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Change for the Audacious: a doer’s guide

The 240-page book, Change for the Audacious: a doers’ guide by Steve Waddell, was published in 2016. This book explores how we must, and can do much better at addressing issues such as: climate change, food security, health, education, environmental degradation, peace-building, water, equity, corruption, and wealth creation. This book is for people working on these types of issues, with the belief that we can create a future that is not just “sustainable”, but also flourishing. This perspective means that the challenge is not just one of simple change, but of transformation – radical change in the way we perceive our world, create relationships and organize our societies. This is the implication of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and other global efforts, and also innumerable efforts locally, nationally and regionally.

Audacious_ChangeThis book approaches these challenges as large systems change issues: issues requiring engagement of many, many people and organizations often globally; issues requiring deep innovation with shifts in mindsets and power structures; and issues that require capacity to work with complexity. Large systems change is presented as a new field of practice and knowledge; the book is not about a “method” or particular “approach”; rather it provides an overview of frameworks, methods and approaches to develop capacity to use the appropriate ones in particular contexts.

After introducing concepts of transformation and complexity, the book presents five case studies of large systems change. These cases and others are referenced throughout the remainder of the book to present large systems change strategy, organizing structures, steps in developing the necessary collective action, tools, and personal guidance for change practitioners. (more…)

It’s Your Money. Where’s Your Say?

The article, It’s Your Money. Where’s Your Say? written by Larry Schooler was published February 2016 on Huffpost Politics blog. Schooler discusses the juxtaposition of some governments relationship with the public- some increasing transparency and public engagement experiences, while others are quick to restrict public’s access to information and public control of the state’s budget. The article tips hat to the use of Balancing Act [from Engaged Public] in San Antonio (TX), and the steady increase in participatory budgeting processes around the US. Below is the article in full and you can find the original on Huffpost blog here.

From the article…Schooler_article

In our private lives, we have quite a bit of say over how we spend our money. Granted, an employer or client ultimately decides whether and what amount to pay us, but if we want to spend more on a house than on vacations, or more on our children’s education than on dining out, that’s our decision.

Seems strange, then, that when it comes to our tax money, our say often doesn’t amount to much. Often cities, counties, states, and the federal government take minimal input from the public on their budgets—ironic, given that a budget is widely viewed as the single most important policy a government approves. It’s almost like taking the decision about what house to buy away from the homebuyer.

(more…)

Racial Dynamics to Watch For

The two-page tip sheet from Everyday DemocracyRacial Dynamics to Watch For, was published April 2010. The tip sheet gives pointers on how to keep racial dynamics in mind, in order to design better and more inclusive programs/events. The tip sheet gives advice for three categories: Planning and organizing, Dialogues and facilitation, and Working on Action. Below is an excerpt from the tip sheet and it’s available on Everyday Democracy’s site here.

From Everyday Democracy…

As you approach a large community-change initiative, pay attention to racial dynamics. Consider the following examples. Talk about how you might prevent or correct these situations.

Planning and organizing
– The organizing committee recruits one person of color to “represent” the African American / Latino / or Asian “community”.

-The chair of the group selects a large, prosperous, white church – or another venue frequented by whites – a a regular meeting site for the organizing team.

-The group decides to rotate meeting sites between a prosperous white church and a local black church. White attendance is very low when the meeting takes place as the black church.

Dialogues and facilitation
– The white facilitator seems to lead most of the times; the person of color who is co-facilitating tends to do more note-taking.

– The white organizer checks in with the white facilitator about how things are going.

– One or two people or color in a circle or 10 are asked to speak for their whole group.

Working on Action
– Action groups are often dominated by whites. While people of color may be invited to participate, they are more “for show”. Old habits and behaviors continue, and whites stay in the lead.

– As people form new partnerships to address problems in the community, they hesitate to include people from different racial groups.

– People who are most affected by new policies are shut out. They have no voice in the policy making.

This is a condensed version of Racial Dynamics to Watch For, the original can be found in full on Everyday Democracy’s site here.

About Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy (formerly called the Study Circles Resource Center) is a project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a private operating foundation dedicated to strengthening deliberative democracy and improving the quality of public life in the United States. Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across the United States on issues such as: racial equity, poverty reduction and economic development, education reform, early childhood development and building strong neighborhoods. We work with national, regional and state organizations in order to leverage our resources and to expand the reach and impact of civic engagement processes and tools.

Follow on Twitter: @EvDem

Resource Link: http://everyday-democracy.org/resources/racial-dynamics-watch

Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet? (NIFI Issue Guide)

The 25-page issue guide, Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet?, was published April 2016 from National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation, in collaboration with, North American Association for Environmental Education. Climate change is undeniable, this issue guide offers participants three options to use during deliberation on how to address our warming world. The issue guide is available to download for free on NIFI’s site here, where you can also find: the moderator’s guide, an options chart, and a post-forum questionnaire.

NIFI_Climate ChoicesFrom NIFI…

The Environment and Society Series is designed to promote meaningful, productive deliberation, convened locally and online, about difficult issues that affect the environment and communities.

All around is evidence that the climate is changing. Summers are starting earlier and lasting longer. Heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense. Dry regions are getting drier and wet regions are seeing heavier rains. Record cold and snowfalls blanket some parts of the country, while record fires ravage forests across the West.

The effects are being felt across many parts of the United States. Farmworkers in California’s Central Valley, snow-weary New England business owners, crab fishermen in Alaska, and cattle ranchers across the Great Plains have all seen uncommon and extreme weather. Occasional odd weather and weather cycles are nothing unusual.

But the more extreme and unpredictable weather being experienced around the world points to dramatic changes in climate— the conditions that take place over years, decades, and longer.

Climate disruptions have some people worried about their health, their children, their homes, their livelihoods, their communities, and even their personal safety. They wonder about the future of the natural areas they enjoy and the wild animals and plants that live there. In addition, there are growing concerns about our national security and how climate change might affect scarce resources around the planet and increase global tensions.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “Sharply Reduce Carbon Emissions”
We can no longer rely on piecemeal, voluntary efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The only way to protect ourselves and the planet is to tackle climate change at its source by taking coordinated, aggressive action to reduce the CO2 we put into the atmosphere—enforced by strict laws and regulations, and supported by significant investment. If we don’t make averting further climate change our top priority, warming of the land and oceans will accelerate, increasing the frequency of droughts, fires, floods, and other extreme weather events, and damaging the environment for generations to come.

Option Two: “Prepare and Protect Our Communities”
Preparing for and coping with changing conditions must be our top priority. We should work together now to secure our communities and strengthen our resilience in the face of climate-related impacts. That includes protecting our infrastructure—roads, bridges, and shorelines—and ensuring that the most vulnerable members of society have the support they need to adapt to the effects of a warming planet.

Option Three: “Accelerate Innovation”
Across the country and around the world, many private enterprises are already responding to climate change by seeing opportunity. Agricultural biotech companies Monsanto and Syngenta, for example, are poised to profit from newly patented drought-resistant crops. The water giant Veolia, which manages pipes and builds desalination plants, has expanded its operations to 74 countries on five continents. Lucid Energy, a startup in Portland, Oregon, generates electric power from the city’s domestic water pipes.

NIF-Logo2014About NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/climate-choices

Shining a Light Beyond Polarization

The article, Shining a Light Beyond Polarization by Jessica Weaver was published April 20, 2016 on Public Conversations Project blog. She reflects on the recent tendency in our National discourse to focus on division and how many is discourse often refuse to see the “other side”. Weaver shares a personal experience at a women’s leadership conference which reveals how experiences are greater and more complex that polarizing narratives often give describe.

Below is an excerpt from the article and you can find the original in full on Public Conversations Project blog here.

From Public Conversations Project…

Mikulski_PCParticleInstead of bemoaning how partisan bickering had stymied their work, Senator Barbara Mikulski (pictured center) was almost indignant. “That’s not the whole story,” she said, and argued that in fact this had been one of the most productive years for women in the Senate that she could remember. And she would know: Mikulski started a monthly bipartisan dinner group just for female senators that encourages relationships between women across the aisle, and creates mentorship opportunities between generations of politicians.

The exchange made me think about something we talk about often at Public Conversations: the danger of focusing solely on conflict, especially in binary terms. By rehearsing the narrative of polarization, we are at one level simply making reference to a political reality, but at another, are pushing a wheel over the same groove, in jeopardy of deepening the schism. The story is self-fulfilling, according to recent research out of University of California – Berkeley, titled “Self-Fulfilling Misperceptions of Public Polarization,” which concluded that citizens across the political spectrum perceive one another’s views as being more extreme than they really are:

“Thus, citizens appear to consider peers’ positions within public debate when forming their own opinions and adopt slightly more extreme positions as a consequence.” In other words, being inundated with information about polarization doesn’t make us more moderate, it makes us more extreme. (more…)

Kettering and China: Thirty Years and Counting (Connections 2015)

The three-page article, Kettering and China: Thirty Years and Counting by Maxine Thomas was published Fall 2015 in Kettering Foundation‘s annual newsletter, “Connections 2015 – Our History: Journeys in KF Research”. Thomas recounts the relationship Kettering and China have cultivated from dialogue over the last 30 years. Beginning in 1985, the dialogues have been an exercise to normalize relations with China. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the initial dialogue in Beijing, and a celebration is scheduled in fall of 2016 to honor the milestone. Below is a excerpt from the article and the full piece can be found here. Connections 2015 is available for free PDF download on Kettering’s site here.

KF_Connections 2015From the article…

From these humble beginnings, connections between Kettering and our Chinese colleagues have flourished. In 1985, Mathews and a small team went to Beijing to meet with several Chinese organizations and explore their mutual interest in establishing a dialogue among nongovernmental organizations to complement the work of the two governments. The purpose of these dialogues was to expand and deepen the interactions and understanding between the two societies. There were also concerns about Russia and foreign policy. This meeting began what has evolved into 30 years of collaboration.

Focus on the Public

As the foundation does in all its research, the work has focused on the public. At the first meeting in 1985, participants included David Lampton, now with the Johns Hopkins China Institute, Kettering vice president Rob Lehman, Kettering program officer Suzanne Morse Moomaw, Kettering vice president Phillips Ruopp, and conference coordinator Patricia Coggins. This initial meeting resulted in citizen-to-citizen meetings held the following year in the United States. Over time, participants on the US side included leaders like Robert McNamara, Kenneth Lieberthal, William Taft IV, James Leach, Donald Oberdorfer, and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. (more…)

Teens Dream

The Global Co Lab Network is a virtual “do tank” designed to empower cost effective inter-generational engagement with the goal of incubating initiatives out of carefully designed informal gatherings such as living room salons, utilizing facilitated design thinking. Our goal is to help people get out of their silos and work across networks more effectively, utilizing a virtual organization with diverse expertise.

The “Co Lab” helps people identify “doable problem sets” of specific challenges and curates invitees of diverse perspective and backgrounds to foster intentional, solutions-based collaboration with a focus on ensuring input from teens and/or millennials. Over the past year and a half, we have gained legal status as a new global and virtual non governmental organization, assembled a diverse team of advisors, created and secured the Co Lab website, launched a successful crowdfunding campaign, and hosted over twenty salons.

Our first successful incubated project from six salons engaging teens is Teens Dream, a digital platform empowering teens globally to articulate and pursue their dreams. Through two annual video competitions we have received over 135 short YouTube videos from across the world, including Morocco, Romania, Sri Lanka, Australia, Estonia, Canada, Denmark, the United States, Latvia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We have awarded hundreds of dollars in prizes and hosted a celebration in Washington DC, to pair winners with mentors and organizations who can help them realize their dreams. Our promotional videos, Gallery of Submissions, Teen Media Production Group, and our soon to be established Dream Hubs, are all available on our website at www.teensdream.net.

The Global Co Lab Network seeks to engage those NCDD members interested in youth engagement, for more information email Istaheli[at]globalcolab[dot]net. (more…)

Alabama Prisons: Why We Cannot Look Away from Alabama’s Shame (DMC Issue Guide)

The issue guide, Alabama Prisons: Why We Cannot Look Away from Alabama’s Shame, was a collaborative effort between David Mathews Center and AL.com, published 2014. The guide offers three approaches for deliberation to address the serious and widespread issues with the Alabama prison system. In addition to the guide, an eight and a half minute video was also created to summarize the realities of the Alabama prisons.

The guide offers three approaches for deliberation and within these approaches are five specific actions and consequences for each option. Below are the three approaches from the issue guide which were found on National Issues Forums Institute blog here. You can find more information about the issue guide, including the action/consequence of each approach and the brief video, on AL.com here.

From NIFI blog… (more…)

Creative Acts as Democratic Work (Connections 2015)

The four-page article, Creative Acts as Democratic Work by Paloma Dallas and Melinda Gilmore was published Fall 2015 in Kettering Foundation‘s annual newsletter, “Connections 2015 – Our History: Journeys in KF Research”. In this article, Dallas and Gilmore explore the role of art in civic engagement and community problem solving, in response to David Mathew’s query, “If the public has to do more than observe – if it has to be a citizenry-at-work – then the question is, how does art affect people doing the work of citizens?”

After much research, the two gathered a mixed group of folks for the first Civic Capacity and the Arts exchange at Kettering, and determined that the arts often play a critical role in community engagement. Below is an excerpt of some of the insights gained from Dallas and Gilmore’s research and multiple Kettering exchanges. Connections 2015 available for free PDF download on Kettering’s site here.

From the article…

KF_Connections 2015A few insights are currently coming into focus. Like any discipline, there are many arts organizations that have a more conventional notion of their role and their place in community life. They tend to look to communities as their audience and their funders. This is fine, and even good. But those with whom we have been working see a different role for themselves.

The arts have an ability to tap into other ways of knowing. As Esther Farmer wrote in her article “Strange Bedfellows: Community Development, Democracy, and Magic” in a 2015 issue of Community Development, “Traditional models of democratic debate have tended to privilege abstract, ‘disembodied’ forms of reason. . . . These kinds of disembodied environments that are overly intellectualized and abstract are dangerous on two fronts; they engender boredom, the enemy of enthusiasm, creativity, and imagination (i.e. magic), and even worse, these heady environments can also engender feelings of resentment and inadequacy.” Another participant, a professor of communication studies who has been collaborating with a visual artist, speaks about his concern with the professionalization of dialogue and deliberative work. His collaborations with a visual artist are born of a desire to explore the full range of democratic participation. (more…)

Economic Vitality: How can we improve our communities?

The 11-page issue guide (2016), Economic Vitality: How can we improve our communities?, was collaboration effort by the Southern Governors’ Association, Southern Economic Development Council, Consortium of University Public Service Organizations and Danville Regional Foundation. The Issue Guide was found on National Issues Forums Institute‘s blog and offers three options for participants to use for deliberation on the current economic situation in the US.

You can find the issue guide, moderator guide, and a post forum questionnaire, available for free download on NIFI’s site here.

Economic Vitality_coverFrom NIFI’s blog…

[Via Linda Hoke…]

Despite positive signs in terms of overall economic growth, the economy remains a key concern among many Americans. According to a Harris poll conducted in January 2016, Southerners were the most pessimistic about the future. For many in communities across the South, rapid change and an unclear future can create a sense of uneasiness, or even impending doom.

The Southern Governors’ Association, Southern Economic Development Council, Consortium of University Public Service Organizations and Danville Regional Foundation have partnered to develop materials designed to help communities come together to deliberate about the following key question: What should we do to improve economic vitality in our community? We encourage you to take a look at these materials to see if they can help your community – or a series of communities in your state – think through their options and paths forward.

We are glad to provide advice and assistance if you are potentially interested in holding a forum to help your community discuss the important issue of economic vitality. Please feel free to contact Ted Abernathy, Economic Development Advisor to the Southern Governors’ Association at ted[at]econleadership[dot]com or Linda Hoke, Director, Consortium of University Public Service Organizations at lhokesgpb[at]gmail[dot]com.

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation: (more…)

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