This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Of, For, By the People and now Through the People - Community Governance Revisited

The beginning of this effort or exploration or experiment to build 'new community paradigms' started out considering the economic aspects of building a 'livable city', moved on to creating principles for establishing healthy cities for the occupants of those livable cities, in part by using the concept of 'Placemaking' as the canvas for communities to create the physical embodiment of those principles, through a process that sought to find the 'soul' of one's community and by means of Using Online Communities to encourage Direct Democracy for On-The-Ground Communities to implement a concept of Community Governance or the direct governance of a community by the members of that community.

The principle of community governance would more likely be the starting point not an end to the process of establishing new community paradigms.  This post will revisit the concept of community governance in relation to building new community paradigms and provide some new resources that can help in that effort.

True community governance is, admittedly, an idealized final state of affairs that is not currently fully realized anywhere that I know.   It is, however, not merely fantasy either.  A number of organizations, listed in both the wiki pages Governance by Community and Governance through Community have been in existence for a while, working to make it more of a reality.  

The original intention of dividing community governance into  'governance through' and 'governance by' was an attempt to differentiate between the word 'through' to convey the means of accomplishing something and the word 'by' to convey agent or agency of that accomplishment (see note below).  Perhaps a minor point but it would allow for organizing outside the influence of any existing institutionalized government structure prior to any engagement.  Some of the resources provided under community governance would fall into both categories.

Under governance through community, the community comes together (more often than four years for elections) and using principles of direct democratic deliberation makes decisions about their community.  This could be done in cooperation, in parallel or in opposition with the existing political influence of city hall.  How it implements the results of those deliberations and whether it is with or without the cooperation of city hall is a matter of governance by community.

Another way of looking at it is the difference on being either inside or outside of a system of governance.  Members of any community may already have a sense of this if they have ever attempted to fight city hall.  Community governance does not change the establishment of laws to help direct the interactions between members of a community.  Even under the most idealized form of 100% participation in direct democratic governance there would still be a difference between participating in the writing of laws as a member of the community and being subject to the power of enforcement of those laws as an individual by the authority of the community.  There would be though a greater chance in participating in the writing of the laws rather than being unilaterally subject to regulations by a City Hall with its own self perpetuating agenda.  Any potential concerns regarding rule by unprofessional masses will be addressed at a future date.

The blog post Governance through Community focused on organizations that worked primarily on the process and means of bringing members of a community together and jointly creating a democratic process. Some of the older resources were reclassified and placed under the Governance through Community wiki page.

The International Association for Public Participation or IAP2 has a wealth of resources available to assist organizations, decision makers, policy makers and practitioners to improve the quality of the public participation work. The following resources are protected by copyright by the International Association for Public Participation and are being offered here to be used only for information purposes.  The International Association for Public Participation: IAP2 Code of Ethics for Public Participation Practitioners supports and reflects IAP2's Core Values for the Practice of Public Participation. The Core Values define the expectations and aspirations of the public participation process. The Code of Ethics speaks to the actions of practitioners.

In addition, new resources were found since the writing of that post.  The Deliberative Democracy Consortium's mission is to bring together practitioners and researchers to support and foster the nascent, broad-based movement to promote and institutionalize deliberative democracy at all levels of governance in the United States and around the world.

The Deliberative Democracy Consortium is an alliance of the major organizations and leading scholars working in the field of deliberation and public engagement. The DDC represents more than 50 foundations, nonprofit organizations, and universities, collaborating to support research activities and advance democratic practice, in North America and around the world. As with many of the organizations featured, Deliberative Democracy Consortium has a Facebook page.

Also new to the Governance through Community wiki page is Involve | Making participation count. Involve features experts in public engagement, participation and dialogue.
We carry out research and deliver training to inspire citizens, communities and institutions to run and take part in high-quality public participation processes, consultations and community engagement. We believe passionately in a democracy where citizens are empowered to take and influence the decisions that affect their lives
As admitted above, this is still an idealized state of affairs and remains such if the follow up step to actually make changes in the community is not realized.  Next we take another look at Governance by Community.

Note: A more precise definition would have recognized the word 'through' as  designating particularly immediate agency or instrumentality or reason or motive (see section on Synonyms) but I am going to keep with the distinction currently being used for now

Past Posts