* Collaborative San Francisco * City-wide dialog initiative *


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Collaborative San Francisco

. . . improving the way that communities, businesses and government agencies

collaborate to make public decisions in San Francisco.

Collaborative San Francisco (CSF)
Project Launch Event Held

Collaborative San Francisco's recent Project Launch Event which took place, 
Tuesday, March 27, kicked the project off with a meeting that introduced new 
approaches for engaging large diverse groups of people. Community members, local
business owners, advocacy and non-profit groups, youth, seniors and city agency 
staff came together using the methods introduced by CSF to explore trends 
affecting San Francisco, describe conversations that are needed to take up these
issues and identify who needed to be part of these conversations. The group also
identified a group of projects which will become candidates for two 
demonstration projects that will utilize these large group methods in a real 
life situation. Click here for more info.

The Context: Look at any sector of the city and you¹ll likely find a variety of 
public initiatives underway, with little or no communication going on between 
them. Many of these initiatives are being led by different city departments; 
others by non-profits, businesses or community groups. Typically, they are 
narrowly focused and attract a limited sector of the public mobilized to focus 
on that issue.  Interested groups face off in an attempt to influence the 
outcome, while most people who will be affected have little or no involvement or
impact on the decisions.

A New Approach to Public Participation: CSF will introduce new and innovative 
methods for enabling large, highly-diverse populations to work together 
effectively. These methods are characterized by their ability to include all 
relevant voices and connect related issues. They make it possible to engage 
groups of many sizes ­ from dozens up to several thousands of individuals ­ in 
ways that produce effective, efficient and sustainable outcomes while ensuring 
that every participant voice is fully heard.


Public Process Innovations for Moving Large and Diverse Communities to Shared 
Vision and Action

Collaborative San Francisco and the Neighborhood Assemblies Network (NAN)

New approaches to public participation are helping communities around the world 
avoid conflict and work together effectively. New ³large group² methods enable 
highly-diverse stakeholder and demographic sectors to collaborate together in 
large groups involving up to thousands of people.

³Large group² methods and the Neighborhood Assemblies Network

Many large-group methods are recognized under specific names, such as World 
Café, Open Space Technology, Future Search, Whole Scale Change, Appreciative 
Inquiry, etc.. Working with the principles that underlie these processes and 
drawing from many different large-group methodologies, NAN works with 
communities to devise custom-tailored process designs to meet their needs.

What makes these new collaboration processes different?

The new processes are designed to create ³collective intelligence² in public 
processes by legitimizing all affected and relevant voices. This applies from 
the very first steps of the process.

1. Full inclusion. The crowd looks different because multi-stakeholder planning 
teams are created to assure participation from all sectors. The process doesn¹t 
start until all relevant voices are involved. People from all demographic 
categories and stakeholder groups are present and talk face to face as peers.

2. Scalability. The new processes are capable of accommodating dozens, hundreds,
even thousands of participants without reducing the quality or effectiveness of 
the dialogue, and without limiting individual participation. Having more people 
involved becomes an asset rather than a liability.

3. Open systems approach. Instead of isolated planning efforts, all effected 
parties, parties that can affect the outcome and parties that have experience, 
knowledge or information for each issue are included in a way that builds 
relationship and coordination between issues.

4. Participative design. The traditional distinction between the people on stage
and the audience is eliminated. No one gives up power or authority, yet everyone
has an equal place at the table. People work in distributed, self-managing small
groups that work in parallel and report to the whole at intervals. The group as 
a whole then makes meaning of the work of these small groups. Everyone is 
involved in getting the work done, raising the degree, breadth and quality of 
collectively generated understanding.

Unlike traditional meetings that deplete energy and exhaust patience, the new 
techniques excite and energize, because people are given the chance to talk and 
act effectively. The processes are relatively simple and inexpensive to 
implement. People learn that truly collaborative processes are smarter, more 
productive and more efficient than hierarchies and top-down decision structures.
And, with the growing diversity of our communities, reliance on old methods that
assume shared perspectives is no longer sufficient.

What outcomes can be expected?

In these new approaches, people are invited to be uncompromising, so that every 
voice is legitimated from the start as an important element of the whole all are
building together. From this basis, communities can build a shared vision that 
grows from and connects all perspectives, a vision that everyone can support. 
Government, business and communities can become allies instead of adversaries. 
Each stage ends up with a focus on what action the group will take to implement 
the common ground they have discovered.

These approaches reduce ³time to effectiveness.² More time spent up front on 
inclusion and participation means speedier implementation and fewer headaches 
and obstacles down the road. And nothing creates success like success.

For more information, see http://www.communityassemblies.org or contact NAN 
co-directors: Kenoli Oleari, (510) 601-8217, •••@••.•••; Marc Tognotti, 
(415) 824-1854, •••@••.•••.

Escaping the Matrix website:            http://escapingthematrix.org/
cyberjournal website:                       http://cyberjournal.org
Community Democracy Framework: http://cyberjournal.org/DemocracyFramework.html
Subscribe cyberjournal list:            •••@••.•••  (send 
blank message)
Posting archives:                               
Moderator:                                         •••@••.•••  (comments