Civility in our country’s political discourse has clearly declined, and the political climate has become increasingly bitter. We have all seen public meetings turn into violent shouting matches or worse: Think of Wisconsin, where union protesters were dragged off and arrested, or Arizona, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded in a shooting rampage that left six innocent citizens dead. But what can be done? Is there a way to elevate the tone of dialogue in our country? Can we bring back civility?
The Resolution Collaborative (TRC) can assist public officials, non-profits and others to convene and facilitate deliberative dialogues on a broad range of important public policy issues. Our team of professional dialogue moderators can help you to engage the public in a respectful and meaningful way that gives them a voice. We can also help to “frame” issues for public deliberation.
The best definition of deliberative dialogue we have seen comes from Scott London:
“ Deliberative dialogue differs from other forms of public discourse — such as debate, negotiation, brainstorming, consensus-building — because the objective is not so much to talk together as to think together, not so much to reach a conclusion as to discover where a conclusion might lie. Thinking together involves listening deeply to other points of view, exploring new ideas and perspectives, searching for points of agreement, and bringing unexamined assumptions into the open.”
TRC uses the National Issues Forum (NIF) model of deliberative dialogue. These dialogue forums are structured discussions which range from small study circles held in peoples’ homes to large community gatherings. Forums are led by trained, neutral moderators, and use an issue discussion guide that frames the issue by presenting the overall problem and then three or four broad approaches to the problem. Forum participants work through the issue by considering each approach; examining what appeals to them or concerns them, and also what the costs, consequences, and trade offs may be that would be incurred in following that approach.
There are a number of important and timely issues that have been framed by the National Issues Forum Institute for public deliberation. Here is a sample:
If you would like to convene a deliberative dialogue on one of these topics, or if you would like TRC to help you frame an issue for public deliberation, please call or e-mail us today for a free consultation.
For more information about the National Issues Forum, go to www.nifi.org.
The Resolution Collaborative, LLC
154 Waterman Street, Suite 8
Providence, RI 02906