Gerry Ellis

Engaging Your Community in Deliberation—Let's Talk About Water

The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has recently released Let’s Talk About Water: A Guide to Developing Discussion Materials to Get Your Community Deliberating

As part of our partnership with the Kettering Foundation, we created this guide to help you develop a deliberative issue framework and simple discussion materials for groups of people who want to talk about water issues in their community or region. Across the regions, our water issues have a lot in common, but the specifics vary. This guide is designed to demystify the process of naming and framing local water issues, and offers a range of alternatives from adapting a generic framework to developing a new framework using ideas for options and actions gleaned from across the United States.

Let’s Talk About Water is the product of a collaboration among NAAEE, the Kettering Foundation, and five state teams made up of NAAEE state affiliates, “centers for public life” that are part of the National Issues Forums Institute network, and other collaborating organizations such as Florida Extension. We started by developing state specific water issue frame­works. These frameworks provided the raw materials for Let’s Talk About Water that can now be applied by other regions and local communities.

The water issue frameworks developed by the five state teams are posted at Additional local and regional issue guides are posted at You may be able adapt them using the advice in Let’s Talk About Water.

If you use Let’s Talk About Water to develop deliberative forum materials, we want to hear from you. Share your frameworks with us, and we’ll post them online. And let us know how the guide works for you. In November 2017, we will revisit Let’s Talk About Water to consider revisions based on the feedback we’ve received from people like you.

Looking for more materials on using deliberative forums? Along with the Kettering Foundation, we’ve also released Climate Choices: How Should We Meet the Challenges of a Warming Planet? and Energy Choices: What Should We Do About America’s Energy Future? These issue guides are available at, and supporting resources can be found on NAAEE’s website at

For more information, email Bora Simmons at