"In the 1930s, the Department of Education created the Federal Forum Project, which sponsored forums around the nation to educate the public and develop a cultural habit of democratic talk. By 1938, according to William Keith of the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee, more than 1 million Americans per year were participating in weekly forums. President Lyndon Johnson's Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 included a now infamous call for "maximum feasible participation" in the War on Poverty. Later, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 introduced the use of publicly critiqued environmental-impact statements for federal programs."
Source: More Than the Vote, Stuart Comstock-Gay and Joe Goldman, Being a citizen should involve active participation in the governance process. American Prospect, December 12, 2008, http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=more_than_the_vote