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Great Things Start at NCDD Conferences: The San Diego Deliberation Network

We know that amazing work in our field often begins with the connections made and synergies ignited during NCDD conferences, and we are so pleased to share a great example of how that happens. The piece below from NCDD supporting members Mary Thompson and Martha Cox tells the story of how, from a conversation at NCDD’s 2012 conference, the new San Diego Deliberation Network was born. We can’t wait to see what other great work will begin this week at NCDD 2014!


A new twist on a collaborative model of deliberation and dialogue has emerged in San Diego, based on the old adage: begin with the end in mind.  In this hotbed of bio-science, communications technology, security and defense innovations, San Diego has incubated a new development, a network of networks, to benefit the region by helping citizens develop their role as producers in the region’s democracy, building stronger communities.

The seedlings of the San Diego Deliberation Network: A Regional Collaboration for Civic Conversation were planted when Kettering Foundation fellow and NCDD Board member Dr. Martín Carcasson connected with NCDD supporting member Henry Williams at NCDD’s 2012 conference in Seattle. The two soon collaborated to have Martín give a talk on deliberative democracy at a local library in San Diego in the summer of 2013. Among the attendees were a few representatives of local universities as well as the League of Women Voters who, excited by the ideas and potentials discussed during the event, began working together on bringing more deliberative practices to San Diego.

A couple months later, a meeting was convened where Martín, San Diego Mesa College political science professor Dr. Carl Luna, and executive director of the San Diego Foundation’s Center for Civic Engagement B.H. Kim sketched a vision of a network of academic institutions and good governance groups which would leverage each node’s strengths, factor in each node’s needs for affiliation and publicity, and ensure the robustness of the overall network, including a plan for growth.

The built-in network would encompass the San Diego Foundation’s Center for Civic Engagement, the League of Women Voters, and representatives from all of the major academic institutions in the San Diego region:

  • San Diego State University
  • University of San Diego
  • University of California San Diego
  • San Diego City College; Mesa College
  • Point Loma Nazarene College
  • California State University San Marcos.

The result was recognition of the San Diego group – the largest cohort ever accepted by the Kettering Foundation – as a learning exchange and member of their 2014-15 New Centers for Public Life.

A team of nine people representing six of the network’s members have traveled to three Kettering workshops, conducted community surveys and conversations, and laid its institutional framework.

SDDN photo

Feb. 26, 2014 • The San Diego Deliberation Network at the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, OH. From left: Dr. Leroy Brady, San Diego City College; Dr. Lindsey Lupo, Point Loma Nazarene College; Dr. Karen Shelby, University of San Diego; Mary Thompson, Martha Cox, League of Women Voters; BH Kim, Former Director, San Diego Foundation’s Center for Civic Engagement; Dr. Nancy Fredericks, San Diego City College; Dr. Kimber Quinney, California State University San Marcos; Tiveeda Stovall, University of California San Diego.

Mindful of another adage, the greatest strength can be the greatest weakness, the Network has worked hard to overcome its biggest challenge: a working organizational structure that would allow accountability of both the representing individual institution and the Network itself.  At monthly sessions, the Network has mapped out how decisions will be made in the network’s name.

Committed to the goals of strengthening communities through a partnership with academia and community, the prediction is that the Network will continue to grow.  Many of the Network members have joined NCDD as individuals and view NCDD in bio-science terms as an extension of its “genetic make-up!”

Though still in its infancy (neither a website nor a home base exists), given the San Diego Deliberation Network’s origins from NCDD 2012 onward and its growing affiliations, the future is so bright you’re going to need shades!

Mary Thompson & Martha Cox
League of Women Voters North County San Diego
San Diego Deliberation Network

Thanks so much to Martha & Mary for putting together this great piece and to Martín Carcasson for helping with it!

Roshan Bliss on LinkedinRoshan Bliss on Twitter
Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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  1. Dolores Blair says:

    The Network is an amazing achievement of a collaboration so needed in todays atmosphere of disconnect. Thanks Mary and Martha for good coverage of a growing movement.

  2. Carol Grimes-Gartland says:

    When will you all be able to take this to our nation’s capital whose leaders need this ability? Carol Grimes-Gartland, LWVNCSan Diego

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