By The People
Hard Times, Hard Choices

Michigan Citizens Deliberate

By the People's Hard Times, Hard Choices project engaged a diverse, representative sample of 317 Michigan citizens in a face-to-face statewide Deliberative Poll around critical issues related to the state’s economy, education, and housing leading up to the 2010 election. Kwame Holman, correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, served as event moderator.  The weekend-long Deliberative Poll, held in Lansing, Michigan, Nov. 13-15, 2009, was the focus of a MacNeil/Lehrer Productions documentary report, “Hard Times, Hard Choices,” which was broadcast in early 2010.   

What's Next California?
What Is By The People

By the People is a special project organized by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions to bring the views of informed, "ordinary" citizens to a national discussion on the important issues of the day. Since its launch in 2002, BTP has supported well over 200 Citizen Deliberations around the country and more than 100 national and local PBS broadcasts, on issues ranging from national security to healthcare.

BTP tries to gather diverse groups of citizens who don't usually talk about civic and policy issues. To do this, BTP has put together a network of local clubs and organizations, community colleges, and PBS stations, which host BTP events around the country. These events range from day-long dialogues to evening expert panel presentations at community colleges to film screenings and conversations at local libraries.

Mildred Hallow and Raymond Kimball in WilliamsburgA focus of BTP's efforts-- and the model for our larger Citizen Deliberations-- is the convening of a random sample of citizens for dialogues centered around a Deliberative Opinion Poll®. For these events, a random sample of citizens is called, surveyed on an issue and then invited to attend an event. They are given background materials, attend the day-long Citizen Deliberation, and are surveyed again. Local and national media often cover the participants' changes in opinion.

Other types of Citizen Deliberations have included youth forums; videolinked dialogues on community college campuses; conversations at local libraries; and presentations and discussions hosted by community groups and broadcast on local radio-all on topics ranging from humanitarian issues to security and terrorism.

BTP started its work at The Wye River Dialogue, held November 1-3, 2002, at the historic Wye River Conference Center. These conversations-including former U.S. Congressmen and Secretaries of State, civic activists, educators, foreign policy experts, national and local journalists, actors, theologians and others-helped BTP think about the best ways to engage the American public.

Ongoing BTP project funding partners include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. BTP is nonpartisan and doesn't support any particular policy, position or viewpoint. Its sole purpose is to encourage informed dialogue. For more information about BTP, contact Gail Kitch, Executive Director

Individuals and groups interested in learning more about the project may contact the By the People offices at:
By the People
2700 S. Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22206
703.998.2195 fax


Gail Leftwich Kitch
Executive Director

Lisa Larragoite

Copyright ©2011 MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.