Everyday Democracy

How People are Reinventing Democracy in Their Communities

I’ve  heard many good things about Everyday Democracy when it had a different name.  Communities are where citizenship and democracy has a “real” expression, where it really matters the most to the most.  This is where I do most of my work, deliberative processes for communities large (Pacific Northwest Fisheries) and small (Clackamas County Fire District #1 Open Burning Issues).  Everyday Democracy‘s resources are impressive and might be useful to some of you.  The thing that strikes me is how much energy and heat we give to  partisan political games and how little we attend to deliberative democracy and citizen cooperation (across the devides) at the  community level.  Enjoy.  Walt

“We need a new operating system that motivates and rewards a nation of well-informed citizens –actively participating in political decision-making on a regular basis — helping shape the national debate rather than being shaped by it,” says Jeffrey Abelson


In its earliest years, the Study Circles Resource Center (now Everyday Democracy) was one of the leading innovators in the now-growing field of deliberative democracy and dialogue, drawing practices from a wide range of grass-roots leaders and public officials.  At first, its focus was primarily on creating tools for inclusive, productive talk. Throughout the nineties, the Center helped foster a large national network of multi-racial and cross-sector coalitions focused on issues of racism, inter-ethnic relations, and diversity. It worked with the L.A. City Council in the wake of the O.J. Simpson trial, helping to involve thousands of Angelenos in dialogue on the issues they were facing. The Center went on to assist hundreds of communities, providing tools and training to help local organizers engage hundreds and thousands of people in dialogue on a wide range of public issues — criminal justice, education reform, growth and development, youth issues, neighborhood issues, and others.

Its work with local organizers led the Center to expand its focus to include community organizing to increase and diversify participation in dialogue. Now it is further expanding its focus, concentrating on how to make sure that community organizing, large-scale, diverse dialogue, and other civic processes can work together to create and sustain community change. The name Everyday Democracy signifies the ultimate goal of communities that work better for everyone because all voices are included in public problem solving.

As Everyday Democracy continues to ground what it is learning in the realities of community life, it works to  bring those lessons to the fields of deliberative democracy, racial justice and the larger movement to strengthen democracy. Its community assistance, learning, communications, and partnership development aim to develop and span those fields — while creating and disseminating user-friendly tools that all communities can use.

Everyday Democracy is based in the capital city region of Connecticut, in East Hartford.


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