing three engagement strategies, CCS sought to shift the social norms around mental health and work to improve the inclusivity of how individuals and communities are engaged.

Read an excerpt of the article below and find the PDF available for download on the Journal of Public Deliberation site here.

From the article…

The ability to make progress on the nation’s mental health crisis has been limited not only by inadequate resources but also by the difficulty of addressing underlying discrimination, stigma, and cultural barriers. Indeed, some populations are especially vulnerable and underserved by mental health services. To begin, young people have high rates of mental health problems and low rates of seeking help; three-quarters of mental health problems begin before the age of 24. Second, common mental health disorders are twice as common among individuals with low incomes, and there is a strong correlation between mental illness, poverty, and crime. Third, communities of color tend to experience a greater burden of mental and substance-use disorders, most often due to limited access to care, inappropriate care, and higher social, environmental, and economic risk factors. Fourth, LGBTQ youth are sometimes rejected by their families and peers, and experiencing bullying and bias can lead to anxiety, depression, drug use, and suicide. The stigma associated with mental illness often leads to reluctance to find help. It has been reported that up to 60 percent of individuals with mental illness do not seek treatment and services (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015).

The scarcity of safe environments in many communities to acknowledge mental health challenges and to address them systemically has limited the ability to create new solutions. Prior efforts to engage marginalized populations in mental health deliberations have not always shown positive results. For instance, in a study on the engagement of mental health service users/survivors in deliberative democracy, Barnes (2002) examined how notions of “legitimate participants” were constructed within official discourse and argued that the emphasis on rational debates could have excluded the emotional content of the experience of living with mental health problems from deliberation about mental health policy. A related study, conducted by Hughes (2016), on a deliberative system that connected federal policymakers with the disability community found that the discourse of the government agency failed to engage with social difference as a resource for inclusion and collaboration, reinforced stigma around disability, and excluded underrepresented groups. In this context, the project “Creating Community Solutions” (CCS) aimed to change social norms around mental health, reduce discrimination, and bring forward more inclusive opportunities for community engagement. Gastil (2014) contended that scholars in the field of public deliberation must produce not only rigorous research but also field reports that help reformers and public officials refine their methods of public engagement. By discussing CCS and its three engagement strategies, we hope to provide useful information and insights to public officials and practitioners interested in large-scale, solution-oriented public engagement projects. (more…)

Talk Matters! Saving the World One Word at a Time

The 342-page book, Talk Matters! Saving the World One Word at a Time, by Mary Gelinas, was published September 2016. In the book, Gelinas explains and guides you and your community in eight practices that are essential to creating effective dialogue and deliberation. Use it as a guidebook or training manual to enhance your own skills as you work with groups to address the issues they care about.

From the book… 

We create the present and future in our meetings and conversations every day. What can we do to increase the likelihood that we’re creating a future that we all want? We can start by talking more constructively and productively about what matters to us all.

After decades of advising groups in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, process design and facilitation expert Mary V. Gelinas has integrated her best knowledge of brain and behavioral sciences, mindful awareness, and effective process to create Talk Matters! Her eight essential practices offer us ways to avoid getting hijacked by our survival instincts, engage with people who differ from us, and open ourselves, our businesses, and our communities to real, lasting change. As she explains, good process can help us work better together to do good things for the world.

In this highly readable and accessible book, Gelinas uses real-world examples to illustrate the practices that can help you start achieving life-serving results in your interactions as a leader, participant, or facilitator today.

What NCDD colleagues and friends say about the book: (more…)

Budgeting for Equity: How Can Participatory Budgeting Advance Equity in the United States?

The 18-page article, Budgeting for Equity: How Can Participatory Budgeting Advance Equity in the United States? , was written by Madeleine Pape and Josh Lerner and published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 12: Iss. 2. The article talks about the history of participatory budgeting, starting in Porto Alegre and how it has growth in the US. Two major claims of PB is that is it an opportunity to “revitalize democracy and advance equity”. Pape and Lerner share some of the challenges and strategies to equity within PB.

Read an excerpt of the article below and find the PDF available for download on the Journal of Public Deliberation site here.

From the article…

In 1989, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre undertook a radical experiment to alter the chemistry of democracy. After decades of dictatorship and thin representative democracy had cemented Brazil’s economy as one of the most unequal in the world, the newly elected Workers Party government attempted a new variant of democracy, one that mixed participation and equity. Its experiment in “participatory budgeting” aimed to redirect resources to those with the greatest needs – and it succeeded.

Over 3,000 cities have since tried to replicate Porto Alegre’s success by empowering residents to directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Many processes have inspired high participation, but struggled to engage or redistribute resources to marginalized communities. Participatory budgeting (PB) has recently grown dramatically in the United States, from a pilot process in Chicago’s 49th ward in 2009 to over 50 processes in a dozen cities in 2015. The once obscure concept has been heralded by the White House as a best practice of civic engagement and by scholars as the lynchpin of a “new wave of democratic innovation” (Stoker et al., 2011, p. 38; White House, 2013). (more…)

Leaders or Leaderfulness? Lessons from High-achieving Communities

The 21-page report, Leaders or Leaderfulness? Lessons from High-Achieving Communities (2016), was written by David Mathews and supported by the Cousins Research Group of the Kettering Foundation.

The report discusses how communities become stronger and more resilient through more “leaderfulness” of its community members, as opposed to having just a few of active leaders. What Mathews means by “leaderfulness”, is that people are engaged within a community and show leaderfulness by taking initiative to participate. Through years of research, Kettering has found that the serious problems that face a community require active participation from the people within it. There is a largely untapped civic energy in this country, this report shares information on how community members can be more leaderful and what that can look like.

Below is an excerpt of the report and it can be found in full at the bottom of this page or on Kettering Foundation’s site here.

From the guide…kf_leaders_cover

There is a widely held belief that change only occurs when a few courageous leaders step forward to take charge and overcome entrenched power. History is full of examples of great leaders who have been agents of change: Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, George Washington. You can complete the list. Could “just citizens” working with just citizens ever change anything?

Kettering began to think about this question as a result of a study of two communities that, although similar, were quite different in what they achieved.3 However, the more dysfunctional of the two actually had the best leaders, as leadership is traditionally understood. They were well educated, well connected, professionally successful, and civically responsible. Yet what stood out in the higher-achieving community was not so much the characteristics of the leaders as their number, their location and, most of all, the way they interacted with other citizens. The higher-achieving community had 10 times more people providing initiative than communities of comparable size. The community was “leaderful.” And its leaders functioned not as gatekeepers but as door openers, bent on widening participation.

Beginning Where We Live
Because we are facing an array of daunting domestic problems and a morass of international uncertainties, many Americans think we need to make basic changes in the way the country operates. We believe that the chances for change are best beginning at the local level, in communities where we can get our hands on problems. Change has to start there before it can take place nationwide. At the same time, we are deeply worried about what is happening to our sense of community, to our ability to live and work together. As Benjamin Barber put it, we worry that “beneath the corruptions associated with alcohol and drugs, complacency and indifference, discrimination and bigotry, and violence and fractiousness—is a sickness of community: its corruption, its rupturing, its fragmentation, its breakdown; finally, its vanishing and its absence.”

Calls for reform come from every quarter and touch every facet of American life—ranging from the way we organize our businesses to the way we raise our children. People say they want more than a few improvements; they want to change the “systems” that seem to control their lives—the criminal justice system, the welfare system, and, most of all, the political system. Some also want to change their community in fundamental ways—in the ways people work, or often don’t work, together.

When I say “community,” I don’t mean just a place or a collection of individuals; I mean a group of diverse people joined in a variety of ways to improve their common well being. And by change, I mean the process by which people redirect their talents and energies or reorder their relationships so as to realize their vision of the best community. So community change means a change in a community itself, and only a community can do that. For me to change myself—my weight or habits or ways of relating to others—I have to do something. The change has to come from within. So when a community wants to change itself—to be more of what it would like to be—the same principle holds. For there to be fundamental change, the citizens in a community have to act. Large groups of people can’t sit on the sidelines. (more…)

Equality and Equity in Deliberation: Introduction to the Special Issue

The 11-page article, Equality and Equity in Deliberation: Introduction to the Special Issue (2016), was written by Carolyne Abdullah, Christopher Karpowitz, and Chad Raphael, and published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 12: Iss. 2. The authors make the distinction within deliberation between equity and equality, and confront what this means to fairness and participants being able to fully engage in deliberation. The article examines different approaches to inclusion within deliberative theory and practice, as well as, the authors address some challenges and opportunities.

Read an excerpt of the article in full below and find the PDF available for download on the Journal of Public Deliberation site here.

From the article…

Deliberative democrats have had much to say about equality and have long been concerned with creating conditions for it in discourse. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, for example, write that the principle of political equality “stands behind” the demand for deliberation (1996, p. 28). That is, deliberation presupposes that people deserve equal respect and that in conditions of disagreement such respect demands the open exchange of views and the mutual attempt to identify fair and just solutions. Yet how is equal respect constructed in deliberation? For example, if pursuing equality means treating everyone similarly, regardless of what they bring to deliberation, there are longstanding concerns that this approach can reproduce and reinforce enduring hierarchies of income, education, race, gender, or other characteristics (Young 2000; Sanders 1997). These disparities have the potential to frustrate and even derail the attempt to create conditions in which all perspectives can be included and fully heard. At the same time, if attention to such inequalities means treating deliberators differently, then the worry is that such approaches may stigmatize disadvantaged voices or even provoke a backlash among the more powerful.

This special issue examines different approaches to the full inclusion, participation, and influence of all voices in deliberative theory and practice. In approaching this issue, we mark a key distinction between the values of equality and equity. By equality, we mean an approach to deliberative fairness that emphasizes the need to treat all deliberators the same, regardless of their power (or lack thereof) outside of the deliberative forum. This approach holds that deliberative fairness is most likely to be achieved when those background inequalities are put aside, bracketed, or neutralized in discussion. In contrast, equity means taking into account the advantages and disadvantages that have shaped participants’ experiences, which may require treating participants differently in order to create conditions that achieve fair deliberation and decisions. As Edana Beauvais and André Bächtiger (this issue) put it, equality asserts “the fundamental sameness of common humanity” and the need to “abstract from social circumstances,” while equity emphasizes “attending to” social circumstances and the resultant distribution of power and resources. The contributors to this issue take up this core distinction between equality and equity in a variety of different ways, and occasionally with slightly different terms, but all of them are confronting the common challenge of creating circumstances in which all deliberators can participate fully and even authoritatively.

Tensions between equality and equity emerge constantly in both formal institutions of political decision-making and the wider political culture. We see these struggles in debates over access to education, fair wages, health and welfare policy, policing, immigration, regulation of speech, and many other issues.

Should universities prioritize equal treatment of applicants by following a “colorblind” approach to admissions or remedy the accumulated effects of past disadvantages by practicing affirmative action? Should schools prioritize creating more supportive environments for students from non-dominant groups by regulating offensive speech directed at them or privilege equal rights to engage in robust, even uncivil, expression? Should countries give equal access to immigrants regardless of their geographic origins, economic status, and social condition, or privilege applicants from particular countries, the highly-skilled, political refugees, or others based on social and historic circumstances? When do assertions of equal rights function to dismiss aspirations for equity? For example, in the United States, when the Black Lives Matter movement for fair and equitable treatment of people of color by the police is met with the response that “All Lives Matter,” does invoking the language of equality make it more difficult to confront and address historic and systemic inequities?

Friction between equality and equity also emerges in each stage of public deliberation, confronting organizers with thorny decisions about the design of institutions and projects, naming and framing issues, recruiting community members, rules for participation and decision making, and implementing outcomes. At every point in the process, civic forums must address the question of whether public deliberation should be organized using an equality or equity approach, or how to balance the two. For example, if we issue a general call for participation through “neutral” channels, can we have much hope of attracting less privileged and empowered community members? In the absence of facilitation or institutional rules that actively promote contributions from non- dominant participants, and encourage thorough questioning of prevalent understandings of issues, are we likely to reproduce the power dynamics that helped create the very social problem under discussion? Alternatively, at what point does stocking the room with under-represented people fall prey to charges of stacking the deck in favor of particular outcomes, risking the perceived legitimacy of deliberation?

Equality and equity must also be considered as outcomes of public deliberation. The historically marginalized are often drawn to politics more by a hunger for more equitable policies than for opportunities to deliberate. How concerned should we be about whether the policies developed through deliberation are equal or equitable? Can we be assured that deliberation will deliver fairer outcomes than other kinds of political engagement? What steps, if any, should deliberative democrats take to compel attention to equity and equality as critical aspects of all policy decisions? These are the questions that have motived this special issue.

Download the article from the Journal of Public Deliberation here.

About the Journal of Public Deliberation
Journal of Public DeliberationSpearheaded by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium in collaboration with the International Association of Public Participation, the principal objective of Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) is to synthesize the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the emerging multi-disciplinary field and political movement called by some “deliberative democracy.” By doing this, we hope to help improve future research endeavors in this field and aid in the transformation of modern representative democracy into a more citizen friendly form.

Follow the Deliberative Democracy Consortium on Twitter: @delibdem

Follow the International Association of Public Participation [US] on Twitter: @IAP2USA

Resource Link: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol12/iss2/art1/

The Danger of a Single Story

The 18 min TedTalk, The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was filmed in July 2009. In the talk, Adichie shares what she calls, “the danger of a single story” and the false understandings that can arise when only the single side of a story is heard. Adichie shows the powerful opportunity of storytelling- to hear the many different sides of a story and have a more complete understanding of a person, a situation, a reality. Below is the full talk and a brief excerpt of the transcript, and it can also be viewed at Ted.com site here.

From the transcript…

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, “secondly.” Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.

I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called “American Psycho” and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers. Now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation.

But it would never have occurred to me to think that just because I had read a novel in which a character was a serial killer that he was somehow representative of all Americans. This is not because I am a better person than that student, but because of America’s cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America. I had read Tyler and Updike and Steinbeck and Gaitskill. I did not have a single story of America.

When I learned, some years ago, that writers were expected to have had really unhappy childhoods to be successful, I began to think about how I could invent horrible things my parents had done to me. But the truth is that I had a very happy childhood, full of laughter and love, in a very close-knit family.

But I also had grandfathers who died in refugee camps. My cousin Polle died because he could not get adequate healthcare. One of my closest friends, Okoloma, died in a plane crash because our fire trucks did not have water. I grew up under repressive military governments that devalued education, so that sometimes, my parents were not paid their salaries. And so, as a child, I saw jam disappear from the breakfast table, then margarine disappeared, then bread became too expensive, then milk became rationed. And most of all, a kind of normalized political fear invaded our lives.

All of these stories make me who I am. But to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.

Of course, Africa is a continent full of catastrophes: There are immense ones, such as the horrific rapes in Congo and depressing ones,such as the fact that 5,000 people apply for one job vacancy in Nigeria. But there are other stories that are not about catastrophe, and it is very important, it is just as important, to talk about them.

I’ve always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.

About Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year; and the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. Her latest novel Americanah, was published around the world in 2013, and has received numerous accolades, including winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction; and being named one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year.

Resource Link: www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

AllSides

From AllSides…

Unlike regular news services, AllSides exposes bias and provides multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.allsides_logo

At AllSides, we believe the way society gets its news and information affects the world around us. And lately it hasn’t been going well. News, social media and even search results have dramatically changed in the last several years, becoming so narrowly filtered, biased and personalized that we are becoming less informed and less tolerant of different people and ideas.

This is how it happens, and what we can do about it.

Blasted with the overwhelming 24-hour news noise of today, which is often loud, extreme, partisan and rude, we tend to do one of the following:
Disengage from trying to understand or solve society’s problems.
Block out different perspectives, becoming more close-minded and less tolerant of other people and ideas.

There’s a better way… AllSides sees a strong connection between our ability to comprehend and tolerate different opinions, and our ability to develop better schools, more jobs, more wellbeing, and less violence. So we decided to address the core problem – the overwhelming and often one-sided information flow.

How? Change the way we get information so it is easy to sort through the noise and see different perspectives. Armed with a broader view, we can resist attempts to manipulate us in one direction or the other. Instead, we can truly decide for ourselves:

Understand and appreciate different perspectives and people. We’re creating a better informed, less polarized world.

AllSides delivers technology and services to provide multiple perspectives on news, issues, and topics – and the people behind the ideas. With it, we get a broader, deeper understanding of the issues and each other so together we can build a more perfect union.

About the AllSides Bias Rating
The AllSides Bias Rating TM reflects the average judgment of the American people. Bias is normal. If you’ve got a pulse, you’ve got a bias. But hidden bias misleads and divides us. That’s why we have the AllSides Bias Rating.

Bias ratings can be a powerful tool. With it, we can easily look at a news story or issue from different perspectives just by looking at articles on the same topic but from sources that have different bias ratings. By understanding bias, we can understand topics and each other better.

Join us in making bias more transparent everywhere. Rate your own bias, learn how you compare to others (options on this page to the right), and help us rate the bias of other news sources.

How AllSides Calculates Bias
The AllSides patented bias detection and display technology drives arguably the world’s most effective and up-to-date bias detection engine. It’s powered by a combination of wisdom-of-the-crowd technology and the best statistical research and methodologies.

You drive the bias ratings. What you do at AllSides affects our bias ratings. That includes how you rate your own bias and how you rate the bias of news sites, especially through our blind bias surveys. All of this is added to our crowd data, which is statistically normalized to represent a balance of the American public.

Multiple methods for calculating bias. Our blind bias surveys, described in the graphic below, is our most complete and robust method for rating the bias of the source. That is not the only method we use, and often we don’t need anything as robust as that. The source itself might openly share its own bias, 3rd party research may have already determined the bias, an independent review might be decisive, or a broad consensus could be sufficient. Take a look at the variety of methods we use to measure bias.

allsides

Our bias detection engine gets smarter as time goes on. We are constantly evolving the bias engine. And, the more you participate, the better our ratings will be and the more sources we can rate. We also ask you to rate your own bias. We’re continuing to improve ways to help you get the most accurate bias self-rating so you can participate on AllSides and in life with transparency and self-awareness. Make the world a better place by understanding and sharing your own bias openly!

Resource Link: www.allsides.com/

Not in Our Town Quick Start Guide

The Not in Our Town Quick Start Guide: Working together for safe, inclusive communities, was created by Not in Our Town (NIOT) and updated March 2013. The guide gives five steps to begin a campaign in your town or school to stop hate, address bullying, and build safer communities together

Below is an excerpt from the guide, which can be downloaded from NIOT’s site here or at the link at the bottom of the page.

From the guide…

You may be someone who is concerned about divisions in your neighborhood or school, or you may live in a community that has experienced hate-based threats or violence. Even just one individual or a small group can start a movement to stand up to hate.

Not In Our Town is a program for people and communities working together to stop hate, address school bullying and build safe, inclusive environments for all.

This quick guide provides steps for starting a Not In Our Town campaign that fits your local needs.

The ideas in this guide came from people in communities like yours who wanted to do something about hate and intolerance. Their successful efforts have been a shining light for the Not In Our Town movement.

Guiding Principles:
The steps that follow align with these core ideas…

– Silence is acceptance.
– Visible inclusion sends a positive message.
– Change happens when we work together.

Steps for Starting a Not in Our Town Campaign:

Step 1: Map out your allies
Think big, but don’t be afraid to start small. Change can start with a handful of people. But creating broad-based support will not only help your campaign, it will pave the way for deeper connections throughout your town or city.

Whether you have an existing group or are creating a new one, do an inventory of the people and organizations who support diversity, want to foster inclusion, and who may share your concerns about hate activity. Be sure to reach out to community groups that represent the targets of hate.

Step 2: Convene a meeting to launch efforts
Arrange an initial meeting with the above groups and individuals. Develop an agenda that allows time for introductions and getting to know each other. Acknowledge that standing up to hate and fostering inclusion is a long-term problem that takes time, but there may be some issues that need swift action. Discuss how to build and maintain an ongoing group that suits local needs, keeps everyone informed, and allows for meaningful participation for everyone.

Then, get busy.

Step 3: Identify issue(s) of highest concern
Every Not In Our Town campaign takes on the characteristics of the community and responds to local issues and needs. Hate and intolerance take on many forms, and your first meeting is likely to surface one or more issues of concern. Is it racism, religious intolerance, sexual orientation bias, bullying in schools? What group is most affected by these acts of hate? What can the group do about it together? Who are the key leaders of the affected groups? How can they be included in the group planning?

Step 4: Make your values visible develop an inclusive community-based action plan

Create a plan to respond to the issues of highest concern in your community. You may adapt one or more ideas for your group:

– Public Events
– Pledges and Petitions
– School Engagement
– Film Screenings and Dialogue
– Public Displays of Support
– Proclamations and Welcome Signs

For examples from the Not In Our Town movement, including videos, how-tos and sample materials, see accompanying guide, “Ten Ideas for Sparking Action in Your Town.”

Step 5: Analyze success, connect, and learn from others

Talk to each other and your community about what’s working and what isn’t, what to do next time, and how to resolve any conflicts that arose between group members. Change is hard, and disagreements are inevitable, but they can be worked out if people commit to long-term, agreed upon goals.

Don’t forget to publicize and document your efforts so the ideas can spread and help recruit new community members. Take photos, film interviews, write articles and collect materials to share with the Not In Our Town community around the world. Email items to web@niot.org for inclusion on www.niot.org.

Map your story here: www.niot.org/map. On NIOT.org, you can share your successes, challenges and your town’s story, and connect and learn from others.

About Not in Our Townniot_logo
Not In Our Town is a movement to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities for all. Not In Our Town films, new media, and organizing tools help local leaders build vibrant, diverse cities and towns, where everyone can participate.

Our unique approach is based on the premise that real change takes place at the local level. We focus on solutions to inspire and empower communities to create a world where:

  • All residents stand together to stop hate and promote safety and inclusion for all
  • Students and school leaders work to prevent bullying and intolerance, and promote kindness
  • Law enforcement and communities join forces to prevent hate crimes and violence

Follow on Twitter: @notinourtown

Resource Link: www.niot.org/guide/quickstart

Talking about . . . what’s next after the election?

The article, Talking about . . . what’s next after the election? was posted on the Living Room Conversations site just before the US Election in Fall 2016. Living Room Conversations are a structured format of dialogue designed to hold space for participants across the ideological spectrum to come together and explore each other’s point of view. The original article can be found in full below and on Living Room Conversations’ site here.

From the site…

The presidential election brought attention to our political system… and our differences. Now we need to restore relationships around our shared hopes and dreams and get our country focused on the work of governing. But how exactly will we do this?  This conversation allows us to start exploring ‘what’s next?’. Whether we feel elated or defeated, whatever our differences – let’s insist on finding the deeper unities we can rest upon and defend. Generosity. Goodness. Kindness. Freedom. Respect.

Click here if you would like a pdf of the following topic material to share with your cohost and friends.

Background reading (optional)
While you don’t need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.

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Now that you are all together, here we go!

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