Initial proposals for rebuilding the World Trade Center site had met with low levels of public approval, leading to the creation of a process with deep involvement spanning a range of people in the community.

Given the multiple, valid competing claims for a say in the future use of the site, it was clear that the process needed to be open and participatory – the process itself was intended as a monument to democracy. This was particularly attractive given that the principles of open society had been the symbolic subject of the attack.

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In June 2010, 3,500 Americans gathered together at 57 sites across the country to deliberate about their fiscal future. Participants worked in small groups with skilled facilitators to explore complex issues. The sites were linked together electronically so the sharing of information was national.

A key aim was to have a civilised conversation in a highly charged and polarised political environment. Groups identified as being at the extremes of the spectrum - from the ‘Tea Party’ to MoveOn were involved and engaged without argument despite obviously differing original positions.

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A project led by the Mayor of Recife has resulted in nearly 20% of the adult population being involved in some form in the 2009 budget process. In a 10 year period, over $300m in public expenditure has been redirected as a result.

Open access forums on a range of government service areas discuss the implications of municipal social investments and use of Federal and State level project funds in terms of their general effectiveness as well as their impacts on diversity, youth and the environment.

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From June 2008 through September 2009, the Mental Health Commission of Canada worked to develop its strategy through collaboration with governmental, institutional and community partners, and individual Canadians. This mandate was given to the Commission upon its creation in 2007 by the federal government, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments.

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Prevention of violence through to improvements to the town centre are being addressed by citizens with the city acting on the results.

The video also shows how this engagement model brings out local knowledge and is a strong example of a regional tier of government committing to the long term use of a deliberative model.

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A democratic reform group, Jefferson Action, used a citizens jury to interrogate the policy platforms of the Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress. Interestingly, this was supported and made possible through the active participation of both candidates.

The citizens detailed and informed views of the candidates built over tens of hours (rather than the more opinion based approaches traditionally used) enabled a deeper understanding of the candidates’ positions and added a new layer to democratic oversight for the November 2012 elections.

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Each year, starting in 2014, the Penn State Democracy Institute gives a medal and $5,000 award for exceptional innovations that advance the design and practice of democracy. The medal celebrates and helps to publicize the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States or around the globe. The Institute gives medals in even-numbered years to recognize practical innovations, such as new institutions, laws, technologies, or movements that advance democracy. In odd-numbered years, the awards celebrate advances in democratic theory that provide richer philosophical or empirical conceptions of democracy.

The 2014 inaugural winner for practical innovation has been announced...

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This initiative is transforming schools approach to civic education by facilitating student experimentation with innovative ways to structure student government. Elections, full-year terms, and hierarchy have been replaced with random selection, rotation, and horizontal teams, making student government more inclusive, representative, and engaging. Through experimentation, students also begin to think critically and creatively about fundamentally better ways to approach democracy. Now in its third year in Bolivia, this initiative provides an alternative to the exclusion and disengagement that typically characterize student government, and a way to develop active citizens with strong civic skills and democratic values.

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