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From the CommunityFrom the Community

Reflections on Civic Courage & Bridging Our Divides

In these times, the work of #BridgingOurDivides continues to be one of the biggest contributions our field can make to the nation. But it takes a lot to do that difficult work. Today, we wanted to share a great piece by NCDD member Martha McCoy of Everyday Democracy reflecting on civic courage – what it means, why it’s important for bridging divides, and ideas for how to cultivate it. The piece also invites D&D practitioners to share your stories and thoughts about civic courage with EvDem, which we hope you’ll do. You can read Martha’s piece below or find the original version here.


Practicing Civic Courage in Our Time

EvDem LogoThe day after the election, we shared a piece by our board member Peter Levine, in which he called for civic courage. As division, uncertainty, and anxiety continue to grow, I find myself coming back to this important idea. When messages of fear become louder and more frequent, what does civic courage look like ? How can we practice it?

At difficult times throughout our history, many people have exercised civic courage. What kind of courage do we need to practice today? What will it take to advance a democracy that values the voice and participation of people of all racial and ethnic groups, economic means, creeds, ages, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and walks of life?

Since Everyday Democracy is a national civic organization that focuses on providing ways to lift every voice, we have opportunities to work with and learn from civic practitioners and visionary leaders across the country. Here are a few lessons about civic courage we have drawn from their experiences:

Reach in

The work of strengthening democracy is ultimately collective, but it is alsoan “inside job.” Those whose words and actions touch us most deeply draw on (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Harwood Institute Opens New Studio on Community

The team at The Harwood Institute – an NCDD member organization – recently announced an exciting new initiative that they are calling the Studio on Community, and they are looking for two associates to help launch its work. The Studio will dig into work that we are sure many in our network would thrive in, so we wanted to share about the initiative and the opportunity here on the blog. We encourage you to read the announcement from Harwood below or or find the original here.


Rich Harwood’s New Studio on Community Announced

Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, is creating a studio within The Harwood Institute to support special efforts to advance new ideas for strengthening communities and society in a rapidly changing world. He is looking for two studio associates to begin work this year.

The studio will explore topics such as:

  • The emergence and meaning of a new American narrative;
  • The importance of belief and a can-do spirit in moving communities and countries forward;
  • New mechanisms and spaces for bridging societal divides and engaging individuals in collective efforts;
  • A new approach to shared responsibility in communities;
  • The role of civic rituals in society; and
  • The renewed role for the human element in civic and political affairs.

The Studio Concept

Studios have long existed as a combination workshop and space where the act of reflection can merge with acts of production. Studios have been (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Capturing Lessons from the Journalism-D&D Confab Call

Last week, NCDD and Journalism That Matters (JTM) co-hosted a special Confab Call between journalists and public engagement practitioners, and it was an incredible discussion. We had just shy of 70 practitioners, journalists, and others from our network who participated, along with some distinguished guests.

Confab bubble imagePeggy Holman and Michelle Ferrier of JTM kicked us off with a discussion of some of the amazing potential of more meaningful collaboration between the D&D world and journalism professionals, then we launched into examples of what’s already been happening. Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center and 45-year journalism veteran Doug Oplinger shared stories of how they collaborate to help Ohio journalists rebuild public trust in the press. Betty Knighton shared about how the W. Virginia Center for Civic Life has partnered with public broadcasting groups to help regular people explore the interconnections between hot current issues. We also discussed how journalists can provide a much-needed “community listening infrastructure” for public officials and many other critical topics in our break out group discussions.

If you missed the call, you missed an exciting and thought-provoking conversation. But don’t worry – we recorded it, and you can hear (and see) the whole thing again by checking out the recording below or here. You can also follow along with what was happening in the live chat during the call by downloading the saved conversation here.

We know that we only scratched the surface on this call, and that the conversation about how we can strengthen our field’s connection to the power of the media world will continue to percolate over the coming months and years.

If you want to delve deeper into this topic, we highly encourage you to register to attend JTM’s Elevate Engagement Un-Conference this May 18th-21st in Portland, OR where journalists and public engagement/D&D practitioners will all come together in person to take this collaboration to new heights. We also recommend checking out the recent NCDD podcast on the same topic here, or revisiting the D&D-journalism panel discussion that we hosted during NCDD 2016 here.

Thanks again to Journalism That Matters, all of our featured speakers, and the participants for helping make this a great conversation. We look forward to continuing it in the future and seeing the fruits of where it can lead our work!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

PB Network to Host Study Session on Deliberation & Voting

The Participatory Budgeting Project team recently launched the exciting PB Network – a learning and collaboration infrastructure for cities and institutions using participatory budgeting – which is hosting periodic “study sessions” online, and the NCDD network is invited! Their next study session will be a webinar focused on citizens juries and deliberative methods of decision-making this Wednesday, March 22. We encourage you to learn more in the PBP announcement below or sign up here.


Upcoming PB Network Event

We’d like to invite you to the PB Network’s next PBP Study Session on Wednesday, March 22nd!

One of the ideas behind participatory budgeting is that we need to get beyond the simple yes/no votes we’re usually presented with at ballot boxes. Choosing between 2 options doesn’t capture the breadth and subtlety of the needs that many communities face. Deliberation and new voting techniques can help get better decisions that benefit broader groups of people.

The study session will feature Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, who will share some lessons from “citizen juries“, which take a randomly selected and balanced group of citizens to deliberate and make informed and thoughtful recommendations about a public issue. We’ll also learn from Ashish Goel of Stanford’s Crowdsourced Democracy Team, who works on collaborative decision-making, including developing innovative ballot platforms for participatory budgeting in many cities across the US.

Join us for a discussion on new innovations in participatory decision-making with broad sets of stakeholders.

The webinar will be:
Wednesday, March 22nd
1pm EST/10am PST
Click here to register and receive the webinar info

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Designing Dialogues for Understanding & Conflict

The team at Essential Partners – an NCDD member org – often has insightful reflections about the work of dialogue on their blog. Today we wanted to share one of those reflections by John Sarrouf, who writes about how well-structured dialogue can help us bridge our divides like a road that guides us across difficult or dangerous terrain with a well-placed signs and a few simple rules. We encourage you to read the piece below or find the original version here.


Rules of the Road: Designing the Structure in Difficult Conversations

Every time I drive down an undivided highway, speeding along at 60 mph past cars whizzing to my left and right, I am amazed that this is possible – mostly without incident. I remember learning to navigate the winding Berkshire Mountain roads as my father taught me to decipher the dividing lines. Sometimes the line in the middle is double striped (everybody stay in their lane), sometimes solid on our side and dotted on the other (they can pass; I cannot), sometimes solid on the other side and dotted on mine (I can pass; they cannot). This delicate dance, silent choreography, all based on impulses channeled by well thought out structures.

These structures – yield signs, flashing yellow lights, or blinkers – that tell us in varying ways to slow down and pay attention: change is underway. An encounter is coming. These systems, while legally enforced, are mostly adhered to by agreement – a tacit understanding that these structures allow us to move gracefully and efficiently. I follow the guidelines because others are willing to do the same and because when we all do, we all stay safe and get where we are going.

Conversations are complex journeys, too. And the most difficult ones are also best navigated with some well-placed structures, offering a design that channels our impulses in constructive ways. Think of the simple difficulty of deciding who gets to (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Don’t Miss the Special Journalism-D&D Confab Call on Wed.

As we announced last month, NCDD is co-hosting a very special Confab Call along with member org Journalism That Matters (JTM) on deepening collaboration between the world of journalism and the field of dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement this Wednesday, March 15th from 1-2:30pm Eastern / 10-11:30am Pacific. It’s going to be one our most engaging Confabs yet, so we encourage you to register todayConfab bubble image

During the call, we’ll continue the conversation that we began during NCDD 2016 about how journalists and public engagement practitioners are needed now more than ever to help our communities in #BridgingOurDivides, enhance the impact D&D practitioners’ work, and find new ways to change the narrative about whether and how our country can overcome our bitter partisanship and political disfunction.

How can we bring our skill sets together to do this? How do community engagement practitioners and journalists work together to share stories? We’ll have in-depth conversations about these questions and more, hear from case studies of successful D&D-journalist partnerships, and even host special region-based small group discussions using Zoom technology to allow for more concrete opportunities to move from conversation to action.

We are excited to have NCDD’s Managing Director Courtney Breese co-hosting this call with JTM Executive Director and NCDD member Peggy Holman. We’ll also be featuring insights and stories from JTM President Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, Doug Oplinger of the Akron Beacon Journal, and Betty Knighton of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life. You can find more info about the details of the call and our speakers in our original announcement here.

Don’t miss this highly interactive discussion about an exciting new direction emerging in our field! Be sure to register today!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

School-Community Engagement Conference in New England

If you’re based in the New England region, we encourage you to check out the annual School Redesign in Action conference this March 27-28 in Hartford. The interface between schools and the communities they serve is a space full of under-explored possibilities for our field to grow – not to mention a great way to expose more young people to D&D methods – so we’re excited that the conference planners have included a whole track this year focused on increasing community engagement for schools. Regular registration is $325, but the deadline to register is Mon., March 13, so act fast! You can learn more about the conference in their announcement below or by visiting the conference website here.


School Redesign in Action is the New England Secondary School Consortium’s eighth annual conference for educators and stakeholders from across the country to share success stories, exchange best practices, and continue to build momentum for innovations that will prepare all students for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century.

WHEN:  Monday, March 27th, 1:00-5:00pm + Tuesday, March 28th,  8:00am-2:30pm

WHERE:  Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Blvd · Hartford, CT 06103

WHO:  Educators, students, community stakeholders, policy makers, and teams from secondary schools along with career and technical education centers and higher education from across the country engaged in school improvement

NEW THIS YEAR! A strand dedicated to school-community engagement

Across New England, educators are increasingly aware that meaningful family and community engagement is vital to student achievement and that educators must effectively engage stakeholders to develop more equitable schools. But what does authentic engagement entail? How can educators make the shift from event-based, often-siloed strategies to deeper, more powerful approaches to engagement? And how can communities and educators come together to challenge inequities and effect lasting change for youth?

To explore these questions and more, this year’s School Redesign in Action conference incorporates a strand of presentations and workshops that will increase participants’ capacity to foster authentic school-community engagement, establish meaningful relationships with marginalized groups in schools and/or communities, and strengthen (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Kettering Publication on Engagement & Higher Ed

We want to encourage our members in higher education to check out the newest version of the Higher Education Exchange, a free annual publication from NCDD member organization the Kettering Foundation. The Exchange explores important and timely themes around the public mission of colleges and universities and offers reflections from both domestic and international scholar-practitioners on how higher education can and must shift toward teaching deliberation and civic engagement. We highly recommend it. You can learn more about the 2016 edition in the Kettering announcement below or find the full downloadable version here.


Higher Education Exchange 2016

This annual publication serves as a forum for new ideas and dialogue between scholars and the larger public. Essays explore ways that students, administrators, and faculty can initiate and sustain an ongoing conversation about the public life they share.

The Higher Education Exchange is founded on a thought articulated by Thomas Jefferson in 1820: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.”

In the tradition of Jefferson, the Higher Education Exchange agrees that a central goal of higher education is to help make democracy possible by preparing citizens for public life. The Higher Education Exchange is part of a movement to strengthen higher education’s democratic mission and foster a more democratic (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Join Us at the Elevate Engagement Un-Conference on Journalism & Public Engagement

We are excited to invite the NCDD network to register today to join us at the Elevate Engagement gathering this May 18-21 in Portland – a sequel to the 2015 Experience Engagement un-conference that will continue the exploration of how the journalism world and the dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement field can amplify and deepen each other’s work. Elevate Engagement is being hosted by the Agora Journalism Center and Journalism That Matters – an NCDD organizational member.
This un-conference will continue the exciting, field-wide conversation that we launched with the journalism-D&D panel during NCDD 2016 and will be continuing with our March 15th Confab Call. We encourage our members to learn more about Elevate Engagement in the announcement below and visit the conference website here to save your spot!


Elevate Engagement Un-Conference 2017

The 2016 election was a wake-up call. Trust in media is at an all-time low. Political polarization has taken a sometimes ugly turn. For some, it may feel as though the health of our democracy is in question. We must embrace this moment as an opportunity to consider how conversation, storytelling, journalism, and the arts, can better engage communities to thrive.

It is time to Elevate Engagement.

On May 18-21, 2017, the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication in Portland will host:

“Elevate Engagement: Listen. Connect. Trust.
How to take your engagement to the next level.”

We are delighted to partner with Journalism That Matters, which brings expertise in designing “un-conference” gatherings that maximize interaction and creative engagement among participants.

Who’s Coming?

This open-space gathering is made possible by a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is designed to welcome a diverse group of people who care about journalism, storytelling, and communication in civic life. Included among them are: journalists, public engagement practitioners, academics and students, funders, public servants, and other engagement pioneers and community members. We also seek to welcome diversity that reaches across race, class, gender, generation, political ideology, and geography.

Our Focus

How can the public engage, not as an audience, consumers or marketplace, but as participants, with journalists, in creating civic structures for engagement and storytelling?

In addition, how must news organizations and journalists evolve so they are seen by diverse communities as trustworthy and culturally competent enough to tell their stories?

To mend and strengthen our civic fabric, we are connecting the diverse people who care about journalism and civic communication to elevate knowledge and practices of engagement that (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Invite Your Local Librarians to Join Our Free Online D&D Trainings!

NCDD is proud to be partnering with the American Library Association (ALA) to help build the capacity of libraries across the country to support their communities using dialogue and deliberation methodologies through a series of online trainings, and we are asking our network to invite your local librarians to join us!

This first series of webinar trainings is designed to support staff members at large and urban public libraries in employing D&D methods, but all libraries are welcome to participate. Subsequent series of trainings will focus on supporting medium, small, and rural libraries as well as academic libraries, respectively.

If you have connections at your local library, we encourage you to share more information about this great opportunity with staff there and invite them to join these free online trainings! They can learn all about the partnership by visiting the ALA website, reading our announcement about the partnership from earlier this year, or they can just go ahead and register for one of the upcoming trainings.

The dates, topics, and registration info for the first series is here:

  • Libraries Transforming Communities: Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation
    Thursday, March 9, 2017, 1 – 2 pm Central
    Register Now
  • Libraries Transforming Communities: World Café
    Thursday, April 6, 2017, 1 – 2 pm Central
    Register Now
  • Libraries Transforming Communities: Everyday Democracy’s Dialogue to Change Process
    Monday, May 1, 2017, 1 – 2 pm Central
    Register Now

We also encourage you to invite your local librarians to participate in the training that will be part of the 2017 ALA Annual Conference, which will take place Friday, June 23, 9 am – 4 pm. You can learn more and register by clicking here.

This free webinar series is offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, an initiative of the ALA and NCDD that seeks to strengthen libraries’ roles as core community leaders and agents of change. LTC addresses a critical need within the library field by developing and distributing new tools, resources, and support for librarians to engage with their communities in new ways. As a result, we believe libraries will become more connected to and capable of supporting healthy, sustainable communities.

This initiative is made possible through a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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