In 2016, CAN, Civic Collaboration, Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) and Leadership Austin hosted a series of Deliberative Dialogues on the topic of Building a Community of Equity and Opportunity. The Austin team was part of a multi-city learning exchange facilitated by the Kettering Foundation that involved individuals and entities from Marin County, California, Columbia, Missouri, and South Florida. The purpose of the learning exchange was to select a local community challenge and to develop the tools and resources that were needed to have a deliberative dialogue on this local challenge.
After selecting the issue of “bridging the economic divide,” the Austin deliberative dialogue team held a series of listening sessions to better understand how members of the community who come from diverse backgrounds feel and talk about this challenging problem. The knowledge gained from the listening session was used to frame the issue guide that was developed for the deliberative dialogue process.
In Spring and Summer 2016, the Austin deliberative dialogue team convened three dialogue forums with close to 100 participants from 39 different zip codes around Austin. The dialogue process was centered around the three approaches that participants were asked to reflect upon: Level the Playing Field; Unleash the Creativity of the Private Sector; and Hold on to What Makes Austin Special. The final report for this dialogue process outlines the approaches and actions that seemed to resonate the most.