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NCDD Update: ALA Conf, Frontiers, NCL, and CO Workshop

The NCDD staff has been up to some exciting ventures this last month that we wanted to fill you in on! June 22nd, in particular, was a busy day for the NCDD team as we each trekked to several exciting events that were happening in our network; Co-Founder Sandy Heierbacher was at ALA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans, Managing Director Courtney Breese was at the Frontiers of Democracy conference at Tufts University, and I attended NCL’s National Conference on Local Governance in Denver where NCDD Board Chair Martín Carcasson presented.

As part of our partnership with the American Library Association (ALA), Sandy ran a workshop on Host Training in Conversation Café with NCDD member Susan Partnow. They gave this fantastic day-long session to a packed room of participants from public libraries serving small, mid-sized and/or rural communities; where attendees learned how to organize and host Conversation Cafés. In many communities, particularly smaller and more rural areas, libraries hold vital space as epicenters of community engagement and social change. The workshop prepared participants to run Cafés in their local libraries and how to use this great tool for holding exploratory dialogues with the community.

At the Frontiers conference, Courtney did a session on (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Inspiring Our Best Selves Through Franklin’s Virtues

As part of our partnership with NCDD member org, Ben Franklin Circles (BFC), we have been connecting the stories coming from the Circles here on the blog. The most recent article, written by Sarah Goodwin Thiel of the Harwood Institute – also an NCDD member org – makes note of how Franklin’s 13 virtues can inspire us to live closer to our higher selves. You can read the article below and find the original on BFC’s site here.


Calling Our Best Selves

When one lives in the DC Metro area, the founding fathers are never far away. You see them everywhere – universities and institutes are named after them; books by and about them grace shop windows; they are memorialized at every turn – their likenesses found in statues, their words engraved on walls and plaques. And now, as in the case of Ben Franklin, groups of people are gathering monthly to discuss their ideas. Ben Franklin Circles are not unique to Washington DC but I was unaware of them before arriving here. Following the book club format, with good food and lively conversation, these circles bring people together to discuss BF’s 13 Virtues, considered and documented by Franklin when he was just 20 years old. At this writing, (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Local Civic Challenge #1: Learn More About Your Local Gov

As a fantastic way to help folks further strengthen civic muscles, our friends at The Jefferson Center – an NCDD member org recently began offering a Local Civic Challenge. Every week they have a mini challenge for becoming more engaged with your local government and we will be lifting them up here on the NCDD blog. The first challenge is to get familiar with your local gov! Let us know in the comments below if you have additional great tips for getting familiar with our own city governments. We encourage you to flex those civic skills by checking out the post below, which you can find the original on the JC site here, and sign up to get it delivered to your email!


Local Civic Challenge #1: Get Familiar With Your Local Gov

To kick off the first week of the Local Civic Challenge, we want you to learn more about the ins and outs of your city government! That includes how it operates, who’s involved, and ways you can give feedback. Once you’re done, you’ll be more familiar with how the system works, and you might even have some ideas on the ways things could be improved.

Do you want the Local Civic Challenges delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up here.

1. Locate your city’s charter

In the United States, city charters usually define the organization, power, functions, and procedures of local government. Not all (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Evolving Infogagement for More Democratic Public Life

As technology and the needs of our society continue to evolve, the ways in which we engage each other and utilize information when participating in public life will also continue to change. The paper, Infogagment: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection, written by NCDDer Matt Leighninger in collaboration with Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), was recently re-released to reflect the ways in which these changes are shaping. We encourage you to read more in the post below and find the full original report on PACE’s Medium site here.


Infogagement: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection

PACE LogoTable of Contents

Executive Summary

Our traditional notions about the “public square” are out of date. In thinking about information, engagement, and public life, we have generally put information first: people need to be educated, and then they will become politically involved (the original title of this PACE project was, accordingly, “Information for Engagement”). But as we interviewed leading thinkers and practitioners (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Dig into this Democracy Summer Reading List

Now that summer is in full swing, we are hoping folks are getting some down time to enjoy the season. Whether you are relaxing or needing a break from work, check out this summer reading list gathered by Democracy Works, a podcast created by NCDD member org, the McCourtney Institute at Penn State. Let us know in the comments if you are reading any of these and please let us know your recommendations for books on democracy, dialogue, deliberation, and/or public engagement! You can read the article below and find the original version on the Democracy Works site here.


Season 1 finale: A democracy summer reading list

Ah, summer. Time to kick back and relax with a good book or two.If you’ve been to a book store or the library lately, then you’ve probably seen at least a few books on democracy on the shelves. The 2016 presidential election spurred a lot of conversation about the current state of our democracy and where things go from here. These books are not what most people would call beach reading, but they are important to understanding what’s happening (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Ensuring Engagement is Inclusive and Fair

In order to have engagement that is fair and equitable to all members of society, it is vital to be intentional when designing and facilitating those processes by asking, “who shows up?”. NCDD member org the Participatory Budgeting Project recently shared this article on how to make PB inclusive and fair, and there are some great tips to keep in mind for all our work. We encourage you to read the post below and find the original on PBP’s site here.


Making PB Inclusive and Fair

Typically, when we want to know how inclusive and fair a Participatory Budgeting (PB) process is, we ask “Who shows up?” While this is a good starting point, it’s not enough. To meaningfully assess equity, we need to dig deeper.

Celina Su, Chair of Urban Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY) and Frankie Mercedes, former Communications Strategist with the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), joined forces to lead a stellar PBP Network Study Session, which addressed issues of equity and fairness in PB.

This blog post reviews the main points of their conversation, identifies common barriers to equal participation in PB, and suggests how to make PB more accessible to people with low incomes and to people of color.

“Who shows up?”

Public Agenda’s report on PB in North America found that during the PB vote, “In nearly all communities, black residents were overrepresented or represented proportionally to the local census among voter survey respondents.” In contrast, (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

DMC Hosts Third Annual Civic Institute on August 17th

The third annual Civic Institute is happening Friday, August 17th, hosted by NCDD member org the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. This will be one of the premier events dedicated to strengthening civic life in Alabama and will be a fantastic opportunity for those doing civic engagement work throughout the state.  DMC recently announced the session line up which you can read more below and on the DMC’s site here.


2018 Civic Institute: Be Together Differently

We’ve added new sessions to our third annual Civic Institute! Please join us Friday, August 17, for some deep conversations on strengthening civic life in Alabama – not for a day, but for the duration.

Each year, our hope at the Civic Institute is that Alabamians doing good, sustainable work in their neighborhoods and hometowns connect with each other in new ways. Every place has a unique story and faces a distinct set of challenges, yet across the state, the Mathews Center sees increasingly that Alabama residents and civic leaders often face similar issues. Through Alabama Issues Forums we see that when people desire to address an issue they all face – rather than politics or personalities – deliberative conversations can be especially suited for the uncommon and transformative experience of working together across difference. Wicked problems don’t tend to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NIFI Common Ground for Action Events This Summer

NCDD member org, the National Issues Forums Institute, has several events and opportunities coming up this summer for their online platform, Common Ground for Action (CGA), that we wanted to share with the network. In July, there are CGA open practice sessions and several forum series events around the issues guides: Shaping Our Future, Coming to America, and The Changing World of Work. On August 15th, there is a CGA New Moderator Training Workshop for educators, which will be hosted by NCDD member Kara Dillard. We encourage you to read about the events below and find them on NIFI’s site here.


Upcoming Common Ground for Action Forums

KF and NIFI are convening four open Common Ground for Action forums in July— these are great opportunities to share with people you’d like to experience a deliberative forum: teachers who might want to use deliberation in the classroom, partners on an issue who are new to forums, all kinds of folks!  Please share this post widely with your networks and on social media!

Register below to participate in any of the following CGA forums! (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Get Your Early Bird Tickets to NCDD2018 by July 15th!

We wanted to give everyone a friendly reminder that the early bird registration is available until Sunday, July 15th for the upcoming 2018 National Conference for Dialogue & Deliberation! After that date, the prices will go up to our regular registration of $450 so we encourage you to act fast to take part in this low rate while it lasts!

We are so excited for NCDD2018 which will be happening from November 2-4 in Denver at the downtown Sheraton. NCDD conferences are an exciting and engaging experience that convenes over 400 leaders, practitioners, and enthusiasts in the dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement field. The theme of the conference is Connecting and Strengthening Civic Innovators, where we hope to come together to explore, learn, and work toward further bringing D&D work into greater visibility and widespread practice.

For folks who submitted workshop proposals, we are finalizing decisions now and will be letting people know ASAP. We received over 120 proposals, twice the amount we have space for, and are giving each proposal our careful consideration. Thank you so much for your patience as we review these incredible session ideas! Keep a lookout in your inbox for an email coming soon from the NCDD team!

There is another exciting opportunity we want to remind you of and that is our D&D showcase! The D&D Showcase is a lively cocktail networking event that provides an opportunity for select individuals and organizations in our field to share some of the leading ideas, tools, projects, and initiatives in dialogue & deliberation with conference participants all in one space. It’s an interactive space to share your work with hundreds of passionate fellow D&Ders. Learn more about the showcase and the requirements for being a presenter by clicking here.

If you are looking to heighten the profile of your work and/or organization – become an NCDD2018 conference sponsor! We offer many benefits for varying levels of sponsorship, as well as, the ability to sponsor specific parts of the conference.  Click here to learn more about the tiers and benefits when you become an NCDD sponsor! If you have any questions about sponsorship, or would like to discuss other ideas about how your organization can support the conference, send an email to NCDD founding director Sandy Heierbacher at sandy[at]ncdd[dot]org and suggest a few times you’re available for a call.

You can learn much more about this year’s national conference at www.ncdd.org/ncdd2018, and register today at www.ncdd2018.eventbrite.com to take advantage of the Early Bird rate.

Want to get a better sense of what our conferences are like? Watch the video of NCDD2016 and NCDD2014 and learn even more about our past conferences by clicking here.

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Recap of our NCDD Confab Featuring Undivided Nation

We had great Confab call last week featuring NCDD members David and Erin Leaverton of Undivided Nation – and you missed an excellent call if weren’t able to join! The Leavertons shared with the 40 participants on the call, about their experience traveling to every state in the US to listen to folks throughout the country and find ways where people can be united. We strongly encourage you to check out the recording to hear about their transformative adventure and learn of the powerful takeaways.

With the beautiful Lake Champlain in the background, David and Erin joined us via video call during their stop in Vermont, to share about their journey so far and some of the humbling learning opportunities they ‘ve experienced. Just before the beginning of the year, the Leavertons sold their house, bought an RV, and have been traveling state-to-state with their three children. Spurred by the fierce partisanship David experienced while working in politics, they sought to talk with folks from all parts of the US and better understand the roots of this country, in order to hopefully find ways to unify the deep divisions. Initially, they began their journey thinking people would be focused on the political divisions in this country, and yet they found that most have shared about the deep racial and socio-economic divisions they experience.

Halfway through their trip, the Leavertons have already had profound learning and said that every person they’ve connected with has impacted them. With humility, they shared how their understanding of the racial realities in this country has shifted and recognized how much more complex the issues in the US are than they previously believed. As their understanding has grown of the deep inequities some folks in this country experience, they noted the need to genuinely address these inequalities in order to work toward a country that is just and provides the constitutional ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – to all people.

We were live tweeting during the call and here are some of our favorites from the Confab:

  • “We wanted to help bring unity…My heart was breaking about what was going on in the country and I had a desire to be part of the change I wanted to see, that’s what set off this journey.”
  • “We asked ourselves – how can you begin to bring unity to people you’ve never met before? So we sold our house, got an RV to travel to every state and talk to people.”
  • “We invite people to come along with us and share what we’re learning, it’s too good not to share. It’s radically changed our understanding of our county and it was important for us to do it this way.”
  • “We’re traveling to a new state every Mon, we started the journey thinking ppl would focus on political divisions, but people have been more focused on racial and social-economic divisions.”
  • “Many people have a fear of other people… on some level… and have to get past this fear of people to be able to listen. You don’t have to sacrifice your truth to understand another.”
  • “To tell people who have experienced violence to forgive or be civil, it’s not just civility and while forgiveness is a part of it, we need to understand the reality before we preach forgiveness.”
  • “We need a candid conversation about the history of this country and when we come to terms with our true story, there’ll be a day of mourning – we need to come clean and acknowledge, before we, as a country, can move forward.”
  • “You can’t force people to interact… but you can invite people. Curiosity is the key ingredient, and it will help get you through the face of fear”

We recorded the whole presentation in case you weren’t able to join us, which you can access on the archives page by clicking here. We had several insightful contributions to the chat, which you can find the transcript of here. Access to the archives is a benefit of being an NCDD member, so make sure your membership is up-to-date (or click here to join).

Confab bubble image

We want to thank David, Erin, and all the Confab participants for contributing to this informative conversation! To learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit www.ncdd.org/events/confabs.

Finally, we love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Confab Calls and Tech Tuesdays. It is through your generous contributions to NCDD that we can keep doing this work! That’s why we want to encourage you to support NCDD by making a donation or becoming an NCDD member today (you can also renew your membership by clicking here). Thank you!

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