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Taking a seat at Oregon's Kitchen Table

How many nights have you found yourself, seated at the dinner table with friends or family, talking about how you would change the world? Brainstorming what things you would do and what ideas you have for making the place you live better?

Oregon's Kitchen Table is a unique experiment of civic engagement that gives those conversations, happening over Oregon dinner tables, a shared public space.  Although it is still in its pilot phase, Oregon’s Kitchen Table is expected to put Oregonians in direct contact with challenges being faced by our Governor, the Legislature, and other important decision makers throughout the state and in our communities.

The goal of Oregon’s Kitchen Table is to represent Oregon's communities and gather input from the entire state.  Decision makers propose questions that call for citizen input to anyone who has signed up to be a member of Oregon's Kitchen Table.  Oregon’s Kitchen Table advisory board—made up of a diverse group of civic leaders— then works with the leader proposing the questions as well as public opinon researchers to organize the various opinions on the issue.  The public is then "invited" to the table to respond to detailed questionnaires that measure the public's opinons, attitudes, ideas, beliefs and values related to the subject.

The majority of the involvement currently takes place on the Kitchen Table’s website, however in future consultations Oregonians will be given opportunities to meet face-to-face where they can have in-depth discussions on these public issues. After the consultation and discussions are complete, the results of the data are made available to decision makers, the media, and the public for reference.  Through this process, the Kitchen Table seeks to help lawmakers understand where the public (anyone who signs up for the Kitchen Table as well as a representative sample of Oregonians) stands on important public policy topics.  Most recently the discussion centered on the state's budget priorities, and Governor Kitzhaber has posted a video inviting more Oregonians to weigh in on this topic on the Oregon Kitchen Table's site.  The results of that consultation are available at http://oregonskitchentabe.org/the-results/.

Oregon’s Kitchen Table is a new way to bring Oregonians together on something that we all care about: Oregon. By creating an easy-to-use platform for statewide engagement, the Kitchen Table seeks to include a diverse range of voices from across the state. At the same time, the effort also aims to increase Oregonians' involvement and interest in local, regional, and statewide decision making can be increased.  Seat by seat, the Kitchen Table will be filled with people who can reflect the needs of all Oregonians.

 

For more information and to join the conversation, please visit: oregonskitchentable.org