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We Are All Catalysts: Part Two – How We Can Amplify and Broaden Dialogue and Deliberation Work

In part one of We Are All Catalysts, the focus was on examples of groups in dialogue in deliberation who showcase how our powerful inner sparks can be used to transform conversations and communities. In part two, we want to follow up and have all of you help guide our continued conversations!

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” ~ Yogi Berra

We live in a world of noise. Many of us lament at the current environment of ideological polarization that hinders respectful and productive conversation. We have the power to break through this noise and create spaces for listening and thoughtful dialogue. It can seem daunting in the current ways of the world, but the tools are accessible and the need critical.

The space for listening and dialogue was successfully achieved at the biennial NCDD conference in November. Wonderful themes emerged that are well worth continued attention. We must work in the spirit of this year’s conference theme and gain momentum by connecting while home in our respective areas. One way we at NCDD hope to support is through helping to launch monthly phone conversations among a small group of committed members, to continue some of these discussions into the spring. If you would like to lead a group on a particular topic of interest to you, please let us know via the comment tool below or by emailing us!

Some themes to consider from the conference sessions that may inspire ideas for the forthcoming conversation topics include:

  • How can we design our D&D work to be more proactive and recurring? Too often, our programs are reactive and follow a “one and done” model.  The conference session led by Todd Davies and Michael Freedman in November asked us to consider improving our efforts through intentional design in D&D work focusing on long-term community relationships across many constituencies. Through building trust and transparency, the ongoing meetings could take the form of citizen juries, participatory budgeting, town halls among other formats.
  • How might the Bohm Dialogue technique be utilized in different settings? The Bohm technique removes cross talk while adding reflective pauses after each speaker contributes. The approach is meant to encourage collective community processing of local and global crisis that impact many, if not all, humans and the planet. This comes through suspension of judgement, listening at three levels, assumption identification, inquiry and reflection.
  • In what ways may arts (visual, musical, movement) enhance D&D work? Expression can take many forms and can be a great way to make D&D both more inclusive and more engaging. From visual arts to music and movement, varying the tools for expression can help the dialogue branch out into more creative and freeing spaces and spaces that can transcend barriers created by language.
  • What are successful ways to have more ideologically inclusive based participation in dialogues? Continued exploration on how to engage across the entire spectrum of ideological beliefs and political affinities. What forms this takes will vary depending upon local contexts.

The above are just a few suggestions to get everyone thinking. Please feel free to take a look at the Open Space session notes from the conference at this link for further inspiration, and/or comment below with your own ideas for which topics you would like to see a committed group dive into this spring!

Annie Rappeport
Annie is a current Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland College Park and the NCDD intern. Her work in dialogue and deliberation began at her undergraduate university, Trinity University in San Antonio and continued with her M.Ed. work at the University of Virginia and professional time with Semester at Sea for over 5 years. She loves combining her fields of the arts and international peace education with D&D initiatives.

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