Dialogue and Discourse are two aspects of civic and community engagement that can shape social change efforts and directly influence outcomes.
Dialogue is a structured process that usually occurs in the early stages of a project or initiative in the community. According to Everyday Democracy, an organization dedicated to strengthening deliberative democracy, dialogue brings together “people of varied ages, ethnicities and perspectives around a public concern in a space that fosters constructive, respectful conversation.”
Civil Discourse in community engagement is an ongoing public conversation that can take many forms, ranging from in-person discussions, to journalism, to online and off-line activism, to community projects, and beyond. The purpose of civil discourse is usually to promote understanding of complex issues among people who disagree, in order to find common ground and take action.
Combined, Dialogue and Discourse are powerful tools for bringing citizens and neighbors together in order to solve problems in their community.