It’s been a busy few months. Sarah’s daughter got married and, along with other matters, we have been working on a very interesting project with the Kettering Foundation involving the media and democracy. Sarah has also been working through a local nonprofit on dialogues about youth and education, using another Kettering sponsored guide. We sponsored some calls looking at the role of trust in dialogue, and most recently facilitated a dialogue on issues relating to the EPA’s 111(d) regulations. Subsequent posts will summarize ‘lessons learned’ in all of this work. As we get back on track with regular posts we want to start by sharing one from Brad Rourke of the Kettering Foundation. In his post, Brad summarizes a problem often encountered in public deliberation – lack of agreement on what the issue is, why it matters, and who should be involved. He also provides a graphic that is very useful for analyzing whether there is sufficient agreement to compel the community to act, and if not, where to begin the discussion. As we pointed out in our earlier post on the data to wisdom continuum, one reason public deliberation efforts often fail to gain traction, or even result in increased polarization, is that they focus prematurely on specific solutions without engaging citizens on the component parts that would help build understanding and awareness. Creating more safe spaces for exploratory dialogue, and providing for citizen driven interaction, would help promote more effective public deliberation.
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