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In 2006, Time named “You” the person of the year. The web, “a tool for bringing together the small contributions of million of people and making them matter” made it possible for us to collaborate and build community in new, dynamic and scalable ways.

Power is no longer held by the few. it is possible for “the many” working together to “not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.” We each have the power to tell our own story, to contribute to projects with people we do not know and may never meet and develop products that are freely available, and to keep in contact with far flung friends and family.

Time closes with a charge that we should adopt as our Big Hairy Audacious Goal, “This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person.”

Let’s do it in 2007.

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American Idols and Citizenship

Two nights ago, my parents received the top award given to citizens of the Village of Salado by the Salado Chamber of Commerce – citizens of the year. We’re still waiting to see when and if mom will ever get some sleep. Winning the raffle for the grand prize prize did not help.

I’m very proud of them and I’m thrilled that the village extended their gratitude in such a public way, but I can’t say that it’s a surprise. I know how involved they are because even though I moved here to be close to them, I still have to follow them around town if I want to see them. If it’s Monday, my dad is at library board meeting. Tuesday? That’s community chorus night. Weekend? They’re walking the streets – no, it’s not as salacious as it sounds. They founded the Ambassadors, a group of volunteers who roam main street in spiffy sport shirts with name tags, and welcome visitors and give directions. (They’re so good at it, they still get Christmas cards from visitors they helped three years ago.) They handle all of the technology needs for the organizations they support. They turned their dining room into “Command Central” and organized dozens of citizens to petition entry into the Village of Salado’s Extraterritorial jurisdiction so that Killeen, Temple and Belton could not take us over without our permission. They serve on the Music in Salado Board, sing in their church choir, have been active with the Historical Society, and are on the board of the Chamber of Commerce.

I’m glad this is a small town. Otherwise I would never get a chance to see them. At least I can show up for their choir performances or attend the events they help organize and spend time with them at these public events. I’m so glad I was at the Chamber dinner when their names were called.

I would have written this last night, but I stopped to see my niece and nephew in Austin to tell them the story about their nana and papa, and got caught up watching American Idol with them. A woman with zero singing ability didn’t understand why she couldn’t be an idol. She pled through her tears that she deserved to be an idol even if she couldn’t sing because “Paris Hilton can’t sing”. Randy muttered under his breath, “But she’s not an idol.”

Which leads me to my real question. What is an idol? Throngs of talentless twenty-somethings aspire to be an American Idol, but how many of them would ever be “citizens of the year” or even care to be? And if we DID have that competition, would anyone watch or care? What will it take for “citizen of the year” to become something our young people aspire to? Perhaps we need more conversation about what it means to be a citizen. What are the responsibilities of citizenship?

My American Idols only sing harmony in their community chorus, but they are examples of what it means to be a citizen of a community. They are the true American Idols in my book!

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Thanks mom and dad for being such great role models for an entire community.

Thanks for being my role models!


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Cole Campbell, dean of the Donald W. Reynolds Schools of Journalism at the University of Nevada, research associate for the Kettering Foundation, and friend died last Friday when his car flipped on an icy road.

The world not only lost a champion for public journalism. We lost a great man and a dear friend.

I can’t top the tribute published in the NY Times where notable journalists and writers honored Cole, but I can say a hearty “amen” to those who described Cole as “an unwavering proponent of civic journalism that could help people exercise their civic duties”, a “towering intellectual among newspaper editors, astonishingly well read and curious about all ideas…[who] never met an innovative idea that he didn’t want to try out,” and “a very deep philosophical thinker, but also a man who was extremely interested in whether the community he newspapered in was a successful, vigorous polity.”

I first knew about Cole and his work in public journalism in the mid-90’s when he was the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and he hired a mutual friend to launch an online version of the newspaper that would include – gasp – an opportunity for people to add comments and exchange ideas online. It was less than ten years ago, but in the world of technology, it was several generations ago. There wasn’t a roadmap for online public engagement. There was no YouTube or MySpace. But I’d like to think that (like Cole) I “never met an idea that I didn’t want to try out” so I was thrilled when the Post-Dispatch hired me to develop a discussion guide on literacy. I never worked directly with Cole on that project, but I knew that he was on to something important and exciting, and it was an honor to be part of the experiment. I was deeply disappointed when – as the NY Times delicately noted – Cole encountered resistance to his ideas and left the Post-Dispatch in 2000, exactly the time that I decided to become an independent consultant.

Fortunately, our affiliation with the Kettering Foundation would provide us many opportunities to meet and work together over the next six years. During that time, Cole worked at the Poynter Institute then became the journalism dean at the University of Nevada. Along the way he married Catherine and they had a son, Clarke. The last time I saw Cole was in October when he served as the moderator for a panel discussion on Democracy’s Challenge: Reclaiming the Public’s Role at the National Archives and Records Administration in D.C. Cole had just lost his father, but he was there filling the role professionally and with great humor starting the session acknowledging his respect for ritual as as the son of an Episcopalian minister. He then ceremoniously led us in the “turn off your cell phone” ritual.

The Kettering Foundation videotaped the Democracy’s Challenge Roundtable and I hope they find something special to do with it. How appropriate that the topic Cole moderated was the public’s role in Democracy. It was Cole’s passion and he believed that media had the power and the responsibility to help people fulfill their role as citizens. For the last two years he’s shared his ideas with the next generation of journalists. I hope that they took good notes and did their homework. We would do well with a generation of journalists with Cole’s integrity, innovation, humor, intelligence, sense of irony, and unwavering commitment to our civic life.

God bless you, our dear friend. We’ll miss ya!

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Cole Campbell and Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, LBJ Library Director

at the National Archives and Records Administration

for the Democracy’s Roundtable: Reclaiming the Public’s Role Roundtable.

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Listening is key to acting

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I’ve been reading Alan Alda’s delightful and provocative memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I’ve Learned.
Although he’d had a successful acting career, Alda confesses he didn’t fully understand what it takes to be a good actor until M*A*S*H.

“When I started out as an actor, I thought, Here’s what I have to say; how shall I say it? On M*A*S*H, I began to understand that what I do in the scene is not as important as what happens between me and the other person. And listening is what lets it happen. It’s almost always the other person who causes you to say what you say next. You don’t have to figure out how you’ll say it. You have to listen so simply; so innocently, that the other person brings about a change in you that makes you say it and informs the way you say it.

The difference between listening and pretending to listen, I discovered, is enormous. One is fluid, the other is rigid. One is alive, the other is stuffed. Eventually, I found a radical way of thinking about listening. Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of dueling monologues. Like so much of what I learned in the theater, this turned out to be how life works, too.”

Several statements from these two paragraphs are worth considering in the context of our deliberative forums.

Here’s what I have to say. How shall I say it?
Somewhere in my sixteen years of working with deliberative forums, I came across a quote from Paul Axtell, “We live in a culture where we are raised to problem-solve and give advice. We are either talking or waiting to talk.” When we find ourselves thinking about what we are going to say next or how we are going to say it, we have checked out of the conversation. Instead, maybe we need to check our brain and engage our being. How can we fully know what to say until we’ve fully listened? Listening is different from hearing. Listening takes time. It takes full engagement of all of our senses. We can’t be fully engaged if we are focused on ourselves and what we are going to say.

What I do is not as important as what happens between us
The spaces between us is where the magic occurs. We forget how powerful the “between” can be. There are two ways in which we violate the “between” moments in our forums and miss opportunities for breakthrough deliberation. First, a noble desire by the moderator to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak can lead to a Baskin Robbins approach to moderating. If you’ve ever been to the famous ice cream shop or other businesses that employ “take a number, please” line management systems, you know what I mean. As a moderator you see an intimidating sea of hands waiting to speak. You go around the room like a mechanical “take a number machine” pointing from raised hand to raised hand. “I’ll take you, then you, then you, then you, then you.” By the time the third “then you” person is speaking, any sense that this is a conversation is completely lost. There is no “between us”. We are not reacting to what others are saying; we are giving the speech that was inspired by a comment made several minutes ago and long forgotten by the subsequent disconnected thoughts. Those in line to speak are focused on what they are going to do or say next. The rest of the people in the room have checked out. They didn’t come to hear a series of speeches.

The second way we fail to take advantage of the “between” moments is when we rush to fill the silence, We ask a question and no one answers. We assume that it MUST have been a bad question. So we restate it. We ask another question. We stutter and stumble. Our voice fills the silence and distracts the participants from their thoughtful consideration of what might have been an outstanding question. We forget that silence IS content. Deep thinking takes place in silence. Deliberation takes place in silence.

Claude Debussy said that “Music is the space between the notes.” (Or it might have been Miles Davis who said, “It’s not the note I play-it’s the space between the notes.”) This blog, which contains the graphic below, provocatively explores the question “But what if the non-things–the space between the things–is just if not more important?” from different perspectives and metaphors.

 

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For example, this blog points out:

  • “Some of the best musicians, I’m told, play fewer notes than you actually hear”
  • Artists know that negative space carries weight.
  • Newbie writers (like me) are taught that it’s the words you cut out that matter most. We’re told to edit until nothing else can be removed.
  • But real learning takes place between exposures to content! Long-term memory from learning happens after the training. The space between the lessons and practice is where the learning is made permanent.

Great advice, from an interesting blog!

Listen simply
How often do we assume that we know what others mean? We jump to conclusions. We make assumptions. But we need to discipline ourselves to listen innocently, to suspend our assumptions. Or if we ARE going to base our response on assumptions, perhaps we need to assume the speaker has the best of intentions in our listening. The book, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, recommends disentangling impact and intent. We can only be aware of our intentions and how the other person’s comments impact us. We cannot know their intentions or how our words impact them. And yet, we assume that we know the other person’s intentions and more often than not, we assume the worst intent.

Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you
When you think about it, this is a scary proposition. It means that we have to be willing to acknowledge that we don’t have all of the answers. We might not know everything. We may even have based our own opinions on faulty facts or logic, or a limited understanding of the issues. At the conclusion of our forums, we ask participants to reflect on how their thinking has changed. Notice that we are focused on how thinking has changed, not how opinions have changed. Forums may not change opinions, but they DO change people’s way of thinking about issues. We cannot engage in honest dialogue and walk away unchanged.

Dueling monologues: This is what we often see in public hearings, particularly those that are held because that are mandated by legislation and not held because of an earnest desire to engage the public. In dueling monologues, each person gets their two or three minutes to make their case and then they sit down or leave. They get a hearing. They are heard. And unless the legislative body is going to vote, there is no reason to stay. They physically check out. Public hearings are not about public listening, or public decision-making, or even public engagement. You may get your chance to speak, but there is no guarantee that you have been heard and no requirement that you listen.

But perhaps the most profound lesson from this reading that good acting happens when we learn to listen. In our work, skeptics often ask about the action. What action follows from forums? Well, Alda has given us a new way to answer, “How can we know how to act until we learn how to listen? The action may be less about the doing and more about what happens between us, what happens when we listen.”

Listening IS acting!

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[Mary Knill (an archivist for the LBJ Library, a member of the Texas Forums network and former New Orleans resident) volunteered to facilitate a small group in Austin for the recent Community Congress Two designed to bring together current and former New Orleans residents in 21 communities. Community Congress II focused on updating New Orleans residents on recovery efforts, creating a public dialogue to identify rebuilding priorities, and strengthening public awareness for continued recovery and rebuilding efforts. I asked Mary to file this report about the experience. Marla Crockett, Texas Forums member and news director for KERA in Dallas, attended the Dallas gathering and will be including audio excerpts from the event in her farewell broadcast on December 15. I’ll post links in this blog to her recordings.]

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On Saturday, December 2, 2006, AmericaSpeaks hosted an interactive community meeting that brought together over 2500 New Orleans residents and evacuees from 21 sites across the nation. At five sites in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta, and 16 satellite sites, New Orleanians watched introductions from Mayor Ray Nagin and Dr. Norman Francis, chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and President of Xavier University, in which they described the re-building planning process to date and the funds that had been allocated for recovery. Participants were told that this community meeting process, called the “Unified New Orleans Plan,” or UNOP, was the accepted process signed on to by the city council, the mayor and the LRA and that what the participants decided that day would become the blueprint for future planning initiatives.
Other news they shared about available funds and the timeframe for recovery was grim but participants were told that their input would not only direct where existing funds would be channeled but that their voices would be used to develop a plan that could be used to approach Congress and philanthropic organizations for additional funds to help bring the city back.

The participants then got down to a long day of discussing their positions and voting on six critical issues: 1) Flood Protection; 2) Roads, Transit and Utilities; 3) Neighborhood Stability; 4) Rental and Affordable Housing; 5) Education and Health Services; and 6) Other Public Services such as police, EMS, and fire departments. One over-riding theme of the day was that New Orleanians did not want to just return their city to its pre-Katrina standing – they wanted to make the city stronger and better, while still preserving its rich heritage.

The methodology was not like anything the New Orleanians or I had encountered. At the five main locations participants used keypads to enter their demographic information, and, over the course of the day, to vote on the issues. As with many such forums each discussion cycle began with a presentation of the issue and the three or four suggested options for addressing the issue. During the discussions the participants talked about the pros and cons of each option and came up with alternative options. Reporters at each table recorded themes that arose during the discussions and submitted them over the internet to the “theme team” working in New Orleans. The theme team simultaneously synthesized the information arriving from over 250 tables across the country, including the satellite sites, into further options. Then, in real time, a new list of options generated from the original options and the themes sent from the participants were displayed on the screens at all 21 sites. From these lists of often nine to twelve options participants chose the top three or four that they preferred. Once again, in real time, the percentages of those choosing different options were displayed on the screen, sometimes to the loud cheers of the participants. It was an empowering experience for the participants to offer new options for resolving problems, to have them included in the vote, and to see them supported by their fellow New Orleanians across the nation.

Previous efforts to survey New Orleanians about their preferences for the “Road Home” had not represented the demographics of New Orleans pre-Katrina. Because the unique culture and spirit of New Orleans are a direct reflection of the city’s demographics, AmericaSpeaks was committed to bringing together a representative sample of the population. As you can see in the report at http://www.unifiedneworleansplan.com/uploads/UNOPpreliminaryreportdraftv4-01856.pdf, the ethnic diversity of the participants almost exactly mirrored that of pre-Katrina New Orleans. However, the economic distribution was not as well represented. But by correlating votes on the different issues to the demographic data that participants entered in their keypads at the start of the day, AmericaSpeaks and UNOP can present a plan to the City Council, the Mayor and the LRA that can honestly say it reflects the desires of the citizens of New Orleans.

The next Community Congress is to be held on January 13. Meanwhile, you can view an 8-minute video that highlights the methodology online at http://www.americaspeaks.org/resources/video/toughissues_full.htm.

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Texas Forums on Social Security

Originally uploaded by TexasTaylor.
[This is one of a series of postings featuring the history of Texas Forums prior to November 2006. These photos were retrieved for the NIF 25th anniversary celebration and are being posted here for those who are new to Texas Forums and want to know more about us. For more entries about our history, go to our History Category Page.]

On April 21, 2005, volunteers from Texas Forums moderated simultaneous forums on “The Medicare Burden: how can we ensure health care coverage for older Americans?” for the Big Choices Symposium hosted by the LBJ Library, the UT Center for Health and Social Policy and LBJ Future Forum.

The organizers recruited people from:

  • Third Age, part of the University of Texas at Austin’s Continuing Education Program for senior adults (over 60 years of age).
  • Young professionals
  • Members of the three informal continuing education programs operating out of the Thompson Conference Center (SAGE, LAMP, and Quest.
  • Representatives of the local AARP office
  • Future Forum, an LBJ affiliate that seeks to expand the involvement of young Texans with the LBJ Library and to foster greater civic involvement within the community (typically ranging in age from 25 to 45).s

During the planning time of the Big Choices Social Security symposium, the symposium organizers learned that the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) was developing a 32-page discussion guide based on three different approaches to social security:

• Reaffirming Social Security: The Promise of Protection
• Reconstructing Social Security: The Case for Personal Accounts
• Renewing Social Security: Revising the Contract for a New Generation

Working closely with the author of the discussion guide, members of the Texas Forums network distilled the three approaches in the draft issue book into a tri-fold brochure rather than attempting to frame the issue from scratch.

In preparation for the forums, participants heard presentations from leading experts in the field including commentary from Kenneth S. Apfel, former U.S. Social Security Commissioner and founder of the Center for Health and Social Policy and Dalmer Hoskins who provided an international perspective as the Secretary General of the International Social Security Association. Additional participants in the roundtable discussion were:

  • John Rother, Director of Policy and Strategy, AARP
  • Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, New America Foundation
  • Barbara Kennelly, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
  • Stuart Butler, Vice President, Domestic and Economic Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation
  • Peter Orszag, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
  • Thomas Saving, Director, Private Enterprise Research Center; Jeff Montgomery Professor of Economics, Texas A&M University; Public Trustee, Social Security Board of Trustees

Following a dinner hosted by the LBJ Library, the participants reconvened in the library’s atrium and were joined by members of the LBJ Library Future Forum. In break out groups, volunteers from Texas Forums moderated simultaneous deliberative forums using content based on the NIFI discussion guide.

  • Participants were adamant that Social Security should be preserved, but were willing to be flexible and explore minor changes to the system.
  • Social Security is not a substitute for retirement savings, but should be seen as a supplement.
  • While some people were concerned that the working poor are paying into a system that is benefiting wealthier retirees, participants were concerned that allowing people to opt out of the system could weaken support for it.
  • Several participants expressed a willingness to accept trade-offs in order to preserve the current system – those with higher incomes were willing to pay more in and take less out.
  • Raising the age of retirement was an option participants were willing to explore, but they wanted to preserve the individual’s right to choose their own retirement age and were concerned that forcing the retirement age upwards would unduly impact laborers.
  • Incentives to increase personal savings were well-received, but participants were concerned that personal accounts were impractical for lower wage earners and the majority of people who are not knowledgeable about how to manage their own investments.

The full report can be viewed here.

To see more photos from this event, go to our Flickr site for Social Security photos.

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[This is one of a series of postings featuring the history of Texas Forums prior to November 2006. These photos were retrieved for the NIF 25th anniversary celebration and are being posted here for those who are new to Texas Forums and want to know more about us. For more entries about our history, go to our History Category Page.]

Big Choices Medicare Forum Moderated by Texas Forums
Originally uploaded by TexasTaylor

On April 22, 2004, volunteers from Texas Forums moderated a forum on “The Medicare Burden: how can we ensure health care coverage for older Americans?” for the Big Choices Symposium hosted by the LBJ Library, the UT Center for Health and Social Policy and LBJ Future Forum.

Participants were recruited from:

  • Third Age, part of the University of Texas at Austin’s Continuing Education Program for senior adults (over 60 years of age).
  • Future Forum, an LBJ affiliate that seeks to expand the involvement of young Texans with the LBJ Library and to foster greater civic involvement within the community (typically ranging in age from 25 to 45).
  • LBJ School of Public Affairs graduate students in Professor Ken Apfel’s course “Pensions and Health Care in the 21st Century.”

Participants deliberated three approaches to Medicare using a discussion guide prepared for this event:

Approach 1 Defined Benefit—The Government as the Insurer Shared Costs/Greater Negotiating Power

Approach 2 Defined Contribution—Private Health Insurance Companies as Insurers: Choose Providers, Not Insurers

Approach 3 Raising Revenue—We All Pay for the Benefits We Want: Not an Approach, but a Reality

Following is a summary of the findings from these forums, but an online draft of the full report, which will be published as a book chapter is available here.

  • Participants acknowledged that Medicare would have to be changed, but said that the current system reflected their values of fairness and an elderly person’s right to a basic level of health care.
  • Participants wanted to see a greater emphasis on prevention in our health care system and expressed a willingness to endorse more prevention programs within Medicare.
  • Participants recognized that some level of rationing is necessary in order to provide health care services for all elderly people; however, they were cautious about how rationing would be implemented and insisted that it should not be based on ability to pay.
  • Participants strongly believed that government involvement is the best way to share costs across a larger pool of participants and ensure coverage for everyone. They were concerned that shifting coverage to private insurers would leave the sickest and poorest in the government pool.
  • Participants would not support policies or plans that limited their choice of health care providers.
  • Being able to choose health insurance plans was not a high priority for the participants, and they were skeptical that competition among providers would result in lower health care costs.
  • Participants firmly acknowledged that health care costs were going to increase and that we would have to pay more, but both the elderly and the youth in the forums were concerned about the impact that raising revenue would have on the other generation.

To see more photos from this event, check out our Flickr Medicare Photo Album.

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“What does it mean to be a citizen – of a community, of a country of a world?
If all those who called themselves Americans were in one room, what would we have in common?
What is our vision of the future?

These are just some of the questions being explored by the America Project & the 51st (dream) state, a major new music theater work produced and directed by Sekou Sundiata. The author of a May/June 1994 issue of American theatre once said of this New York-based artist and activist, an African-American poet, performer, and musician, “If Homer were a black man born in the projects, he would be this tall, fearsome-looking poet.” But, like many Americans, 9/11 spurred Sundiata to new thinking about what it means to be an American. He was troubled by the estrangement between American Civic ideals and American civic practice. Through the America Project, he takes on his civic responsibility to think out loud about America’s national identity and his own “blind spot” when it comes to his vision of himself as an American. He lives out this civic responsibility in the ritualized form of theater and public dialogue.

I met Sundiata last Monday when I participated in a Citizenship Potluck he led. Well, it wasn’t really a potluck since the meal was catered by Rosemary’s at the UT Alumni Center. Sponsored by the UT Humanities Institute and the UT College of Fine Arts, the purpose of the event was to encourage potential partners from the arts, the university, community organizations and faith-based institutions to engage Austinites in “honest and critical conversations about post-9/11 citizenship and civic consciousness.”

So he led us gently in just such a conversation.

Sundiata set the stage for our storytelling by sharing the impact that 9/11 had on him. Laid up in a hospital bed in Brooklyn, the television was his only source of information about his beloved city. It wasn’t until several days later that he was able to make his way to his university office that once lay in the shadow the twin towers. Compelled to exit the train a stop early in order to walk past the site that would eventually be called “Ground Zero”, Sundiata numbly walked past hundreds of 8*10 hurriedly photocopied candid shots of people plastered on every available surface. Amidst the sadness, Sundiata also felt an overwhelming sense of love. The kind of love that led him on a journey, “an adventure, a quest to find a vision of what it means to be both a citizen and an individual in a deeply complex, hyper-kinetic society.” According to Sundiata, artists are called to witness, citizens are called to witness.

Sundiata engaged us — about thirty people seated at three round tables — in part of that journey by asking us to tell a story of when we became aware of ourselves as citizens or civic beings. The stories people told evoked powerful images:

  • A nine-year old girl writes a postcard to President Johnson asking why we are at war in Vietnam
  • A seven year old girl travels to the National Women’s Political Caucus meeting with her mother, meets the likes of Steinem and Friedan, and breaks her piggy bank to pay dues to join her local chapter.
  • A 62 year old black woman who grew up with the protection of a Black College is baffled when, as a young child on a family vacation in the south, her mother forbids her to use a certain water fountain or restroom. Years later, she weeps through a performance of the Lion King at a historic theatre in San Antonio, not because of the performance, but because she finally entered through the front door after years of climbing the back stairs entrance for the “coloreds”.
  • A young man called home from a fellowship abroad to fulfill his draft obligations for a war he does not support, meets the woman he eventually marries, finds purpose in Soul on Ice, hope in the production of Hair and overwhelming love for his country.
  • A young man accompanies his elderly Jewish great-grandparents on a tour back to their home country in the Soviet Union and convinces the young female tour guide to take him out on the town after curfew not realizing that she was subject to greater risk than he for his lark.

Out of these stories, we began to identify themes. Some people found their “civic soul” when they were subjected to or witnessed social injustice. For some, it was a tragic event while for others, it was the subtle influence of a respected mentor.

Sundiata then directed us to think about our vision for America and what it would take to move us in that direction. One woman spoke for the first time and echoed what we often hear at the end of our deliberative forums. “We need more opportunities and places to connect authentically with others, to see others as humans.” That is our charge over the next few months…creating those opportunities leading up to Sundiata’s return in mid-February to perform his production, America Project & the 51st (dream) state.

I believe these are the questions we need to be asking leading up to the 2008 elections and will keep you posted on opportunities to engage others in this exploration.

If you want to learn more about this project and other Texas Forums events, subscribe to our newsletter and I’ll keep you posted!

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In November, Texas Forums hosted two online events -a workshop on Civic Reflection and a discussion with the author of the report on Democracy’s Challenge: Reclaiming the Public’s Role forums.

These and other online workshops are archived on the new Opal Online Civic Engagement Archive Page! You can watch and hear the entire presentation including the slides we used (you WILL need a PC with Internet Explorer) or you can download the audio to your MP3 player and take us to your exercise class! We’ve also provided a link to the slides for your use.

If you have suggestions for future online events or speakers, or if you would like to hold a book discussion online, let me know. I’ll be holding in-person and virtual presentations on how to access and use this resource that the LBJ Foundation has made possible.

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[cross posted on The Deliberative Democracy Blog ]

You may have seen invitations from me to attend virtual workshops on libraries (and other public institutions) and Civic Engagement using the Online Programming for All Libraries (OPAL) environment. These are now archived and ready to be replayed. If you have ideas for future workshops or panel presentations that we can offer to members of the dialogue and deliberation community, or if you would like to conduct a workshop in this environment, please leave a comment here and make sure to include your e-mail.

Our most recent workshop was a discussion with John Doble of Doble Research Associates about the results of the National Issues Forums on Democracy’s Challenge: Reclaiming the Public’s Role.

Taylor

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