Everyday Democracy provides expert advice to support organizers working to amplify the voices of their communities and focuses on three areas: organizing, dialogue, and action. Everyday Democracy was founded in 1989 as the Study Circles Resource Center (SCRC) and, in this early stage, the center worked to develop better communication strategies for organizers and communities. In the more than 30 years since its founding, the organization has actively worked with other groups to foster conversations with the public on important, timely, and difficult topics, with a particular focus on structural racism, biases, and inequities. For example, in 1992, the organization worked to develop discussion guides to facilitate conversation around the ongoing racial tensions in Los Angeles, California; in 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, the center developed a guide to help facilitate conversation on how to move forward from the deadly attack; and in 2009, they collaborated with several groups to discuss the election of President Barack Obama. In 2008, SCRC officially changed its name to Everyday Democracy.
Over these decades of building expertise, the organization has developed and actively practices the process they have termed Dialogue to Change. This process is focused on building trust and learning about complex issues facing communities. Everyday Democracy works with organizations and policymakers to provide advice over the course of the Dialogue to Change process, which includes six major steps: organizing, facilitation, dialogue, action, evaluation, and sustaining the process.
Everyday Democracy is a project of the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, which has a mission to advance deliberative democracy and improve public life in the United States. It is the primary project of the foundation and was established with a $6 million endowment; additional support comes through contracts, grants, and donations.
How to Use
Everyday Democracy provides a wide range of resources in its Resources for Changemakers library. Users can search by various filters, including the type of resource desired, the phase of the project development, and the issue.
One type of resource available, discussion guides, cover a variety of issues including race, poverty, and more, and can be used as examples for building discussion guides on other topics. The selection of resources also includes handouts and worksheets, which users can print and use in their programming, or as a basis for developing other related materials. Examples of these materials include topic-specific handouts, such as “7 Key Lessons for Addressing Racism;” worksheets for various activities, such as “Activity to Explore How Change Can Happen” and “Activity to Explore the Impact of Stereotypes;” and toolkits and curricula, such as the “Evaluating Community Engagement” toolkit and the curriculum “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow.” Other resources include comprehensive how-to guides on various skills, such as facilitation training, communication, development of materials, and more, and a collection of reports and publications on public engagement and deliberative dialogue.
Everyday Democracy also compiled a suggested reading list of valuable readings and resources that cover topics from the how-tos of deliberative democracy to more topic-specific material, such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Users may also find it useful to review the various testimonials about Changemakers, which discusses examples from communities served and speaks to the impacts and outcomes of such programming beyond evaluation reports.
For users interested in advice from practitioners, the organization can also be contracted to provide guidance and practical assistance to organizers looking to launch new community dialogue programming.