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Human Impact on Climate Change: Opportunities & Challenges (IF Discussion Guide)

Human Impact on Climate Change: Opportunities & Challenges, a discussion guidebook from the Interactivity Foundation (IF), serves as a discussion guide designed to use non-ideological language that helps participants to separate potential policy directions from partisan agendas and arguments over science, and to explore possibilities for how they or their communities might respond.

Human Impact on Climate Change- Opportunities & ChallengesThe easy-to-use, 40-page guide frames the possibilities that discussion participants can consider in two categories. The first, “Setting the Stage,” focuses on immediately impact awareness and action, and the second, “Meeting the Continuing Climate Challenge,” is focused on the more complicated, long-term approaches needed to impact infrastructure and natural systems.

Here is how the report has framed six different possibilities for participants to discuss:

Possibilities for Setting the Stage

A. Promote Climate Awareness – Improve understanding of climate impact, climate science, and possible approaches.
B. Change Consumer Habits – Focus on human consumption as a source of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.
C. Go for Results – Identify efficient and low-cost solutions that are available for short-term action.

Possibilities for Meeting the Continuing Climate Challenge

D. Heal the Planet – Plan and implement long-range recovery and rehabilitation of ecosystems.
E. Deal With a Different World – Adapt to changed conditions and plan for climate emergencies.
F. Focus on the Developing World – Assist developing nations in reducing climate impact activities and adopting clean technologies.

The guide expounds on all six of these frames as starting points for in-depth conversation and deliberation, and offers example policy suggestions grounded in all six frames for participants to explore. It also includes a great list of additional resources to help facilitate further conversations at the end.

To help these conversations be more inclusive and accessible, IF has made a PDF of the report available in both English and Spanish, and you can also view it online. You can go directly to the report summary page by clicking here, and there is even a Facebook discussion group based on the report.

About the Interactivity Foundation
The Interactivity Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to enhance the process and expand the scope of our public discussions through facilitated small-group discussion of multiple and contrasting possibilities. The Foundation does not engage in political advocacy for itself, any other organization or group, or on behalf of any of the policy possibilities described in its discussion guidebooks. For more information, see the Foundation’s website at www.interactivityfoundation.org.

Resource Link: www.interactivityfoundation.org/discussions/human-impacts-on-climate

Community Heart & Soul Field Guide

The Community Heart & Soul™ Field GuideThe Community Heart & Soul™ Field Guide (2014) is the Orton Family Foundation’s guide to its tested and proven method of community planning and development. This step-by-step, four-phase method is designed to increase participation in local decision-making and empower residents of small towns and rural communities to shape the future of their communities in a way that upholds the unique character of each place.

Community Heart & Soul is based on wide and broad participation from as many residents as possible. Whether the focus is on comprehensive planning, economic development, downtown planning, or an outside-the-box vision and action plan, Community Heart & Soul aims to reach all residents of a town for the best results: results that pay benefits over the long haul.

The Community Heart & Soul Field Guide outlines a model Heart & Soul process. Each of the four phases is built around specific goals for learning, capacity building, and engagement. Together they lead to the overall project goals and outcomes.

The Field Guide shows you how to:

  • REACH all demographics in your community by bridging divides and overcoming hurdles
  • MOVE the conversation out of city hall and into NEIGHBORHOODS
  • ENGAGE and learn from all kinds of PEOPLE: youth to working parents to retirees
  • UNCOVER practical, broadly supported SOLUTIONS to local problems
  • Discover the POWER of storytelling to reveal what MATTERS MOST to residents
  • Identify community VALUES and use them to inform ACTIONS
  • Build strong CIVIC CULTURE to inform DECISIONS over the long haul

Find out what Heart & Soul can do for your town. Download the FREE guide.

About The Orton Family Foundation
The Orton Family Foundation’s mission is to empower people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of each place.

Resource Link: http://fieldguide.orton.org

Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy?

Written by Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP)Everyone Counts was commissioned by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State to celebrate the Participatory Budgeting Project winning the inaugural Brown Democracy Medal in April 2014.

Everyone CountsAccording to John Gastil, Director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, “The Participatory Budgeting Project exemplifies the essential features the award committee was looking for in its inaugural recipient. Political and economic inequality is part of the American national discussion, and participatory budgeting helps empower marginalized groups that do not normally take part in a process that is so critical for democratic life.”

In Everyone Counts, Josh Lerner provides a concise history of the organization’s origins and its vision, highlighting its real-world successes in fostering grassroots budgeting campaigns in such cities as New York, Boston, and Chicago.

As more and more communities turn to participatory budgeting as a means of engaging citizens, prioritizing civic projects, and allocating local, state, and federal funding, this cogent volume offers guidance and inspiration to others who want to transform democracy in the United States and elsewhere.

PBP is an innovative not-for-profit organization that promotes “participatory budgeting,” an inclusive process that empowers community members to make informed decisions about public spending.

About the Participatory Budgeting Project


The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) is a non-profit organization that helps communities decide how to spend public money, primarily in the US and Canada. Their mission is to empower community members to make informed, democratic, and fair decisions about public spending and revenue. They pursue this goal by working with governments and organizations to develop participatory budgeting processes, in which local people directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Follow on Twitter @PBProject and @joshalerner.

Everyone Counts is 56-pages and available through Cornell University Press, Amazon/Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Google Play and Kobo.

Resource Link: www.amazon.com/dp/B00OVI7IYS

Ripple Effect Mapping: A “Radiant” Way to Capture Program Impacts

A group of leaders in college extension programs created a participatory group process designed to document the results of Extension educational efforts within complex, real-life settings. The method, known as Ripple Effect Mapping, uses elements of Appreciative Inquiry, mind mapping, and qualitative data analysis to engage program participants and other community stakeholders to reflect upon and visually map the intended and unintended changes produced by Extension programming. The result is not only a powerful technique to document impacts, but a way to engage and re-energize program participants.

Ripple Effect Mapping can be used to help unearth and document the divergent outcomes that result from dialogue and deliberation programs.

This article in the Journal of Extension was published in October 2012 (Volume 50, Number 5). Authors include Debra Hansen Kollock of Stevens County Extension, Lynette Flage of North Dakota State University Extension, Scott Chazdon of University of Minnesota Extension, Nathan Paine of the University of Minnesota, and Lorie Higgins of the University of Idaho.


Evaluating the changes in groups, organizations, or communities resulting from Extension programming is difficult and challenging (Smith & Straughn, 1983), yet demonstrating impacts is critical for continued investment (Rennekamp & Arnold, 2009).

Ripple Effect Mapping (REM), is a promising method for conducting impact evaluation that engages program and community stakeholders to retrospectively and visually map the “performance story” (Mayne, 1999; Baker, Calvert, Emery, Enfield, & Williams, 2011) resulting from a program or complex collaboration. REM employs elements of Appreciative Inquiry, mind mapping, and qualitative data analysis. (more…)

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

ILG-LOGOIn 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 help guide local officials in the best use of public engagement consultants.


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. (more…)

Legal Issues Associated With Social Media (ILG Report)

ILG-LOGOWhat 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. (more…)

Happiness Alliance and the Gross National Happiness Index

hi_logoThe Happiness Alliance, home of The Happiness Initiative and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index, is a deeply grassroots organization.  Their mission is to improve the well-being of society by reducing emphasis on economic growth and focusing on the domains that lead to life satisfaction, resilience and sustainability. Their purpose is to provide tools resources and knowledge to foster grassroots activism for a new economic paradigm. The Happiness Alliance is a volunteer driven organization. (more…)

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 featured 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’ ideas to strengthen the influence of citizen voices on policy decisions.  (more…)

The Deliberative Mapping Approach

This 4-page publication (2004) describes the “Deliberative Mapping” approach and how it could be used to foster more productive discussions between specialists and members of the public about complex policy issues where there is no obvious way forward.

Though it only appears to have been tried once, Deliberative Mapping was a methodology that could be applied to a problem to judge how well different courses of action perform according to a set of economic, social, ethical and scientific criteria. The aim was to use the approach as the basis for more robust, democratic and accountable decision making which better reflects public values. (more…)