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Register now for the January Confab with Tom Atlee

Join us for an NCDD Confab Call with thought leader Tom Atlee on Tuesday, January 17th at 2pm Eastern (11am Pacific). This call was originally set for December 29th, but we’re pushing it back a couple weeks to ensure more people can participate.

Confab bubble imageWe’ll be talking with Tom about some of the concepts that are in his book that’s in the works, Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics.  You can view and comment on a couple of the draft chapters here for a few more days.  Tom encourages everyone to share their comments before New Year’s.

Register at http://myaccount.maestroconference.com/conference/register/SU5ISTNQ00T68NR as soon as you can so we know you’re coming!  Ben Roberts, a principal in both weDialogue and Occupy Café, will be facilitating the call on the Maestro platform. We look forward to an inspiring January Confab with old and new NCDD friends!

Here’s a bit more about Tom’s book:

Our existing democratic-republican political system is clearly unable to deal with twenty-first-century challenges. We need more wisdom in our public policies, our public budgets, and our public conversations — and we need it soon. This book, Empowering Public Wisdom, suggests that it is both vital and possible to generate authentic collective wisdom through the conversations of ordinary citizens.

“Public wisdom” results when the public — as a whole or in randomly selected “mini-publics” — engages in learning about, reflecting on, and discussing public affairs in ways that take into account what needs to be taken into account to decide what will produce long term, inclusive benefits.

The chapters being posted on Reality Sandwich describe that kind of randomly selected mini-public — the various forms of temporary, well-informed “citizen deliberative councils.” They tell us about the hundreds of these councils that have been held around the world and how they have been used. They tell us about new forms of councils that could be developed and new ways they could be used — including organizing them at grassroots levels and through using the Internet.

These councils provide a way to readily and affordably generate a legitimate, authentic, coherent, and wise voice of “we, the people” — a voice for “the general welfare” that is not currently present in our political discourse. It moves us beyond partisanship to a place of collective responsibility for our shared destiny. It reclaims the idea of “we, the people” as a coherent political force that integrates the diversity of the whole citizenry rather than a catchphrase used by one more special-interest group that attempts to speak for “the people” but doesn’t really embrace our full range of perspectives and needs.

Other chapters in the book discuss (a) the role of power–especially how to balance power in a democracy and move from power-over to power-with; (b) the need to rein in corporate and financial domination of elections and government; (c) the strengths and limitations of both representative and direct democracy; (d) the polarization of our current political life and strategies to creatively move beyond it without dishonorable compromises and deals; (e) dozens of high quality conversational processes for mass public participation; and (f) how the power of public wisdom might actually be institutionalized in our government.

This is a radically new way to think about democracy. It embraces diversity, engages participation, and addresses conflicts and ignorance in profoundly different ways than we are used to hearing in bars, on talk shows, in public hearings, and within the halls of government. This is not a kind of direct democracy, where everyone votes on everything. Its bottom line is not just “participation” or “winning” but wisdom. Empowering Public Wisdom offers practical approaches for achieving exactly that.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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