There are many ways to become a participant on issues affecting your local and national
community. You can start now by reading our issue backgrounders listed below. If you belong to a community group or attend a community college that you think might be interested in hosting a Citizen Deliberation, please encourage them to contact us.
Using our resources you could also host your own Citizen Deliberation, inviting your own network of participants -- a book club, school study group, or just a group of friends and family.
Here are some tips for hosting a successful dialogue in the BTP model:
1) Wherever possible, try to invite participants with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. It will make the resulting dialogue that much more interesting.
2) Provide participants with balanced and easy-to-understand background materials on your chosen issue before they come to the discussion. BTP background materials on healthcare and education are available for downloading and use by your group. You can find additional resources at the Online NewsHour or at your local library.
3) Consider inviting a speaker or two to make very brief remarks and take questions from your participants. Local professors or reporters make good speakers. Remember to make sure your speaker or speakers represent a variety of viewpoints on your topic. You don't want your presentation to be one-sided.
4) Someone should serve as the moderator for the conversation. This person makes sure everyone gets a turn to speak, that participants speak to each other with respect, and that a variety of viewpoints is heard. This is a dialogue, not a debate.
5) Remember that the goal is to engage in informed dialogue, not to reach consensus.