TAN+N -- News About Projects


    While we have been on the Web, we have managed to find several other organizations (some that are netizens and some not yet) who are dedicating their efforts to helping bring about more and better democracy in the world by different means than ours. So, since we are dedicated to trying to serve as a catalyst for the Global Democracy Movement, we thought it best to link up with them via our website.

    We also realize that there must be many other such organizations around that fit into this category. And we hope that over the years, this list grows...and grows....and groooowwws. Currently, we have 14 organizations listed:

America Speaks (USA)
Associazione Democrazia Diretta (Italy)
Centre d'etudes et de documentation sur la democratie directe (Switzerland)
The Center for Governmental Studies (USA)
Cyberparty of Korea (Korea)
Danish Association for Direct Democracy (Denmark)
Demos (U.K.)
Direct Democracy Meeting Place (Canada)
Initiative and Referendum Institute (USA)
International Technology Centre (Scotland)
Kybernesis (Peru)
Mehr Demokrati (Germany)
The Loka Institute (USA)
The National Referendum Movement (USA)
Olympians Concerned about Democracy (OCAD) (USA)
Philadelphia 2/Direct Democracy Initiative (USA)

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lokalogo.jpg (24657 bytes) The Loka Institute
Dick Sclove
P.O. Box 355
Amherst, MA 01004, USA
Tel: 413.253.2828
Fax: 413.253.4942

    The Loka Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting "a democratic politics of science and technology." What this means is that Loka wants the usually elite-based agendas and policies on scientific issues made accessible to ordinary citizens, workers and public interest groups ... so that these decisions that impact so heavily on our future are responsive to a much broader segment of the public than heretofore.

    In order to accomplish this, the founder of Loka, Dick Sclove, has set up a system to distribute relevant information, books, editorials and the like to a large number of subscribers. In fact, he claims that there are more than 1300 people already on his E-mail list and he dispatches very informative and persuasive editorial-like "Loka Alerts" regularly.

    He has also recently published a book along these lines, Democracy and Technology (NY: Guilford Press, 1995) which Howard Rheingold (of The Whole Earth Review) praised as follows: "Democracy and technology, and the ways these two institutions affect each other, is perhaps the most pressing problem of the coming decade. Neither Luddite nor Technophile...Sclove directs our attention to solutions that might actually work."

    The Loka Institute is in some financial difficulty these days due, in part, to the fact that, in Sclove's words, foundations are becoming "risk averse." So, he has asked for direct contributions which are tax deductible. Take a look at his website...and if you feel it is worth your support, you can help him out.

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cyberparty.gif (6055 bytes) Cyberparty of the Republic of Korea
Seong Muk Won, Executive Director
No Longer Active.

    Cyber Party was founded in July of 1996, but went out of existence a few years ago, as far as we know. 

    The founding members of the Party felt that politics could not stay behind in the information age.  These members hailed from all parties in the national Parliament and they selected Seong Muk Won, a former radio reporter, to be their Executive Director.

    The general idea was for a multi-party group of representatives to open themselves and the Parliament to ordinary people from all (professional) backgrounds (governmental, business, academic, press etc.) to join and participate in policy making by providing his/her and opinions about any subject related to current affairs.

    At its height of power, Cyberparty had 52 Members of Parliament from the ruling party and other parties as members.  The model they developed was to have some 200 "experts" come together in one place to use computers for discussion of issues and to select some 500 other web-savvy citizens to also discuss the same issues from remote sites.

    In order to assist the development of public opinion, the Party opened cyber- hearings on the Net on topics decided by the Party. There would then be cyberdeliberations in which party members, experts and citizens participated.  In a sense, this was one of the first experiments in cyber-interaction between actual members of a national legislature with citizens who had some web expertise.

    Cyberparty also hosted, on its website, The Thread: The Webzine of New Asian Politics.  This webzine contained articles and interviews on a wide variety of topics that centered around how democracy, in its many forms, was developing throughout Asia in the late 1990s.

    The video clip TAN+N has on its website is an excellent public relations instrument that was developed by Cyberparty of Korea in its first year.  Go back to the party logo at the top of this entry, click on it, and see for yourself.  It is a paragon of excellence in presentation...and the passing of the Cyberparty of Korea is a great loss to the Global Democracy Movement.

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Kybernesis, "The Art of Governing"
Dr. Francisco Miro Quesada Rada, President
Ricardo Botto Recavarren, Vice President
Email: ricardobotto@ciber.org.pe
Telephone: (511) 460-2547

    Kybernesis is the state-of-the-art-and-science teledemocracy project in Peru. It is an organization that is totally independent of the national government, but it works in close cooperation with the city government of the capital city: Lima. It works with an Internet Service Provider called Protelsa Peru and is dedicated towards promoting direct democracy in that country...particularly by using modern telecommunications to enhance the quality of citizen participation in such a process.

    Presently, Kybernesis is developing a major project which it calls "The Virtual Town.." This is somewhat different from other municipal online projects and digital cities. It is tied into a referendum process in one specific section of Lima. this section is very poor, but referenda are held there on a regular basis...a situation that is very rare in Latin America.

    Currently, Kybernesis is running a project there to link the citizens in this sections of Lima to a wide variety of information sources via the computer. A video teleconferencing setup is also part of this project, whereby citizens will be able to testify directly into the city council meeting for a 5 minute period of time (see Honolulu Electronic Hearing). There will also be email discussions between the City Council and citizens on issues under deliberation.

    Reports from Lima in 1999 indicate that the project is still up and running and that they are even trying to expand it into the southern mountain and jungle regions of Peru.  However, their progress is hampered by a weak information and technological infrastructure.

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Steve Brigham, Executive Director
1612 U Street, NW, Suite 408
Washington, D.C. 20009
(phone): (202) 299-0126
(fax): (202) 299-0128

    America Speaks is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. It seeks to link authentic citizen voices with the governance of the nation and to enable people who are already making a difference in their communities to experience their vital role in influencing what happens in the nation’s capital--as well as in their home communities, regions and/or states.

    Why did this organization come about and how is it working to achieve this worthy purpose?

    First, like many organizations with high democratic ideals and a long-range strategy to achieve them at the national level, America Speaks is built upon a deep dissatisfaction with the almost non-existent role of American citizens to influence government and politics in Washington, D.C. Its founder, Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer did not arrive at this conclusion because she, herself, was frozen out of powerful circles. In fact, she had been Chief of Staff to the Governor of Ohio, was a consultant to the White House (facilitating President Clinton's Cabinet retreats); and was Deputy Director on Vice President Gore’s reinventing government task force.

    In fact, it was precisely because of her inside view that she became convinced that new systems of citizen engagement and participation were sorely needed at the national level....as well as at the state and local levels too.  So, through extensive travel and investigations around the country, she crafted a rather high-powered network of associates who are developing innovative systems of citizen involvement that include a wide array of well-tested technologies and techniques. These include and integrate both face-to-face and electronic deliberations.

    Two ETM models that are used in America Speaks projects are the Ron Thomas "tele-planning" model described in Community Design Exchange and Sustainable Racine and the Pew Charitable Trust project Americans Discuss Social Security.  At the present time, circa 2002, Thomas is the Executive Director of the Northeast Illinois Planning Commission and is using his method of tele-planning to aid in developing the 14 county area in and around Chicago. 

      Presently (2002), America Speaks has developed its own brand of electronically enhanced public deliberation that interfaces face-to-face public deliberations with such devices as long distance TV teleconferencing, hand held consensors and personal computers.  It has run impressive city projects in the District of Columbia (D.C. Mayor's Summit)--where over 3,000 people participated in such a deliberation in one day-- and it is currently involved in New York City's public input process into how to redevelop the World Trade Center site.

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9 Bridewell Place
London EC4V 6AP
Tel: (44) 71.353.4479
Fax: (44) 71.353.4481

    Demos is a relatively new "think tank" in England, one that was born in 1992. According to its original literature, it was brought into being to explore "radical democratic alternatives" to the usual way of doing things politically. And, according to a recent issue of The Economist, it seems to have the ear of some leaders in the British Labour Party.

    Accordingly, Demos was set up in response to a perceived lack of interest, on the part of the general public, in political parties, the same old ideologies, and the mainstream political debate. In other words, those who started Demos realized that most ordinary citizens saw politicians as being irrelevant to their real concerns and found the terms and range of their debate to be boring and wide of the mark.

    In this context, Demos states that it is committed to finding new forms of dialogue and deliberation, new ways of citizen feedback, and new forms of democracy that can re-engage an increasingly disenfranchised, disillusioned and apathetic public. In order to further its goals, those affiliated with Demos publish articles, appear on electronic media broadcasts, set up some small scale projects on computer conferencing, publish a journal (called Demos Quarterly) -- its latest issue on the subject of what governments can and cannot do in an increasingly globalized economy.

    We recently returned to the Demos website (in April 2002) and found, frankly, that it hasn't seemed to live up to its goals of being a radical democratic think tank.  It talks some of the talk, but its projects do not seem to be far from the mainstream of British politics.  Perhaps this is due to the large, establishment donors that fund it and populate its board.

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DDemocracy Meeting Place

    This is an interesting website devoted to matters involving direct democracy...but it is a work in progress.  There are sections devoted to direct democracy in Canada, Belgium, etc.  And, we believe that it is an offshoot or reincarnation of Canadians for Direct Democracy.  It has one excellent section in E-voting, with many links to the major websites and articles on this subject.  One can post whatever one wants regarding direct democracy on the site.                              

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The U.S. National Referendum Movement
Barbara Vincent, Founder and Director
P.O. Box 11351
Memphis, Tennessee
38111 USA
Tel: 1-901-FREEDOM

    Back in the 1970s, a movement began to change the U.S. Constitution by allowing for referenda to be held at the national level. It was based in Washington and found a few sponsors in Congress. Unfortunately, though, it had a short life.

    The National Referendum Movement (NRM) of today, however, is not limited to trying to change the U.S. Constitution by providing for national referenda. Instead, it focuses more on strategies and tactics to change state constitutions to permit both citizen initiatives and referenda.

    For example, a major tack taken by NRM is to support legal actions taken by citizens against state government agencies who turn down petitions for I & R for one reason or another. Another is to join with other political organizations that support I & R. Thus, NRM has allied itself with several United We Stand America state organizations and, most recently, has joined with Governor Fob James of Alabama, who has sponsored a bill along these lines for the 1996 legislative session.

    This NRM is organized by Barbara Vincent, a former radio personality in New Orleans, and she runs the office in Memphis, Tennessee. She produces a newsletter on the topic called "The Bottom Up," and she can use all kinds of help to assist her in this important movement. You can reach her at the above telephone number.

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irilogo.gif (23934 bytes)
Initiative and Referendum Institute
M. Dane Waters, Founder and President
1825 I Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel: (202) 429-5539
Fax: (202) 986-3001

    Trying to establish an organization dedicated to the maintenance and development of initiative and referendum in the United States has been done before. But constructing a durable one that favors and supports these 2 forms of direct democracy has not.  The Initiative and Referendum Institute, founded by M. Dane Waters, looks like it will be the first such organization to endure and it seems to be gaining enough strength to actually accomplish its goal of promoting and expanding direct democracy in America in the 21st century.  It's about time.

    With a formidable board of advisors, IRI is lending support to defend the citizens initiative process in courts of law against those who wish to diminish its power.  IRI also puts out a web newscast telling about various successes in using the initiative process around the country.  It keeps people up-to-date on various movements that are trying to get initiative into states that do not yet have it in their constitutions.  And it is hosting a major conference in May 1999 that will bring together experts and activists in all fields of direct democracy.  Finally, IRI has established a first-class website that will direct the browser to a wide variety of other organizations with much the same goal.

    One of the best things about IRI is that it is true to its ideology of being politically bipartisan or neutral.   In other words, it is "conservative," "liberal," "Republican," "Democrat," "independent," "Green," and "radical." Thus, it supports the initiative process itself, not the particular content of them.  This makes IRI purely democratic, with a small "d" and it is why it deserves a 6 lightning bolt rating from TAN+N.

    For more information about it, just get in touch with Dane at the numbers above.  He does his best to answer all inquiries and to be helpful to those who are true democrats, with a small "d".

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oca.gif (3087 bytes) Olympians Concerned About Democracy(OCAD)
Jeff Sowers, Chairperson
Olympia, Washington

    The basic ideology of this group is to challenge corporate dominance by establishing genuine democracy or "teledemocracy" in 1999.  OCAD has the same goals as TAN+N, but has a new and different system it intends to create and operate in the city of Olympia, Washington, which is the capital of that state.  It will work something like this:

    OCAD is working to organize a local movement with the goal of establishing an Olympia Citizens Assembly (OCA).  The OCA would hold and broadcast over community access television regularly scheduled public forums and town meetings on critical issues facing the community.  The forums and meetings could also be supplemented with a printed magazine, a webzine, and Internet bulletin boards and discussion groups.  Each month or so, all citizens would be encouraged to cote in person, by phone. Internet, or by mail on citizen initiated resolutions addressing the issues deliberated.  Those  resolutions receiving a majority of votes would then be advocated to elected officials whose jurisdiction is relevant to the resolution.   A rating system would track how each elected official responded to OCA resolutions.

    One of the major hurdles is the cost of secure technologies for electronic and phone voting.  One way around this is to simply create a database and make public how all citizens voted, until secure technologies could be obtained.  In traditional town hall meetings, after all, citizens do vote in public.

    The OCA would present itself as a politically neutral, "public" institution for use by citizens to share information and ideas, deliberate issues, build consensus for solutions, and speak to the government with a united voice (by voting).  In order to obtain this public status, we plan to establish the OCA within a legal framework which grants it "official" recognition, and requires it to be democratic and open to all citizens.

    We are currently considering using the legal framework which already exists for the official recognition of neighborhood associations.  This ordinance legally requires recognized neighborhood associations to have a democratic, decision making process, and make full membership open to all citizens.  Associations are completely autonomous, free to draft and amend their own bylaws, and elect their own officers.  Once officially recognized, they are placed on the city's website, provided early notification of land use properly development proposals, and given periodic meetings with council members and government staff.  The plan is to ask the city council to add a section to this ordinance which refers specifically to an Olympian Citizens Assembly.  We also hope to hold OCA meetings and forums in the council chambers at city hall, which is already set up with a studio for live broadcasts of city council meetings, but sits unused much of the time.

    We plan to pay for all of this with a combination of public and private grants and membership dues and donations.

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DanishDD.bmp (51118 bytes) Danish Association for Direct Democracy

    This is the official site of the Danish Society for for Direct Democracy, which is a group of citizens devoted to the advancement of direct democracy methods--like citizens initiatives and popular referenda--in Denmark. They believe that these methods have great potential to empower citizens by making them feel more responsible for their own society.  In Danish, this is called "folkestyre" (or "Peoples Rule") .

   According to one of their founders, Marcus Schmidt, The Danish Association for Direct Democracy is a single issue interest group without close ties to any of the established political parties in the Danish political landscape. However, it does work better with certain parties in the Danish Parliament -- parties that themselves sympathize with direct democracy.  The best known of these is the People's Party--or Dansk Folkesparti at www.df.org/bestil.htm-- which calls for such in its political platform.

     Currently, the members of this organization originate from all across the Danish political spectrum. The Society conducts several  activities, including arranging meetings and publishing a small quarterly in Danish.  It also maintains a website (which can be reached by clicking on the logo above).  Most of the website, as one will quickly see when they get there, is in Danish.  However, the Society intends to have more English sections to it in the near future.  This will be helpful since the Society concentrates on information that it thinks could be of interest to an international audience.

    For example, the international content in Folkestyre includes: (a)an overview of recent polls dealing with Danes' views on Direct Democracy and (b) links to sites with details on Danish Referendums since the Second World War.  Future information will pertain to new developments at the national and local level that indicate greater direct empowerment of the citizens of Denmark.

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ADD.bmp (5566 bytes) Associazione Democrazia Diretta (ADD)
Giuseppe Strano


    ADD is an organization in Italy that is devoted to improving direct democracy in that country--and it has a full agenda of how it wants to proceed along those lines.

    First, Italy probably has more national referenda than any country in the world--excepting Switzerland.  However, these referenda are scheduled by Parliament and they only allow the citizenry to void laws--or portions of laws--already passed by Parliament.   The Assocazione wants to change that so that the people of Italy can vote on new laws scheduled by Parliament and to initiate laws on their own by citizens petitions.

    In order to reach this goal, ADD wants to be an agent for a national debate on this subject.   One way to do this is to collect some 50,000 signatures of voters calling for this change in governance.  By doing this, ADD believes it will be able to spur a good deal of discussion about this new kind of initiative and referendum process.  They currently maintain an email mailing list that discusses the content of the petition.

    Another change they propose for the Italian constitution is that citizens should be allowed to vote from their home via electronics, including the telephone and the computer.  They are also trying to organize a national conference on these subjects and are preparing to participate in the Second International Congress on Direct Democracy in Athens in June of 2000.

    Their website is mainly in Italian, but if you click on the "English" button on the menu bar, the options are translated into English.

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MD.gif (4569 bytes) Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy)
Zirkusweg 11
20359 Hamburg, GERMANY
Tel: 040-31 76 91 022
Fax: 040-31 76 91 028
Email: 100407.26@compuserve.com
URL: http://www.mehr-demokratie-in-hamburg.de/

    In Germany, there is a dynamic movement called "Mehr Demokratie," which in English means "More Democracy."  It was started in 1988 and was known by an acronym IDEE, which means "idea" in German.  Thus, its symbol is both an exclamation point...but also an upside down "i" for "idea."  It was begun by a few young pro-democracy "idealists"--with only a few Deutschmarks in their pockets.

    Today, however, it has matured into a full-fledged national political organization with 10 paid staff members, offices in 9 cities and, at the time of this writing (June 1999), over 2,000 dues paying members.   And, of course, it also has its own website indicated above.  Much like its comrade movement in America, the leaders of Mehr Demokratie hail from an extremely disparate set of political values.  So, Michael Effler, one of the original founders, is a staunch Green and Thomas Rupp, also in it from the start, likes to call himself a "neo liberal," sort of a German Thacherite. They, like their American counterparts, look and sound like the "odd couple," but their surface policy goals and styles pale in comparison to their deep alliance on the need to empower the people directly.

     First, what is not generally known is that the right to indirect citizens initiatives in Germany is common at the state level, being part of the state constitutions.  So, the agenda of MD is several-fold.   Their first major target was the constitution of the Southern state of Bavaria...and the objective was to change the constitution so as to also provide indirect initiative to the Bavarian people at the city and town level as well.  In 1995, they accomplished this goal.  Next, was Hamburg.  Here, too, they racked up a surprising victory in 1998 by amending the city charter to grant citizens the right of indirect initiative on local matters.

    With their movement gaining greater visibility and credibility throughout Germany, MD is aiming its sights on a number of other targets including: (1) lowering the barrier in the state constitutions from having to obtain the signatures of 10% of registered voters to 4-5%; (2) providing that a simple majority of those who actually vote should be able to pass binding laws (currently 50% of all registered voters must vote before it can become law); (3) permitting citizens to vote directly on tax and budgetary issues (which they cannot do currently).

    However, MD has an even more ambitious goal on their agenda: giving Germany the "Most Democracy" by instituting the right of indirect initiative at the national level..  Given MD's track record so far, there seems to be a fair chance that Germany, in the early part of the 21st century, will join its neighbor Switzerland, in providing its citizens the power of direct democracy nationally.

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c2d.gif (3866 bytes) Centre d'etudes et de documentation sur la democratie directe (C2D)
Dr. Andreas Auer
Email: auer@uni2a.unige.ch
URL: http://c2d.unige.ch

One of the delegates to the Prague Congress was a student from the University of Geneva who was working on an enormous data base on...of all things...direct democracy.  Well, this data base is unbelievable.   For example, it has votes on every citizens initiative from 200 countries from 1791-1997.  It also has information about what kinds of direct democratic processes are on the books just about anywhere you can think of.   

    When we were in Washington, D.C. in May of 1999 at the IRI conference celebrating the 100th anniversary of I+R in the USA we met the Director of this project, Dr. Andreas Auer.  We told him we'd like to link his project with ours, and he said "go right ahead."  So, without further ado, here is its logo...just click and go.

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menublue.gif (8028 bytes) The Center for Governmental Studies
Robert M. Stern--President
Tel: (310) 470-6590
Fax: (310) 475-3752
Email: stern@cgs.org

The Center for Governmental Studies was founded in 1983 and is a premier, multi-faceted, multi-mission non profit organization dedicated to improving democracy in the United States, California--and probably the world.  It has created and maintained a large number of projects over the years.  These include:

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p2ddlogo.jpg (2351 bytes) Philadelphia 2/Direct Democracy
Founder: Senator Mike Gravel
1600 N. Oak Street, #1412
Arlington, Virginia 22209
Tel: (703) 516-4056

Philadelphia 2/Direct Democracy is the leading organization and movement in the United States designed to produce direct democracy at the national level as quickly as possible.   It is the brainchild of Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), who served two terms in the United States Senate from 1968-80. 

The problem is that those who claim to "represent" the American people in Congress--as well as those who "represent" the people of the 50 states--are a political class who do not want to allow the American people to be able to vote on laws directly like citizens of 24 states (including California, Washington, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, etc.) can now do   In those states, a small percentage of voters can put a "proposition" on the ballot that is a potential law and then if a majority of voters in the next election vote in favor of it, it becomes the law of that state.  Philadelphia 2 and the National Initiative for Direct Democracy want to change the U.S. Constitution so this can be done at the national level as well.  The "political class" of elected legislators in Congress and state legislatures are the very people who would have to decide to do this by a constitutional amendment.  That they would voluntarily do this is highly unlikely for the foreseeable future.  After all, that would seriously curtail their monopoly of making policy at the national level.

So, how can it be done?   According to Philadelphia 2, there is a way, one that Senator Gravel calls the exercise of "first principles" of American democracy, i.e., that if a majority of American citizens want this to become part of the fundamental law of the land, and vote that way, then it will automatically change the U.S. Constitution accordingly.  The website explains this in some detail and has links to authoritative legal and philosophical argumentation along these lines.

But how can this be done?  How can such a movement and process be begun, shaped and made to succeed? Philadelphia 2 is also in the process of developing a major conference in the near future that would bring together a national network of theorists, lawyers, democratic activists to develop a strategy and tactics to engage the American public in such a discussion and help catalyze a national initiative movement based on "first principles."  For more info, contact Mike Gravel at the above numbers and links or his webmaster Dave Parrish.

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itclogo.gif (5016 bytes) International Technology Centre
Napier University
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
URL: www.teledemocracy.org

The International Technology Centre is one of the leading teledemocracy websites on the Internet.  Founded in 1999, it is a combined effort of an academic centre at Glasgow University in Scotland and British Telecom.  The whole idea behind this centre is to test and advocate uses of technology to enhance democracy in the United Kingdom.

The site is filled with experiments on such things as using the web to: sign petitions that are then sent to the Parliament of Scotland and to run experiments on electronic voting.

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