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Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy 2 – Day Three

Sandy Heierbacher, NCDD’s director, is in Washington DC this week attending Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy 2 — a working session organized by AmericaSpeaks, Demos, Everyday Democracy and Harvard University’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation.   Sandy will be sharing her notes via Facebook and Twitter throughout the event and we will be collecting them here along with any comments we receive.

10:06 am –  We’re about to get into groups to work on 7 areas of convergence from yesterday’s activities. I’ll post about each, and love your reactions to them. Large-group comments led to one new idea that will be followed up on as well: the notion of a philosophical opening statement that puts kind of a stake in the ground for this community, that we would then ask the administration to support.  (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:06am)

10:08 am –   Area of Convergence #1: Create national demonstration project(s). A public engagement project on an important policy question to demonstrate the value of citizen engagement to the public, elected officials and the Obama Administration. The projects would produce important policy impacts, while advancing the capacity and will to organize similar projects in the future (ad hoc or institutionalized)… (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:08am)

10:11 am –  Area of Convergence #2: Health of Democracy Report/Mapping/Indexing/Participedia. Assess the quantity, quality, scope & health of democratic and participatory reform efforts around the country. May include an inventory of what work is taking place and what initiatives have been completed. May build on the work of the Natl Civic Health Index…  (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:11am)


Hey Sandy: Can this be fleshed out to include assessing USE or POLICY impact of participation. E.g., we know for sure that citizens are able to participate when given a chance; but ultimately the incentive to do so has to be the expectation that your voice will actually be heard and make a difference in the world.  (Added by Richard Sclove on 8/4/2009 at 10:30am)

Like the Participedia idea… 😉  (Added by Tim Bonnemann on 8/4/2009 at 11:03am)

Caution: open-source, Wiki-type participation runs the risk of allowing organized groups with the largest funding and membership base to “win” — in effect, merely reproducing the results of interest-group pluralism.  (Added by Richard Sclove on 8/4/2009 at 11:20am)

Just to clarify. The Participedia project (by Archon Fung and others) is not about wiki-based deliberation. Rather, it is a catalogue of organizations, methods and case studies in this field.  (Added by Tim Bonnemann on 8/4/2009 at 12:39pm)

Are you involved in the Participedia project, Tim? I’m talking to Archon about how NCDD could/should be involved in the project.  (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 5:05pm)

10:13 am –  Area of Convergence #3: Create an Executive Order on Public Engagement. Several ideas… EO that a group of Federal agency reps came up with here based on the Champions of Participation report. EO that focuses on many of the elements in last year’s SOND report (tasks for the White House Office of Civic Engagement that was proposed). EO articulating the Principles for Public Engagement and holding govt accountable.  (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:13am)

10:15 am –  Area of Convergence #4: Adopt an Electoral Reform Agenda. Encourage the Obama admin and Congress to support a full electoral reform agenda that may include the expansion of voter registration from th enforcement of NVRA, voter registration modernization, public financing for Congressional elections, and ex-felon disenfranchisement.  (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:15am)

10:17 am –  Area of Convergence #5: Recognize and Support Innovative Forms of Engagement Carried out by Communities of Color, Immigrant Communities and Other Historically Disenfranchised Communities. Adopt policy reforms that will support the empowerment of disenfranchised people through community organizations and organizing, as well as funding and technical assistance to support the creation of community organizations.  (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:17am)

10:20 am –   Area of Convergence #6: Develop skills to foster the expansion of democratic participation. Support the expansion of democratic and participatory skills thru (1) education pgms w/ elected officials by incorporating training on participation in existing orientation programs for newly elected officials, (2) systemic capacity bldg across fed agencies to increase the capacity of fed mgrs to support public engagement… (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:20am)


CSC just conducted our second “Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times” seminar in Cupertino last week – over 60 city/county/civic leaders in attendance! (Added by Pete Peterson on 8/4/2009 at 3:12pm)

Thanks for typing and sharing these, Sandy!  Another aspect of this rec. is training of citizens who might be involved in public engagement. (Added by Peter Levine on 8/4/2009 at 5:25pm)

10:21am –  Area of Convergence #7: Create a New Vehicle for Ongoing Communication, Collaboration, Leadership and Advocacy for the Democracy Movement. Dvlp a creative structure to support ongoing communication, collab, ldrship and advocacy for the demo reform mvmt. Vehicle should creatively support a lg, diverse grp of leaders from across the demo mvmt to advance the work of demo. Will be inclusive and participatory. (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:21am)


advocacy umbrella group with two distinct boards of directors working in concert… who tackle 1) issues affecting long-term structural sustainability related to the mass of organizations and their goals 2) coordinating quick-response actions (across multiple interest groups) related to current events in the world. to maximize immed effect and group participation without sacrificing groups’ minimal time and resources available. know this is prob just a repeat of what you are covering in the conf already. sure wish I could have been a fly on the wall for this one. (Added by Stacy O. Reed on 8/4/2009 at 10:43am)

10:22 am –  Folks – note that we’re going into groups now to hone these 7 or 8 things. These are in no way final! I’ve love your initial input and reactions to these areas, though. (Added by Sandy Heierbacher on 8/4/2009 at 10:22am)


Sandy, can you also try to tackle the issue of organizational ‘fundraising’ in whatever group it most appropriately fits. when I did database and membership work for multiple orgs simultaneously, it became Very apparent that one of the biggest hurdles to the health of advocacy programs was the extreme (and often cannibalistic) overlap in fundraising efforts. many orgs working for the same ultimate goal trying to $queeze the $ame $$$ from the $ame people. ditto happens all the time with grants. we NEED a more comprehensive and collaborative funding structure. so more time can be spent on actually fixing the issues, and less on trying to oversell specific issues to $ecure a $hare of $carce $. (Added by Stacy O. Reed on 8/4/2009 at 10:33am)

saw a couple of them. looks great. I would make sure that people can dream along the way about what is optimal democracy look like. (Added by Leilani Rashida Henry on 8/4/2009 at 11:12am)

good point. brings up thoughts about being sure to address the personal/interpersonal psychology of the movement. fostering the ability to work successfully in waves, so that people don’t get burned out and can maintain focus on their core passions while still being/feeling included in the larger ocean. (Added by Stacy O. Reed on 8/4/2009 at 11:20am)

Andy Fluke
Andy Fluke is the co-founder of NCDD and currently provides creative support to many of NCDD's publications and events. He also works with a handful of other NCDD members on a variety of projects as consultant and designer. More about his work can be found at www.andyfluke.com.

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