Climate Dialogue Participants
Winona County Minnesota Climate Dialogue Participants

Using a Citizen Jury for Rural Climate Dialogues

Are you wrestling with how to bring rural residents together around climate issues affecting their communities?

The Jefferson Center in St. Paul, MN, partnered with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy to develop Rural Climate Dialogues. The dialogues used a citizen jury model to engage rural residents with the resources and information they need to think critically and create sustainable community solutions. Their representative recommendations address actual community needs, which are presented to local, state, and national policymakers.

The Rural Climate Dialogues took place in three Minnesota counties from 2014-2016. Small, representative groups of 15-18 people in each community convened, acting on behalf of their friends and neighbors over 3 days of learning and discussion about the local impacts of climate change. Participants filtered critical information to share with the rest of the community. They developed recommendations to address top climate challenges and realize key opportunities.

These recommendations served as a starting pointing for ongoing community conversations and action.

One participant reflected on the dialogue saying, "You can go into a situation with your mind made up, but with the right information you can really change your mind, and I think that’s where we come in when we go home and talk to our neighbors."

Want to apply this approach where you live? Read a case study about the Rural Climate Dialogues, and learn more about citizen juries. The Jefferson Center's summary of its approach to citizen juries is also informative.