|Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community
Changing the Nature of the Conversation
This booklet is a set of ideas and tools designed to restore and reconcile our community by shifting the nature of the public conversation. The public conversation is those conversations that are not held in private. It is the one we hold when we gather in meetings and in large events, and the one that occurs in the
media. Our intention is to create the possibility of an alternative future by creating a public conversation based on communal accountability and commitment. This is the essence of what restores community. Restoration and its new possibility is what can
make a difference in those places where history and the past seem overridingly restraining.
The dominant existing public conversation is retributive, not restorative. It is void of accountability and soft on commitment. In this way it drives us apart, it does not bring us together. The existing conversation is about entitlement, not accountability.
To be accountable, among other things, means you act as an owner and part creator of whatever it is that you wish to improve. In the absence of this, you are in the position of effect, not cause; a powerless stance.
To be committed means you are willing to make a promise with no expectation of return; a promise void of barter and not conditional on another s action. In the absence of this, you are constantly in the position of reacting to the choices of others. The cost of constantly reacting is increased cynicism.