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The League View appears weekly on Sundays in the Hendersonville Times-News.


December 5, 2010

League believes that public dialogue is not advocacy but an education tool. When deciding to lead a discussion on a local issue, it is important that the issue be described in non technical language. In a public dialogue we are inviting people to grapple with an issue, not convince them to support a particular solution. Avoiding jargon in a public issue discussion makes people more inclined to participate and better able to get to the root of understanding the issue. Public dialogue is not accomplished in an hour but may take several meetings or one well-planned event. A public dialogue succeeds when the planning efforts have included well-prepared background information, and recruiting a broad segment of citizens, including race, gender and age.

December 12, 2010

Citizens participate in public dialogue for many reasons. They may want to learn more about the topic in a non threatening venue. Often participants are eager to share their own opinions and value a well-managed discussion to learn and be heard. It is important that all participants receive factual unbiased information to support a good exchange of opinions. Citizens may be interested in participating in discussions so that they expand their community connections including meeting those who are public employees or elected officials. The experience in public dialogue may encourage a citizen to become more involved in the public life of the community, participating on local committees or even running for public office. That is why a well planned public dialogue include plenty of time for socializing and networking.

December 19, 2010

There are many techniques to assist communities in developing a template for public dialogue. Whatever the approach, it is important to remember that the core values of citizen engagement stay constant. The public must have a say in decisions that affect their lives. The process should create trust among all participants. The value of public contributions to the debate should not be under valued. The process should work to be inclusive, and the basic factual information should be available to all participants at the outset of the dialogue. For more information on this topic read “Citizens Building Communities: the ABCs of Public Dialogue.” This pdf publication may be downloaded at www.lwv.org, under the pulldown bar, Library.

December 26, 2010

One of the basic challenges in creating a community dialogue is to develop a strategy of inclusion. To do this the interested parties must create new community alliances and work with people one has never work with before. The goal is to work to find common ground, to share authority and responsibility, to spotlight and give credit to all involved. Working to overcome personal prejudice and the misunderstandings that exist among separate community groups is the first step in successful community dialogue. The first step is to understand the demographics of your current community, including community organizations and socio-economic information. No matter how a community is defined, by age, race or ethnicity, people all want a community that is healthy and safe and that offers good jobs, good schools and good services.



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