Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Learning from the work of others, both good and bad

Just a couple days ago I came across what looked strikingly similar to Wikipedia. However, it's got something different going on. Participedia, the idea of Archon Fung at the Kennedy School at Harvard is one of the individuals behind this initiative. Participedia's website says, 

"Participedia is a tool for strengthening democracy. Based on a wiki platform, its main content consists of user-generated articles which describe and assess participatory governance throughout the world. For instance, there will be articles on the British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly of 2004, consensus conferences in Denmark, participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre and other cities, local school council governance in Chicago, municipal evaluation meetings in China, and the People’s Campaign for Democratic Decentralization (under the Panchayati Raj reforms) in Kerala, India. In addition, there will be articles on participatory methods, such as deliberative polling, citizens' assemblies, and participatory budgeting, as well as articles about the organizations that sponsor, implement, and study participatory governance. Over time, we hope Participedia will garner hundreds and perhaps thousands of such articles.

There are three main kinds of articles in Participedia:
  • Articles about cases, or experiences, of participatory or deliberative governance (e.g. British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly of 2004).
  • Articles about specific methods of public deliberation, participation, or collaborative governance (e.g. Participatory Budgeting).
  • Articles about organizations that design, execute, or support public participation, deliberation, or collaborative public action (e.g. Everyday Democracy).

So, log on, take a look around, and maybe even offer your own story as to how participatory and deliberative engagement is being used. The hope is to have both stories that demonstrated what worked while also including those accounts which show what doesn't work sometimes, given a particular contextual setting, etc. 

Regardless, it is another tool for those interested in these topics to learn from others. It remains to be seen to what degree something like this will be used to lager numbers of practitioners. Hopefully, it will be more than we're thinking. 

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