The Bigger Picture
Our work is part of a broader context of creative experimentation aimed at improving democracy. Many of the innovative practices we experiment with, such as the use of lotteries to select representatives, are also being advanced outside of schools in a variety of contexts. Pushing toward mainstream politics in the past decade, randomly selected Citizens’ Juries, Councils, Panels, Assemblies, and Parliaments provide everyday people the opportunity to investigate and advise on political issues that range from healthcare cuts, to local water and transportation policy, to municipal budgets, and even a national constitution.
Citizens’ Jury administered by one of our partners, the newDemocracy Foundation
Democratic Experimentation Worldwide
Even though it often doesn’t make the headlines, there are many groups working to improve democracy and there have been hundreds of noteworthy democratic experiments just over the past few decades. The interactive map below highlights a few that have inspired us, to give an idea of just how global this innovation really is (and to show some other groups doing important work that you should follow, support, and plug into!).
Click on a colored dot and more information along with relevant links will appear below the map, and let us know if there is a community, organization, or event you think we should add!
Communities that have experimented with innovative forms of democracy
Organizations dedicated to democratic innovation
Other innovative initiatives
Building on the Past
Our efforts might also be seen on an historical continuum, as neither random selection nor rotation is new. Both were fundamental to governance in Athens, Greece where the word “democracy” was first coined around 2,500 years ago.
TED-Ed: What did democracy really mean in Athens?
The rotation of everyday people in-and-out of leadership positions has also been a central practice in the Ayllu system, a form of governance used in many rural Andean communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador since pre-Inca times. Random selection and rotation of decision-makers has also been central to the court jury system in many countries worldwide. Seen together, the modern initiatives above are indicative of a renewed interest in the transformative potential of these practices, as well as the emergence of a more creative approach to governance more generally. Democracy In Practice forms part of this creative present, learning from our experience and thereby working to contribute to a more democratic future.