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  • Exercise Your Citizen Muscles

    Everywhere I look these days, that smart northern neighbor of ours, Eric Liu seems to be saying something provocative and wise, but his article in last week’s Atlantic, “Democracy is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens,” was right over the plate in terms of what we are trying to achieve here at Oregon’s Kitchen Table.

    He lays it right out there—arguing that the work of democracy has become professionalized and that the majority of us have conceded our role as citizen to the practiced, the motivated, and the highly compensated. And, he argues –rightly so, in my opinion—that we need to redevelop our “citizen muscles.” As he puts it: “Citizenship is too important to be left to professionals . . . It’s time to democratize democracy again.”

    And, we’re trying to do some democratizing around here. Every Oregonian has something special to offer, no matter who we are or whether we’re regulars at town halls, seasoned PTA volunteers, new immigrants, or students recently turned on to public issues. The fact is, Oregon needs each of us, and we all need each other.

    As the German poet and playwright Gunter Grass put it: “The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.” And, I might add, her ears. Ours are open for what you have to say.

    So, check out Eric’s article. Leave a comment on our Facebook page. Send us a picture of your kitchen table (to or join our Flickr group). And, take a seat at the table!

    Wendy Willis

  • We want to hear from (and see!) you at the table

    As people across the state start to gather around Oregon’s Kitchen Table, we’d like to thank you! If you sign up by May 31, you’ll have a chance to win one of four collectible, mint condition 1959 Oregon Statehood U.S. Postage Stamps, donated by an anonymous Oregonian committed to bringing us together on the issues we care about most.

    On June 1, we’ll draw the names of four lucky people who’ve taken a seat at the table. Make sure to give us your address when you sign up – we’ll need to be able to mail the stamp to you if you win.

    We also want to get to know you! Send us a photo of you and your household, your friends, colleagues or neighbors at your own kitchen table. Send them to us by email (, post on our Facebook wall, or join our Flickr Group, Oregon’s Kitchen Tables, and submit there. Oregonians are a hospitable lot! We’re getting pictures of kids (what inspires you to make decisions about our state’s future?) and pets (what are the things that make you feel most at home?) and, of course, the tables where we all gather to talk things over.

    Here’s mine. In my household, we like to come armed with a recipe or two when we hash things out!

    Sarah Giles
    Recipe Reviewer (and PCI Special Projects Manager)

  • Bring your kitchen table wisdom to the public square

    Thanks for stopping by — pull up a chair and take a seat at the table!  It’s a rough world out there, and we have some serious things to talk about — Oregonians still need jobs, counties are going out of business, and we hear there’s more than a little mistrust of government.  But we know — and you know — that Oregonians are wise and compassionate and want to help out.  When we see that something needs to be done, we’re pretty good at coming up with an idea or two to tackle the problem. We want to talk over the issues and give some good advice to our decision makers.  And, guess what?  They want to hear it!

    We’re lucky to be here at this time, when we have the tools to take our dinner table conversations and smarts out of our kitchens and into the public square. During the month of May, we’re going to try to get as many Oregonians as possible to sign up for a seat at Oregon’s Kitchen Table. (Tell your friends! Call the neighbors!) Over the coming months, we’ll have a chance to weigh in on some of the issues facing our state.

    And if together we can make this experiment work, we’ll keep going.  We’ll bring the common sense wisdom of Oregonians to all kinds of issues facing our state.  Take a seat at the table.  And stay in touch.

    Wendy Willis
    Cook & chief dishwasher
    (and Director of the Policy Consensus Initiative)


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