GGGx Events Near You!
The Greater Good Gathering consists of lively discussion grappling with the challenges now facing our country and the world. Our goal is to help create innovative answers to how individuals and institutions can advance the “greater good” – through the public, private and non-profit sectors – in this changing environment. As a spin-off from the conference, we are now engaging citizens across America in an expanding series of structured, interlinked conversations on these subjects.
Building Up To Our 2020 Conference
This year’s conference will be the culmination of a half-dozen local “Greater Good” conversations involving average citizens: We have already held our first two satellite events of this cycle at City College of New York (CCNY) and the Pardee RAND Graduate School in Los Angeles. These pilots have helped us to develop and refine a process for local gatherings modeled on the tech “hackathon” model – allowing small but diverse groups of Americans to come together to propose and flesh out new ideas for addressing the country’s economic challenges.
In early October at CCNY, sixty students showed up despite the fact that it was a gorgeous Friday afternoon, and spent four hours energetically working together on policy proposals. You can watch a six-minute “highlights reel” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeXxBMG8wuQ.
The week before Thanksgiving, a room full of RAND analysts and doctoral students who specialize in developing such “scenario” exercises and “delta processes” help to tweak the technology hackathon concept to work as a policy design process.
The Launch of Hackathons
We’ll be launching a full slate of Greater Good “hackathons” across Iowa in January, in the two weeks before the first presidential voting, in an interesting range of settings:
January 12, Buena Vista University, Storm Lake: About 60 participants drawn largely from the community in a small industrial town in the heart of farm country.
January 19, Ceviche restaurant, Des Moines: A bipartisan group of a dozen or so voters interested in public affairs recruited by public affairs programs at Drake University.
January 21, Simpson College, Indianola: 60-80 students, faculty, local notables and neighborhood residents of this college town, a sprinkling of business leaders from nearby Des Moines, and a group visiting from Australia for the Iowa caucuses.
January 22, Cedar Rapids Public Library: The library, a focus of this major industrial and ag-processing center, expects 50-60 participants.
Where Do We Go From Here?
This year’s programs are experiments in finding the right mix for participatory citizen events that can be held nationwide in future years. We plan to knit them together through an interactive online process allowing, for example, the groups in Storm Lake and Indianola, Iowa, to refine their ideas with – and react in turn to those from – the groups in LA and New York, and to bring this thinking together in the annual conference at Columbia.
The fundamental premise is for this to function from the “bottom up,” as a decentralized, grassroots effort (reflecting the times and the technology of today) to synthesize a broad national consensus … not a “top-down,” centralized, “expert”-driven process that so much of politics consists of, and which people everywhere are rejecting. Just as anyone can host a local version of the famous TEDTalks , through a “franchise” system known as TEDx , our hope is that, over the next several years, these hackathons, informal gatherings, and other methods of conversation will be organized organically in localities across the country: a GGGx ecosystem.
Ecosystem of Civic Participation
There is in fact a growing nationwide ecosystem of civic participation and democracy organizations. There are several efforts by pollsters and political organizers to get Americans talking across ideological and cultural divides about their own perspectives and perhaps even understanding those of others. What we hope the Greater Good Initiative can do is to get people not simply talking but, more so, working together to find solutions.
We are firmly convinced that there is still a general consensus on the country’s direction, and our collective role in addressing that, which the vast majority of Americans share – the kind of consensus that led to America’s growing and increasingly-shared prosperity in the mid-20 th Century – and that if the forgotten voices of most Americans are brought together into a coherent, broadly-shared agenda, that agenda, and its necessity, will itself bring the political system along in its wake, as the 19 th Century’s Progressive Party platform ultimately did for the US for most of the 20 th Century. And we believe – because we’ve seen it in action – that everyday citizens, not just policy “experts,” can devise the creative solutions we need to start forging that agenda.
If you’d like to help put together a Greater Good “policy hackathon,” “town hall,” or a simple discussion at your home, school, or local coffee shop or bookstore for the 2020-21 cycle, use the Contact form to let us know how to reach you!