Matt Leighninger presents a balanced and fascinating look at the relationship between citizens and government and the dramatic changes that relationship is undergoing.
In the 20th century, public life revolved around government; in the 21st century, it will center on citizens
"It was an offhand comment, blurted out by someone in a crowd of people, and I was never able to figure out exactly who said it. The room was full of citizens and public officials; they were talking about why there was a lack of trust between the residents and local government of Lakewood, a small city just west of Denver. The mayor and city manager just didn't understand how taxpayers could be dissatisfied with a city administration that had won awards for efficiency and innovation. Finally, someone said it: "Look, we know you're working hard for us, but what we've got here is a parent-child relationship between the government and the people. What we need is an adult-adult relationship.: It was the perfect summary of what I'd been watching in communities all over North America for the last ten years: a dramatic, generational shift in what people want from their democracy."
Matt Leighninger is the executive director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, an umbrella group that includes the major organizations in the field of deliberation and citizen involvement. Over the last twelve years, Matt has worked with citizen involvement efforts in over 100 communities, in 40 states and two Canadian provinces; roughly 25,000 people have taken part in those projects. Most of this work was supported by the Study Circles Resource Center, of which he is a senior associate.
Leighninger has also been a consultant to the National League of Cities, Centers for Disease Control, and the League of Women Voters.
Mr. Leighninger's book is available from Vanderbilt University Press