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[liberationtech] Would you be willing to create an online townhall for your city? Bring Americans together local-up?

Yosem Companys companys at
Thu Dec 1 14:28:51 PST 2016

From: Steven Clift <clift at>

Hey everyone, I've had over a dozen awesome offers to volunteer in
local cities across the US from Jackson, Mississippi to Wichita,
Kansas to Bemidji, Minnesota to Queens, New York.

I am excited about the opportunity to help these volunteers and bring
in the support needed for us to take on even more cities.  Volunteer
now to lead your town: clift at  (put Facebook Group -
Your City in subject please.)

Here is my rough plan:

  1. Set up a form where people can volunteer for their city OR tell
us about an existing city-wide/county-wide Facebook Group where an
online civic public square(*) is already thriving.

  2. Connect all the volunteers and "coaches" from existing similar
Facebook Groups in a private peer-to-peer support Facebook Group

  3. Find volunteers who can help raise resources to support the
training and support for these volunteers for at least a year and
ideally fund inclusive outreach resources across many cities

  4. Draft up a research component with interested researchers so
lesson sharing can be a core outcome of this networked approach

Next week in DC, I've thrown together a gathering (see below) to
generate input, ideas, and passionate volunteers who can help. I'll be
honest and note that my ability focus on this popular idea will be
extremely limited if it does not catch the eye of possible funders or
donors. But for now I can volunteer an hour a day on number 1 and 2
until we get at least a few Facebook Groups established. Perhaps
you've been looking for a project where you can help and make a big
difference around the country. If yes, please volunteer to help
co-lead this or to offer a specific role your are good at!!!

* You'd be surprised what might already be out there for your
community *above* the neighborhood level in terms of civic online
groups. Start searching Facebook Groups for your local city/county
names and you'll find groups that aren't just online garage sale/
Check out places like Hunting Beach, CA - or Brooklyn Park, MN where
ironically they each have competing local -city-wide- forums with
thousands of members with different approaches. If you don't have a
Facebook Groups where "of course" the mayor and city council members
are members and mix it up from time to time with people in a
citizen-first community life forum, then you are a candidate for a new
Facebook Group. If people with local power only lurk in an existing
online space, then we might be able to work with the leaders of that
space to bring out that crucial participation element to increase the
community agenda-setting and dialogue in the group.

Steven Clift

Local-up? Digital Bridges for American Communities Brown Bag

Tuesday, December 6 at 12 PM - 2 PM EST
Lake Research Partners, 1101 17th St, NW Suite 301, Washington, DC

Join us for a informal brown bag lunch discussion about online
opportunities to connect Americans local-up across partisan divides
one community at a time.

This discussion hosted by Steven Clift, a founder of
and their local online town hall model since 1994, will delve directly
into how Facebook Groups might be used to launch city-by-city online
public spaces for participation in local community and civic life.

After the dramatic election was over, a dozen volunteers from Jackson,
Mississippi and Witchita, Kansas to Bemidi, Minnesota and Queens, New
York City stepped forward to answer Steve's call to reconnect people
with digital civility across the partisan divide starting with their
own town. (While neighborhood-level group abound on Facebook,
city-wide spaces connecting people to public issues in local
government are quite rare.)

This embroynic effort has the opportunity to spread to cities across
the nation as we recruit more passionate digital convenors and work to
train, coach, and support them with peer to networking and possible
research with lessons sharing about what works. First up is support
the first batch of communities and then spread the idea.

This session will be a opportunity to bring your ideas, networks, and
resources to the table. If you believe that the solutions to America's
political divides start at home and won't be solved easily top-down,
this gathering is for you.

If you want to volunteer to start one for your city, email:
clift at - Put "City Facebook Group - Your City" in the
subject line. (Or if you already have something that fits the bill,
let us know as well so we can tap their lessons too.) FYI -
E-Democracy's model and lessons we will adapt to Facebook Groups:

Special thanks to Alan Rosenblatt, Board Member of E-Democracy for
securing our meeting local at Lake Research Partners.

Two other related gatherings convened by Steven Clift are happening on Dec

9:30 AM - Digitally Networking Democracy Builders Globally? A Conversation

5:00 PM - DC OpenGov Civic Tech Facebook Group Happy Hour

Steven Clift  -  Executive Director,
   clift at  -  +1 612 234 7072
   @democracy  - - My radio app

On Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 2:21 AM, Steven Clift <clift at> wrote:
> OK, quite the night.
> We talk about how social media has been used as a wedge in this
> campaign to divide our country. Can we use it top-down nationally to
> bring us together across those divides? I say no - the most partisan
> will drive the 80% in the middle away and cause us to stick to our
> filter bubbles.
> All across this country via Facebook Groups, NextDoor, and other
> platforms people are organically connecting with their nearest
> neighbors to find lost pets, talk about crime, and swap free stuff.
> And sometimes people have very dynamic discussions online about their
> most local community with -gasp- people who live near them but hold
> very different political views and are not their online "friends."
> On social media, these local online groups breakthrough the filter
> bubble and bridge political divides at the sub-partisan level where
> the common interest trumps partisan politics.
> The question is this - can we bump this up to the *city-wide* level
> and create online civic spaces that connect people across differences?
> Local democratically inspired spaces that are useful, agenda-setting,
> open, inclusive around the nation? And do it via highly accessible and
> popular Facebook Groups?
> By inclusive, I mean in many ways ... including local conservatives,
> immigrants, and more ... such that the space reflects the full
> community and not just the most involved community folks.
> The ten of thousands of neighborhood Facebook Groups start with a
> spark, an "admin" who creates the group and spreads the word.
> Now what about you and your city? Will you step forward for your city
> to convene a Facebook Group for your community?
> If yes, let me know: clift at
> If there are at least ten of you, then we can launch a movement that
> just might spread to hundreds, then thousands of cities.
> Thanks,
> Steven Clift
> P.S. What I am essentially asking is if you want to help me convert
> E-Democracy's twenty years of succesful but isolated experiences with
> the online townhall - - for the
> Facebook-era. Our model ONLY works with a local person willing to
> bring people together so collectively the community can not only raise
> its voice, it creates the digital capacity to listen to and respect
> each other. And not through hands-off "make it easy technology," but
> hands on effective facilitation and passionate community outreach.
> Steven Clift  -  Executive Director,
>    clift at  -  +1 612 234 7072
>    @democracy  -
> - My radio app
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