43 citizens help shape Melbourne City Council’s $5 billion, 10-year financial plan

Professor John Dryzek, from the University of Canberra, is   a world expert on deliberative democracy. He says there’s been an “explosion” of citizens’ forums in the past decade, and experience has proven lay people worthy of the task. “All you need to do is give people time,” Dryzek says. “Give them access to information, enable them to ask questions of the experts and people really can get their head around incredibly complex issues.” Via TheAge.com.au



15 Participatory Budgeting projects that give power to the people

“To create vibrant communities, people need to share in the decisions that affect them. This is true for neighborhoods, cities, and beyond. Participatory budgeting, in which people decide together how a portion of a government’s (or organization’s) budget is spent, is a proven way to give decision-making power to the people. It enables citizens to play an active role in shaping their community and creates more transparent governments.”


We need to stop thinking that government changes won’t affect us

By Emily Howlett on The Limping Chicken
“We are in danger of waddling blindly up to the big humans who have all the power but look friendly. They steal our attention towards the tiny morsel of good news in their left hand, and we never notice the musket in their right.
In fact, we are so easily distracted that it doesn’t even have to be good news; we can’t help but forget about the comparatively insignificant changes happening close to home when we are being constantly bombarded by horrific news and images from around the world.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about the wider world. But we need to stop being quite so blasé about our own lives. We need to work together, we need to educate ourselves and each other. We need forums and voices and, sorry to be the one to say it, but we need to listen more carefully.
And, more than any of this, you all need to stop thinking like me. You need to stop thinking it won’t affect you, or that you’re only one person and you can’t do anything. Find out what is happening in your world, and if you don’t like it, find out how you can help stop it.
Don’t just let it slide, until that very last bird has been shot. After all, there would have been an easier way to bring back the dodos than DNA cloning; just never to have let them die out in the first place.
Be less dodo. Be more you. Let’s do this.”


Politics and things that citizens care about

“You’d almost think the British political establishment wants us to believe that only things that they care about (trade deals, spying, weapons manufacture, protecting financial services) are ‘proper’ and ‘important’ politics. You might get the impression that things that citizens care about (affordable housing, decent pensions, decent jobs, reasonable electricity bills) are self-indulgent whimsy, far removed from the appropriate concerns of a ‘proper’ system of national management.” ~ Robin McAlpine, Director, Reid Foundation, on the purpose of the Common Weal campaign for Scotland.


Related reading: 
. “Real politics is surely more visceral, bound up with the fundaments of the way people think about themselves, and their place in the world.” ~ John Harris writes in the Guardian


Common Weal – practical idealism for Scotland


Centre for Citizenship and Community

Co-producing theory and practice: the Centre for Citizenship and Community was launched in May.It is a new collaboration between the RSA, the University of Central Lancashire and the Royal Society for Public Health. Grounding academic and social research in community practice, the Centre will bring together researchers and practitioners from universities, public bodies, voluntary organisations and business to implement community projects and guide social policy using a Connected Communities approach to social and community networks. The website is here.