Insight into deliberative democracy, participatory governance, flat organization models and large group decision making techniques.

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.

Networks for Change

(Published on WorldChanging Canada. Thank you to the editor Mark Tovey for inviting me to join the writing team.)

There is no shortage of articles about how social networking sites like MySpace and FaceBook can be used to support grassroots and progressive campaigns and professional networking sites like Linkedin and XING can help you get connected in your sector, but what about the networking sites specifically created to support social and environmental causes?

An excellent list of governance dialogue techniques

Thanks to Alice Byers of ISEALl Alliance for a link to quantumgovernance.ca, which lists a wide variety of descriptions and resources for planning and managing governance dialogue. Visit quantumgovernance.ca/QuantumManagerialToolkit

Ontario referendum should approve MMP by 84%, but will more likely fail

At the end of their 8 month learning, consultation and deliberation process the 103 members of the the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly voted 84% in approval of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) over the current First-Past-the-Post (FPP). If we can assume that any other group of random citizens would have done the same, than we can guess an educated public will also vote for MMP in the referendum.

The Ontario Citizens' Assembly was Monumental

citizens assembly logoFor the past few weeks I have been researching and writing about the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform. I did some outreach and have so far found 13 Ontario political science academics who agree:

More Criteria for Evaluating Participatory Processes

I found this “Practical Guide for Evaluating Participatory Processes” (PDF) by the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy (OIDP is the Spanish acronym). I'm not that impressed in the ambiguity of the criteria, the redundancy between criteria and the lack of reference to foundational research. Instead I would highly recommend “Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation” by Gene Rowe and Lynn J. Frewer, whose criteria I summarized in a previous blog post.

Dotmocracy Demonstrations in My Last Weeks in Venezuela

(See my previous blog post to understand why I'm in Venezuela and what the are Communal Councils that I was investigating).

My last month in Venezuela was very fruitful. After sending out hundreds of emails to various government contacts and journalists, I lucked out with one response from a passionate political writer, Ramón E. Garcia S. (read his blog in Spanish) who's day time job is a computer network system administrator for the government tax office. He invited me to stay with his family in Bolivar City and to demonstrate my Dotmocracy group decision-making technique (Método "¿Que opinas?” in Spanish) to various government representatives and community organizers there.

Two women discuss an idea part of a 65 person Dotmocracy demonstration for "Mision Cultura" in Bolivar City.
Two women discuss an idea part of a 65 person Dotmocracy demonstration for "Mision Cultura" in Bolivar City.

Why I'm in Venezuela where mob rule is the law

[Leer una version en español aqui]

I have been in the town of Cumaná on the eastern coast of Venezuela for four months now. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, I'm far away from home and everything I knew. While the climate and exchange rate are obvious pluses, I have had many a friend and stranger ask why Venezuela? Why go to a "developing" country known for its violent cities? Isn't that where Hugo Chavez, the president, is a crazy dictator?

Two kids in Simon Rodriguez community in Cumana, Venezuela

Two kids in shanty town community of Simon Rodriguez in Cumanà, Venezuela.

My answer is quite simple: I think a better future is dependent on participatory democracy, and there is no country in the world that has more of it than here.
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