During my time serving on the City’s Advisory Committee on Homelessness (CACH) and attending multiple Council meetings focused on homelessness during a very tumultuous time for our City and District 3, I grew frustrated with “official” communication structures that did not allow for real dialogue, real listening, true understandings and consensual solutions.

My work on the CACH focused on how to bring people together to break down divides in our thinking and gain greater understanding so solutions we can all–or most of us!—agree on can emerge. My recommendations are in the CACH Report from 2019 and are based on actual experiences the CACH and its members had with community meetings and “wisdom councils.” Wisdom Councils are already used by the Austrian government as a way for citizens and residents to make formal recommendations to governing bodies. They are not permanent, but come together periodically with new people each time to explore problems and solutions. When our Committee was stuck, it was “dynamic facilitation” leaders who helped us create a path forward that was workable.

Citizens Assemblies–which can also be Resident Assemblies–have been formed in Ireland, around abortion laws; and in France, around the climate crisis, and represent a way to bridge hardened divides and come together as people who live in community.

Dynamic Facilitation, Emergent Facilitation, training in “deep listening” (which I have 20+ years of experience in) are all ways we, as a County, can explore to build our shared ideas about the very challenging issues that face us. I will seek to create such opportunities for deeper dialogue in my role as County Supervisor for District 3.

Finally, I believe that coming together as a community helps build our connections, even if we disagree, and our capacities to help one another during these very challenging times. For more on my past work helping to build resilient communities, please click here.