Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week of June 11, 2012 is Resolutions Week to limit money in politics

From:  Organize in Your Town for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United, Limit Money in Politics & Curb Corporate Power  |  ResolutionsWeek

  • In the wake of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that their interests are the ones our politicians are concerned about, at the expense of the interests of the American people.

    • People in towns and cities across the country are advancing resolutions through their city and town councils and state legislatures that declare support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, challenge corporate power. and eliminate unlimited campaign spending.

      • A coalition of groups are working with citizens all over the country to pass over 100 new local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment, centered around Resolutions Week in June.

      Participate this election season through social apps / TV channel

      From:  The Digital Citizen Project, by Sandy Heierbacher  |  NCDD

      • Digital Citizen 2012 is a cross-platform and converged media series that seamlessly connects people using social and mobile applications, to television programming of the 2012 campaign. 

      • Using well-established online engagement tools, public participants contribute video, audio, text and still images of themselves to the station’s website, stating their opinions and posing questions. 

      • Initially, the online community will vet contributions. Producers will join in, to assure the inclusion of representative groups in this process and to track contributors whose posts are popular among the community. 

      • Utilizing the digital capabilities of modern studio production equipment, a significant number of the pre-recorded contributor questions and comments will appear on the live programs.

      Wednesday, May 30, 2012

      Successful small group nonviolent corporation protest

      From:  How a small group can take a long walk -- and make a difference, by George Lakey  |  Waging Nonviolence

      • The anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  

      • Her sentiment emboldened a handful of Philadelphia-area Quakers who were deeply concerned about eco-justice to tackle climate change by using direct action. It spurred us to ask: How can we be most strategic in using our limited numbers and resources?

      The article follows with a story of how the small group successfully conducted its civic engagement work.

      Tuesday, May 29, 2012

      Citizens can help make policy through data analysis

      From:  The Data-Driven Democracy, by Mary C Joyce  |  Meta-Activism Project

      • The role of the citizen in a data-driven democracy would be to identify policy goals.  We would not be asked to choose a candidate based on what we think a good education policy is or vote on a referendum based on what we think a good health care policy is.  We would indicate our priorities – we want education for all, we want low-cost and effective health care – and then quantitative analysis of the data would identify the most successful policy.

      For details, please see the original article.

      September 17, 2012 Black Monday by Occupy Wall Street

      From:  Sept 17th OWS Black Monday on Wall Street, by IO JR  |  InterOccupy

      • We [Occupy Wall Street] will form a massive moving picket line on our 1 year anniversary, and continue the conversation we started one year prior with boots on the ground.

        • People from all over the world get ready to shut it down…

          Monday, May 28, 2012

          Placemake public spaces to build stronger communities

          From:  Project for Public Spaces (PPS), by Sandy Heierbacher  |  NCDD

          • Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. 

          • Our pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.

          • In its broadest application, Placemaking is a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities of the future.

          Thursday, May 24, 2012

          Participatory Budgeting involves people (part 2)

          From:  Examining Participatory Budgeting (Part II), by Sandy Heierbacher, Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)  |  AmericaSpeaks

          • Yves Cabannes spoke first, explaining his role in the early PB experiments in Brazil and elsewhere, and noting that "participatory budgeting is a good way to have democracy and people’s control over what is theirs to begin with – public money.”

          • PB has since spread to hundreds of cities in Latin America, and dozens of cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and finally North America.  More than 1000 municipalities are said to have initiated participatory budgeting.  Approaches differ significantly, and are shaped more by their local contexts than by a pre-set structure.

          • Jez Hall described PB as “using money to create new deliberative spaces to exchange technical, political, and local knowledge.”  He further explained that PB is all about connecting people getting people to take small actions in their local communities.  Jez noted that PB brings people into an almost ritual space where they can share positive stories about how they can do something in their communities.

          Wednesday, May 23, 2012

          Target your Twitter messages with these activist hashtags

          From:  45 hashtags for social change  |  Case Foundation

          This very short article is so important, we decided to share it as our own post as well.  Hashtag(s) on your own Twitter messages help spread the word to specific audiences, thereby increasing your readership.  The most important people will have more opportunities to find that relevant tweet; they may also then be interested your own Twitter account and follow you!

          Legalization of federal domestic propaganda an amendment in the defense authorization bill

          From:  Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban, by Michael Hastings  |  BuzzFeed

          • An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill.

          • The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee's official website.

          • The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

          • The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

          • According to a source on the Hill, the law would allow "U.S. propaganda intended to influence foreign audiences to be used on the domestic population."  The new law would give sweeping powers to the government to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public.

          • “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”

          • A U.S. Army whistleblower, Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis, noted recently in his scathing 84-page unclassified report on Afghanistan that there remains a strong desire within the defense establishment “to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to "protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will," he wrote, quoting a well-regarded general.

          • The defense bill passed the House Friday afternoon.

          The entire original article.

          Tuesday, May 22, 2012

          Unbridled power: Redistricting and inter-party politics

          From:  Google’s Cool Congressional Redistricting Map -- Which Shows How Thoroughly Texas Liberals Get Screwed  |  e.politics

          • What happened to Austin, Texas shows how Texas Democrats [and their U.S. Representatives] get screwed out of any shred of power -- the state voted 43.72% for Obama in 2008, and even in 2010 was only 60% Republican, but its current Congressional delegation has a 23-9 Republican advantage.

          • The power to redistrict is political power at its most pure and its most raw. Never forget it.

          Check out the maps.

          Video: Citizen 2.0 -- How responsive is government to citizens on social media?

          From:  “Government 2.0″ and “Citizen 2.0"  |  Stronger Democracy

          • Judy Grundstrom recently gave a presentation at Ignite Minneapolis (similar to TED Talks) on the government and social media.

          • She asks whether “government 2.0″ is ready for “citizen 2.0.”

          • While government agencies (and large companies, for that matter) are getting better at pushing out information on the web, only a few actually interact with those who respond to them on social media.

          Saturday, May 19, 2012

          Defining uncivil political behavior

          From:  What Does it Mean to be Civil? by Hal Movius  |  Civil

          • People on the Left and Right weigh different moral principles as a basis for deciding what is moral and just, and what isn’t.   If we accept that differing moral instincts can guide political behavior and reasoning, and confront the reality of a splintered media landscape, it seems to me that we need a more nuanced definition of “civility”.

          • We need one that expands on the narrow notion of remaining interpersonally calm and cordial and using careful, inoffensive language.

          • An expanded view of what it means to be “civil” might require three related forms of analysis:

          • A rhetorical analysis of the politeness of the tone and language used in communications between those parties.  This is currently the most common and narrowest form of analysis.

          • A consequentialist analysis of the estimated consequences of policies themselves from different points of view (e.g. through a lens of moral principles).  This analysis would almost always require clarification of the assumptions made by parties in forecasting the effects of policies. For example, Democrats and Republicans strongly disagree on the likely effects of tax rate reductions.

          • An instrumental analysis of the good faith of disagreeing parties to negotiate with a goal of meeting one another’s most important interests (i.e., underlying goals and concerns).   If one proceeds with a multifaceted view of what it means to be “civil” then it becomes more possible to see how parties who strongly disagree might reasonably see themselves as being “civil” and see the other side quite differently.

          Please read the rest of the article for details.

          Friday, May 18, 2012

          Participatory Budgeting involves people (part 1)

          From:  Examining Participatory Budgeting (Part 1), By Sandy Heierbacher Director of the NCDD  |  National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)

          • At the end of March, I had the pleasure of attending the first International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada.  My organization, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), was a co-sponsor of the event, and I was a panelist at one of the sessions.

          • I was excited to attend the event to learn more about how “participatory budgeting” – a deliberative process that was spearheaded in Brazil – is playing out here in the U.S. 

          • Participatory budgeting is one of the fastest-growing forms of public engagement across the globe, and I think it’s an important area for public engagement professionals to be aware of.  

          • The conference was organized by Participatory Budgeting Project, which is led by Josh Lerner.

          Monday, May 14, 2012

          Read the book "Soul of a Citizen" for civic engagement inspiration

          From:  Paul Loeb Explores the Soul of a Citizen  |  NCoC - National Conference on Citizenship

          • Book:  Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times, by Paul Loeb

          • Based on thirty-five years studying the psychology of social involvement, Loeb describes how ordinary citizens can make their voices heard and their actions count in a time when they often feel neither matter.

          • Soul explores what leads some people to get involved in larger community issues while others feel overwhelmed or uncertain.

          • Soul explores what it takes to maintain commitment for the long haul.

          • Soul explores how community involvement and citizen activism can give back a sense of connection and purpose rare in purely personal life.

          • At the heart of Soul of a Citizen are profiles of a broad range of people who've learned how to be active and engaged citizens.

          Friday, May 11, 2012

          Join For Your Own Political Movement

          From: -- No Parties. Just People.  |

          • Determine your political DNA and join politically like-minded people

          • connects you with politically like-minded people based on your unique positions and interests. Join others to share ideas and take real action on the issues you care about most.

          • Define Your Political DNA -- Automatically get matched with politically like-minded members.

          • Join Rucks -- Join or start cause based groups around issues you're passionate about.

          • Take Action Together -- Share ideas for actions your group can take to promote your cause.

          Wednesday, May 9, 2012

          Read New Book on Deliberation and Democracy

          From:  Democratizing Deliberation: A Political Theory Anthology  |  NCDD

          • This book addresses many of the most common challenges to the theory and practice of deliberative democracy.

          • Chapters and Authors…

          • Foreward by David Mathews

          • Introduction by editors Derek W. M. Barker, Nöelle McAfee, and David W. McIvor

          • Public reason and beyond: broadening concepts of deliberation

          • Deliberation in complex systems: everyday talk and de-centered

          • From talk to action: democratic practice and public work

          • Ordering Info:  Call 1-800-600-4060 to order your copy of the 184-page book, or email your order and mailing address to  The list price is $15.95, but there is a 20% discount in effect until October.

          • Note from NCDD…  Soon after Democratizing Deliberation is officially released, NCDD will be running our first online book club on the book, using the NCDD blog and other communication tools to engage NCDDers in the book’s contents chapter by chapter.  See for the full announcement of the book club and sign up now!

          Monday, May 7, 2012

          Find Bills Faster With GovTrack's Advanced Bill Search

          From:  New: Faceted Bill Search  |  By Josh Tauberer  |  GovTrack

          • GovTrack 2.0 has an advanced bill search, which you can find in Browse => Bills => Search & Track => Advanced Search.

          • The advanced search — or in technical jargon the “faceted” search — can be used to drill-down into all of the bills that are currently before the U.S. Congress or actually any bill introduced since 1973. Besides searching bill titles, you can narrow your search using a number of other filters. What’s really cool is that the filters change as you drill-down so that you can find the available choices quickly.

          • The filters in advanced search are: when the bill was introduced, who sponsored it, its current status in the legislative process, its subject area, and the bill’s type (e.g. bill versus resolution). You can also sort the results by the bill’s most recent status change date, by its date of introduction, or by its relevancy to a title text search.

          • Bill information on GovTrack typically runs one or two days behind. Congress’s parliamentary procedure is pretty complex, so if you hover your mouse over any of the status options you’ll get a little explanatory text for it.

          Sunday, May 6, 2012

          Read Seven Ways Citizens Can Interact With Government Using Social Media

          From:  7 Ways Citizens Can Use Social Media To Improve Government  |  By George Knowles  |  OhMyGov

          • Use of social media is becoming a more common and important aspect of people’s lives, and the political sphere is no exception.

          • Here are seven ways that citizens can use social media to improve how government works for them.

          • Calling for transparency -- Social media has the potential to make interactions between the citizens and government more efficient and satisfying.

          • Pushing grassroots ideas to the top -- Before, grassroots movements would often languish in obscurity, but social media has the power to quickly move ideas to the forefront of public discourse. 

          • “All politics is local” -- Social media can be used to improve the quality and speed of interaction with government when addressing hyper-local issues.

          • Saving time and money -- Time and resources can be saved on less immediate and interactive mediums like newsletters, press releases, or telephone calls.

          • Drawing attention to unequal or unacceptable city services -- The power of social media can push individual voices to the front of the discussion quickly.

          • Crisis management/Disaster relief -- In the event of emergencies, social media has the potential to not only improve government, but to act as sources of crucial information.

          • Grassroots organizing -- Nothing is more political than citizens taking to the streets (and cyberspace) to petition the government for change.  The recent Occupy protest movement relies heavily on the use of social media, and the reach that it provides has made the movement a global phenomenon. 

          More details can be found at OhMyGov's post.

          Join a Library of Congress Monthly Webinar on Orientation and Research Strategies

          From:  Introducing Orientation and Research Strategies  |  Library of Congress

          • The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with over 134.5 million books, recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts in its collections. It collects in over 470 languages, with materials ranging from rare cuniform tablets to born digital materials.

          • Through its Web site, it provides access to resources, services, and over eleven million of its multimedia primary sources.  How can you access this wealth of information? What resources and services can assist you? This orientation will provide an overview of what's available, provide strategies for accessing the materials, and introduce you to the resources created by staff to further your research into the Library's collections.

          • The Digital Reference Section conducts a one-hour monthly orientation via webinar. Throughout the program, there are opportunities to ask questions, try various search tools, sample the multimedia primary source materials online, and become familiar with the digital formats on the site.

          • When: The orientation is conducted monthly, on the second Wednesday, 11 am - 12 noon, Eastern time.  

          • Where: Online via webinar. The conference Web address and password will be emailed within the week prior to the orientation.  

          • Technology Requirements: Participants must have access to an Internet-connected computer with speakers or a headset. A microphone or headset with attached microphone is optional but useful.  

          Thursday, May 3, 2012

          Have Waited Nearly Three Months for President's Response to FEC Petition

          From:  League Again Calls On President to Answer FEC Petition  |  League of Women Voters

          • April 11, 2012

          • Dear Mr. President:

          • Yesterday marked two months since our organizations successfully reached 25,000 signatures on our petition, calling on you to nominate new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) who will faithfully enforce existing campaign finance laws and close existing loopholes.

          •  Our broad coalition still awaits your response as promised by the process established by the White House that clearly states there will be a response when 25,000 or more signatures are submitted on a petition.

          • The FEC is widely recognized as a dysfunctional agency that consistently refuses to enforce federal campaign finance laws enacted to prevent the corruption of federal officeholders and government decisions. Five of the six current commissioners are serving despite expired terms, and three openly flaunt their routine refusal to enforce existing campaign finance laws, even where the FEC’s professional staff has called for an investigation.

          • As the New York Times editorialized this past weekend, this is an unacceptable situation.

          This letter is signed by the twelve non-profits that organized the petition to Pres. Obama.