Monday, November 24, 2014

2008 FEB | The Future of Democracy & the Democracy 2.0 Declaration

The Future of Democracy & the Democracy 2.0 Declaration

DEMOCRACY = demos (people) + kratos (rule) = PEOPLE RULE 

One of the most classic examples of nearly-direct democracy in American history and culture is the town meeting.  Indeed, many small towns in Maine and throughout New England still conduct annual town meetings which set the course for the town’s next year.

But, people are too busy to debate issue after issue in meeting hall after meeting hall hour after hour day after day.  Enter the internet!  Just get online and search on “democracy wiki”, “e-democracy”, “deliberative democracy”, etc. and you will quickly find a dazzling array of new projects which hold great promise for the future of democracy.  These online tools for democracy offer fast, convenient, and long-lasting options for citizen participation in shaping our common future.

The Future of Democracy: Developing the Next Generation of American Citizens” (by Peter Levine, Tufts University Press/University Press of New England, 2007), could be the single most important book for the future of our planet.  Here’s the logic: 

1) it is a terribly inconvenient truth that Earth is, indeed, in the balance 

2) it is an obscene and abominable truth that Al Gore is correct that, “this problem will not be solved by those on the inside of the system ... if that could have been done it would have been done by now ... the problems we face with our environment cannot and will not be solved unless and until we fix the fundamental flaws in our political system so that citizens can participate and have their demands reflected in our laws and policies.”

3) you cannot teach an old dog new tricks (ATTENTION party “leaders”: lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way, already!!!)

4) new ideas and new energy comes, primarily, from new people ... young people

5) we need a guidebook to navigate our way to the future and our young people must not only be the stars by which we steer, but, also the Navigators, Captains, and Admirals themselves so that we begin to nurture and cultivate a vibrant culture of the people, by the people, and for the people ... ALL the people!  young & old, black & white, man & women, gay & straight (but not narrow) ... ALL the people! 
As the publisher describes it,  “A nonpartisan clarion call for civic renewal to restore American democracy.   We need young people to be civically engaged in order to define and address public problems. Their participation is important for democracy, for institutions such as schools, and for young people themselves, who are more likely to succeed in life if they are engaged in their communities. In The Future of Democracy, Peter Levine, scholar and practitioner, sounds the alarm: in recent years, young Americans have become dangerously less engaged. They are tolerant, patriotic, and idealistic, and some have invented such novel and impressive forms of civic engagement, as blogs, “buycott” movements, and transnational youth networks. But most lack the skills and opportunities they need to participate in politics or address public problems. Levine’s timely manifesto clearly explains the causes, symptoms, and repercussions of this damaging trend, and, most importantly, the means whereby America can confront and reverse it.  Levine demonstrates how to change young people’s civic attitudes, skills, and knowledge and, equally importantly, to reform our institutions so that civic engagement is rewarding and effective. We must both prepare citizens for politics and improve politics for citizens.” [italics added]

In October 2007, a new network called, released the, “ DEMOCRACY 2.0 DECLARATION”.   Peter Levine posted this to their blog:

...apparently, they finished the drafting well after midnight (in the great tradition of the Port Huron Statement) and carried it down to Washington’s Tidal Pool to read it to Thomas Jefferson. Some say he shed a tear.

[You may have heard of TJ. He was on the development team of Democracy 1.0. They used a lot of open source components from projects in Greece and England (believe it or not), but they really took the concept to scale for the US market. Their product was kind of buggy. Some users were dissatisfied and there was a big issue around 1860 that almost killed the business. Still, thanks to user input, it turned into a robust platform. The 2.0 upgrade is eagerly anticipated.]” [square brackets are from original quote ... italics added]

Here is an excerpt from the, “DEMOCRACY 2.0 DECLARATION”:

Democracy is an unfinished project. It’s time we upgrade.

We, the Millennial Generation, are uniquely positioned to call attention to today’s issues and shape the future based on the great legacy we have inherited. Our founding fathers intended for every generation to build, indeed to innovate, on the American experience. We realize that as young people we are expected to be the leaders of tomorrow, but we understand that as citizens we are called to be the leaders of today.


We are uniquely positioned to foster community engagement through social networks of all kinds. It is our responsibility to use information and technology to upgrade democracy, transform communication and advance political engagement and civic participation.

We are social networkers, we are multi-taskers, we are communicators and we are opinionated. The informality of our generation breaks down traditional barriers and opens doors for inclusiveness and equality. Most importantly, we are leaders in a society that yearns for leadership.

It’s our democracy, it’s time to act. 

[FULL TEXT available at: ]

Let’s get to work! letting (& helping) the Millennials & future generations get to work building the future!  It's not ours!  It's theirs!

Helpful LINKS:


Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools

Democracy - WIKIpedia

Deliberative Democracy - WIKIpedia

Deliberative Democracy Consortium

2007 NOV | Navigating the journey to real power in organizations

November 2007 MUNJOY HILL OBSERVER                 PAGE  15

Navigating the journey to real power in organizations

I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.”   
- Thomas Jefferson

by Ed Democracy

Socrates wrote that true wisdom is knowing how much one does not know. Janet Hagberg defines real power as, simply, wisdom.   One might conclude then, that the greatest understandings of both power and wisdom come from knowing the limits of one’s knowledge and of one’s power.   This is, essentially, the point of Janet Hagberg in her book, “Real Power: Stages of Personal Power in Organizations”.  

Hagberg’s six stages offer a navigational device to guide one on one’s personal journey through the organizational jungles in which we all live our lives.  Some of us hide under the illusion of safety and security within the confines of our village and our tribe.  We hide from the fact that it is, indeed, “a jungle out there”!  But, what does not kill one only makes one stronger so one should get out of one’s comfort zone occasionally to seek some growth.  By gaining self-awareness - and other-awareness - throughout the stages of one’s journey to real power, we gain knowledge.  Of course, Francis Bacon wrote that, “knowledge is power”.  So as we hike the treacherous mountain jungle terrain of organizational life, we gain the satisfaction and humbling awe of reaching a summit and, simultaneously, gaining the perspective of how much more there is to the world.  By pushing one’s own self-sufficiency to its limit, one gains the opportunity to learn the importance of cooperation with others to be able to ascend greater heights and face even more daunting challenges.

Hagberg places the stages into two categories:

[1] External

Stage 1, Powerlessness 
Stage 2, Power by Association 
Stage 3, Power by Achievement

[2] Internal

Stage 4, Power by Reflection
The Wall 
Stage 5, Power by Purpose 
Stage 6, Power by Wisdom 

She writes that, “personal power in organizations increases when leaders have both external and internal power and when people begin leading from their souls rather than positions of authority.”

The Real Power Model

Helpful WEB Links for Sustainable Organizing:

Janet Hagberg - Join her on a journey of healing and transformation

Janet Hagberg’s, “The Wall” (between stages 4 & 5)

Review of, "Real Power: Stages of Personal Power in Organizations"
(3rd Edition) 
by Don Blohowiak, Lead Well Institute

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2007 MAY | Social Intelligence: The latest work from Daniel Goleman - the guru of leadership & emotional intelligence

MAY 2007 | PDF
May 2007                       MUNJOY HILL OBSERVER           PAGE 11

Social Intelligence:
The latest work from Daniel Goleman - the guru of leadership & emotional intelligence

Social intelligence is the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. In my model of EI, there are four domains: self-awareness, emotional self-management, empathy and social awareness, and social skills -- or managing relationships. And the second two of the those, the empathy and social skill components, are what make up social intelligence.
- Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence

By Ed Democracy

Daniel Goleman wrote the book on “Emotional Intelligence” - literally.  He is fast becoming a household name. The vital importance of emotional intelligence  in  parenting, teaching, management, organizing, and leadership is becoming common knowledge.  After writing “Emotional Intelligence,” Goleman wrote an article for the “Harvard Business Review,” essentially equating leadership & emotional intelligence.

It’s very hard to get people to give their precious time to volunteer for community organizations.  When you get them, you want to keep them.  Social intelligence and sustainable organizing, in large part, are one in the same.   We must understand ourselves and how we interact with various types of people in various types of situations.  We cannot understand others until we understand ourselves.  Love is understanding.  Without love their is nothingness.  We all have better things to do with our time than to feel like we are wasting it or, worse yet, feeding a beastly dynamic that makes everyone miserable.

The good news is that “Social Intelligence:  The New Science of Human Relationships” is available in a bookstore near you!

Please send your thoughts on sustainable organizing, comments & ideas for columns.

Perhaps the main lesson from social intelligence is that we are all part of each other’s inner resources; the social brain links us inextricably. This suggests a new way of thinking about social responsibility: it begins in every interaction, from a casual encounter to being with those we love most dearly, when we act in ways that create beneficial states in the other person.
Daniel Goleman


Daniel Goleman

Social Intelligence
The most fundamental discovery of this new science: We are wired to connect. 

Social Intelligence - WIKIpedia

Transparency is Inevitable

The Neural Power of Leadership: Daniel Goleman on Social Intelligence  

Emotional Intelligence:
…the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions effectively in others and ourselves.
Daniel Goleman
Emotional Intelligence

2007 APR | Grassroots User-Friendly Functions (GUFF): The GUFF Organizing Model - When the going gets tough, the GUFF gets you going

APRIL 2007 | PDF
April 2007                     MUNJOY HILL OBSERVER PAGE 11

Grassroots User-Friendly Functions (GUFF):
The GUFF Organizing Model - When the going gets tough, the GUFF gets you going

Well-behaved women rarely make history.” - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

By Ed Democracy

Saul Alinsky became famous for giving guff.  As he said, “it becomes a contest of power: those who have money and those who have people. We have nothing but people.” Real power is real power. Either you have it or you don’t. In “Of the First Principles of Government,” David Hume wrote that we, the people, have massively superior numbers, and, therefore, superior power, and need not submit to anything. One might submit a subtle yet powerful distinction: that the key is potential power versus actualized power. That is to say that all the potential power in the world is, in effect, useless, unless it can be actualized. While it is important to have a measure of potential power, actualized power has the most highly-valued currency. Real power is actualized power and vice versa.

The key to actualizing potential power is sustainable organizing. The World Book Encyclopedia lists three forms of power: numbers, organization, and resources. By using one’s numbers efficiently and sustainably, one maximizes one’s resources. A small group of well organized people will probably do better than a large group of poorly organized people. So obviously this means we should all enroll in the nearest MBA program e can find, join the corporate wanna-be club, and start building our personal empires like Donald Trump, right? Obviously, this is very wrong! We, the people, have superior numbers, and the superior organizational model is small and decentralized - NOT big and centralized.

People want to make a difference in their community and their world, but not at the expense of all of their increasingly precious time. People want to give an hour here and two hours there and that is more than enough to change the world, especially with GUFF - the  Grassroots User-Friendly Functions - organizing model. We do not need to re-invent the wheel every time we need to start a new organization or a new project.  There is a basic set of organizational functions which is common to almost every organizing endeavor:

Functions ( GUFF )

files, records, lists, correspondence, documents, & publications
--project & team coordination
--logistics, events & planning

contacts, relations, message, lists,  phone trees, documents, & publications 
--emails, website, newsletter, newspaper, etc.
--community & media relations
--promotions, marketing, & networking
--organizational development

research & information, contacts: people, organizations, businesses, finance, fundraising, grants, in-kind, volunteers, materials, equipment, donations, venues, etc. 

This is a scalable model. It facilitates delegation and decentralization. It can start with one person performing all three basic organizational functions while the operation is small. Then, with 3 people, each one could take one area. As new people become available, they can take a new piece that best fits their level of skill, interest, and time. The “cost” of the benefit of scalability is the need for coordination. However, the benefit is many times greater than the cost of coordination. This model is designed for efficient coordination & communication. 

Please share your thoughts on sustainable organizing, links, or column ideas.

In former days, men sold themselves to the Devil to acquire magical powers. Nowadays they acquire those powers from science, and find themselves compelled to become devils. There is no hope for the world unless power can be tamed, and brought into the service, not of this or that group of fanatical tyrants, but of the whole human race...for science has made it inevitable that all must live or all must die.” 
by Bertrand Russell 


POWER: A New Social Analysis (1938)
by Bertrand Russell

The love of power is a part of human nature, but power-philosophies are, in a certain precise sense, insane. The existence of the external world...can only be denied by a madman.… Certified lunatics are shut up because of the proneness to violence when their pretensions are questioned; the uncertified variety are given control of powerful armies, and can inflict death and disaster upon all sane men within their reach.” 
by Bertrand Russell 

2007 MAR | Kolb’s Learning Styles & Kolbe’s Action Styles: Two Frameworks for Understanding Learning & Action

MARCH 2007 | PDF
MARCH 2007      MUNJOY HILL OBSERVER            PAGE 11

Kolb’s Learning Styles & Kolbe’s Action Styles:
Two Frameworks for Understanding Learning & Action

Give me one point of which I can be certain and I will draw you a map of the universe."   - Permenides

By Ed Democracy

David Kolb is a Professor of Organizational Development at Case Western Reserve University.  Kathy Kolbe is an entrepreneur, educator, and best-selling author who has spent over 30 years “validating instincts.”  The first four letters of their last names both begin with “k-o-l-b.”  What does this mean?  I do not know!  But I do know that I have found both of their frameworks very useful for understanding myself and others in the organizations with which I work.  

I first learned about Kathy Kolb when my wife was reading an article in O Magazine by Martha Beck called, “How to Be Wildly Successful.”  My wife exclaimed, “Oh, my God!  It’s us!  I am a ‘quick-start’ and you’re a ‘follow-through’!”  Then she showed me the article.  Later, I was looking up the article online and searched for “kolbe” and David Kolb also came up. 

Kathy Kolbe’s “action styles” include: 1) quick start, 2) fact finder, 3) implementor, and 4) follow through. Kolbe has a very well-developed conceptual system.  In 1997, she transformed her business from organizational change for businesses to include personal services for individuals, children, and families as well.  For more information on Kolbe’s theories & services you can go to - her services are not free or cheap, though.   

David Kolb has a ton of FREE info at and on on his experiential learning theory (ELT), and learning styles inventory (LSI), and his 1984 book: Experiential Learning: Experience As The Source Of Learning and Development.  

Here is a brief excerpt from a article to introduce you to:

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (learning styles) Model 

Kolb’s learning theory sets out four distinct learning styles (or preferences), which are based on a four-stage learning cycle. (Which might also be interpreted as a “training cycle.”) In this respect Kolb’s model is particularly elegant, since it offers both a way to understand individual people’s different learning styles, and also an explanation of a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all.

Kolb includes this “cycle of learning” as a central principle his experiential learning theory, typically expressed as a four-stage cycle of learning, in which “immediate or concrete experiences” provide a basis for “observations and reflections.” These observations and reflections are assimilated and distilled into “abstract concepts,” producing new implications for action which can be “actively tested”; in turn, creating new experiences.

Kolb says that ideally (and by inference not always) this process represents a learning cycle or spiral where the learner “touches all the bases”; i.e., a cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting. Immediate or concrete experiences lead to observations and reflections. These reflections are then assimilated (absorbed and translated) into abstract concepts with implications for action, which the person can actively test and experiment with, which in turn enable the creation of new experiences.  

Kolb’s model therefore works on two levels: 

a four-stage cycle

Concrete Experience - (CE) 
Reflective Observation - (RO) 
Abstract Conceptualization - (AC) 
Active Experimentation - (AE); 

and a four-type definition of learning styles (each representing the combination of two preferred styles, rather like a two-by-two matrix of the four-stage cycle styles, as illustrated below) for which Kolb used the terms: 

Diverging - (CE/RO) 
Assimilating - (AC/RO) 
Converging - (AC/AE) 
Accommodating - (CE/AE) 

For more information on the theories referenced in this column please check the “helpful links” below. 

Helpful Links:

David Kolb’s learning styles model and experiential learning theory (ELT)

DIAGRAM - David Kolb’s learning styles model and experiential learning theory (ELT) - DIAGRAM

Experiential Based Learning Systems (EBLS)

Kathy Kolbe

By Martha Beck 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2007 FEB | Knitting and Weaving Social Fabric: The Art of Smart Network Building for Communities

FEB 2007 | PDF

JANUARY 2007      MUNJOY HILL OBSERVER            PAGE 11 

Knitting and Weaving Social Fabric:
The Art of Smart Network Building for Communities

By Ed Democracy 

We now live in a global village electronically interconnected via the internet & satellites. Networking is a common concept and everyone has some general idea of what it means. However, when it comes to translating one’s general understanding of the concept of a network into a design, a plan, and, ultimately, a functional, sustainable, actual entity which facilitates communication between communities of people then our knowledge gets put to the test. Network weaving is an art. There is also a science of networking developing to complement that art. People have made networking an art, no doubt, for all of human history. However, when science develops theories which translate into common practice, it can complement an art and make it more accessible to more people. There is truly amazing and beautiful work being done to do just that. This column will, hopefully, introduce you to the network of network weavers and knitters. On one point you can be certain, the better we, the people, can develop the art of network weaving, the more of our own innate, natural power can be stored locally for the benefit of ourselves, our families, and our communities. 

In “Building Sustainable Communities through Network Building”, by Valdis Krebs and June Holley, you will find a very accessible, and, hopefully, useful guide to knitting and weaving networks. Valdis Krebs and June Holley are NOT ivory tower eggheads. They are interwoven in communities of practice applying the theories they have mastered and practicing their art. What follows is an excerpt from their paper: 

Communities are built on connections. Improved connectivity is created through an iterative process of knowing the network and knitting the network. Improved connectivity starts with a map – knowing the complex human system you are embedded in. A network map shows the nodes and links in the network. Nodes can be people, groups or organizations. Links can show relationships, flows, or transactions. A network map is an excellent tool for visually tracking your ties and designing strategies to create new connections. Network maps are also excellent ‘talkingdocuments’ – visual representations that support conversations about possibilities. Transformation that leads to healthy communities is the result of many collaborations among network members. Scientists describe this phenomenon – where local interactions lead to global patterns – as emergence. We can guide emergence by understanding, and catalyzing, connections. Instead of allowing networks to evolve without direction, successful individuals, groups and organizations have found that it pays to actively manage your network. 

KNIT the Net 

A vibrant community network is generally built in 4 phases, each with it’s own distinct topology:

1) Scattered Fragments 
2) Single Hub-and-Spoke 
3) Multi-Hub Small-World Network 
4) Core/Periphery 

WEAVE the Net 

Without active leaders who take responsibility for building a network, spontaneous connections between groups emerge very slowly, or not at all. We call this active leader a network weaver. Initially a network weaver forms relationships with each of the small clusters. During this phase a weaver is learning about each individual or small cluster – discovering what they know and what they need. There are two parts to network weaving. One is relationship building, particularly across traditional divides, so that people have access to innovation and important information. The second is learning how to facilitate collaborations for mutual benefit. Collaborations can vary from simple and short term—entrepreneurs purchasing supplies together—to complex and long-term—such as a major policy initiative or creation of a venture fund. This culture of collaboration creates a state of emergence, where the outcome—a healthy community—is more than the sum of the many collaborations. The local interactions create a global outcome that no one could accomplish alone.
Network weaving is not just “networking”, nor schmoozing. Weaving brings people together for projects, initially small, so they can learn to collaborate. Through that collaboration they strengthen the community and increase the knowledge available in it. As we have seen weaving a network requires two iterative and continuous steps:

1. Know the network 

– take regular x-rays of your network and evaluate your progress. 

2. Knit the network 

– follow the four (4) phase network knitting process. All throughout this process network maps guide the way 

– they reveal what we know about the network and they uncover possible next steps for the weaver. Starting with a disconnected community, network builders can start weaving together the necessary skills and resources to build simple single hub networks. This will be followed by a more robust multi-hub network, concluding with a resilient core/ periphery structure – maximized for learning and implementation. 


NET GAINS: A Handbook for Network Builders Seeking Social Change

Network Science -


provides social network analysis software & services for organizations, communities, and their consultants 

Building Sustainable Communities through Network Building

Journal of Social Structure (JoSS)

2007 JAN | Community Development Corporations: The ABCs of CDCs and DIY Neighborhood Development

JAN 2007 | PDF

Community Development Corporations:
The ABCs of CDCs and DIY Neighborhood Development

Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world."  
- Archimedes  (220 BCE)

By Ed Democracy

Community development is often used as a synonym for economic development. Sometimes the two terms are lumped together: “com­munity & economic development”.  The reason is that all development has been of the developers, by the developers and for the developers.  The point of community develop­ment is development of the com­munity, by the community, and for the community.  Fortunately, there are some socially responsible de­velopers who share their financial knowledge and organizing skills to do projects which are actually com­patible and symbiotic with com­munities.  Furthermore, over the past several decades, a new com­munity development movement has begun to gain real momen­tum.  Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are a rela­tively new model of organization designed specifically for grassroots democratic development.  Many states have “CDC associations” to coordinate the growing multitude of CDCs.  These grassroots CDCs provide both a lever and place to stand for common people work­ing to change their neighborhoods.  

What do you do when you and your neighbors see opportunities for community development proj­ects which would make a real dif­ference for your community? 

You probably talk about it over coffee or at meetings of your neighborhood organization.  Maybe you even have a community vision work­shop and identify broad consensus on ideas which are not only both innovative and viable but truly sus­tainable for the longterm.  What next?  If you do not have a local CDC, then you probably hope some socially responsible devel­oper gets wind of the ideas before a socially irresponsible developer does.  CDCs offer an alternative to the “hope against hope” method of development.  CDCs can start independently or they be spin-off organizations which are started by neighborhood organizations in col­laboration with other local organi­zations, businesses, and individuals.

There are some truly amazing re­sources available right now.  If you do not have a CDC in your neighbor­hood, then you can start  one!   Today!   

There are now over 4,000 CDCs nationwide.  

Just one of many resources for information on CDCs is:

COMMUNITY-WEALTH.ORG whose “goal is to provide you with the web’s most comprehen­sive and up-to-date information resource on state-of-the-art strat­egies for democratic, community-based economic development.”  There you can find books such as:

“The Small-Mart Revolution”, 

“Enterprising Organizations: New Asset-Based and Other In­novative Approaches to Solving Social and Economic Problems”

“Building Wealth: The New As­set-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems”,

“America Beyond Capitalism”

“The Commons Rising”,

 ... and much more.  

You and your neighbors can build the neighborhood you want!  The resources you need are avail­able right now!  Good luck!


The affordable housing and community development resource for professionals

Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Helping neighbors build communities

Community Development Corporations -

2006 DEC | NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION: Using the OFNR 4-Part Model to Navigate Difficult Passages in the Turbulent Waters of Organization Dynamics

DEC 2006 | PDF



Using the OFNR 4-Part Model to Navigate Difficult Passages in the Turbulent Waters of Organization Dynamics 

By Ed Democracy 

It seems to me that whereas power usually means power-over, the power of some person or group over some other person or group, it is possible to develop the conception of power-with, a jointly developed power, a co-active, not a coercive power.”     - Mary Parker Follett 

"Imagine connecting with the human spirit in each person in any situation at any time. Imagine interacting with others in a way that allows everyone’s need to be equally valued. Imagine creating organizations and life-serving systems responsive to our needs and the needs of our environment."   - Marshall B. Rosenberg

Complex title - simple model.  Organization dynamics often seem complex, yet, with some simple navigational tools, one can easily get a fix on where one is and where one is going.  For ex- ample, I once read in a sociology textbook that most organizational dynamics reduces to task-oriented issues and socio-emotional issues.  To some people, all this is common sense.  To others, it is not.  Some people are naturally more task-oriented, while others are more attuned to the socioemotional.  We all come together to accomplish the tasks required to see the change we want to see in our world or neighborhood.  However, what determines how long we will all stay together is how we feel when we are together.  The more enjoyable a group the more people will want to be involved, the more tasks will get done more easily, (“Together everyone archives more.”) the more fun, the more people, etc..  The group dynamic will move onward & upward in an ever-opening life-spiral. Task-efficiency is important, but, it is socio-emotional sustainability that will determine the health, well-being, and longevity of an organization.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication will put you on the leading edge of the skills and knowledge necessary for organizational sustainability.   Their website is  and they also have their own dedicated WIKI where I found the following description of their 4-part model ( ) : The four part model of Nonviolent Communication is sometimes referred to as “OFNR” because the four components are called Observation, Feeling, Need and Request. 

1 Observation The Observation(s) of concrete facts of a situation, free of judgment, guilt, blame or shame. 

2 Feeling The Feeling(s) stimulated by the observation  

3 Need The Need(s), life energy, that caused the feeling

4 Request A specific Request that is positive, concrete and can be done right now to serve the Need(s) discovered. An NVC Request can often easily be distinguished from a demand by what comes up if the answer is “No.” Other principles In NVC expression all four parts are used. When verbalizing empathy, often only the first three or even just the feeling and need are spoken. There is an out, in, out pattern to the model - the observation is something concrete and specific out in the world, the feeling and need help you go as deep as possible with what’s alive in you and/or others, and the request is about manifesting as specifically as possible out in the world again. There may be similarity between OFNR and “Active Listening” at first glance. However, the OFNR approach of NVC might be considered Reframing of language rather than “Paraphrasing.”  

This is because NVC translates thoughts, judgements and some linguistic elements of dialog into Feelings and Needs. NVC also includes the Observation which helps to distinguish facts from interpretations of them, and the Request which tends to move the dialog closer to discovering and sharing. 


The Center for Nonviolent Communication 

NVC WIKI [Non-Violent Communication WIKIpedia] 

NVC Quotes 

2006 NOV | COMMUNITY VISION: Dayton, Ohio Has Its Priority Boards in Order

2006 NOV | PDF


Dayton, Ohio Has Its Priority Boards in Order

By Ed Democracy 

Since 1975, Dayton, Ohio’s 166,000 residents, in 65 neighborhoods, have charted their common future via it’s 7 Priority Boards. While many other “model cities” were busy hacking and slashing mercilessly, Dayton was doing the real deal. They have built and maintained a real, live, honest-to-goodness infrastructure of the people, by the people, and for the people. It would be hard to imagine a better model. The Citizen’s Handbook offers several of the best such models known. The following is their summary of Dayton’s Priority Board System: 

From the  


The City of Dayton has established 7 Priority Boards across the city as the “official voice of Dayton’s neighborhoods”. Each Priority Board must elect its members and must ensure that each neighborhood within the Priority Board area is represented. The representation plan varies from Board to Board but all representatives must be registered voters. The usual term is three years. Priority Board members participate in various committees and task forces as 
the official representative of the neighborhood. There is a Division of neighborhood Affairs which supports the work of Priority Boards and neighborhood groups. Boundaries for Priority Boards are established by the city on the basis of precincts or electoral boundaries. City commissioners are elected on a city-wide basis. 

Scope of Activities 

A resolution of the City Commission (council) established Priority Boards “as the official voice of Dayton’s neighborhoods, although the City Commission carries the ultimate responsibility for public policy decisions.” Activities have ranged from budget recommendations to liquor license renewals to zoning decisions to neighborhood park design. 

Priority Boards make recommendations to the Commission and City Administration on planning and zoning decisions; responsiveness and effectiveness of city services; appointments to boards and agencies which provide services to neighborhoods; Liquor License renewal, transfers and other changes; surplus land sales. 

Priority Boards also “identify and present the neighborhood view as to which public services require continuation and which could be cut or reduced; make recommendations as to neighborhood variations in service or expansions as appropriate; review and comment on proposed plans to reduce City services”. Priority Boards are the official information dissemination vehicle for the City as well as other public agencies and community groups. Boards also undertake a wide range of self-help projects that vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. 

Each Priority Board sends a representative to the Community Development Block Grant Task Force who make recommendations to the City Manager on the application for and disbursement of federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). 


Each Priority Board is provided a staff complement of 3 mid-management staff and 1 full-time clerical position by the City of Dayton. 

Each Priority Board has a site office equipped with computers, photocopiers, fax machines, etc., which are available to neighborhood groups for newsletter production. Distribution of material is the responsibility of the neighborhood. 

Community Development Block Grants may be targeted to specific neighborhoods or Priority Board areas. neighborhoods are required to match funds according to the nature of the project and the neighborhoods’ needs. 

History and Comments 

Priority Boards were established in Dayton in 1975 as Dayton’s citizen participation vehicle. The City Manager played a key role pursuing this initiative. The Priority Boards are now an established partner in doing business in Dayton. 

The city sees citizen participation in decision-making as essential “to encourage a sense of control and self-determination”. The city sees the Priority Boards as providing a useful service to civic departments in channeling information on the whole range of city government activities. “As a result of the Priority Boards, Dayton city government has been more responsive to its neighborhoods. 

City government officials have been in a better position to understand what citizens want and expect, while Dayton residents have developed a greater appreciation for the capacities in City government.” 


The Priority Board System

Department of Planning & Community Development

CITIZENS’ HANDBOOK A Guide to Building Community 

Models of neighborhood Participation in Local Government