Slow Democracy Resources

The number of organizations and publications dealing with local, deliberative democracy is growing every day. For starters, we offer a small sampling here.



 National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

NCDD represents dialogue and deliberation practitioners and scholars from a wide variety of fields. NCDD hosts conferences, creates educational materials, and facilitates online and in-person professional networking. Their monthly email updates reach over 33,000 subscribers. NCDD’s online resource center offers over 2,600 resources for dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement. Here you can find descriptions and links to books, articles, case studies, evaluation tools, videos, organizations, and foundations.

Canadian Community for Dialogue and Deliberation

C2D2 is a Canadian organization of individuals and organizations dedicated to creating vibrant communities, businesses, governments, nonprofits, and learning institutions through dialogue, deliberation, collaborative action, and decision-making processes.

Deliberative Democracy Consortium

A network of practitioners and researchers of deliberative democracy that has developed new tools, assembled new networks, and assisted federal agencies. Listserv offers ongoing updates on the dialogue and deliberation field. Together with IAP2 (below), it publishes the Journal of Public Deliberation.

International Association for Public Participation

IAP2 is a networking, research, and advocacy organization. Among other things, IAP2 offers a certificate training course in public participation, and together with the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (above), it publishes the Journal of Public Deliberation.

National League of Cities

NLC is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. In addition to its advocacy and programs, it offers a variety of leadership and community-engagement-related studies, publications, and other resources.

League of Women Voters

LWV is nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. LWV offers a wealth of resources for local LWV chapters to use in their consensus or concurrence processes, through which they research and take positions on issues.

Everyday Democracy

The goal of Everyday Democracy’s programs and services is to help create communities that work better for everyone because all voices are included in public problem solving, and to link that work to creating a stronger democracy. Creator of the Study Circles dialogue and deliberation process, Everyday Democracy offers community assistance, training, and a variety of tools and techniques. Find resources at

Kettering Foundation

Kettering is a nonprofit foundation focusing on what it takes to make democracy work as it should. It does not make grants but engages in joint research. It also produces issue books and videos for the National Issues Forum deliberations. Look for the group’s research findings (books, research papers, videos) as well as its three periodicals (Connections, Higher Education Exchange, and Kettering Review) on its website.

Orton Family Foundation

The Orton Family Foundation helps small cities and towns, primarily in the Northeast and the Rocky Mountain West, harness the inherent ability of citizens to imagine and achieve a better future for themselves and their communities. Through its Heart and Soul Community Planning process, the Foundation promotes inclusive, proactive decision making and land use planning by offering guidance, tools, research, capital and other support to selected communities. Implementation guides and other tools are available at

Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership

The Davenport Institute is housed within Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, with the purpose of promoting citizen participation in California governance. Case studies and technological innovations are featured on the institute’s civic engagement blog at

The Democracy Imperative

The Democracy Imperative is a national network of scholars, campus and civic leaders committed to strengthening democracy in and through higher education. Resources for college and university-level teaching, practicing, and talking about democracy are available at their website.


For an easy-to-use overview booklet on dialogue and deliberations processes, see the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberations' Engagement Streams Framework.

For a comprehensive list of engagement methods, see Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, and Steven Cady, The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2007).

For a comprehensive survey of the field of deliberative democracy, see John Gastil and Peter Levine, eds., The Deliberative Democracy Handbook, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005).

 For a valuable assessment of online engagement tools and the goals they are best suited for, see Matt Leighninger, “Using Online Tools to Engage—and Be Engaged by—the Public,” from the IBM Center for the Business of Government at

For an up-to-date academic assessment of the field, see Tina Nabatchi, John Gastil, C Michael Weiksner, and Matt Leighninger, Democracy in Motion: Evaluating the Practice and Impact of Deliberative Civic Engagement, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).


Recommended facilitation guides include:

Sam Kaner, Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making (Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 1998)

Sandy Schuman, IAF Handbook of Group Facilitation: Best Practices from the Leading Organization in Facilitation (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005)

 Roger Schwartz, The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches, 2nd ed., (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002)

Cultural Cognition Resources

For a lively and readable application of cultural cognition theory, see John Gastil, Dan M. Kahan, and Donald Braman, "The Good News about the Culture Wars," Boston Review, March/April 2006. 

Activists who want hands-on activities to explore cultural world views should see Riki Ott's Ultimate Civics workbook Rethinking Democracy.

Ever wonder how citizens can continue to disagree on public issues, even when scientists have reached fundamental agreement about them? Issue framing and spokespeople matter. Listen to professor Dan Kahan speak about cultural cognition here and here, You can find additional Cultural Cognition resources here.

For visuals to help explain cultural cognition, see powerpoint slides here. 

Bridging America's Divides

Suggested tools for having a dialogue/discussion with people of opposing views

“Reaching Across the Red/Blue Divide” -- Guide for Conversations Across the Red/Blue Divide, created by Essential Partners

Living Room Conversations a process for liberal/conservative dialogue developed by Joan Blades, co-founder of

Conversation Cafe “hosting dialogue about things that really matter”

National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation A virtual firehose of resources for dialogue and deliberation on all issues, but especially rich now in new tools for bridging the red/blue divide.

“All-America Conversations“ from the National Civic League

“Better Angels” project

“Make Shift Coffee House” Bridging political divides with coffee, music, and face-to-face facilitated conversation


Suggested readings for understanding the values underpinning Right/Left issues

The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America and 

American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good,

both by Colin Woodard

Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit by Parker J. Palmer