copied directly from an email from Tom Atlee:
“SUMMARY: Hawaii State Senator Les Ihara (who has signed the Co-Intelligence Institute’s “Pledge to Hear the People’s Common Sense”) is now organizing state legislators across the country to strengthen public deliberation as a force in state governance. This Thursday 7/22 he and other legislators are sponsoring a session to discuss this at the annual meeting of the main national organization of state legislators in Salt Lake City. He is asking supporters of this initiative (like us) to do two things:
1. To encourage our state legislators — if they are attending this annual meeting — to go to this session on citizen deliberation and
2. To call or email our state legislators to join this state-level citizen deliberation effort for the long haul.
Details are below.”
People often ask “What can I do to further co-intelligence and wise democracy in my area?” Often the answers I give require people to do more than they’re ready for. But every now and then someone organizes an intiative that allows the rest of us to take a small action that together adds up to a big result. Thanks to the work of Senator Les Ihara, we can now do exactly that. If you can act on this before Thursday, July 22 — Great! If not, you can still have a real impact. Please read on…
ACTION TO TAKE BEFORE THURSDAY JULY 22
STEP A. Find the names and contact information for your state legislators. If you don’t have this information, you can easily get it by typing your 9-digit ZIP code into the search box on the upper left corner of
STEP B. If any of your state legislators are on Sen. Ihara’s list of hot prospects below, send them an email AND call their offices saying you’d like them to attend the “NCSL ancillary group session on ‘Strengthening the Legislator-Citizen Connection’ on Thursday July 22 at 4:00-5:00 pm in the Salt Palace Convention Center #151-F (Lower Level).” The legislators listed below are hot prospects because they are all attending the annual meeting AND Sen. Ihara has reason to believe they’d be interested in this session. He’d like us to nudge them along.
Alabama / Representative Cam Ward
Alaska / Senator Con Bunde
Arkansas / Representative Joyce Elliott
Arkansas / Representative Mike Creekmore
Delaware / Senator Dori Connor
Indiana / Representative Dennie Oxley
Maryland / Delegate Susan McComas
Maryland / Delegate Adrienne A. Mandel
Massachusetts / Senator Richard T. Moore
Minnesota / Senator John Hottinger
Mississippi / Representative John Mayo
New Mexico / Senator Dede Feldman
North Carolina / Representative Louis M. Pate, Jr.
North Carolina / Representative Martha Alexander
Ohio / Representative Merle Grace Kearns
Ohio / Representative Larry Price
Ohio / Senator Tom Roberts
Pennsylvania / Representative David J. Steil
Pennsylvania / Representative Harold James
Tennessee / Representative Mark L. Maddox
Utah / Representative Ralph Becker
Vermont / Senator Ann E. Cummings
Virginia / Senator Emmett Hanger
Virginia / Senator R. Edward Houck
Washington /Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles
Washington / Representative Velma Veloriz
STEP C. For any legislators who are not on the list of hot prospects, you can find out if they are among the 1000 or so legislators attending the annual meeting. It would be best to call their offices and ask: “Is [legislator] attending the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Salt Lake City this week?”
1. YES — If the staff person says, “Yes” then say, “Could you please tell them that I’d really like them to attend the NCSL ancillary group session on ‘Strengthening the Legislator-Citizen Connection’ on Thursday July 22 at 4:00-5:00 pm in the Salt Palace Convention Center #151-F (Lower Level). And I’d like to hear what they thought of it.” Give them your contact information. Then send that legislator an email that says the same thing.
2. NO — If the staff person says, “No” then say, “OK. Please tell [legislator] that I’m very concerned about the lack of citizen deliberation at the state level. Several leading state legislators are organizing themselves with the help of a major non-profit, the Kettering Foundation, to learn more about public deliberation and to promote it to their constituents and their fellow legislators. This effort could make a tremendous difference and I would really like [legislator] to take a lead in this. Please ask him/her to contact the leader of this effort, Senator Les Ihara of Hawaii at
ACTION TO TAKE AFTER JULY 22
If you don’t get to this before Senator Ihara’s session on Thursday, that’s OK. You can still have an important impact by finding out your legislators’ names and contact info (STEP A, above) and making the phone call and/or sending the email described in STEP C (2), above.
Sending an email is fairly simple. It could go something like this:
I feel very strongly that our state legislature needs to get involved in convening — and listening to — citizen deliberative activities. Many very sophisticated methods for public deliberation exist, which we should be using in [your state]. Hawaii State Senator Les Ihara and several other state legislators are organizing themselves with the help of a major non-profit, the Kettering Foundation, to learn more about public deliberation and to promote it to their constituents and their fellow legislators. This effort could make a tremendous difference and I would really like to see you take a leadership role in it, which I think would be quite popular with voters. Please contact Senator Les Ihara at
[your name, address and email]
Feel free to vary the messages above — which I’ve just provided for your convenience — using the informatiuon below. Note that what you’re advocating here doesn’t promote one side of one issue but rather promotes better deliberation to integrate all sides of every issue. So the kind of “lobbying” you’re doing for it constitutes a different kind of citizenship, a different kind of activism, a way to nudge the whole system towards wiser democracy.
States legislatures — most of whom are reeling from budget crises and partisanship — are fertile ground for citizen deliberation intiatives right now. So now is a great time to move this ahead.
Whatever we all end up doing on this, may it have a profound effect on the expansion of citizen deliberation and, ultimately, on the emergence of wise democracy in our states, nation and world.
_ _ _ _ __
THE FULL INFORMATION ABOUT SEN. LES IHARA’S SESSION
Strengthening the Legislator-Citizen Connection * Ancillary Group Session
* NCSL Annual Meeting * Salt Lake City UT * July 22, 2004 (Thursday) *
4:00-5:00 pm, Salt Palace Convention Center #151-F (Lower Level)
Public trust in government is alarmingly low and some legislators think
it’s time to address the issue head on. NCSL has been working with a
group of state legislators who are highly interested in connecting with
citizens in more meaningful ways. Looking at citizen forums, conflict
resolution processes, improved legislative hearings, civic education
programs and other options, this group is holding an annual meeting
ancillary session to share best practices, advice and information on how
to improve the legislator-citizen connection. NCSL has two grants to fund
work in this area of citizen engagement and conflict resolution, and this
session will also examine legislator and legislative staff suggestions on
what kind of NCSL projects, information and assistance would help
This session is open to any member of the citizen engagement working group
or any legislator or legislative staffer interested in the topic. Grant
funding provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the
Kettering Foundation. Session moderators will include: Bruce Feustel, NCSL
Legislative Management; Peggy Kerns, NCSL Center for Ethics In Government;
and Hawaii Senator Les Ihara, Jr.
_ _ _ __
MORE INFORMATION ON THIS WHOLE INITIATIVE
This powerhouse initiative in the field of citizen deliberation was instigated by State Senator Les Ihara of Hawaii
He has also brokered a 3-year agreement between NCSL and the Kettering Foundation
* to study current and potential ways for legislators to engage the public;
* to encourage and prepare interested legislators to participate in deliberative forums;
* to incorporate discussion of deliberation in new legislator trainings;
* to educate NCSL staff on public deliberation;
* to develop ways to use deliberative activities for legislators outreach;
* to use existing NCSL issue projects to engage citizens deliberatively; and
* to develop a national network of deliberation-friendly legislators.
Kettering-funded, NCSL-sponsored research is expected to address questions such as:
* What do we know about public disaffection with the legislature?
* When do both citizens and legislators begin to recognize a need for each other?
* What do we know about the capacity of state legislatures to hear a ‘public’ voice?
* How could legislators get a better sense of how the public decides issues?
* What happens to the legislator/public relationship when legislators listen while the public is
working through issues in deliberative forums?
* What is the role of an official when there is no ‘public’ readily visible?
_ _ _ _
More details and requests from Senator Les Ihara:
In the next year, we seek to involve more legislators in the project…and
this is where you could help. If you know a state legislator who supports
involving citizens in legislative policy making, please let me know. We plan
to meet later this year with interested legislators, and probably twice in
2005. Information on all 5,400 state legislators, including email addresses,
are available at http://www.ncsl.org/public/leglinks.cfm and I encourage you
to increase your contacts with them. [Note from Tom: This link lists all
the legislators but doesn’t help you find your own. The
Of expected NCSL conference attendees, we’ve identified 27 legislators who
might be interested in meeting with us. Their names and emails are below.
Reinforcing encouragement could increase attendance.
I view state legislatures as a primary venue for public policy discussions
in a state, and want to encourage citizens to become involved in public
deliberations in their own state legislature. A first step is for us to open
up conversations with interested legislators. I consider us partners in
promoting open deliberation of public policy issues, and appreciate the work
we have in common. Thank you.
LES IHARA, JR.
Hawaii State Senator
27 LEGISLATORS INTERESTED IN PUBLIC DELIBERATION
R – Alabama / Representative Cam Ward / Camjulward@aol.com
R – Alaska / Senator Con Bunde / Senator_Con_Bunde@legis.state.ak.us
D – Arkansas D / Representative Joyce Elliott / email@example.com
D – Arkansas / Representative Mike Creekmore / firstname.lastname@example.org
R – Delaware / Senator Dori Connor / email@example.com
D – Hawaii / Senator Les Ihara, Jr. / firstname.lastname@example.org
D – Indiana / Representative Dennie Oxley / email@example.com
R – Maryland / Delegate Susan McComas / firstname.lastname@example.org
D – Maryland / Delegate Adrienne A. Mandel / Adrienne_Mandel@house.state.md.us
D – Massachusetts / Senator Richard T. Moore / email@example.com
DFL – Minnesota / Senator John Hottinger / Sen.firstname.lastname@example.org
D – Mississippi / Representative John Mayo / email@example.com
D – New Mexico / Senator Dede Feldman / firstname.lastname@example.org
R – North Carolina / Representative Louis M. Pate, Jr. / Louisp@ncleg.net
D – North Carolina / Representative Martha Alexander / email@example.com
R – Ohio / Representative Merle Grace Kearns / District72@ohr.state.oh.us
D – Ohio / Representative Larry Price / Larry.Price@ohr.state.oh.us
D – Ohio / Senator Tom Roberts / firstname.lastname@example.org
R – Pennsylvania / Representative David J. Steil / email@example.com
D – Pennsylvania / Representative Harold James / Hjames@pahouse.net
D – Tennessee / Representative Mark L. Maddox / firstname.lastname@example.org
D – Utah / Representative Ralph Becker / email@example.com
D – Vermont / Senator Ann E. Cummings / firstname.lastname@example.org
R – Virginia / Senator Emmett Hanger / email@example.com
D – Virginia / Senator R. Edward Houck / firstname.lastname@example.org
D – Washington /Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles / KOHL_JE@leg.wa.gov
D – Washington / Representative Velma Veloriz / email@example.com
Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440
http://www.co-intelligence.org * http://www.democracyinnovations.org Read THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY * http://www.taoofdemocracy.com
Please support our work. * Your donations are fully tax-deductible.
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