Build the Democracy Machine

From the distinguished Dr. John Gastil of Penn State: an argument—and a model—for a digital network that effectively connects and advances democratic deliberation and action: the Democracy Machine. We can absolutely create systems like this. As this paper argues, we need the vision, the funding, and the active participation of the countless individual groups already doing important work in this arena. (Dr. Gastil is a former adviser and, though he does not yet know it, a friend of Civic Tide.)

Dozens—and possibly hundreds—of platforms like these have been conceived or built to address specific aspects of civic engagement. Unconnected to each other, let alone an integrated system easy for citizens to use, these platforms cannot begin to realize their full potential. This essay might help to bring the creators and users of such tools into a more focused conversation with one another, to build a more fully integrated civic platform.

The Democracy Machine’s operation can be summarized as drawing on public energy and ideas, mixing those into concrete policy advice, influencing government decision making, and creating a feedback loop that helps officials and citizens track progress together as they continuously turn the policymaking crank. The Machine envisioned is an online system to harmonize the interests of civic leaders, vocal and marginalized citizens, and government. Democracy’s need for ongoing public consultation would fuel the Machine, which would, in turn, generate focused and empowered deliberation that gives back to government the legitimacy necessary to make tough policy decisions.

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Top-Notch Investigative Journalism, Expertly Curated

We should all be following Dig Deep, the terrific weekly roundup from Bill Moyers’s team highlighting the best investigative reporting from top sources. Weekly topics include environmental reporting, oversight under attack, and the rogues gallery that rode the coattails into DC in January. Edited by the eminently able Gail Ablow.


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PNW Scientists Organizing for a Diverse, Active Scientific Community

One of the most inspiring things about the current political moment is the wide and far-reaching creation of new civic and political groups. This Seattle chapter of the national group 500 Women Scientists recently launched with a strong kickstarter campaign and is now set up to do some serious good. Put them on your radar and if you are in a position to help them out, do so! (Civic Tide did!) Check out just some their mission and goals:

The mission of Seattle 500 Women Scientists is: […]

  • To support justice in science, both in terms of fairness/equity in scientific institutions/practice and in how the costs and benefits of science are distributed in society
  • To works towards a vibrant science community that is relevant to the people of the Puget Sound region.
  • To promote inclusion in science for all people, regardless of gender, race, class, national background, or any other division or political affiliation.
  • To create a community/network of women scientists in the Seattle area that reaches across fields, ages, professions.
  • To promote scientific understanding and literacy among girls and women in particular, with an emphasis on important local issues like climate change, public health, and education.
  • To promote diversity and inclusivity and to facilitate scientific literacy in the community as well as the government.
  • To give women a voice and show unified support. To continue to advance scientific progress and demonstrate the value of basic understanding of the natural world in the face of repeated attempts to ignore basic facts at the national level.
Posted in Civic Organizations, Research, Resources, Rock Stars | 1 Comment

“Seek Truth and Report It”

Fact Checking, Verification & Fake News, from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, is a trove of advice, resources, and guidelines for identifying various forms of “fake news.” Well-sourced and streamlined for functionality, the site should be a regular resource for working journalists, especially student journalists, as well as anyone interested in being a more active, more critical reader of news. BLOG_SINGLES_Page_08.png

(Image via; credited to Mark Graham (CD, Art Director) with Josh Tavlin (CD) and John McNeil (CD) for Brill’s Content: Skepticism is a Virtue. )

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Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

Well-priced in print and an absolute steal online, Democracy is worth reading and supporting. A fantastic resource covering big, important ideas with sharp, insightful commentary. Use it!

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Resources: 10 Sites to Follow

A pretty useful list (with caveats, as always). It’s a good time to be sampling new sources of news that you want to have in your regular diet. Reading frequently and carefully is a great American traditional and, once again, an overt civic good.

Moyers: 10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow

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Setting the Stage for Change

Far-reaching freelancer Lindsey Beyerstein (late of Majikthise, HuffPo, InTheseTimes, and more, now commenting at her Facebook page), makes a great point:

Lindsay Beyerstein

The Women’s March dwarfed the Taxpayer’s March on Washington, which marked the Tea Party’s debut as a national political force.

The Tea Party remade the GOP in its image and won elections.

If the same percentage of Women’s Marchers stay active and organized and leverage their passion into electing progressive Democrats, the potential is unlimited.

There’s been a strong and sound discourse around next steps following Saturday’s Women’s Marches, and many organizations and individuals are jumping right into followup actions, which is great. Building networks that can sustain and amplify those actions will be key. Sounds like it’s possible, and civic-minded small-d democrats need to make that happen.

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