Multi-site meetings enable AmericaSpeaks to engage hundreds of thousands of people across regions, states or the nation as part of a single conversation. To get a sense for what a multi-site meeting can look and feel like, take a look at these videos of a statewide discussion in California and a national discussion on the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Satellite and Webcast Links
AmericaSpeaks began experimenting with convening multi-site meetings in 1998 during our Americans Discuss Social Security project. During this initiative, AmericaSpeaks convened three multi-site 21st Century Town Meetings®. Each of these meetings used satellites to produce a television quality link between up to 10 meeting sites at a time to support a National Town Meeting. Based on our experience with ADSS, we published a workbook and video to instruct others about how to produce National Town Meetings.
Since ADSS ended, we have used satellites and webcasting to link together meeting sites across multiple cities. In Maine, two cities were linked together for a state-wide discussion on health care. Twenty-one cities across the United States were linked together after Hurricane Katrina to develop the Unified New Orleans Plan. In California, eight sites across the state were linked together for a discussion on health reform. Sixteen sites across the country were linked together for a national discussion on autism policy. A Global Youth Summit on climate change convened young people at sites all across the world.
In 2010, our largest National Town Meeting convened 3,500 Americans across 57 sites to discuss the federal budget.
AmericaSpeaks has also developed “Conversation Kits” that enable volunteers to facilitate discussions that may be linked to other discussions by video or webcast. By providing facilitators with tips for organizing a forum and detailed guides and trainings for facilitating the discussion, it is possible to convene many more conversations at a relatively low cost. For example, in Northeast Ohio, AmericaSpeaks used a Conversation Kit to engage more than 13,000 people in a discussion on the economic challenges facing the 16 county region.