On October 25th, the NPR radio Show Open Source featured a special show on “Experiments in Democracy,” with participation from Launi Guinier, Shoni Field (of the BC Citizen’s Asembly), Daniel Kemmis (former mayor of Mizzoula, Montana), and Gianpaolo Baiocchi.
According to the Show’s producers,
Back in September we introduced the idea of doing a show about race, class and voting with Harvard Law professor and voting rights activist Lani Guinier. While prepping for that show, I had an amazing conversation with Professor Guinier. A conversation that, as it turned out, had almost nothing to do with race and class.
Instead, we spent an hour talking about “experiments in democracy” — small but radical, hyper-local examples of people re-defining democracy to be more about civic participation and less about a few minutes in a voting booth. Specific examples she cited included a citizen assembly in Vancouver that redesigned British Columbia’s election system, deliberative citizen roundtables in Los Angeles, and participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
So as the election approaches and we near the end of our midterms series, we’re taking a break to focus on the nature of democracy and civic engagement beyond the ballot box. How are people trying to re-invent democracy in small but significant ways? How are their efforts important or different — successful or not? And could these case studies in LA or Porto Allegre be applied on a wider scale?