As part of a national study for the Kettering Foundation, journalist and author Scott London attended the August 11th session of the San Diego Deliberation Network (SDDN), hosted by Point Loma Nazarene University.
Scott is the author of "Doing Democracy," a study of grassroots organizations across the country that use dialogue and deliberation to strengthen their communities. He is currently researching how a new crop of networks, coalitions, and centers like the SDDN are creating spaces for change in their cities and regions.
What makes the SDDN unique, Scott said, is that it brings together the knowledge and resources of many key organizations and academic institutions throughout San Diego in an effort to get people talking about the important issues facing the city. As a network, he observed, the SDDN has a tremendous reach and a rich knowledge-base from which to help people, groups, businesses and other organizations work through tough issues together.
The SDDN is one of about 100 centers for public life across the county that Scott finds are strengthening community, building capacity, and shaping a new kind of civic dialogue. "Like most community-based organizations," he says, "the centers are working for change at the local and regional levels. But the impact of their work doesn't stop there. Because of their emphasis on skill and capacity building, they're cultivating norms of democratic thought and action that are likely to create more engaged citizens and strengthen America's civic landscape in coming years."