On April 27th, about 40 women gathered in Omaha to learn about The Policy Circle. Many women were excited about starting new Circles and we hope to see at least a dozen starting in Bellevue, Papillion, Omaha and Lincoln. A special thank you to the Platte Institute for spreading the word about the event.
Here are some of the questions that came up:
What’s involved in starting a circle?
The Policy Circle is like a book club about public policy. So, it is an informal structure, no boards to set up. Circles are generally started by two Circle Leaders who decide how they want their circles to function. Circles typically meet in someone’s home (but some Circles may decide to meet at lunch at the office). The website provides the tools to organize a circle and it is recommended that 5 meetings be planned each year (see How it Works)
The Policy Briefs are multimedia – they have movies, links to articles, links to other reports. You can skim the brief or go deep. So preparing for a meeting can be done over morning coffee!
Do all circles function the same way?
They don’t. Each member agrees to the Core Principles of Policy Circle when joining. The Policy Circle is a framework that each circle can use to focus on what is important to its members. The model is for Circle members to first learn about the issues, then feel empowered to speak up and decide how they want to engage on their own to shape the policies that affect all of us. Some circles focus on Education, others on Healthcare, others on efficient functioning of local government. In addition to the Core Principles, all that The Policy Circle fosters is the use of the Roundtable Discussion Model.
How does The Policy Circle ensure that diverse point of view are represented?
You do. The Circle Leaders decides what kind of circle works for them and their community. It is often a two step process. First, there is value in taking the time to first learn to discuss issues around facts with people who may agree… for the most part. Policy Circle members have a mind of their own and don’t all buy in everything they read. When you have to express in your own voice your understanding of a policy, you build the confidence to engage with others in a productive manner. The second step is, that with that confidence, Circle members may then decide if they want to how to engage together or individually. Some become part of organizations where they would not typically go to. Others decide to reach out and champion the Policy Circle model to women outside of their network.
What are the Policy Briefs?
Here’s the link. The Policy Circles take a truce on divisive social issues. The Policy Briefs are not everything to everybody. Constructive and polite feedback is welcome. Some circles are developing their own briefs and ask us for some guidance or resources.
Why are you doing this?
Our world is complicated, there is not one solution that fits all. Don’t you feel like you need to pause to the time to understand the issues, what has been done to date, the proposed reforms? The Policy Circle is counter current. It is about thinking, having a mind of your own before yelling. It is a simple model that hopes to restore civil dialog, help each of us live our the athenian oath and to start a journey in civic engagement. Being a citizen of this country, is about being an informed citizen.
When are you going outside of Omaha?
When you tell us. Spread the word in Scott Bluffs, Lincoln, Omaha, Kearney, North Folk, Grand Island, North Platte, Hastings and Valentine to visit thepolicycircle.org and to click I’ve Been Referred.