21st Century Town Meeting


AmericaSpeaks‘ 21st Century Town Meetings® are engaging, meaningful opportunities for citizens to participate in public decision making.

Our unique, large-scale process maintains the values of the traditional New England town meeting while addressing the needs of today’s citizens and decision makers.

21st Century Town Meetings feature the use of small group, facilitated table discussions, allowing groups of 10 participants to actively listen and learn from one another, while experiencing real deliberation and democracy.

We utilize participatory technology to perform three significant functions:

  • Laptop computers serve as “electronic flipcharts” to record participant’s ideas;
  • The data collected through the computers is instantly transmitted wirelessly to a group, called the Theme Team, which will read through each entry and identify the strongest themes; and
  • Voting keypads are used to identify those recommendations most favored by participants, make decisions about which topics to discuss further, and evaluate the meeting.

Our meetings effectively restores the balance of the “political playing field” by engaging hundreds or thousands of general interest citizens at a time, quickly summarizing citizen input and priorities, and widely disseminating the results through media coverage.

21st Century Town Meetings, give citizens the opportunity to engage around issues and governments at all levels. The use of these meetings is not limited to the public sector: they have been used by large non-profit associations, global leadership forums, and annual meetings for other organizations.

This meeting methodology has been conducted for the Mayor of Washington, DC, the Unified New Orleans Plan, Shaping America’s Youth, Port Phillip, Australia, and many others.

For more information about how the 21st Century Town Meeting can augment your public engagement strategy, request our services.