Communities of every size and demographic need routine opportunities for people of many backgrounds to dialogue with each other and with public officials, have a voice in decision making, and work together for stronger communities.
We’ve seen people in schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods use dialogue and action to address a wide range of issues. We want to build on the successes of individual communities and create ongoing opportunities for public participation at state, regional, and national levels.
In order to achieve this kind of engagement, we need clear avenues to connect and support each other so we can make a bigger impact. We need to build a “civic infrastructure” that connects and amplifies local and national efforts so public participation becomes a permanent part of the way we work as a country.
We have come to play a unique leadership role, grounded in using an explicit racial equity lens in promoting participatory democracy. Our work to nurture a national democracy movement has included:
Supporting dialogue and action work at the state, regional, and national levels
At the state level
Residents in Portsmouth, N.H., have been using dialogue and action for over 15 years to address a range of issues including education, police-community relations, strategic community planning, sustainability, and the city budget. Thanks to the success of the program, the University of New Hampshire started “New Hampshire Listens” to support dialogues around statewide issues.
At the regional level
Over 100,000 people in 238 communities took part in the Horizons initiative. This community leadership program, sponsored by the Northwest Area Foundation, was aimed at reducing poverty in rural and reservation communities in seven northwestern states.
Inspired by the Horizons project, the Southern Rural Development Center partnered with Everyday Democracy on Turning the Tide, an initiative to bring everyday people together to address poverty and inequities in the rural South.
At the national level
After the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Conn., President Obama called for a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health.
Everyday Democracy has worked with some key partners in the dialogue and deliberation field to launch Creating Community Solutions as part of this effort.
Conversations have taken place in 300 communities across the country and counting, including six lead communities that kicked off the initiative. Text, Talk, Act has engaged an additional 26,000 young people and others. Participants have come from diverse racial, ethnic, socio-economic and age backgrounds.
Cultivating network of leaders
Everyday Democracy has nurtured a network of diverse and geographically dispersed leaders who are coaching communities and playing leadership roles across the civic field. Get to know our senior associates.
Developing a network of anchor partners
We work with organizations to build or strengthen their own capacity to provide coaching and training on community engagement to local communities in their states, regions and issue areas. Read more.
Convening practitioners in the democracy reform movement
We worked to build a common vision for the democracy reform movement by bringing together the fields of deliberative democracy, racial justice, community service, civic education and voting rights.
Together, we developed recommendations for working together to strengthen our nation’s democracy and core principles for public engagement. Several members of the Obama administration have taken part in our conversations and listened to our recommendations.