Democracy is in the business of continually creating a new narrative … oral, textual, and graphic … that can move through and transform communities. While some voices within the Club of Rome have railed against the shortfalls of distorted democracy (and we can see their points), there are few alternative governance approaches which we feel can carry our faith through the changing cycles of national leadership.
The director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation recently asked listserv members for responses to the concept of a “national dialogue infrastructure.” The goal was to gather some input for an NCDD summit to be held in Seattle in the fall of 2012, and the request called attention first to the “values” that might be expected of such an infrastructure. 1) inclusive access (“distributed”), 2) collaborative intent (“helping others”), 3) personal safety (“anonymous expression”), 4) integrated operation (“coalition / confederation), and 4 transparency / sustainability (“cost effective nonprofit’).
Agoras received an invitation from Roberto Peccei, son of Aurelio Peccei, to attend the 40th anniversary celebration of the publication of The Limits to Growth at a special Club of Rome session at the Smithsonian. We sent a small delegation. Roberto extended this invitation during a cordial conversation in which Aleco and Roberto traded stories about Aurelio. Afterward Aleco said that he kept flashing back to discussions with Aurelio because Roberto sounded just like his father.
People the world over aspire to participatory democracy. Yet the democratic planning and design of social systems, from local urban projects to national health care, is threatened by our institutional inability to engage stakeholders in dialogues that result in effective collective design and commitment.
A Democratic Vision for All Stakeholders
The Agoras Institute promotes a democratic transformation of civil society and government by empowering the capacity of client organizations and educators to produce breakthroughs in the collective confrontation of multidimensional wicked problems. Our immediate mission is to establish and nurture new Agoras of the 21st century – global centers of democratic participatory design and education – in areas of critical socio-political importance or demand.