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.
Contrary to popular perception, the Inner Belt opposition movement was far from unified. While opponents to the highway were united in their objectives, their motivations and strategies were as varied as the group itself. Even residents of the same community differed in their reasons for criticizing the highway.
Principal sources of the Inner Belt controversy included the highway’s potential effects on: