Last week, NCDD Managing Director Courtney Breese and I had the pleasure of attending the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference in the Phoenix area. The conference was hosted by NCDD member organizations – the Participatory Budgeting Project and the Jefferson Center, as well as, the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Katal Center, the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Policy Jury Group.
It was three exhilarating days of mixing and mingling and learning with folks from across the world about the innovative practices going on to better engage our communities and improve participatory democracy. Huge shout out to PBP and all the co-hosts for such a great event, we heard from several people that this was one of the most engaging conferences they had attended.
NCDD was well represented at the conference with pre-conference trainings and several folks from the network who presented sessions:
- Courtney and I presented a session with two fellow NCDD members, [Cassie Hemphill](http://ncdd.org/member?pdb=2773) (of the IAP2 Federation and University of Montana) and [Annie Rappeport](http://ncdd.org/member?pdb=2595) (of the University of Maryland), on *Using art to explore participatory democracy work and connections.* - There were two pre-conference trainings by NCDD member orgs: One on participatory budgeting (PB) hosted by the Participatory Budgeting Project, and another training on citizen juries, citizen assemblies, and sortition hosted by the Jefferson Center and the Policy Jury Group. - Our [upcoming Tech Tuesday](http://ncdd.org/25252) speaker, [David Fridley](http://ncdd.org/member?pdb=2430) of Synaccord, presented the session, *Up for deliberation using digital tools,* with Amy Lee of Kettering, John Richardson of Ethelo, and several others. [Learn more about Synaccord at our *free* Tech Tuesday webinar next week on March 20th – register [here](http://ncdd.org/25252)] - [Martha McCoy](http://ncdd.org/member?pdb=536) of Everday Democracy held a session on *Advancing Racial Equity in Government Planning and Participatory Democracy* with Sarita Turner of PolicyLink and John Dobard of the Advancement Project. - Matt Leighninger of [Public Agenda](http://ncdd.org/member?pdb=925) did a session with Patrick Scully of Participedia and Mark Warren from the University of British Columbia on *What can we gain from better documentation of participatory democracy? And how can we do it together?* - [Jim Rough](http://ncdd.org/member?pdb=1124) from the Center for Wise Democracy had a session with several others on *Dealing with Global Democratic decline: What now?* - The Participatory Budgeting Project held numerous sessions (too many to list here!) but you can check out the full conference schedule by clicking [here.](https://www.ipdconference.org/schedule/)
We had an NCDD meet up on Friday night in Tempe, where we had a great opportunity to connect with folks in our network and those new to NCDD – all of whom are passionate about participatory democracy. It was nice to be able to have a chance to sit down over drinks, get to know each other better, and learn about the work going on in each of our lives.
At the conference, several things stood out:
It was incredible to be able to see the participatory budgeting process going on at Central High School in Phoenix and hear from the students, staff, and administrators themselves about the impact of PB in their school and on the psyche of the student body. This was year two for this PB process and the effort has grown to include all Phoenix high schools. (By the way, have you heard the incredible news that PB will soon be implemented in all NYC high schools – which is over 400 schools! Learn more here about this phenomenal accomplishment.)
It was so rewarding to be in attendance with so many folks from across the world, each bringing exciting experiences of participatory democracy and how to transform the way that people engage. Below are some examples shared at IPDConf and by no means is an extensive list of the incredible individuals in attendance and work being done!
- Mayor José Ribeiro shared the exciting work going on in Valongo, Portugal to empower community members to be more participatory and some of the democratic policy initiatives that have been implemented in the area. “The job of perfecting democracy is a never-ending job” – Mayor Ribeiro
- Courtney and I had the pleasure of befriending, Antonio Zavala of Participando por México and we had an opportunity to learn more about his work on participatory budgeting in México City.
- Hsin-I Lin of Taiwan Reach-Out Association for Democracy shared about her organization’s work bridging intergenerational connections and the participatory budgeting going on in Taiwan.
- During lunch on the first day, Courtney and I got to talk with Suzanne van der Eerden and Petra Ramakers from the Netherlands and learn about their techniques to make participatory budgeting even more fun with gamification.
- Willice Onyango who is leading the Coalition for Kenya Youth Manifesto presented the session on Barriers to participatory governance and how we can contribute to international efforts to move the needle, with presenters Carrie O’Neil of Mercy Corps and Malin Svanberg.
The closing panel was an energizing close-out to a powerful conference, featuring a conversation on each of the panelists’ visions for the Future of Democracy led by incoming Co-Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, Shari Davis, with Sarita Turner of Policy Link, Carlos Menchaca the NYC Council Member for District 38, Ashley Trim of the Davenport Institute, and Josh Lerner, fellow PBP Co-Executive Director. Check out the hashtag #IPDConf2018 on Twitter for more photos, quotes, and participant experiences!