Ground Rules


Laura Chasin

Director of the Public Conversations Project, Watertown, Massachusetts

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

I don't like vague ground rules. You know, we will be respectful, because how do you tell? I want to be able to see it. I want to be clear that if someone interrupts, if someone asks a rhetorical question, someone makes an attribution, someone attacks rather than asks questions, and if I don't have the ground rules handy then how can I tell? Our standard PCP ground rules are very tight, very behavioral. It just seems easier, all the way around. The one we did have to continually renegotiate was confidentiality, because at the beginning, even the fact of the meeting was secret. They couldn't tell anybody that they were coming to the meeting. There was a lot of renegotiation of that, and gradual loosening over time.