Americans envision a civic infrastructure for public dialogue and deliberation

Over a long and rainy weekend in Seattle, I joined members of the US-based National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) in a trendy downtown eco hotel for their semi-annual … Continue Reading


You’ll miss Europe if we kill it: the EU benefits the world more than people appreciate

Several years ago, after a lifetime in the heartland of America, I moved to the heart of the European Union. Having heard Brussels described as the Washington, D.C. of Europe, … Continue Reading


All the old unfamiliar places: America is home-but why doesn’t it feel that way?

America is a foreign place. This shouldn’t be so. I’m American. I was born here. I’ve lived most of my life here. But five years ago I left and moved … Continue Reading


The troublesome child could be a shining star: lessons in direct democracy from the American West

Direct democracy can seem at times like a troublesome, unloved child in the family of democratic tools. A major reason may be press accounts of the American state of California … Continue Reading


North-Westward ho! Oregon embeds public participation in lawmaking

The eyes of the American public participation community are riveted on the Pacific Northwest state of Oregon. It recently became the first American state to institutionalise a citizens jury-style process … Continue Reading


Putting EU citizens before lobbyists: is the ECI the tool?

A friend recently asked me to sign a petition opposing a soon-to-be-implemented EU directive which will effectively ban many herbal medicines. Putting aside the merits of the topic, my first … Continue Reading


Warning: EU elections may be dangerous to your democracy

If the first election in which a young voter participates is a European election then that voter is less likely to vote in any kind of election for the rest … Continue Reading


Cutting the national debt with avatars

While sensible people watched Ghana defeat America in the World Cup, I wandered into the parallel online universe that is Second Life (SL) to join Americans in confronting their national … Continue Reading


A (real) democratic life for EU citizens…

The European Union (EU) is moving quickly to clarify and enforce the rights of its citizens, driven by the very senior, results-oriented Commissioner Viviane Reding. The Commission’s focus is the … Continue Reading


Who’s afraid of the world’s first transnational participatory democracy tool?

Europe will begin the first-ever experiment in transnational participatory democracy later this year with the launch of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). This participatory agenda-setting tool allows one million European … Continue Reading