Cultivating the Habits that Support Democracy

By Terry ChadseyMany years ago I had a formative experience in my own understanding of democracy. I was invited to facilitate a Land Use Task Force public meeting in a community best described as transitioning from rural to suburban. Their last meeting had ended in a fistfight. I began the meeting by playfully talking about how I was invited to help guide the process, but that I was neither a referee nor a police officer. Rather, I told those gathered that evening in a school cafeteria that I was a teacher and I had spent many years learning with school children about our …   Read more

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TPOWS: Media As Mediation

By Evelyn Messinger There has been a flurry of attempts lately to connect the two political movements of our time, Tea Party and Occupy. As a television news producer who often works to expand participatory democracy, this one hits my sweet spot: it’s newsworthy, it’s dialogue, and the way the media report it will really matter. The Tea Party burst on the scene in 2009, and Occupy Wall Street in 2011. On a superficial level, their rallies look surprisingly similar: compare this typical Tea Party event in Medford, Oregon; and an Occupy protests in the same place two years later. Journalists …   Read more

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Internet Blackouts, The Republican Primaries, & The Power of Silence

By Pia InfanteI’ve been thinking about the power of silence. The successful, wide-spread website blackout and viral organizing of the past week to protest the SOPA bill in the U.S. House of Representatives and PIPA bill in the Senate sends a loud message. These bills have drawn the ire of many in the tech industry and beyond, citing that the legislation parameters proposed are “too broad” and will “threaten free speech, stifle innovation and most likely will not even effectively eliminate piracy.” Tracking the phenomenon, the NY Times reports that “by Wednesday morning, several lawmakers had reconsidered their support …   Read more

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Man Over Time…

By Jill BlairThanks to Hallmark and all the other companies that generate tools to bring good cheer into our lives, the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas now flow into one another seamlessly. This was not always true. When I was growing up there were much more clearly defined distinctions between Halloween – when goblins and candy ruled; Thanksgiving, when turkey, pumpkin pie and crazy families were the main events; and Christmas (in our house Chanukah), when trees, candy canes and too much gift-giving left people tired and abundant. In these modern days, we have managed to change the nature and pace of time …   Read more

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Occupy Wall Street: Is the Medium as Important as the Message?

By Matt Leighninger & Bruce L. MalloryAs practitioners and students of deliberative democracy for more than a decade, we are intrigued by the tactics of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and by the contrast between these methods and the traditional ways in which governments try to engage citizens. Media commentators speculate on whether the Occupiers will achieve their policy goals; maybe we should all be more focused on the equitable, participatory, ways in which those goals are being developed.Whether one agrees with the ideological content of the OWS movement or not, this unfolding example of civil discourse, respectful exchange of ideas, small-group facilitated dialogue, and listening …   Read more

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