Welcome to TOWN MEETING '76. At this Town Meeting, we will be discussing the challenges facing our community and our nation, and will be creating proposals to meet those challenges effectively. Through this meeting, we hope to recapture something of the spirit of those early town meetings which played such an important role in building the nation. This Town Meeting is one of 5,000 scheduled in communities in the United States as part of the Bicentennial era. The final work of the 5,000 Town Meetings will be compiled and merged to create a new practical vision for the country's next two hundred years.

In the morning session, the Town Meeting focuses on the basic economic, political and cultural issues of the local community as part of America and the world today. Meeting in four workshop guilds, the groups begin by examining the community's vision of its future­its hopes and dreams. Then the guilds look at the social issues which get in the way of these dreams and desires. The next step is to analyze these issues and group them into clusters. Then, in the following step, the guilds look at the contradictions underlying the blocks which prevent the successful resolution of these issues. The group next discerns beneath these contradictions the single underlying contradiction that is the key to dealing effectively with all the issues in the cluster. Finally, these insights are written into sentences on the present challenges which confront the community. These are the fundamental concerns the community must address in order to move creatively toward its own vision of the future.

the present challenges workshop

Discerning the Underlying


In the third part of the workshop the guild is divided into teams. Then each team is assigned one of the numbered cluster issues. Their job is to discern what is contradicting the resolution of the issues.

Have someone on the team read the issues of the assigned cluster as team members copy them in their workbook on the specified chart on the next page. Looking at the Social Process triangle on the previous page, decide in what particular arena of society this cluster of issues is located.

As a team, list the social blocks which keep these issue! from being resolved. To do this, ask yourselves "What a the reasons for these issues? What is preventing the creative solution of these issues?" Star the three most important blocks in this list.

Next, have several members of the team suggest the underlying contradiction to which all three blocks are F To do this ask, "What is one objective social reality that the community is attempting to deal with all these issues. Write all the answers in the space marked "Contradiction Names".

12. Then list several examples of this contradiction in your community. Record these examples in the space provided.

the­present challenges workshop

A people is traveling fast to destruction when individuals consider their interests as distinct from those of the public.

John Dickinson. 1768

Writing the Present Challenge

In the fourth part of the workshop, the guild, working in teams and units, writes up the discussion of underlying contradictions for use in the afternoon session. Each team writes a sentence for its assigned cluster which states the present challenge to the community in creating its future.

13. Now the team will divide into units of at least three people each. Review your notes on page 17 with the other members of your unit. Then summarize the team discussion in three short phrases on the next page. In these you will be describing the social blocks, the underlying contradiction. and the local illustrations.

14. Next, as units, write a short sentence on the next page describing each of these three elements. Each sentence should be 10 to 25 words long. One sentence will describe the social blocks, another sentence the underlying contradiction. and a third the local illustrations of that contradiction.

15. Gather as a team and read the sentences aloud. Note their points of similarity and difference and select the best phrases for each of the three parts of the final challenge statement. Create a title by using a three word phrase describing the contradiction. Write it in the box on the next page.

16. Then appoint three team members to write the final one-sentence statement. To do this put the phrases selected in Step 15 into the challenge statement form. Then read the statement as a team for final corrections. Copy it on the wall chart and on the document production form.

the practical proposals workshop

Brainstorming the Social Responses

In the first part of the afternoon workshop, each of the three guilds working on the practical proposals will be assigned one of the social process arenas, either the economic, the political or the cultural. Wall charts from the morning will be in each guild room. The guild, working together and individually, will brainstorm and select responses to the challenges.

1. As a guild, look over the challenge statements displayed on the wall charts. Group together any of the challenges which are alike and decide a common title for sets of similar challenges.

2. Continuing to work together, read aloud the revised list of challenges and individually write them in your workbook on the next page while the workshop leader writes them on a wall chart.

3. Now working individually, write a practical response opposite each challenge statement on the next page. To do this, ask yourself what would the community need to do to meet this challenge in an effective way.

4. Still working in the workbook, decide which of your responses is the most imaginative, practical and effective suggestion. Place a check (~) beside this one and a square O beside your second choice in the space provided. These will be placed on the total guild chart in the next Dart of the workshop.

the practical proposals workshop

Our future happiness or misery as a people depends entirely on ourselves

Jonathan Elmer, 1776

Cross Gestalting the Social Responses

In the second part of the workshop, the guild works together to create groups of practical responses from the individual work. This is done by a method called cross­gestalting, which changes the organization of the data. All of the responses are placed on a chart and related to each other regardless of the challenge out of which they have arisen. The results are four to seven sets of responses to deal with all the challenges.

5. In your workbook, transfer the list of challenge titles from page 37 to the top horizontal row of boxes in the CrossGestalt Chart on the next page. This is also done on a similar wall chart.

6. Next, fill out the lower part of the chart together by reading aloud the checked responses and the challenges to which they relate. It is not necessary to have each box filled, but every challenge needs at least two responses listed beneath it. This may require having some members read out their second choices marked with a square. When the chart has 20 to 30 responses data, you are ready to begin cross­gestalting.

7. First spend a few minutes individually looking over the responses in the completed Cross­Gestalt Chart. Both in the workbooks and on the wall chart, mark a triangle in the first "response" box in the upper left hand corner. Looking from left to right across the rest of the chart, find and mark similar responses with a triangle. Next, find other sets of related responses and mark each set with a different symbol. Choose from four to seven sets and check to be sure all responses are included.

9. When all the responses have been marked, connect the first set by drawing a line from the triangle in the left hand corner through all the other triangles and ending in the column on the right side of the chart. Connect each set the same way by using a different line. Label each line with its symbol in the right hand column.

the practical proposals workshop

It is, therefore. injustice and cruelty to our offspring . . . to leave the salvation of this country to be worked out by them with accumulated difficulty and danger. Samuel Adams, 1776

Creating the Proposal Component.

In the third part of the workshop, the guild divides into teams, and each team is assigned a symbol representing one of the sets of social responses. Working individually, people write down the primary intent, the practical activity and the specific steps to carry out this set of responses.

9. As the team gathers, one person reads aloud the assigned set of practical responses. Record this information in the workbook on the next page as the basis of your individual thinking.

10. Now working individually, using the next page, write a three-to­five word phrase that describes the one primary intent of these responses. To do this, ask yourself what is the one thing that these responses intend to accomplish.

11. Next, individually write a short phrase in the space provided, naming a practical activity that would accomplish this aim. To do this ask yourself what might be done to achieve this intent.

12. Finally, lst for yourself in the space provided, four implementing steps that would begin to make this practical activity happen in your community.

the practical proposals workshop

In whatever direction popular weight leans, the current of power will flow.

Alexander Hamilton, 1788

Writing the Proposal Statement

In the fourth part of the workshop, the teams write a statement of their practical proposals using the proposal components just completed. Each team writes one proposal which will be effective in dealing with the underlying contradictions.

13. As a team, read aloud the individual work from the previous page on the primary intent, the practical activity and the implementing steps of the assigned set of responses. Write them in the notes portion of the Proposal Components Chart on the next page.

14. Then, still working as a team, select the phrases that tees, describe each of the components. Write them in the best phrase portion of Proposal Components Chart on the next page.

15. Next, in units of three or more, write a first draft of the practical proposal and choose a three­word proposal title. Use the first draft proposal form in the workbook on the next page.

16. Finally, regather as a team. Read aloud the practical proposal statements of the units and decide on one final statement which holds the team's wisdom. Have several people write it into the final draft proposal form on the next page. Then write this finished proposal on a wall chart for the final plenary and submit to the document production typists a copy of the teams proposal statement on the document production form.

the new story workshop

... the proceedings of our citizens have been united, spirited and firm. The flame is kindled and like lightning it catches from soul to soul.

Abigall Adams 1773

Telling the New Story

In the first part of the workshop, the guild brainstorms image of the community life and sends the first team off to write a new story for the community.

1. Gather as a whole guild and work briefly as individuals. In the spaces provided in your workbook, answer these questions about your community: l) "What have been some of the community's past achievements?" 2) "What are some images of its present struggles?" 3) "What are its dreams of the future?" List at least one answer in each category. Then read your answers aloud while the workshop leader writes them on the wall chart. When everyone has shared his answers, identify the master image or overriding theme which most strongly runs through each list. Write these three master images in your workbook in the spaces provided. One team is assigned to go aside and begin to write, following steps 2, 3 and 4. The rest of the guild moves on to step 5.

2. First, as a whole team, look at the three categories of images and add others to it. Then divide into three units, one each to work on the past images. present images and future images. Working individually write one sentence for the assigned topic of your unit on the next page. Now share your sentence aloud with the rest of the unit. Then, working together, weave all the sentences into one unified pc agraph using as many of the images and ideas from the individual sentences as possible. Write it in the space provided.

3. When all three units have a paragraph gather as a whole team and listen to them. As a team, discuss possible improvements for each paragraph and ways to unify them into a single story. Now assign three people to polish the story and to write any additional sentences for the para`3raphs. Meanwhile, have the rest of the team select a title for the story. Write this on the next page.

4. Now read the final story to the whole team and make last minute revisions to prepare it for publication. Finally, write the story on wall charts for presentation, choose one person to read it aloud to the guild, and submit to the document production typists a copy of the story on the document production form.

the new story workshop

This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.

John Adams. 1818

Singing the New Song

In the second part of the workshop, a second team is given instructions and set aside to use images from the total guild in writing a new song for the community. This team works as units to write the verses and choruses of the song. The team then regathers and sings the song for the guild.

5. The remaining members of the guild discuss the qualities of a great song. Have everyone select a tune which reflects those qualities, and choose one tune to use from among those named. After some discussion, decide how many verses or choruses to have. Looking at the images listed in page 48, place symbols beside similar images, and break the list into enough groups of phrases so that each verse or chorus will have one group of phrases. Next, give these various groups of phrases names, and arrange them in a song chart according to the number of verses and choruses. Use the space provided on the next page. Send one half of the group out to complete steps 6, 7, and 8. The remainder of the guild moves to step 9.

6. The song team gathers in a new space and divides into enough units so that each unit can write one verse or the chorus. Each unit writes the first draft of the Iyrics of one verse or the chorus using the space on the next page. Rhyme the words and fit them to the rhythm of the tune.

7. Now, re­gathering as a team, have each unit sing its verse. Make suggestions for changes and improvements. Finally, as a team title the whole song.

8. In the remaining time, meet back as units to incorporate suggestions and put final touches on the work. When this is done, assign one person to copy the song on to the wall chart and one person to submit to the document production typist a copy of the song on the document production form. Re­gathers as a team and practice singing the whole song. Then rejoin the guild for reports and preparation for the final plenary.

the new story workshop

The world is my country: all mankind are my brethren.

Thomas Paine. 1776

Creating the New Symbol

The remaining team stays to use the images of the tota! guild in creating a new symbol and slogan for the community. This team individually creates sketches of the symbol and then gathers to create a final composite drawing. This symbol will reflect the spirit and purpose of the community and will be presented to the whole Town Meeting at the plenary.

9. As a team, review the master images from step 1 and then brainstorm slogans using these images. Select one which could be used by the community as a motto. Now brainstorm possible visual components of the community's symbol suggested by the master images and the slogan. From the total brainstorm list, mark a few which seem most powerful in representing your community's past, present and future.

10. Working individually, sketch some symbols. Try to capture the most significant themes artfully. Choose from among your sketches the one you feel is most effective, and draw it on a wall chart.

11. Now, as a team, put all the sketches on the wall and look at them until one begins to catch the attention and imagination of the group. Decide on the most exciting and appropriate symbol. Make a list of suggestions on how to refine it, perhaps combining elements from several sketches on the wall.

12. Continuing as a team, work out the color scheme, and then assign two members to do the final drawing on the wall chart and also submit to the document production typists a copy of the symbol on the document production" form. While the final drawing is being done, discuss the story that the symbol tells and what might be practical uses for such a community symbol. Assign one person to present the symbol to the guild and then return to the guild meeting space to share your work with the other teams and to prepare for the plenary.

the new story workshop

The American War is over, but this is far from the case with the American Revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed.

Enacting the New Drama

In the fourth part of the workshop, the whose guild gathers to present the work of the teams. Then it works together to create a dramatic way of presenting the new story, song and symbol to the whole Town Meeting at the plenary.

13. When all groups are gathered have each of the three teams present its work. One team will read the story, the second will sing the song and the third will present the community symbol. After each team presents its work, talk briefly about the most striking features of the new creation and about ways of presenting it most effectively. Also as a guild, reflect briefly on how the master images have been carried out in each work. Finally, decide a title for the overall drama of the presentation of the guild's work to the Town Meeting.

14. Then decide as a guild how to present these products to the plenary. To do this, consider which should be presented first, second, third and how to get on and off stage. Draw an imaginal chart of the flow of this drama in the spaces provided on the next page.

15. Now assign everyone tasks to be done to prepare for the plenary presentation. Write the scripts, gather props or costumes, and appoint a director to stage the drama.

16. When these tasks are done, assign everyone in the guild a part in the drama, and do a brief rehearsal. Make last minute refinements and adjustments, and if time permits, conduct a dress rehearsal of the performance. Finally, carry everything needed to the plenary hall, and do any stage set­up necessary for the presentation.

TOWN MEETING 76 is a national Bicentennial program officially recognized by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. It is offered under local sponsorship by a nationwide volunteer staff of specially trained community leaders. TOWN MEETING '76 was developed for the American people by the Institute of Cultural Affairs, a not­for­profit research, demonstration and training group concerned with the human factor in world development. The ICA staff and consultants in 47 American cities work with local sponsoring groups to coordinate program development and provide resources, training and follow­up services upon request. For further information, contact ICA.