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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 16:17:00 PST 2016

From: David Stiebel <dstiebel at>

A close friend of mind is working on a relevant research project--
connecting people with diverse viewpoints to discuss the election in a
civilized, guided way

On Dec 1, 2016 5:24 PM, "Steven Clift" <clift at> wrote:

> 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.
> Thanks,
> 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
> Details
> 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
> 6:
> 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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