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DBE Peer Learning Sessions, 2023

In June 2023, the Democracy Beyond Elections coalition launched a series of peer-learning sessions in response to member interest in shared learning. 

These sessions seek to tap into the collective wisdom of our coaltion, dig deeper into practices and theories that some members are less familiar with, and grow our shared understanding as we work together.

So far we have had a wide variety of sessions, from grounding in solidarity economy, to shared practice of legislative theater, to a chance to focus on the role and brilliance of youth in shapring participatory democracy.  Check out the recording from these sessions below, and stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to join in!

People's Movement Assemblies

Ever wonder how People's Movement Assemblies help build power? Join DBE coalition members Denzel Caldwell and Erica Perry from the Black Nashville Assembly team to learn more about people's movement assemblies and the great work happening in Nashville.

Solidarity Economy

David Cobb and Yvonne Yen Liu from US SEN co-facilitated a dynamic session on Solidarity Economy Principles and Practices. We grounded in history and visioned into the future!

Participatory Action Research

Join DBE member Erin Markman from TakeRoot Justice to learn all about participatory action research. TakeRoot Justice provides legal, participatory research, and policy support to strengthen the work of grassroots and community-based groups to dismantle racial, economic, and social oppression.

Legislative Theatre

Experience the core structure and dramaturgy of Forum Theatre with an interactive demo and launch into discovering what additional tools and analyses are needed to turn a play about real-life situations into an opportunity for policy-generating. Whether you’re seeking to abolish oppressive legislation or are curious about changing unofficial rules or practices that impact your community, Legislative Theatre is a powerful way to approach participatory democracy. Participants will walk away understanding “WatchActVote” the basic steps of Legislative Theatre, and tips for how to use these techniques in their own work.

Youth PB

Check out this panel of young people who have experience implementing and interacting with participatory budgeting (PB) in Arizona and Oregon. Along with the co-facilitators from Participatory Budgeting Oregon, Center for the Future of Arizona, and Budget de la Gente, these representatives will share three examples of how youth voice has been empowered in PB processes and considerations that others can take when designing a youth-focus.


We must ensure that the decisions reached by community-led decision-making processes are taken seriously, honored, and implemented transparently. Community-led decision-making processes should hold real tangible value — not be relegated to trivial and theoretical exercises. They should have power over significant budgets or policies. True participatory democracy requires that committees or councils are not just “surveys” to gauge attitudes and views – followed by a business as usual process where people already in power go behind closed doors to make the final decision. In order to be transformational, community-led decision-making processes must have teeth and transparency — from beginning to end, including implementation.


We must equip community members with the tools, knowledge, and information they need to meaningfully participate. It is not enough to say that everyone can participate. We must create the conditions in our processes that make it so everyone can participate. This means community-led decision making processes that provide and center access needs including but not limited to language access, disability access, and economic access. This requires us to ensure that processes are built with community so that they take into account the access to technology, meeting times and locations, and even modes of communication that work for the particular community. Barriers to participation like age, citizenship, registering to vote, location, should be directly addressed and removed.


We must ensure that if you live in the community, you have a role and a voice in how decisions are made – and in making them. Unlike traditional elections, which are filled with barriers to participation, community-led decision making centers directly impacted community members.

Participatory democracy requires that folks left out of traditional election-centered democracy, including but not limited to Black communities, immigrants, and formerly and currently incarcerated folks, are centered in both the leadership of participatory practices and their outcomes.

We must ensure that community-led decision-making processes center and serve the needs of most impacted communities — from outreach, participation, and voice, through to implementation.