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What are Streams of Practice?

NCDD uses the term “streams of practice” to discern the various types of dialogue and deliberation programs and methods out there.  Although there are more streams than just these four, these four streams outline the four main purposes practitioners, communities, public leaders and others use dialogue and deliberation.

The “exploration” stream is used primarily to encourage people and groups to learn more about themselves, their community, or an issue, and to possibly discover innovative solutions. We consider Bohmian Dialogue, World Café, Conversation Café, Council process, and Open Space to be proven methods for exploration.
  
The “conflict transformation” stream is focused on resolving conflicts, fostering personal healing and growth, and improving relations among groups.  Sustained Dialogue, Victim-Offender Mediation, Public Conversations Project dialogues, and Web Lab’s Small Group Dialogue are effective methods for transforming conflict.
  
The “decision-making” stream of practice is focused on influencing decisions and policy, and improving public knowledge.  Some of the methods that fall under this category are National Issues Forums, Citizens Juries, Deliberative Polling, 21st Century Town Meeting, Citizen Choicework, and Consensus Conference.
  
The “collaborative action” stream is focused on empowering people and groups to solve complicated problems and take responsibility for the solution. Study Circles, Future Search, and Appreciative Inquiry are considered part of this stream.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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