Co-authors: Fayegail Bisaccia, Susan Edwards, DeAnna Martin, Joseph McCormick, Sandra Mueller, Joseph McCormick, Jean Rough; Shortened, supplemented and translated by Markus Götsch.
Introduction – What is a Citizens' Council?
The Citizens' Council is a structural approach to use participatory democracy (participation) in companies, associations, schools, neighbourhoods, municipalities, districts and even at state or federal level for change. Regardless of how many people are in a system, the Citizens' Council manages to structure a creative, thoughtful, system-wide conversation about the most pressing problems.
The Citizens' Council allows everyone to be effective from a strong sense of "we". For the purposes of this toolkit, we refer to a system of people as a community and its members as citizens.
The Citizens' Council includes an official lottery, which takes place approximately every three to four months and in which 15 citizens are randomly selected from the Community to compete for at least two four-hour hours on two consecutive days. discussion s/he/she/he/she/he/she/he/she/he/she/he/she/he/she/he/she/he/she/he/she/he Random selection ensures that the members of the Citizens' Council represent the population and do not act as representatives of an advocacy group or a special interest group. The randomly selected citizens are the members of the Citizens' Council. With each other citizens' council, this random selection, more and more represents the diversity of the population.
In the beginning, randomness is most important because it ensures that people represent themselves, not an external group. This gives the members of the Council a greater opportunity to express their views wholeheartedly.
With the help of a Dynamic Facilitator, the civic councils succeed in identifying key topics, creatively working on the topics and developing unanimous statements about what everyone feels or thinks. This voice of the people has no power in the true sense of the word, but provides the mood of the community in a public closing event. At this event, the citizens will hear the consensual statements of the Citizens' Council. Small groups are formed, the so-called Civic Café (cf. Art of Hosting – World Café) to discuss. The additions are collected on the tables and written down.
Live broadcasts on the radio and the presence of other media allow all other citizens to listen to and respond to the statements of the Citizens' Council.
After the presentation, the citizens' council dissolves. About three to four months later, a new citizens' council will be drawn. This group can include the topics of the group before hand, or work on new topics that are more important to you. There is always the possibility to question the Citizens' Council on a specific issue, as is the case in the federal state of Vorarlberg, for example. Nevertheless, the Brüger's Council will seek and find the question behind the question that seems more important to it.
Over a period of a few years, community awareness – the social kit, if you like – will be strengthened and a living democracy is experienced, because the Citizens' Council gives the community an audible voice. It is not the voice of the loudest or usual suspects. It is the voice of the randomly selected group, the Citizens' Council.
For politics, the Council of Citizens has the chance to mirror things from a new perpective. A completely new and unfamiliar process of rethinking and learning for women politicians. The Citizens' Council thus provides valuable impulses and suggestions.
In order to provide the necessary basis for the change emanating from a civic council process, a citizens' council should comply with the following principles.