Deborah A. Wilcox, PhD
Grassroots Public Policy Institutes: Creating Sustained Multicultural Democratic Communities
More and more everyday people say they are frustrated by a lack of progress and actions stemming from current discussions that attempt to address concerns and the need for leadership and societal change. All too often these discussions have been divisive, with people pointing fingers at each other placing blame for difficult problems on the leadership in the community, politics, and government. Often discussions turn into narrowly focused debates and quick fix solution wars focused on the best strategy for action. As a result, communities and organizations never move beyond these apparent needs to discuss the larger, underlying deeply rooted issues. Pervasive in many communities, discussions on leadership and social justice change become dominated by a handful of people, often labeled as experts, leaving little room for a larger grassroots public conversation tied to how the community works and what type of change is desired by everyday people. Frequently, the voices of everyday people are not heard, included nor valued in shaping the public policy for their local communities they want to see.
The Grassroots Public Policy Institute™ (GPPI) establishes a cutting-edge approach for the development of sustained public policy that opens opportunities for the creation of civic democratic spaces within organizations, local governments, and communities to address the critical need for everyday people to engage in sustained deliberative dialogue conversations (Speaking into Listening). This GPPI approach facilitates inclusive and equitable public policy creation to codify justice and parity with people who are traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised within society. Additionally, GPPI promotes the building of healthy relationships across cultural and human differences displayed in race, class, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual orientation, age, and more, by building community among and between people who do not normally talk and listen to one another.
Given what the research has shown about the power of decision-making and policy change within local communities by involving everyday people in sustained deliberative dialogues, the use of public deliberative dialogue forums and conversations opens the door to community change. Changing the way people talk can change the way they relate to each other and to their complex community challenges and that behavior can produce an informed community public who are actively engaged in changing the quality of life within their communities. Additionally, sustained deliberative dialogue and conversations through the GPPI is foundational in the establishment of a thriving multicultural democratic infrastructure at the local community level for everyday people and organizations to work through and address difficult and persistent issues like the dismantling of systemic racism and implementing policies that address the Social Determinants of Health within local communities through the voices and choices of everyday people.