When citizens deliberate together about important issues, they can reach decisions and take action together on problems that confront them. Deliberation does not require a certain kind of guide, or framework, or language, or facilitator, but, because it can be difficult to face such choices, supporting materials can make it easier.
Many community groups, national organizations, and others, including the National Issues Forums (NIF), develop materials meant to help groups deliberate together over difficult public issues. Through its research, the Kettering Foundation has learned about the kinds of materials that can spark this public work. This document explores the important elements involved in going from an initial topic to having a complete issue guide suitable to use in the kinds of deliberative forums that are the hallmark of the NIF.