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Next steps on NCDD’s response to Newtown shooting

On December 17th (three days after the Newtown tragedy), NCDD launched a collaborative workspace on Hackpad to help the dialogue and deliberation community think through how we might respond — both individually and collectively — to the shooting and all it surfaced.

There has been a lot of activity on the Hackpad site at www.bit.ly/natdial, and I’ve been really impressed with the input and exchange that’s been going on.  We have pages there dedicated to sharing resources people can put to use immediately, debating about what “the issue” is we should focus our dialogue efforts on, discussing what can be done in Newtown (with valuable updates from Ben Roberts — NCDD member and Newtown resident), sharing what individual members are willing to do/offer, posting some links to what NCDD members are already doing in response to the tragedy, and more.

Ben and I also hosted a conference call right before Christmas with some network leaders and mobilizers in our field:  Carolyn Lukensmeyer from the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Joan Blades from Living Room Conversations, Mary Jacksteit from Public Conversations Project, Val Ramos from Everyday Democracy, Heather Tischbein from the Co-Intelligence Institute, Bill Muse from the National Issues Forums Institute, David Isaacs from the World Cafe, and Rosa Zubizaretta, who is working with Ben on the ground in Newtown.  We wanted to check in with these folks (and some others who couldn’t make it because of the late notice and holiday timing) about what everyone was doing in response to the crisis, and explore what we might be able to do together in short order.  Notes from that call are available up at https://hackpad.com/December-20th-Call-with-Network-Leaders-PdXRCikUcVH

For the past 6 months or so, NCDD has been involved in an exploratory project with the Kettering Foundation looking at how our field might collaborate to collectively engage a million people in deliberative forums of various kinds, online and off, on a contentious national issue.  Kettering, NCDD, NIFI, AmericaSpeaks, Everyday Democracy, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, and Public Agenda were all involved in several conference calls and a couple of face-to-face meetings to begin these explorations.

In addition to all of these efforts, we have John Spady’s catalyst awards project on developing an infrastructure to better enable dialogue to happen across the country, which NCDD members will be reading more about when you vote for the award winners in a couple weeks.

So, there’s a lot going on.  Andy and I have decided to produce a Quick Guide to help people in our field — and outside our field — connect to some of the best resources out there to help them organize discussions right now on the issues that have surfaced because of the shooting.  We’ll list discussion guides people can use (both topical ones and some general ones).  We’ll feature some examples of D&D efforts people are already leading.  And we’d like to include some organizations that are equipped to assist people right away.

Can you help by adding to the following pages on the Hackpad?  Your ideas, input, work, offerings, etc. will give us more material for the Quick Guide.  We won’t include everything, but we don’t want to miss out on great stuff we haven’t yet come across!

  • Resources People Can Use Now - this page is for discussion guides, great resources on various approaches, and other material
  • How NCDD Members are Responding - here is where you can add info about dialogues you’re hosting, discussion guides you’ve put together, etc.
  • What You’re Willing to Do - what are you willing to do right now?  Can you host a dialogue? Help spread the word about new resources (including our forthcoming Quick Guide)?  Is your organization able to fill a specific need, like helping local leaders initiate community-wide dialogue processes?

In addition, I am thinking about updating the text on our resource on the basics of running a D&D program (on the NCDD site at http://ncdd.org/rc/running-a-dd-program) and including this in the Quick Guide as well.  The text hasn’t been updated in a couple of years, and I would LOVE your advice on how it should be updated.  I’ve added the text to the Hackpad page at https://hackpad.com/Running-a-D&D-Program-akeVIJJcwdJ and I invite you to hack (edit) away.  I’d love to see what our community comes up with.  Currently, the text outlines the basic steps involved in organizing a community-wide deliberative dialogue process.

I’d like to keep it general (not focused on a particular method), of course, but I’d like to see if we can make the text more broadly useful for our whole community.  Further down on that page, I list out step-by-step guides in each of the 4 streams of practice.  I’d love your help updating this as well, as some of these guides are not broadly used anymore.  The guides here should be general — not tied to a specific issue.

Sandy Heierbacher is the director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). She co-founded NCDD in 2002 with her husband Andy Fluke. Sandy has an M.A. in International Management from SIT Graduate Institute. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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