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Recentering Democracy Around Citizens

Recentering Democracy around Citizens is a multimedia report from the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (2010) on how local leaders, and the national associations that serve them, can react to pressing challenges and reshape local governance.

The skills, attitudes, capacity, and diversity of ordinary people are creating new opportunities and new challenges for our communities and our democracy. More than ever, citizens are able to disrupt policymaking processes when they don’t understand or agree with the values and opinions of decision-makers. Citizens are able to contribute more than ever to public problem-solving. And it is clearer than ever that the quality of civic engagement is a critical factor in the economic vitality of that community.

Forty leaders, including a diverse array of public managers, academic researchers, democracy practitioners, and funders, met at the McCormick Foundation’s Cantigny Conference Center in February 2010 to discuss these changes in citizenship and local governance, and to explore possibilities for collaboration in democracy reform. The group included members and staffers from nine national associations that represent and convene local leaders: the National League of Cities, the International City/County Management Association, the League of Women Voters of the USA, the National School Public Relations Association, the United Way, Grassroots Grantmakers, the National Physicians Alliance, the United Neighborhood Centers of America, and the American Planning Association. NCDD was invited to the meeting, and we sent Board member Taylor Willingham to represent NCDD.

The report summarizes the discussions of a number of national leaders in public engagement and deliberative democracy (including the representatives of national associations that represent and convene local leaders) at the McCormick Foundation’s Cantigny Center early in 2010. The meeting participants compared notes on the state of public engagement, addressed the successes and shortcomings of their work, and reaffirmed the need for more sustained structures and strategies that will recenter local democracy on the needs and goals of ordinary citizens. The participants sketched out several promising paths for innovation. Recentering Democracy takes advantage of a number of different media, including a video, a slidecast, Powerpoint presentations, and pictures.

Download the Word report here:


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