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Launch of Washington State’s Community Forums Network!

Congratulations to Carrie Shaw, Executive Director of the just-launched Community Forums Network (an NCDD organizational member) — a new sister organization to the Countywide Community Forums of King County. CFN’s scope no longer pertains solely to county issues but now addresses issues of statewide significance and interest.

As Countywide Community Forums’ John Spady commented this morning in the NCDD facebook group, “CFN has created a new framework for expanded civic engagement in the State of Washington that offers all residents the opportunity to weigh in on important societal issues as part of an evolving ‘National Dialogue Network.’ [Something we've been brainstorming with John about recently. - Sandy] I encourage my NCDD friends to check out the new website at www.CommunityForumsNetwork.org and sign up to receive their materials.”

The site is gorgeous, and it looks like a good model for other states and communities (take a look and let me know what you think!). And check out this cool video they launched with.

According to Carrie Shaw’s initial blog post,

[The website] will serve as a community platform on important topics that CFN covers, especially for those people most impacted by today’s headlines. I’ll be asking thought leaders and individuals from community groups and nonprofit organizations [in Washington state] to share the human stories and impact behind the big issues such as education, job creation, homelessness, and the environment.

I’ll also ask the CFN media partners and community bloggers to weigh-in with their own opinions and insights as it relates to CFN findings and our “Where’s the consensus?” Report. You may agree or disagree with the commentary — and that’s all welcome and expected. We have purposely designed this space to serve the overall mission of CFN to create deeper connections to our communities and to discover consensus on important topics.

CFN joins a pantheon of civic engagement platforms, open government projects, and Gov. 2.0 initiatives. We love the incredible innovation and social entrepreneurship that is evident in this region with such groups as CodeForAmerica’s Seattle ProjectPublicEyeNorthwest.orgCountywide Community Forums, Seattle City Club’s Civic Health Index, and watchdog groups like Washington Coalition for Open Government.

What CFN brings to the mix is that we’re out to discover that prime spot of agreement. Knowing where we agree is a better place to start a conversation on important topics and potential solutions. We’re less likely to demonize our differences when we understand those places where we actually agree. And, if the divide is great, then we need to understand that too.

We live in a time of historical levels of distrust, discontent, rancor, and partisan divides. CFN is about bucking these trends and creating more meaningful public conversations that, hopefully in the end, move us forward.

A couple of other things to note on the site:

Partner Grants…

Your nonprofit or community organization can earn up to $4,000 in grant money by becoming a Grant Partner with Community Forums Network. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for your work each and everyday to improve our communities and help others thrive. Find out how to earn grants and how to become a CFN Partner.

Cool Video…

Take a minute to watch the video on the main page; it’s nicely done, and explains the whole process pretty simply and clearly.

Image of the main Community Forums Network video

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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  1. John Spady says:

    Thanks Sandy… I would say that there is not one “right model” for how we all do the work we do, but that each of us is contributing a piece to that picture, that mosaic, and that we can only see it more clearly as we back away and appreciate the sum of its parts. This is why I love NCDD… we are each a part of that evolving mosaic for a more meaningful human experience.

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