Democratic Meetings


Create or carry on a democratic dialogue practice meeting or a democratic meeting of any kind. Below, find useful hints for doing so.

As you look over the hints, you may find it useful to have in mind that all democracy is participatory; that each democratic meeting is a powerful learning experience for those who have eyes to see or ears to hear, (eyes and ears both can be even better); and that there are rules of effective and just(fair) communication being learned by participants.

Nothing mysterious here. Just participants finding that: they are learning and practicing dialogue skills, methods and techniques: they are reminded that their respect and courtesy are good for them and their fellow participants; they are beginning to understand a new slant on their vocabulary. You may find that a few of the words on this post are used/meant in a way a bit different from that to which you are accustomed.

OK, on to the hints.

An effective democratic meeting is:

  •  of, by, and for its participants.
  • as free as possible from outside powers.
  • autonomous.
  • held in a safe place. (One attribute of a safe place is that it be neutral.)
  • designed and redesigned to meet the needs of all the participants. as inclusive as possible.
  • better when leadership roles are kept to a minimum and are spread widely among participants. (take turns)
  • is a “teach in” and a learning time.
  • most often a time more for understanding and less for decisions.
  • a time for thinking together.
  • a time when usually all your comments and communications are to the group as a whole.
  • time to practice good manners as well as honesty.
  • an opportunity for observing a part of the effectiveness of participatory democracy.

 

Those who see these hints as pointing to useful directions in which to go may already be well directed.

 

by Richard Sheehan                                                                                                                              for Mago Bill

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