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Request your free copy of David Mathews’ new book The Ecology of Democracy

Our friends at the Kettering Foundation are offering to send complimentary copies of David Mathews’ new book out to anyone in the NCDD community who requests one.

Ecology-coverAs you may know, David Mathews is president of the Kettering Foundation and former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Ford administration. I know him personally, and he’s an extremely kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and humble guy.

The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future is for people who care deeply about their communities and their country but worry about problems that endanger their future and that of their children. Jobs are disappearing, or the jobs people want aren’t available. Health care costs keep going up, and the system seems harder to navigate. Many worry that our schools aren’t as good as they should be. The political system is mired in hyperpolarization. Citizens feel pushed to the sidelines.

Rather than giving in to despair and cynicism, some Americans are determined to have a stronger hand in shaping their future. Suspicious of big reforms and big institutions, they are starting where they are with what they have.

From the introduction:

This book is about people who are trying to help our country realize its dream of democracy with freedom and justice. However, they would never describe themselves that way: it would be far too grandiose. They would just say they are trying to solve a problem or make their community a better place.

This book is also for governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as educational institutions that are trying to engage these citizens. Their efforts aren’t stopping the steady erosion of public confidence, so they are looking for a different kind of public participation.

The book is divided into three sections — Democracy Reconsidered (Part I), Citizens and Communities (Part II), and Institutions, Professionals, and the Public (Part III).  It is chock-full of ideas about how the work of democracy can be done in ways that put more control in the hands of citizens and help restore the legitimacy of our institutions.

The 230-page book can be ordered from the Kettering Foundation here for $15.95. A 16-page preview is also available as a free download.

To get a free copy of the book mailed to you, send an email to customerservice@ait.net with your mailing address and a note that you’re affiliated with NCDD.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Position Opening with InterFaith Works of CNY

We recently heard about a position opening with our friends at InterFaith Works of CNY that we wanted to share. IFW is seeking a new Program Director for their Center for Dialogue, and the position sounds like a great fit for some of our NCDD members, so we hope some of you will be interested in learning more about the opening.

IFW describes the position this way:

Creation of the Center for Dialogue: IFW is creating the Ahmad and Elizabeth El-Hindi Center for Dialogue (CfD) to build upon several successful models of dialogue that are currently part of the agency: Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism, Courageous Conversations about Race, Seeds of Peace, Sustained Dialogues for Communities in Conflictual Relationships, InterFaith Dinner Dialogues, Interfaith World Harmony Assembly, and InterFaith Dialogues to Understand Islam. The Center for Dialogue will build the capacity within the organization and within the community to more fully actualize the use of the dialogue-to-action model to address critical issues through cross-cultural dialogues…

Position Summary: The Program Director, under the guidance of the IFW Executive Director, is responsible for (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Featured D&D Story: Strategic Planning for Sustainability in Dauphin Island

Today we’d like to feature a great example of dialogue and deliberation in action, Strategic Planning for Sustainability in Dauphin Island. This mini case study was submitted by Dr. R. Warren Flint of Five E’s Unlimited via NCDD’s Dialogue Storytelling Tool (add YOUR dialogue story today!).

DauphinIslandTitle of Project:
Strategic Planning for Sustainability in Dauphin Island

Description
I was contracted to design and facilitate a long-term strategy and implementation plan (more here) to create a more resilient community able to balance economic development with environmental protection and conservation. I facilitated planning meetings that included the public, the Town Planning Comm., the U.S. EPA’s Mobile Bay NEP, the NOAA Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Program, and state/county agencies toward designing a strategic planning process to achieve sustainable community goals, adhering to NEPA guidelines and the protection of threatened species. I assisted the community in identifying how strategic planning process could better inform the Island’s Comprehensive Plan and enhance future community resiliency. (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

April 2014 Confab Call on “Text, Talk, Act”

Last Wednesday, NCDD hosted its April 2014 Confab Call with featured guests Matt Leighninger and Mike Smith talking about the innovative project known as Text Talk Act.  If you missed the confab and are interested in learning more, you can now listen to the entire conversation — or look over the collaborative document participants created during the Confab Call — at the links below.

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As part of our role in the National Dialogue on Mental Health project Creating Community Solutions, NCDD and our partners have been experimenting with how the fun and convenience of text messaging can be leveraged to scale up face-to-face dialogue — especially among young people.

The first round of Text Talk Act took place on December 5, and round two is coming up on April 24 (and we hope you’re planning to participate!).  Here’s what you can do to learn more…

You can also learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and other events (including our upcoming National Conference in Reston, VA) in our Event Section.

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Introducing our fabulous youth organizers for Text Talk Act

Creating Community Solutions is pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up with Active Minds, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, and our other partners (NCDD is one of them) to identify some fantastic young people across the U.S. who will be helping organize Text Talk Act events in their communities.

We asked them to send us selfies, and you can check out their brief bios here.

Young_People_borders

Hopefully you already know all about Text Talk Act from our previous postings and recent confab call on the project, but in case you don’t, Text Talk Act is an innovative event taking place on April 24th (next Thursday). Thousands of people across the country will participate by (1) getting together in small groups of 4 or 5 people and (2) texting into 89800 to get polling questions and discussion questions sent to them by text.

In other words, this is texting-enabled face-to-face dialogue.  We’re experimenting with how the fun and convenience of text messaging can be leveraged to scale up face-to-face dialogue — especially among young people.  And we hope all of you are planning to take part!

Learn more about Text Talk Act here, and sign up today.

NCDD is part of the collaboration running the Creating Community Solutions national dialogue effort aimed at tackling mental health issues in our communities, along with these other NCDDers:  National Institute for Civil Discourse, Everyday Democracy, National Issues Forums Institute, AmericaSpeaks and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium. Check out all of our previous posts on Creating Community Solutions here.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Beyond the Polls on Americans’ Feelings on Gov’t

This post comes from Beyond the Polls, a joint blogging initiative from Public Agenda, the National Issues Forums Institute, and the Kettering Foundation – all of which are NCDD organizational partners. We hope you’ll take moment to read about the latest insights they’ve gained from recent polls on opinions about government, which you can read below or find here.


beyond polls logo

Do Americans Really Loathe The Federal Government?

What does it mean when fewer than 1 in 5 Americans say they are satisfied with the federal government? Over the last few years, survey researchers have fielded dozens of questions that seem to show the public’s contempt for the federal government.

In a Pew poll last year, just 12 percent of Americans said they were “basically content” with the federal government, while 30 percent were angry about it, and 55 percent were frustrated. Just 19 percent of the public says it trusts the government in Washington to do what is right most of the time. It’s a stunning number. When Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy were in office, that number was above 70 percent.

chart_agencyperformanceBut if so many Americans are so dismissive of government, then why were so many of us appalled by the government shutdown last fall? Is this just further proof that Americans will happily indulge in anti-government rhetoric, but that they really like government and what it does for them? Or are there more complex and consequential questions lying beneath the surface—questions that deserve much more careful analysis and discussion?

Here is a quick tour of some of what lies beneath. (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Archive of March’s Confab on Everyday Democracy

EvDem LogoLast month, as part of NCDD’s Confab Call series, we spent time with the staff of one of NCDD’s founding members, Everyday Democracy, exploring what Everyday Democracy has learned over the years, through their close work with community partners, about how to create dialogue and change.

We’re happy to share a recording of the the webinar, now available on the Everyday Democracy website, presented by Malik Russell, Everyday Democracy’s Communications Director, Carolyne Abdullah, their Director of Community Assistance, and Rebecca Reyes, Communications Manager.

(more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Medicaid/Medicare Issue Guide from NIFI

In case you missed it, we wanted to make sure to let you know that our partners at the National Issues Forums Institute released a new issue guide last month on Medicaid & Medicare. The health care issues our nation faces require serious deliberation, and we know this new guide will help guide good conversations around real solutions. You can read more from NIFI on the guide below or find their original post on the guide here.


NIF-logoThis issue guide was prepared for the National Issues Forums Institute in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation.

The following is excerpted from the introduction to this 16-page issue guide:

Nearly everybody will, at some point, get sick and need the help of health-care professionals. Finding the resources to cover these public programs is an ever-increasing challenge at a time when our national debt is at an all-time high. Ultimately, all Americans—policymakers as well as citizens—will have to face painful decisions about reducing the cost. This may mean fewer choices in health care for the tens of millions of people enrolled in these programs. The choices are difficult; the stakes, enormous…

The guide presents three options for deliberation: (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Update from Participatory Budgeting Campaign in CA

We are always happy to hear good news from our partners with the Participatory Budgeting Project, an NCDD organizational member, and we wanted to share an update on their campaign in California from the PBP blog. We encourage you to read about how PB is growing below, or find the original post by clicking here.

PBP-logoLast October 2013, PBP began a year-long partnership with one of California’s foremost foundations to promote participatory budgeting (PB) across the state. Through our work with The California Endowment (TCE), PBP is supporting local advocacy for PB in the foundation’s Building Healthy Communities (BHC) program sites around the state. BHC is a 10-year initiative focused on empowering residents in 14 low-income California communities to eradicate health inequalities through community organizing and policy change. In each of these communities, PB presents a unique opportunity to channel public resources toward services and infrastructure that promote health and foster community economic development.

PB in Schools: Proposition 30 and the Local Control Funding Formula

Since PBP began working with Building Healthy Communities, a major shift in education funding in CA has presented an unexpected but promising opportunity for PB throughout the state. Through a new statewide tax passed by voters in 2012, millions of new education dollars are now flowing to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Featured D&D Story: Respectful Conversations Project

Today we’d like to feature a great example of dialogue and deliberation in action, the Respectful Conversations Project. This mini case study was submitted by Jerad Morey, Communications and Program Manager of the Minnesota Council of Churches via NCDD’s new Dialogue Storytelling Tool (add YOUR dialogue story today!).

Title of Project:
RespectfulConvProjectRespectful Conversations Project

Description
When the state of Minnesota was facing a ballot question defining marriage, people were divided. Churches found themselves in sharp internal disagreements that mirrored those in the broader community. Fearful of the end result of a year’s worth of polarizing media campaigns on Minnesota’s civic discourse, churches decided to build peace as a way to love the communities they were in and strengthen Minnesota’s civic culture.

The Minnesota Council of Churches, with support from the Bush Foundation and in partnership with The Public Conversations Project, Twin Cities Public Television and The Theater of Public Policy, designed a conversation model not to change minds, but soften hearts. Respectful Conversations on the Marriage Amendment were conducted across the state in rural, exurban, suburban and urban communities. One thousand five hundred fifty Minnesotans participated in 54 conversations. 62% of participants reported experiencing more empathy for those with whom they disagreed. That figure grew much higher in those conversations were the array of viewpoints was most diverse. (more…)

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