Democracy Café: An Experiment in Democracy
By various measures, democracy in the United States is at a low point. People know that the indirect influence of their votes on elected representatives is overwhelmed by special interests and campaign money.
The purpose of our Democracy Café is to explore possibilities for increasing democracy and cooperation in Milpitas politics.
The Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association (SNA) of Milpitas has written the proposal for this Democracy Café to examine the question “What actions can Milpitans take to create better democracy for ourselves?" Using the World Café model, we’ll provide an informal and relaxed environment that celebrates and harnesses differences, yet also helps us see what connects us.
The World Café is a simple and effective process for creating quality conversations about important issues. Briefly, the process involves participants in iterative rounds of four-person conversations that are 20 to 30 minutes long. At the end of each conversation round, 3 of the 4 people will move to other tables. With them, they carry the key ideas from their original table group to share at the new one. During the Café’s introductory remarks, a brief reading of the “Café Assumptions” and “Café Etiquette” should be enough to spark a cooperative atmosphere in the room. After three or four rounds, a conversation of the whole is conducted to bring together and express the insights of the entire group. From these insights, actionable knowledge is likely to flow – and lead to real action on a solution.
One of the strengths of the World Café is its simplicity and versatility. The seven World Café design principles provide guidance for creating a successful Café. A brief introduction entitled "Café to Go!" provides and overview on the practicalities of Café hosting. Our Café hosts - approximately 20 for the expected 100 participants – will use it to help prepare for their roles.
The Democracy Café will be on Saturday, January 19, 2008, in the banquet room at the India Community Center (525 Los Coches St., Milpitas, CA, 95035, 408-313-2132). Although the event is scheduled from 9am till noon, hosts will be needed for one hour before and after the event.
Although all Milpitas residents and members of sponsoring organizations are welcome, we need to monitor attendance. So, please contact us for an invitation to the Café by calling 408-262-0420 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
SNA is inviting support and co-sponsorship of the Café by various organizations and many individuals. In addition to hosts for the event, we'll need people to help with decorations, supplies and music selection. If you'd like to help, please contact SNA President Allysson McDonald at 408-719-0136 or email@example.com
SNA is coordinating the logistics and finances of this Democracy Café. For those inclined to support this event financially, checks can be made out to "SNA" and mailed to SNA, P. O. Box 360581, Milpitas, CA 95036-0581. To pay by credit card or PayPal, please contact SNA Treasurer Rob Means at 408-262-0420 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Your contribution to our $3000 budget could help restore democracy in America.
To encourage and expand democracy in the City of Milpitas and America, please contribute to this experiment in democracy.