Introductions and Welcome!

Well hi there! I was thinking it might be nice if we had a space for people to just say hi when they join the forum. Hi! My name’s Tom, and I work with the Sortition Foundation :slight_smile:

While I’m here, I’ll also try to incur the wrath of the moderators in my first post by saying that the smileys plugin drives me to distraction because I read a lot of discourse emails covered in text like “slight_smile” rather than just containing an ascii smiley face :slight_smile:

Hello Tom

I’m from the Norwich XR group. We’re interested in trying to get the councils in Norfolk to set up assemblies. But very new to all this and haven’t yet explored all the stuff here or looked at the Sortition Foundation site yet.

Interested to see that Oxford City Council is setting up an assembly. Do you have any background on this? Was the Sortition Foundation involved in any way?

David

Hi there David, good to hear from you!

I’m down the road from you in Cambridge. There’s a few of us here, as it happens. We’re not actually involved in the Oxford assembly.

I’m both excited that you’re talking about wanting more deliberative democracy to happen in your area, and also wondering how much it would cost for all the councils in Norfolk to hold a citizens’ assembly. There’s a substantial cost involved in bringing 50+ people together for 2+ days, and if that money is going to be spent, it’s good to make sure that it’s happening in the right way from concept through to implementation of findings after the event.

I wonder if XR’s initial demand was to have one at a national level in order to aggregate the costs, at a political level where there are definitely resources to both pay for the assembly, and implement the outcomes.

Did you see the XR webinar yesterday which I think was discussing the cost issue and the potential for e.g. using citizen juries as a smaller alternative if the cost is too high? I was working so didn’t see it.

It’s also important to think about the whole process and whether it’s set up to succeed. Involve - https://www.involve.org.uk/ - who have run a number of assemblies around the UK, some of which we have been part of, recently created some thoughts on key aspects of a citizens’ assembly. You can find a copy of that here - https://drive.google.com/open?id=13VtAJTfTqS5phZmDgJ23AAXTeZX7rWTb - maybe one thing to add to this presentation is that people need to be compensated for attending, to make the process as accessible as possible.

We’re hoping to use this new forum and other online resources to bring together information and case studies around citizens’ assemblies, which I imagine you’d be interested in. Thanks for your patience!

all the best,
Tom.

Thanks for those links, Tom. A lot for us to get our heads around.

I hope to find time to start looking at things properly next week.

In the meantime, just a thought. Given our (relative) proximity, would you or one of your colleagues be able to give a talk on assemblies to our XR group at some point? We have a general meeting every other Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. I’m sure it would be very helpful in inspiring our members to become involved.

All the best

David

Hi David,

I can certainly see whether anyone here goes to Norwich occasionally! It’s still a bit of a mission for me to get there and back personally, and I’m not sure exactly what the objective is at the moment, although I’m sure it would be nice to meet. Maybe another way forward could be for us to set up a remote call, if there were particular questions that people there had about citizens’ assemblies, and you could set aside a dedicated time to talk about that. Could also see if I can put you in touch with some Cambridge XR folks, some of whom I know have also gone through some thinking about how to involve the local council, and other members of my organisation have been in contact with XR folks more than I have. I’d be happy to have a quick phone call with you next week if you think it would be useful - PM me.

All the best
Tom.

Hi David,

I’m from the XR CA working group. I might be able to get out to Norwich at some point. Maybe in a couple of weeks?

Here are some more links: https://sites.google.com/view/xrca/

Tom and David, what do you think about a regular call to just talk about CAs? So maybe we just open up Zoom on a certain day and start chatting at the same time every week. Just with the aim of spreading CA knowledge (the aim of this discourse).

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Sorry. That last message was from me. Logged in as the wrong person. Good thing I wasn’t logged in as Raymond Terrific!

Sorry Tom. Hadn’t realised that you’d replied. Not sure how I do a PM here. I think at this stage we’re wondering a) whether a citizens’ assembly would be an effective way of getting local councils to take action on the climate crisis and b) if it was, how we can persuade the councils to set one up. Be good to be in touch with the Cambridge XR people who’ve done some thinking on this.

My email is davidbattye at fastmail dot net

Hello Keith. Sorry not to have replied sooner. Thanks very much for the offer of a visit. I’ll get in touch with our coordinators and come back with possible dates.

Might also be possible for a couple of us from Norwich to come to Cambridge to see you and Cambridge XR people if they’ve done some thinking on getting local councils to set up assemblies.

Not sure if Zoom calls would be for me but might be for others in the Norwich group :slight_smile:

Do use the email address in my reply to Tom if that’s easier.

Hi there, Alex Dickinson here - one of the coordinators of Haringey Extinction Rebellion (North London), where our local council recently declared a climate emergency and reached out to us for help in getting it implemented. Running CAs is an idea we are trying to take forward to them as a first step.

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Hello My name is Peregrin. I am in Dorchester in Dorset. I attended the webinar which Keith just ran about Citizens Assemblies. I have been interested in these for some time and have been interested in how they have been working in Rojava for the people. I think that they are the way forward in the changes we will have to make in society to allow us to continue to exist in future generations. i’m deeply commited to finding a new system which will work for everyone. I’d really like to contribute to building a fairer society for future generations.

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Hi Peregrin, welcome!

I’ve also been interested in reading about the kinds of democratic structures that people are setting up in Rojava. What I understand is going on over there is that, there’s active effort made to have a balance of men and women sharing power, and also people from different ethnic groups having a share of positions of power. This sounds in line with some of the benefits of citizens’ assemblies, and at the same time I got the sense that it’s still an electoral system, rather than something like a citizens’ assembly, which uses random selection. I’d be interested to hear more about what you’ve read about.

cheers,
Tom.

Hi all, thanks Tom for the invitation. I’m a freelance professional facilitator based in London, former chair of the International Association of Facilitators and now chair of the IAF England & Wales chapter, and interested in how I and other facilitators can contribute to promoting and supporting more and more effective deliberative democracy

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Hello all, Paul here. I founded the discussion platform called Thinking Box and am heavily involved with XR democracy circles especially the creation of the Future Democracy Hub which aims to support getting future democracy tools into the DNA of our culture. Great to connect with you all here. Paul

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Hi everyone,
I’m Andy Paice. I’m a deliberative democracy enthusiast, facilitator and recently consulting local councils in participatory processes. I’ve been doing work in Newham where we’ve held over 40 community assemblies in the past year.
I’m interested in how Citizens Assemblies might form one element of the larger ecosystem of participatory practices that we’re going to need to tackle the civilisational challenges we have at this time.
Happy to be here!
Andy

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Hi guys, Peter Martin from Adelaide here. I’m a total convert to deliberative democracy and sortition, and see it as a logical replacement for representative democracy that has patently failed to serve the people or protect the commons. We’ve had one major experience of CA here, around whether South Australia should become a dump for the planet’s nuclear waste. The SA Govt was all for it, but the CA rejected it (surprise!) and the idea was shelved. I have a vision that the small upper house in our state Westminster system could be sortition based - after all, this State, a bit like Vermont, once had a reputation for social innovation. But I know that’s a long game.
In the meantime a think tank I’m secretary of (www.wakefieldgroup.org) has invited Brett Hennig to give the last of a 6-lecture series in Adelaide in early December.
Cheers all, and keep up the great work.

Hello everyone, Richard here from Scotland. I have been interested in democratic structures since I came across lecture videos on youtube years ago by Etienne Chouhard. It must have been about the time of the Occupy Wall Street protests, because that was the period that I really started paying any attention to our political and economic systems. Previous to that I had been more interested in science, tech and occasionally a bit of eastern philosophy. I lived in a bit of a cocoon until then. At this point though, personally I don’t see how anybody could look at the world today and come to any conclusion other than that we need to rebuild our democracies and we have to do it quickly. For me this is not a matter for a philosophy seminar, I think we have to figure this all out as soon as possible.

As someone who has worked in tech in some way for most of my adult life, I was initially caught up in the promise of internet technology as a tool available to be integrated into a modern democratic system. Digital liquid democracy on the blockchain etc…I was interested in all that stuff for a while. These days however I am much more cautious, maybe even cynical about how useful IT can be in that context.

I am keen to discuss all aspects of democracy with you all and learn from your experience. I should say right off the bat, I am keen to get on and help build something. In other words am more interesed in the practical, real world application of democratic ideas than I am about their various historical or philosophical aspects, although of course I appreciate the importance of those things in coming to sensible conclusions.

Happy to have found this forum and I look forward to chatting with you all.

Hi, I’m Alvaro, I don’t come from any organization, I’m from Mexico City and here we have by law a citizen assembly by suburb, first I knew this citizen assembly where people discuss important issues and it’s interesting but when I saw how here we make the citizen assembly, it’s boring and no one discuss important things, I want to see how we could improve our ways to do a citizen assembly

Hiya! I’m Jason Diceman from Toronto, Canada. I work for the City of Toronto doing public consultation. I’m a big fan of MassLBP but have yet got a chance to work with the directly, although Toronto has on a few occasions, including right now: “Residents’ Reference Panel on Climate Action

Hello, I’m Dominique from Paris, France.
I am a member of a collective that advocates sortition : Sénat Citoyen. I am also close to the Gilets Citoyens who are closely watch the Citizens’ Climate Convention that will take place in Paris from October to February.