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Deets for today’s NCDD Confab Call on civic infrastructure

Today’s NCDD confab call starts in a half hour or so. If you’ve registered, look for a reminder email from Ben Roberts that should have arrived in your inbox around 7am Eastern this morning. It includes the call-in number and pin that is specific to you.

Confab bubble imageNote we’ll be using the Google doc at http://tiny.cc/julyconfab for note-taking and networking on today’s call. This is especially important today, as we’ll be in small groups during a large portion of the call and we want to capture your insights, stories, challenges, etc. on the topic: civic infrastructure. As you hopefully know by now, we’re focusing in on the vital topic of civic infrastructure at the upcoming NCDD national conference in Seattle.

In a nutshell, when we use the term “civic infrastructure,” we’re talking about building long-term capacity in our communities, our nation, and our field that enables people to more effectively bridge differences, establish common direction, and solve their toughest problems.

If you haven’t yet registered, do so right away at http://tiny.cc/qicggw. I think we have about 90 people signed up at this point.

Here’s some background on the call that was previously posted on the NCDD blog…

On Thursday at 3pm Eastern (noon Pacific), we’ll be digging into the concept of civic infrastructure further together. NCDD members Ben Roberts and Amy Lenzo will be facilitating the call. Sign up today if you haven’t already registered.

The term “civic infrastructure” certainly is buzzing in our field these days. The Orton Family Foundation launched the exciting CommunityMatters partnership (with NCDD and 6 other organizations) with the primary goal of building civic infrastructure in communities. Harold McDougall (who may be the first to use the term) just wrote in the Huffington Post about his idea for a widespread “Citizen’s Assembly” process to establish an ingrained civic infrastructure. Code for America is crowdsourcing civic infrastructure. Matt Leighninger (Deliberative Democracy Consortium) and Bonnie Mann (National League of Cities) wrote a great guidebook on Planning for Stronger Local Democracy, which includes a huge section on developing shared civic infrastructure. And of course our overall framing question for the 2012 NCDD conference in Seattle is “How can we build a more robust civic infrastructure for our practice, our communities and our country?”

By civic infrastructure, we’re talking about the intricate web of formal and informal mechanisms for bridging differences, establishing common direction, and solving problems. Those “mechanisms” may include networks, processes, policies, and more. Creating civic infrastructure is not an end in itself — but is a community’s first step toward building its capacity to deal with critical issues.

Our goals for Thursday’s 90-minute confab call, which will be run on Maestroconference so we can have some small group discussions, are:

  1. Share with NCDDers how (and why) we’ll be looking at civic infrastructure at this year’s conference
  2. Gather knowledge, stories and ideas about civic infrastructure (at the community level, national level, and field level) from the community that can inform our planning process for the upcoming conference
  3. Dig deeper into the challenges and leading edge work being done in the area of building civic infrastructure.

This is the second call in a two-part call series.  The first call, run by CommunityMatters, took place on June 28 and allowed us to create a baseline of understanding about civic infrastructure (check out the Google Doc from the call). This second call, run by NCDD but with CommunityMatters’ involvement and support, will allow us to dig deeper into the ways we can/should address this topic at the October NCDD conference — and in our field generally.

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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