International public engagement news & domestic learning opportunities

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Hi all! I’ve begun translating some articles from the news media in Austria about their growing public participation efforts. This first article is called “Developing Self-Efficacy” by Selbst Wirksam Werden and was published in Biorama, an Austrian online magazine on sustainability. The English version can be found here, and here is an excerpt:

2013 has been officially declared the “European Year of Citizen.” Twenty years after the introduction of EU citizenship, the focus of this year is the achievements of the people themselves and their own aspirations for their future. In the course of this European Year, events are being held to explain to citizens how they can use their EU rights directly and what measures and programs exist. There are also conversations with citizens throughout the European Union, on their views about what the European Union should look like in the future and what reforms are needed to obtain improvements in their daily lives.

The article goes on to describe the public participation efforts taking place in Vorarlberg, Austria, where there have been more than 20 successful “Bürger-Räte” (Citizen’s Councils) held since 2006, using the Wisdom Council model developed by Jim and Jean Rough. They describe the model as follows:

Twelve people from a county, a city or a region are selected at random to spend 1-2 days exploring an issue in a rather open manner. To this end, the facilitation method ‘Dynamic Facilitation’ is used, which allows an associative and creative approach to discovering new possibilities for action. A specially- trained facilitator helps participants uncover what it is they want and how they can creatively develop collaborative solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. At the same time, the process generates a dialogue marked by a high degree of listening.

For anyone interested in learning more about the practice of Dynamic Facilitation, also known as the Choice-Creating process, I will be offering two upcoming workshops this Fall. One in is Burlington, Vermont, from November 7 – 9, and another one will be in Voluntown, Connecticut, from November 14 – 16. For more info on the trainings, please visit

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