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Fun is not a frill, but an essential ingredient for strong democracy. That's the convincingly argued premise of Josh Lerner's powerful new book, which uses a huge variety of cases and a compulsively readable style to show how public participation can be made gratifying, interesting, and enjoyable. Lerner shows how smart organizers and leaders are figuring out how we can move beyond dry, boring, unproductive public processes. -- Matt Leighninger, Executive Director, The Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and author of The Next Form of Democracy Oscar Wilde reportedly once said "the problem with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings." Josh Lerner's wonderful book takes seriously this quip and proposes solutions. The central argument is provocative and strikingly original: popular engagement in democracy can be increased and deepened by making the process of democracy fun. The book is filled with fascinating empirical discussions of the innovative use of games in grassroots democratic activity as well as insightful theoretical treatments of the dilemmas of democratic participation. It should be read by both activists and scholars interested in reinvigorating democratic life. -- Erik Olin Wright, Past President, American Sociological Association, and Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison Far from frivolous, Making Democracy Fun is an absolute must-have book for democracy advocates and public engagement practitioners. Josh Lerner, a pioneer in participatory budgeting in the United States, walks us through how to design participation like a game -- so that it's not only more enjoyable and engaging but also far more effective, transparent, outcome-oriented, and addicting than typical public meetings. -- Sandy Heierbacher, Director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
Josh Lerner is Executive Director of The Participatory Budgeting Project, a nonprofit organization in New York City that empowers communities to decide how to spend public money.