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The Civic Assembly is a pilot process for strengthening the feedback loops between citizens, civic groups, elected leaders, and local media in communities.  The Assembly is built around a novel ‘self-generating’ online survey methodology called Polis, in which survey participants respond to statements made by one another, resulting in dynamic opinion groups. A successful survey produces a statistical portrait of the concerns and priorities of a community.  Unlike conventional surveys, this process often leads in unpredictable directions.

In February 2018, we partnered with the Bowling Green Daily News and media consultant Sam Ford for the Bowling Green Civic Assembly. This initiative consisted of three phases. The survey, or Virtual Town Hall, took place over the course of a week (Feb. 4th-10th) on the website of the local daily news.  Over 2,000 people participated in our ‘’ online civic conversation in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Together they submitted over 600 statements and voted nearly a quarter-million times. The results of the Virtual Town Hall then structured the agenda for a large public forum–a traditional Town Hall meeting with local elected and community leaders on February 22nd.  The following day, a small Community Workshop connected participants with local civic groups working on issues surfaced in the survey. We published a report on the assembly in May 2018.

For the second Civic Assembly, we partnered with 89.3 WFPL News in Louisville, Kentucky. The Next Louisville: Civic Assembly featured a 12-day Virtual Town Hall, followed by a series of community conversations to discuss the results. The report on this assembly, which took place in February 2020, can be found here.



American Press Institute: “How a culture of listening strengthens reporting and relationships,” by Cole Goins (September 4, 2018)

Bowling Green Daily News: “Community workshop sheds light on local issues, closes civic assembly,” by Don Sergent (February 23, 2018)

Bowling Green Daily News: “Let’s talk: Town hall brings residents, public officials together,” by Don Sergent (February 23, 2018)

Bowling Green Daily News: “Town Hall portion of Civic Assembly is Thursday,” by Don Sergent (February 21, 2018)

Bowling Green Daily News: “First-ever civic assembly gives residents chance to be heard,” by Don Sergent (February 4, 2018)

Steal the Show: “How to Hack a Democracy, with Audrey Tang (Pt. 2)
(August 28, 2019)