A Web History of NCDD
We thought we’d put together a little page showing the changes made to the NCDD website over the years… The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation’s website is a hub for people and groups who are using dialogue, deliberation, and other innovative group processes to help people tackle our most challenging issues.
NCDD 2011… finally based at ncdd.org
In Spring 2011, NCDD began the big move from thataway.org to ncdd.org (not a small feat, given there are literally thousands of pages of news, resources, member profiles on the site. For over ten years, the NCDD website lived at www.thataway.org. Originally chosen by NCDD co-founders Sandy Heierbacher and Andy Fluke to support a variety of online projects, thataway.org quickly became dedicated to dialogue and deliberation as interest and demand for the material offered there grew. The name “thataway,” which will always have a soft spot in the hearts of its creators, was sometimes difficult to explain, so the more straight-forward www.ncdd.org was finally adopted as the sole url for our organization. (We’ve owned ncdd.org for years and had it forwarding automatically to our site at thataway.org.)
The new site design features simpler navigation, slightly larger text, and fewer sidebar distractions, all of which make it more user-friendly and less overwhelming for site visitors. The site also integrates off-site social media, with “sharing” options on every news post and resource, and links to NCDD’s social media groups at the very top of every page (as well as in the bottom navigation bar). We also went back to having a “splash page” of sorts on the main page rather than having new site visitors see a series of blog posts when they go to the main page.
The Logos of NCDD
We thought it would be fun to show our logos side by side. Our first logo was actually for the 2002 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation.
NCDD site circa 2008
This is our last site design before the switchover to ncdd.org. The site looked like this starting sometime in 2007. The site became a little too complex for the design over time, as more and more content was added to the site — like the members network and projects section.
NCDD site circa 2005
On this version of the site, we began experimenting with a lot of different web 2.0 technologies (we had a lot of “firsts” for our field). As you can see in the sidebar here, we were using blog software to allow Sandy to easily and quickly share news and opportunities in the field (which we still do), forum software to provide space for NCDDers to discuss whatever topics interested them, and wiki software to encourage NCDDers to work together on a comprehensive resource database. Most of the content created in the NCDD wiki is now available in the Resource Center’s “participatory practices” category.
Conference Planning Time: Dialogue to Action Initiative site circa 2002
Before NCDD was launched at the first National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation in 2002, NCDD’s director, Sandy Heierbacher, had been collecting and sharing resources and practice-related news for the “Dialogue Community” on her Dialogue to Action Initiative website.
At her first job related to dialogue (right after her on-campus year at the SIT Graduate Institute), interning at Frances Moore Lappe’s Center for Living Democracy in Brattleboro, Vermont, Sandy had conducted lengthy interviews with 75 leaders of race dialogue efforts across the U.S. Two things really stood out during those interviews in 1998:
First, it was clear that most dialogue facilitators she interviewed felt disconnected from others who do this work. Many people felt they were the only people in their communities doing race dialogue work, and that they didn’t know practitioners outside their communities. Many were not aware that organizations like the Study Circles Resource Center and National Issues Forums offered free dialogue guides and other resources.
Second, Sandy learned that although most dialogue groups seemed to naturally want to take action in their communities after engaging in dialogue, many groups failed to do so effectively. One after another, her interviewees explained that because of this failure to transition from dialogue to action, many people – especially People of Color – were leaving dialogue groups feeling dissatisfied despite the fact that the dialogue experience had been personally rewarding to them.
Sandy decided to research this problem for her Master’s thesis. In an attempt to answer the question “How can dialogue groups be more effective at transitioning from talk to community action?” she interviewed leaders of dialogue programs, examined materials in the related fields of conflict resolution, community building, and social change, and examined existing dialogue materials and resources.
When her husband Andy Fluke (NCDD’s Creative Director) helped her put the results of her thesis online in a series of surfable web pages, she decided to launch a “Community Section” alongside her research and resources–mostly because she knew this was a need in this nascent field and hoped it would bring more viewers to her research results.
On a near-monthly basis, Sandy and Andy updated the Community Section with news, media coverage, facilitation opportunities, and other timely announcements from dialogue organizations and practitioners. This news was not readily available or easy to find at the time, and the site filled a niche and quickly gained followers.
Pre-NCDD… Sandy’s Dialogue to Action Initiative website circa 1999
In 1999, Sandy had been selected as one of 12 National Service Fellows of the Corporation for National Service. Her proposal was to bring the concepts of intergroup dialogue to AmeriCorps and VISTA by training national service volunteers as dialogue facilitators. She had served as an AmeriCorps member herself from 1994 to 1996, coordinating the Volunteer Center at her college, and this fellowship melded her two main passions at the time: community service and intergroup dialogue.
One of her products was a dialogue guide designed for AmeriCorps and VISTA programs, and her husband Andy Fluke (NCDD’s Creative Director) used his graphic design skills to help her share the guide online.
In this iteration of the site, the Dialogue to Action Initiative included resources geared towards national service programs, resources on dialogue, and text encouraging dialogue practitioners to incorporate community service into their dialogue programs. This was our very first website!
Note the early URL: www.vtel.com/~afluke/index.html (!)