April 26, 2018

Everyday Democracy

Everyday Democracy (Formerly called the Study Circles Resource Center) has developed effective ways for people to have productive conversations that lead to change. These conversations and the tools that support them are described below. Follow the links for more specific information.

Who is Everyday Democracy?

Everyday Democracy is a national organization that helps local communities develop their ability to organize large-scale and diverse participation in public conversations that support and strengthen measurable community change. They work with neighborhoods, cities and towns, regions, and states, paying particular attention to the racial and ethnic dimensions of the problems they address. They have a proven track record of learning from communities and creating innovative tools and processes that are shared across the country.

The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a national, nonpartisan, and nonprofit organization created the organization in 1989. Since then, they have worked with more than 700 communities across the United States on many different public issues.

How Can Everyday Democracy Help?

When communities call them, they help them assess their options and determine approach to problem solving that will work for them.

If a community decides to use Everyday Democracy’s study circles, the organization can provide general advice by phone and email. In many cases they are able to invest additional staff-time and field assistance in a limited number of communities.  Everyday Democracy uses innovative approaches to problem solving; strong and diverse leadership and a commitment to institutional and policy change. Step-by-step organizing advice is available on the web site.

“What can Everyday Democracy circles do for my community?”

When people talk productively with each other and find ways to work together to solve public problems, the results can be powerful.  The process recognizes that communities will always have disagreements and conflict, but it is possible to find common ground for acting.  Direct change happens when people gain new understanding of an issue, and form new relationships – across the conflicts of race, political ideology, income, and geography. Individuals or small-groups commit to action.

Read about Round Table Democracy in Decatur, Georgia.

Sometimes, people launch new community projects or collaborations. Or, they decide to join efforts already under way in the community. When government is part of the organizing, and elected officials take part in the circles, this paves the way for more effective policy making and collaborative work.

Some ideas for change that are generated in study circles are more complex and take longer to develop. These include changes such as new policies, new decisions, changes in the allocation of resources, and new processes for involving the public in solving problems. Read stories of study circles helping communities achieve real change.

Need Help Getting Everyday Democracy Circles Off the Ground?

They can provide training in how to organize the process, design your program and discussion guide, train your facilitators and move to action and change. For more information. For the ways they can help click here.