To prepare for this project, we were assigned to host an interview with our partnership team Healthy Democracy (HD). For this post, we have detailed and defined engagement as it relates to HD in the Who, What, and How of engagement. In the process of completing this project, we are working toward a final engagement proposal for the Healthy Democracy team. During the interview with Robin Teater of Healthy Democracy, she gave us very useful insights into their selection process and the goals each of the branches of the organization. Some of the useful information included, types of projects and the goals they have in mind, how the Citizens initiative review (CIR) started and the expenses it takes to have these operations run smoothly. She emphasized their attention to engagement as these types of programs aim to foster communication and trust across people with differing political, and economic statuses. Robin emphasizes engagement as an important factor of political discussion or decision making and reiterates that HD provides a place for engagement.
After interviewing Healthy Democracy, it is apparent that this local NGO has implemented ideas of environment engagement on various scales of their operation. From the citizen’s initiative review, citizens juries and other debate orientated programs they have hosted. Specifically, the Citizens Initiative review requires heaps of financial resources to ensure that people willing to participate in the 24 person citizens debate can have the economic resources to do so. This is a great service healthy Democracy provides, but it requires grant money and private funding. With finite resources, Healthy Democracy has to prioritize its efforts to local projects and this limits the reach of their organization. Therefore my suggestion is to help them broaden the scope of their programs and provide local governments with the tools to implement these processes on their own.
Although Healthy Democracy incorporates engagement as a basis of their projects and implementation it ends up costing them time and money. In order to broaden the scope of their audience in terms of participation in local policy decisions making they would need more resources to support the new participants. For this to happen I believe more conversation amongst Healthy Democracy and local government agencies is necessary, not only to carry some of the financial burdens but to empower government structures to value and implement projects that mirror the CIR and Citizen juries. Many of those resources come from private businesses or other NGOs (most likely Our Oregon). In this process, I was left with the impression that the government plays a more passive role in the set up of these projects. After the interview, it was clear that these projects take months of preparation and precision to facilitate and it left me with the question How can we more efficiently work with local governmental agencies to implement or become part of the CIR, or citizen jury?
The following list provides an abstract of the possible project that focuses on answering the question “How can we more efficiently work with local governmental agencies to implement or become part of the CIR, or citizen jury?” It is divided into three sections the What, Who, and How of environmental engagement.
The ‘What’ of engagement is essentially the issue in engagement. In 2012 there was a conflict between Our Oregon (another NGO) and the CIR, but it has since been resolved and HD continues to work with them to help push legislation pass from the data collected in the CIR. My idea is to essential minimize the number of middlemen and the number of steps someone takes to reap the benefits of the CIR process and government response to citizens’ juries.
The ‘Who’ refers to the parties involved with the issue. HD does an excellent job to ensure people from different backgrounds are included in this process. In order to build an unbreakable trust, I believe people need to know their government is just as passionate and active as they are about various issues. This is one area I feel could be improved to reach a bigger audience rather than the 24 participants in the CIR. With support from the government for informed citizen debates, HD has more time to focus on projects rather than attaining resources.
The ‘How’ of engagement refers to the method by which these issues are discussed among the different parties. Healthy Democracy incorporates teaching and conversation into their debate process which lacks government involvement and focuses on private experts. The best way to engage, in my mind, is to do it directly with the people at the forefront of the labor. In this case, it is policymakers, which is missing from the CIR and Citizen jury process at the moment. Alongside the advocates Healthy Democracy provides, implementing more government involvement might be beneficial to help participants have a better understanding of government systems as a whole. I also think this gives HD an opportunity to expand not only the scale of their operations, but I believe this can help move HD toward broader topics of discussion for citizens to debate.