Uniontown, a community of about 3,000, is located in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt, named for a deposit of dark, fertile soil extending from Mississippi’s border through the heart of Alabama. This region faces declining population, persistent poverty, inadequate health care, substandard schools, and weak business development.
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.