Students of two alternative high school programs have joined efforts to engage the citizens of Port Townsend WA in a new form of public conversation that builds mutual respect, trust, deeper wisdom and the spirit of community. The Wisdom Council process is a social invention that allows the students to convene citizens of the town to collaboratively and creatively address key issues and reach consensus positions. By providing this opportunity for their community, the students will:
Learn valuable civic engagement and community building tools,
Experience implementing these tools to advance change on local issues, and
Bridge the intergenerational gap that too often divides youth from the adults.
This project involves the entire community, deals with issues that people care about, brings youth and elders together, and initiates community building and civic participation that are self-sustaining.
In the Wisdom Council process, every couple of months 12 community members are randomly selected to form a Wisdom Council. They meet for a day and a half with a dynamic facilitator who helps them dialogue and develop Statements that capture what everyone feels or thinks about issues this group identifies as important. The Statements are then presented back to the community in a ceremony, like a "State of the 'Union'" message. The entire community is then invited to hear and dialogue about the Statements, and to visit informally about them. Over time this process involves most citizens, builds the spirit of community and generates consensus viewpoints.
Local high school students who are enrolled in the class Contemporary World Problems through Individualized Choice Education (I.C.E.) in the Port Townsend School District and PI in the Chimacum School District have chosen to implement three Wisdom Councils for Port Townsend. The dates are November 17-18, 2006, February 2-3, 2007, and April 13-14, 2007. The student conveners and their teacher Marci Van Cleve see the Wisdom Council offering a concrete way to enhance the community spirit of Port Townsend while bridging differing voices and ideas in a meaningful way
Impact / Outcomes
The Port Townsend Wisdom Council aims to have the following impact:
Create a bottom-up or grassroots vision for the community
Create a stronger sense of community and involvement that is intergenerational
Improve the quality of talking and thinking about important issues facing the community
Transform the community from an adversarial, crisis-driven culture to a thoughtful, creative and collaborative culture
Empower students to be active, concerned and creative members of their community
Create a model for other communities in youth-led civic engagement in partnership with adults
Have students learn how to dynamically facilitate meetings and convene Wisdom Councils
ur experiments with the Wisdom Council in the public sector are proving that it works! A few of us can revitalize (and maybe reinvent) democracy by involving citizens in a wise and responsible voice of "We the People."
Marci Van Cleve, Teacher and PTWC Project Leader
Allison Slater, PTWC Student Lead Convener
Michael Robinson, PTWC Mentor Lead Convener
We look forward to hearing from you.
Center for Wise Democracy
1122 E. Pike Street, #578
Seattle, WA 98122
Newspaper article from the Peninsula Daily News 11/06
The Statements from
Wisdom Council 11/2006
|Port Townsend Wisdom Council
November 17th & 18th, 2006
Create a sense of acceptance and belonging for everyone in Port Townsend enabling us to see through each others eyes and engage with one another in public discourse.
o Non-vehicular zones where people and businesses can thrive together
o E.g. City Repair (See Portland)
o Community garden
o Free access where everyone can relate to something that allows them to experience community
ß Volunteerism personal responsibility for reaching beyond our groups
ß Meeting working together, ongoing public conversation
We envision a physical place(s) that provides facilities for the arts, physical health and wellbeing, and development of community. This space will unite and welcome the entire community. (Examples include: an indoor track, aquatic center, gymnasium, weight room, gallery, theater, free meeting space, bulletin space, and dance space.)
We are aware of the importance of the maritime industry to Port Townsend and support the contemporary and historical aspects of the industry.
We want PT to be a place that is economically vital so that youth and families can thrive. We encourage private and public organizations to bring resources to those things that are already inherently valuable to the community, such as organic farming, the maritime industry, holistic medicine, renewable energy, and sustainable building.
We are concerned about our governments effect on us and our effect on the world. We affirm the value and importance of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights as our governing documents - undiluted.
We urge our local government to create an official ombudsperson(s) to connect our town with Indian Island and police, fire, and emergency management team.
Environmental wellbeing is a concern to this community. We care about the global environment and what we are leaving for future generations. We want our government to affirm, permit, and encourage green building materials and practices.
Port Townsend Wisdom Council Participants
November 17-18, 2006
William H. Dentzel
Louis J. Hoffer
D. Doreen Snyder