Jason Diceman's blog

Consensus Document at Canadian Conference for Dialogue and Deliberation

This October 22-25 C2D2 and Toronto Community Housing will be co-hosting the third bi-annual Canadian Conference for Dialogue and Deliberation. As part of the program, I will be conducting a process to develop a Consensus Document, asking participants "How do we use dialogue and deliberation to make stronger communities and healthier democracies?"  We will collectively author an answer to this question using a Dotmocracy wall and through a workshop. Learn more about the Consensus Document project and register today for this important conference.

Citizens' Assemblies: Wise Democracy from the Minipublic

(Originally published on WorldChanging.com September 6th 2008)

Politicians should take note; there is a new answer to some of the toughest questions of our times. When presented with an issue with no obvious popular and sensible solution, or a situation where a legislature is unable to make progress on an important topic, 100 random citizens can be called on to solve the political puzzle, as they did in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario (my home province).

A Public Involvement in Decision Making Toolkit

Back in 2000 Health Canada published an excellent resource called The Health Canada Policy Toolkit for Public Involvement in Decision Making.
It is a complete toolkit with guidelines, about 50 techniques described in concise details and with useful suggestions, and also case studies and references. I highly recommend it as a definitive reference on the various options for effective public engagement within the Canadian context. You can access other free resources in my links section.

Mutli-lingual Mailing List Software / Service

I'm on the Board of C2D2 and we needed a mailing list application that could provide for a full bi-lingual (French/English) e-newsletter blast. In my research I could not find any hosted mailing list services that advertise support for multi-lingual email marketing. That said, I did find some acceptable solutions...

Public Participation Software and Technology - A recommended blog

Check out this excellent blog created by public involvement consultant Beth Offenbacker:

http://p2tools.blogspot.com

She has particularly useful articles about contemporary technologies for enhancing public engagement. It's a new blog and hopefully she will continue to post.

Visualize information to make it accessible

Public consultation and engagement requires a two-way flow of communication between the proponent (the organization doing the consultation) and the public. The public needs to have information presented in a way that is easy to understand and this can be done, in part, by using good visuals. I recommend the booklet "Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design" as a good resource to review before creating your public information materials. It's written for NGOs who do advocacy, but the suggestions apply just as well to public consultations.

A great guide to public consultation

I recently found this manual...

PUBLIC CONSULTATION GUIDE:
CHANGING THE REIATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND CANADIANS

By Peter Sterne with Sandra Zagon
http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/SC94-62-19-1997E.pdf

I am finding it very useful for planning public consultations required for environmental assements. The detailed Roadmap Model gives 51 key steps one should carry out to conduct a successful public participation process. Written in 1997 it's a bit out of date in terms of more conteporary approaches, such as the use of online tools, but it is still very worth while and insightful for consultants and government folks in Canada and beyond. Pass it on!

Policy from the People

Map of Canada in the worldWould you trust randomly selected citizens to be the source of insight for drafting foreign policy? Shauna Sylvester is leading a large independent project called Canada’s World, that will do just that.

Read the complete article I wrote for WorldChanging.org Canada

The Canadian Conference for Dialogue and Deliberation

C2D2 night cap 1 of 2
A night cap session after the days workshops and plenaries

On November 12-14th I attended The Canadian Conference for Dialogue and Deliberation, affectionately known as C2D2. This was the second C2D2 conference, the first I also attended in Ottawa 2005. At this year's conference in Vancouver with some 300 participants, I presented a poster session on "The Reality of Communal Councils in Venezuela" (Download the poster PDF) and gave out copies of my Dotmocracy sheets.

Why Use Face-to-Face Dialogue Rather Than On-line (in brief)

As a practitioner I find that face-to-face dialogue provides for greater trust and emotional communication based on eye contact and body language. As well, many people are not comfortable with text chat and writing and thus are disadvantaged by on-line and written forms of dialogue. Also face-to-face can be much faster for exchanging perspectives and opinions. Thus for dialogue aimed at finding common ground between average folks, face-to-face is preferred. That said, outcomes from a face-to-face discussion should be documented on-line.

For discussion and exchange between web comfortable participants, on-line tools can work well, but you won't get the same level of emotional communication and flame wars (e.g. insults and personal conflicts) are more likely.
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