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Citizen Conversation, Dialogue, Deliberation and Reflection (CCDDR) Program

PURPOSE: To catalyze a movement which recognizes and establishes citizen conversation, dialogue, deliberation and reflection (CCDDR) as a central factor in the life, well-being, peace, governance, intelligence and survival of communities, regions, states, nations and the world.

Our initial geographic focus will be communities, counties and states in the U.S. in order to build a popular base of support for CCDR in the U.S. However, we will network, research and advocate at national and international levels when the occasion warrants, and share our writings and research openly on the Web and through publications.

We believe both of the following:

a) The problems that will most seriously impact communities can only be effectively addressed by well designed high quality citizen dialogue and deliberation at national, international and global levels.

b) Adequate CCDDR at national and international levels will develop best out of experience with and widespread support for CCDDR at local and state levels.



Citizen: A resident in a community, state or country who takes on -- or is expected to take on -- shared responsibility for its collective welfare.
     Although specific citizens may have special status in the community, they are -- AS CITIZENS, especially in CCDDR activities -- treated as peers by and with all other citizens in that community.

Conversation: People talking together about whatever interests them.
   "Conversation" is here used as a general term covering dialogue, deliberation, and reflection. (Elsewhere it is often used to embrace other forms of talk not included in this program, such as discussion, debate, discourse, etc., which are tend to be less collaborative, congenial and/or productive than dialogue, deliberation and reflection.) It is also often used here to connote informality and spontaneity, whereas "dialogue," "deliberation" and "reflection" often connote more formal, structured, facilitated or specially convened conversations.
     (Note: Informal conversation can be promoted by community and architectural designs that offer inviting public spaces for conversations of various sorts (e.g., parks with alcoves and gathering places, public libraries with meeting rooms, many cafes, etc.); a culture of conversation (e.g., community leaders promoting the idea that "Dialogue is what we do here"); interesting, accessible, well-publicised occasions for loosely organized public conversations; mass media explicitly inviting conversations (e.g., as part of civic journalism); etc.)

Dialogue: Exploratory conversation concerning topics of interest, in which diverse perspectives are aired and heard.
    Much dialogue is deliberation or reflection (see below). But dialogue may also be undertaken to build relationships and heal rifts between people (by them hearing each other), to expand participants' understanding of the "big picture" (by hearing other views than their own), and to expand possible options (through co-creative engagement with issues, including participants coming up with new solutions or joining in self-organized work groups).

Deliberation: Dialogue that considers diverse points of view on a specific topic (issue, situation, proposal, candidate, etc.).
    Deliberation is usually undertaken in order to arrive at a statement of shared conclusions, decisions, findings and/or recommendations, which are often then publicly announced and/or submitted to specific public officials.

Reflection: People thinking deeply and broadly together about how they're doing, the state of their world, what they care about, how they feel about it, where they are going together, etc.
     Reflection may be about a specific issue, but is usually more general and open-ended. It often involves looking at one's own role, individually and collectively, and delving into fundamental considerations and meanings.
Reflection can be done for its own sake, or to produce a statement of understandings for broader use.

CCDDR: Any and all activities promoting the conversations of citizens and the empowerment of such conversations, especially dialogic, deliberative and reflective conversations designed to significantly impact the communities (and larger areas) from which their participants are drawn. This is not the same as dialogue and deliberation among stakeholders (as in Consensus Councils) or public officials (as in Legislatures) -- which are embraced by the broader category of deliberative democracy. CCDDRs tend to have citizens as the central players, with other players in supportive or peer roles. CCDDR overlaps with stakeholder dialogues in cases where citizens are well included among the other stakeholders.
     Note: CCDDR is a comprehensive "technical" term that may be seen as jargon by some people this project wants to reach. Initial contact materials and conversations may use terms like "citizen conversations" or "citizen dialogue and deliberation" or "community dialogues" to promote CCDDR, only getting into the distinctions above when it serves the aims of the program in a particular case.



People who are passionate (or could be passionate) about having more CCDDR in their communties.

This includes at least state, county and local government officials and public servants, as well as relevant community based organizations, public interest groups, religious congregations, educational institutions, youth groups, etc., who seek more CCDDR -- or might.

This could also include former community change agents, including former public officials and candidates for public office, disillusioned community activists, formerly conscientious citizens, etc., who may have dropped out of active participation because of the adversarial or bureaucratic nature of politics and governance. Their civic motivations may be rekindled when offered a more positive, inclusive approach to civic work.

We can also reach out to prospective public officials such as graduate students in public planning and aspiring candidates for public office.



1. Support efforts to bring together dialogue and deliberation practitioners, scholars and researchers in inclusive networks such as the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, Deliberative Democracy Consortium, etc.

2. Research, promote, and support efforts to compile and synergize diverse approaches to CCDDR, such as those being undertaken by John Gastil, AmericaSpeaks and the Mary Parker Follett Foundation. Promote the idea of synergized multi-process public participation programs among those doing this work and those organizing CCDDR in their communities.

3. Generally promote CCDDR's key role in community health and intelligence in public affairs media and conferences, and to any change agents who seem receptive.

4. Support efforts to institutionalize CCDDR -- or to create any official CCDDR activities -- at the national level, such as those of Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

5. Catalyze state and local CCDDR by organizing local conversations and coalitions to get CCDDR rolling, such as those created by Study Circles Resource Center (except ours would be generic and multi-process, rather than promoting only one approach to CCDDR).

6. Activate former CCDDR participants (who tend to be enthusiastic after their participation) to demand and organize CCDDR in their communities and elsewhere. This would include jury members and citizens who participate in the activities organized by NCDD professionals.

7. Research, promote and support self-replicating CCDDR efforts like the Rogue Valley Wisdom Council and Beyond War, where participants in early waves of activity organize subsequent waves.

8. Create promotional, organizing and training materials for the activities in 5, 6 and 7 above, or catalyze their creation by others. Since many groups currently have such materials either for specific methodologies or for some particular approach to community organizing, compile annotated guides to those materials (and/or other guides to those materials!) on the Web.

9. Create a print newsletter for our identified audiences -- especially public officials -- describing successful efforts at basic or multi-process public participation programs, and giving useful theory and process descriptions. Include a shop-talk or Q&A section for subscribers to work through issues and share successes.

10. Convene strategic conversations where the selection of participants, processes, topics and timing are intended to facilitate breakthroughs in specific areas of strategic need.

11. Catalyze (or, if funding is available, sponsor) research around interesting local efforts at CCDDR -- process effectiveness research, multi-process efficacy research, research on successful organizing activities and research on impact. Ideally, we would be leading consultants in formulating and designing research for multi-process programs that generate measurable community intelligence.

Sample Research Questions:

* What are the cultural and institutional obstacles to citizen dialogue and deliberation, its success and its empowerment?

* To what extent do randomly selected citizen deliberative councils produce outcomes recognized as desirable and/or common sense -- or just better than traditional official political/governmental outcomes -- by the public from which they were drawn?

* What approaches help people of diverse values subcultures to work together creatively on public issues?

* What characteristics or dynamics underlie successful dialogues and deliberations?



Make a list of organizations, conferences, leaders, publications we should be attending to in order to reach out to the audiences we have identified

Write articles for professional journals

Give workshops at professional conferences

Create a database of participants in CCDDR and engage them in further organizing in their communities through a website devoted to that purpose

Similarly engage people on the Co-Intelligence Institute mailing list.

Create guidelines for DIY local organizing using simple conversational events (like world cafe or study circles), Wisdom Council organizing, leetters to the editor, strategic conversations, etc.

Create a Wiki of scores of processes and public participation methods.

Bring together the parties creating multi-process reviews of methodologies -- John Gastil, AmericaSpeaks and the Mary Parker Follett Foundation.



The website for this program would include at least the following:

The learning edge

Here is some notes on what might be on this site, for starters...


What do you mean by deliberation (and conversation, and dialogue, and reflection -- and citizen)?
What is citizen conversation, dialogue, deliberation and reflection (called "citizen deliberation" for short)?
How does citizen deliberation relate to public participation? To deliberative democracy?
What's so special about citizen deliberation?
What is the Citizen Conversation, Dialogue, Deliberation and Reflection Program all about?
What do you mean by "a trustworthy voice of We the People"?
What do you mean by "community wisdom"?
Where can I find out more and participate in this?

METHODS (perhaps categorized as follows)

Citizens as policymakers (participatory budget, Canada's current electoral reform)
Citizens at dialogue shapers (CDCs, community visioning)
Citizens as advisors (citizen advisory councils, 21st Century Town Meetings, charettes)
Citizens represented at the table (stakeholder meetings, future search)
Citizens exploring and acting together (study circles, open space, various cafe modes, online deliberations)
Citizens seeing citizens deliberate (Electronic town hall meetings, Maclean's)
Conversational and Dialogic techniques (circle, dynamic facilitation, dialogue forms)
Electronic deliberation and dialogue tools
Democratic design (making community, architectural, institutional and cultural space for conversation)


Maclean's "The Peoples Verdict" (Canada, 1991)
Oregon Health Initiatives
Jackson Michigan (?) (Carole Schwinn's amazing community project)
Consensus Conference on Biotechnology (UK)
Listening to the City (America Speaks, NY)


**General theory:
A Call to Move beyond Public Opinion to Public Judgment - Atlee
Deep Democracy and Community Wisdom - Atlee
Deliberative Citizens' Forums and Interest Groups: Roles, Tensions and Incentives - Henriks
The Rhetoric of Public Dialogue - Anderson, Cissna, and Clune

**Multi-process theory and reviews:
Multi-process Public Participation Programs - Atlee
Democracy and the Precautionary Principle - Pellerano and Montague
Innovations in Public Participation and Environmental Decision-Making - Konisky and Beierle
Contemporary Public Involvement - Jackson
Deliberative Democracy and Citizen Empowerment - IIED
Experiments in Empowered Deliberative Democracy - Fung and Wright
Engaging Citizens in Policy-making - OECD
Ideas for Community Consultation - Carson and Gelber
A Review of Public Participation and Consultation Methods - Abelson, et al
Empowering Regions - ARS
Participatory Environmental Policy Processes - Holmes and Scoones

RESOURCES (see "methods" for specific method-related resources)



Multi-Process Citizen Deliberation
The Tao of Democracy - Atlee
Fairness and Competence in Citizen Participation - Renn, Webler and Wiedemann
Random Selection in Politics - Carson and Martin

General Multi-Process
Centered on the Edge - Fetzer Institute
The Change Handbook - Holman and Devane
The Joy of Conversation - Sandra and Utne

New Democracy
Beyond Adversary Democracy - Mansbridge
The New State - Follett
The Local Politics of Global Sustainability - Prugh, Costanza and Daly
The Quickening of America - Lappe and Du Bois
Deepening Democracy - Gung and Wright

Organizations and Websites:

Co-Intelligence Institute
National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation
Consortium for Deliberative Democracy
Study Circles Resource Center
Civic Practices Network
Mary Parker Follett Foundation

Foundations that support public deliberation:


Shop talk:
Wikis and online dialogues about issues related to citizen deliberation and dialogue -- including explorations and critiques of Atlee's extensive "Multi-process Public Participation Programs" articles

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