Various federal departments and agencies of Canada funded the ChoiceWork Dialogue to learn more about their citizens’ expectations of governments, the private sector, and their communities. The goals that Canadian societies seek to achieve are detailed in a “social contract.” When leaders planned for post-war policies after World War II, a primary result was the birth of a welfare state. By the 1970s, government revenue was unable to sustain the dependent system. The outcome was major changes to trade and economic policy.
As of 2010, Portsmouth, New Hampshire (population 20,000) has sustained the practice of organized, public dialogue and deliberation for over ten years. Since 1999, diverse community groups in Portsmouth have organized at least six rounds of large-scale dialogue-to-action circles (study circles) initiatives. This case study provides brief descriptions of four of these initiatives from 1999 through 2004. Descriptions of Portsmouth’s later public engagement initiatives will be added to this entry at a later date, or posted as separate entries.