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Issues Forum Guide

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Our updated Issues Forum Guide is a work in progress.

The new more concise guide will start with an open chapter and then based on your needs you may refer to multiple appendices. For convenient printing, see our original 60 page guidebook commissioned by the UK government.

This advice can be adapted and used for anyone seeking to host online community participation with civility that matters NOT just to launch an Issues Forum with E-Democracy.org.

We are in the process streamlining our model to allow a single volunteer (the Forum Manager) to start a forum. We will also be encouraging communities to adapt the support "team" concept as best suits their needs (be that an informal team with the Forum Manager as leader, a team with volunteers taking various roles, a committee with a chair other than the Forum Manager who leads support efforts, etc.). These changes are not yet reflected in our updated drafts.

If you would like to help edit this guide, please contact us and we will share those rights with you.

The draft complete table of contents is as follows:

Introduction

What is an Issues Forum?

E-Democracy.org’s model for Local Issues Forums

Setting Up a Local Issues Forum

1. Pick Your Democracy

2. Steering Committee

3. Create Mission, Establish Rules, and Set Goals

4. Technology

5. Recruit

6. Community Approach

7. Launch Publicity

8. Facilitate and Manage

9. Be Patient and Persevere

10. Celebrate

Measuring Success

What’s Next?

Appendix 1 – Technology

Why host your Local Issues Forum on E-Democracy.Org

Terms of Hosting with E-Democracy.Org

Other available technology

Appendix 2 – Managing the forum

Steering committee

Steering Team Terms of Reference

The Forum Manager

Volunteer roles

Appendix 3 – Charter, Rules and Mission

Sample Charters

E-Democracy Forum Rules

Warnings and Suspension from E-Democracy.Org Forums

Appendix 4 – Get ready to launch

The Guide to Virtual Door-Knocking

Short Outreach Note – General Public

Longer Introduction Early in Process to Civic Leaders

Recruitment Checklist and Sample Sign-Up Form

Sign-up Form

Promotional poster

Sample News release:

Appendix 5: Launch

Sample Forum Opening Messages

Post 1: Welcome Message

Post 2: Rules and Expectations

Post 3: Introductions

Guest Speaker Information

Appendix 6: Your Local Issues Forum in Practice

Why Should Citizens Participate In A Local Issues Forum?

Why Should/Do Elected Officials and Decision-Makers Participate?

Response scenarios

How to Effectively Participate in a Local Issues Forum

Levels of Participation

Frequently Asked Questions

Appendix 7 – Working in partnership

Case Studies

Case Study 1: Citizen Problem Solving on the Issues Forum Leads to Legislation

Case Study 2: Mayor Uses the Issues Forum to Learn of True Citizen Concerns

Case Study 3: Newspaper Uses the Issues Forum to Improve and Balance Its Coverage



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