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I work as an independent moderator and facilitator for debat, (socratic) dialogue and conference, mainly in the Netherlands, Belgium and the Baltic States. (my wife is from Estonia). In 2014 I was initiator of the first Citizens Summit in my home town Amsterdam. ( I am a board member of the Dutch Moderators Association and active in the Dutch Association of Journalists.

Some words about this Citizens Summit: On the 6th of June last year 250 Amsterdammers came together to work out plans for a better, more just and more inclusive city. It was a long struggle to get this Summit off the ground, mainly because the political culture in the city is very inward-focused. But with the help of over a hundred volunteers we succeeded and the participants worked out 60 concrete plans in one day, trough a deliberative proces at 35 round tables. (If you are interested, I wrote a paper on the Summit called 'Dismantling the Theatre of Democracy’ in Estonian publication Ehituskunst, you can download it here as pdf:

In many places and cities, I experience a great willingness of ordinary citizens to invest personal time in their community. On the other hand, I am deeply worried that the willingness to participate in formal local (representative) democracies in Europe is very low. In Amsterdam the turnout in local elections is just over 50%, in some boroughs even less than 40%. New deliberative practices, online and offline, are emerging. But party-politics and elections-cycles are very dominant in our democratic systems. We need each other to redefine the democratic and public domain, to make it more open, more inclusive, more common and less politicized.