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The Politic Exchange is an organization that attempts to facilitate better dialogue between people, particularly those with divergent views. Originally conceived in 1996, the Politic Exchange is heavily influenced by Relational-Cultural Theory (Wellesley's Stone Center) and Small Group Dialogue (Web Lab). Online and offline discussions are planned on an ongoing basis.
Currently, the Politic Exchange is focused on organizing and facilitating unconferences between local community members. Please contact Kevin Makice for more information or to attend future unconferences.
The Ideal Portal
The first local unconference organized by the Politic Exchange was held on January 6th, 2006 from 1pm to 4pm in the Monroe County Public Library, Room 1B. It was a follow-up to another unconference -- RootsCamp -- which was held for the first time locally in mid-November of 2006. One of the outcomes of that conference was a need to discover/create/coordinate information channels for Bloomington. After direct recruiting of key stakeholders (including City of Bloomington IT, Bloomingpedia, IU UITS, Ivy Tech and Herald Times), eleven people participated in the unconference on "The Ideal Community Portal."
The topic of conversation was described as:
- It is difficult to know where to go for information about local events and ideas. There are several local calendars online, none of which are coordinated. There are multiple forums, none of which are as active as they could be. Where does one go to get information out to the community? The solution could be a single system, but it is just as likely to be an integrated-coordinated effort by existing systems.
- There is no preconceived notion about what could come out of this conversation. Representation at this event will include a mixture of those who believe strongly in one system over another, as well as those who are undecided. This is an exploratory gathering, to put all issues and resources on the table and discuss how the collective tools can be improved.
This community conversation was intended to appeal to anyone interested in how technology might be better applied for local use.
How an Unconference Works
The Politic Exchange is an ad-hoc format for small group conversations. A brief welcome introduces the topic of the day, with participants invited to write topics on the Big Board. After reviewing the discussion ideas, everyone breaks up into group and has a conversation for the next 45 minutes with others interested in that idea. The larger group reconvenes periodically to share summaries each conversation. Then, it happens all over again for a second 45-minute discussion.