Policy Cafe

The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. – Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky

What Is It.

The underlying idea is to gather community stakeholders together first to collectively identify problems in current social policy, then to develop alternatives for formal proposal and advocacy.

This is not a tactical group focusing on ground-level implementations. Different from a block club focused on crime and organizing a neighborhood watch or other similar direct action – all needed and beneficial – this group’s focus is on policy identification, development and advocacy  which has the potential to result in systemic, structural change.


The Process.

The cafes are open to anyone.  While all community stakeholders are invited, including government staff and elected representatives, active facilitation will serve to ensure that this is ground-up co-creating, not opportunities for paid staff to press an official agenda.

The first agenda for the cafe is intentionally loose. Facilitated from a participatory platform, using an Agile approach, the guidelines, policy topics, and priorities are self-organized in the first few meetings by participants. It is expected that the meetings will be facilitated on a rotating basis by volunteers as the work evolves.

After each set of meetings – that is, after both the Thursday and Saturday groups have met – notes from the meeting will be published online.  This enables everyone to keep apprised of the work and allows new participants the ability to jump in when an area interests them.

Inbetween meetings, investigation will be needed. Volunteers will seek out answers to questions raised or information needed to proceed.  They will make the information available at the beginning of the next meeting or before.

It is not expected that the monthly meetings will be sufficient time to do the deep diving which will eventually become part of the process.  For this, work groups will form to do exploration inbetween monthly meeting dates.

The goals are

  1. educate and engage community in policy-level questions
  2. foster a “community think tank” environment in which all residents can directly participate in shaping solutions
  3. create a space where organic activists, academics, professionals, youth, seniors, and more come together to co-create, using knowledge acquired through all means
  4. to publish “white papers” or policy memos which identify an issue, summarize current policy – if any – and recommend changes or something entirely new
  5. circulate these memos with existing advocacy groups as part of their community lobbying work

The Schedule.

The cafes-at-large generally meet twice a month: once on a Thursday evening and the other on a late Saturday morning. These meetings are parallel, so that if you miss one, you can attend the other and not miss out on participating in the group meeting for the month.  The days were chosen partly due to meeting space constraints, but with an intent to accommodate as many different schedules as possible.

Campbell Branch
8733 W Vernor 48209
Bowen Branch
3648 W Vernor 48216
10:30a – 12:30p
6:00p – 8:00p
11/11 11/16