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National Week of Conversation Kicks Off Today!

Today officially kicks off the National Week of Conversation, an unprecedented week of connecting conversations that will run until next Saturday, April 28th!

The last few years have been hard on conversations. 75% of Americans now believe our inability to engage civilly with one another has reached a crisis level. We have not been this divided since the 1850s.  And the way we use technology tends to separate us even more.

The National Week of Conversation is about bringing Americans together to talk it out. Organizations can sign up to partner and host affiliated events (you can even add them to our calendar!). Individuals can sign up to participate both in person and online (individuals are welcome to host their own events too).

We strongly encourage you to check out the National Week of Conversation’s site here and see how this effort is happening all across the US. For those interested in starting your own event there are many supporting conversation guides, background information on a variety of subjects, and other resources. To facilitate these conversations even more, NWOC offers resources specifically designed for schools, libraries, and faith communities – which we have lifted up in the post below and you can find on NWOC’s site here.


Schools for NWOC: Resource Guide

Why? With the advent of social media algorithms and increasingly biased news pushing us into our own individualized filter bubbles, the country is reaching levels of division that in some ways is the worst we’ve seen since the 1850s. This is why it’s more important than ever to teach the next generation how to reach beyond their own bubbles and (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Join Us at the Boston Public Library for April 24th Dialogues

For those of you in and around Boston, consider joining us next Tuesday (April 24th) for seven dialogue events at the Boston Public Library as part of the National Week of Conversation.

NCDD has been working with the Boston Public Library and Big Tent Nation to offer these dialogues supported by highly skilled facilitators, and we encourage you to attend or to just help spread the word!

All dialogues will take place in BPL’s beautiful Central Library in Copley Square at 700 Boylston Street in Boston.

Here’s the rundown for next Tuesday…

3:00 – 4:30 pm

Immigration
a Conversation Cafe facilitated by Paul Weisman and Michele Simos of SMART Conversations (Register here)

Bridging Divides
a World Cafe facilitated by Kirsten Olson of Old Sow Coaching and Consulting (Register here)

Sexual Assault & Power Relationships
a Conversation Cafe facilitated by Heang Ly, Director of Consulting and Training at TeenEmpowerment.org (Register here)

5:00 – 6:30 pm

Race and Ethnicity
a Living Room Conversation facilitated by Vicky Peterson of CollabAction (Register here)

Guns and Responsibility
a Living Room Conversation led by professional facilitator Hilary Marcus (Register here)

7:00 – 8:30 pm

Safety and Justice
a National Issues Forum led by Mette Kreutzmann and Sara Cohen of the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC) (Register here)

Bridging Divides
a Living Room Conversation led by professional facilitator Claudia Lach (Register here)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Lessons from our Confab Call with Community Rights US

Last week we held our April Confab call about the Community Rights movement here in the US and its implications for our democracy. We were joined by two dozen participants to learn more about how this movement has helped people to be more participatory, exercise truer democratic practices, and work to protect the well-being of communities. It was an informative call and we encourage you to check out the recording!

On the call, NCDD member Linda Ellinor interviewed Paul Cienfuegos who works in the Community Rights movement. Paul set the stage for how things are the way they currently are, by sharing the history of corporate influence in the US, how it has taken sovereignty away from the American people, and some of its effect on the way our democracy operates. He emphasized how, “we the people need to rediscover who we are and this history of corporate influence, in order for us to have the legal authority to create the society we want”.

We learned that the Community Rights movement has passed ordinances in 200 communities, over 9 states; and that by doing so makes it possible for a municipality to push back on laws that protect corporations and violate the welfare of the community. The Community Rights movement offers an important reflection on how (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Insights on Participatory Democracy via the Jefferson Center

NCDD member org, The Jefferson Center, recently shared their recap of the Innovations in Participatory Democracy conference that happened last month. In their reflections, they discuss the future opportunities for our democracy by better bringing together participatory principles and deliberative approaches. You can read the post below and find the original on Jefferson Center’s site here.


Making Participation More Deliberative, and Deliberation More Participatory

A few weeks ago, we attended the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The conference, which we were excited to support as both participants and presenters, brought together community leaders, government officials and staff, practitioners, researchers, funders, youth leaders, and technologists to explore innovations in government participation.

We led a workshop on Citizens Juries, Assemblies, & Sortition, and participated in a panel on the similarities and differences across participatory budgeting, Citizen Juries, and citizen assemblies. While we were there, we saw democracy in action at Central High School, where students are part of a current Participatory Budgeting Project initiative.

At the conference, it was clear the opportunities for participatory democracy are expanding. Participatory democracy is made up of two key parts: participatory principles, which often invite the public to share their thoughts and opinions, and deliberative approaches, which typically convene a smaller group of individuals to learn about an issue and create plans for action or policy recommendations. While these two unique approaches are sometimes thought of as opposing forces, we saw how people around the world are using both to make democracy more impactful and inclusive. There’s no longer one clear set of principles for the “right” way to participate in democracy, and it’s (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Undivided Nation Bridging Divides One State at a Time

Have you been keeping up with the travels of NCDD member Undivided Nation? David and Erin Leaverton and their family are traveling to every state in the US in order to listen to peoples’ stories and bring folks together over dinner to dialogue with “the other”; all to explore the myriad of experiences in our country and to find our connection points despite differences. They have shared with us a powerful learning opportunity they experienced in their journey about the way divisions manifest in peoples’ lives and emphasized the need to address the oppressive realities that exist only for certain groups of people.

On their journey, they would like to develop a film, Know Thy Other, to share their experiences of this important work of listening and bridging divides  The film will document their travels and powerful conversations; in hopes of better understanding what divides us and address the bigotry that comes from not recognizing the humanity of “the other”. Help amplify the impact of their work by donating to the film’s Kickstarter! You can read the post below and we encourage you to donate to their tax-deductible Kickstarter here.


It’s Hard to Reconcile with Someone Who Has a Boot on Your Neck

By David Leaverton

The 2016 Presidential election was a turning point in my life. Before my eyes, I saw many of my fellow countrymen treat each other not as political opponents, but as mortal enemies. Fear and division had gripped this land and I couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer.

As a newcomer to the NCDD community, I had a desire to help bridge these divides and see our nation united, but I knew I first needed to gain a deeper understanding of the problem before I could offer up any real solutions to the discussion.

To find the answers we were looking for, my wife and I sold our house, quit our jobs and set out on a 50-state road trip with our three kids. As I write this, I am looking out from our RV over the spectacular Greenbrier River in West Virginia, state number 12 on our journey. To say (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

MetroQuest Webinar on TxDOT Innovative Engagement

Next week, NCDD member org MetroQuest will be hosting the webinar, Public Involvement – How TxDOT Engages Beyond Meetings; co-sponsored by NCDD, IAP2, and the American Planning Association (APA). The webinar on Tuesday, April 17th will feature speakers from the Texas Dept of Transportation on their innovative outreach approaches and how online engagement input is informing transportation decisions in Texas. You can read the announcement below or find the original on MetroQuest’s site here.


MetroQuest Webinar: Public Involvement – How TxDOT Engages Beyond Meetings

Join TxDOT as we explore how the agency extends its public involvement mission via interactive engagement.

Tuesday, April 17th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (APA AICP CM)
Complimentary (FREE)

REGISTER HERE

Getting meaningful public involvement on transportation projects is challenging. The public are not planners … yet they care about local congestion, mobility, and safety. Learn how TxDOT embraces innovation to successfully educate and engage residents on projects at any scale.

Join Jefferson Grimes, Director of Public Involvement, with Amy Redmond and Julie Jerome from TxDOT as they share innovative approaches to reaching an exceedingly busy and diverse public to collect meaningful input on (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Restorative Justice Webinar on Centering Survivors, 4/18

Next Wednesday, April 18th, the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, a program of NCDD member org, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, is offering a free restorative justice webinar on centering survivors. Join this critical conversation as the three RJ-informed speakers share their work, help to broaden the understanding of survivor/victim, and offer implications for centering survivors in RJ and other movements. You can read the post below and find the original on the Zehr Institute site here.


Webinar: Centering Survivors – A Critical Conversation

When: – Guest: Alison Espinosa-Setchko, Kazu Haga, Richard Smith
Host: Johonna Turner

REGISTER HERE

Centering victims and survivors of harm is a longstanding principle of restorative justice. What does this mean in the restorative justice movement today? How should we define “victims” and “survivors”? What needs must be addressed? Join us for a critical conversation with the leaders of two RJ-informed initiatives centering survivors of violence who offer fresh perspectives on these questions.

HealingWorks is the first national learning collaborative for individuals and organizations working with young men of color who have been harmed by violence. They address the compelling needs of young survivors of color by delivering tools, information and support to the people and organizations that serve them. Because healing doesn’t happen in isolation, HealingWorks also promotes practices that take place in a broader context, addressing the essential roles of women, elders and other community members.

The Ahimsa Collective is a network of people creating an alternative way to address violence and heal trauma- a way that is driven by relationships, not systems. They use a restorative justice practices and a peacemaking approach. The Ahimsa Collective intersects with various movements: the restorative justice movement, the anti-oppression and racial justice movement, the anti-sexual violence movement and the criminal justice reform movement.

Our guests will provide an overview of their work, and the insights that guide them. Moreover, (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Join the Nat’l Week of Conversation Coming up Next Week

Have you checked out the National Week of Conversation‘s site recently? There are currently over 70 events planned, either in person or online and more being added every day! Join the unprecedented National Week of Conversation starting next week on Friday, April 20th and going until Saturday, April 28th. This is a unique opportunity for Americans of different views to talk with each other and, more importantly, really listen to each other. We encourage you to go check out the site to sign up for an event or start your own conversation!

The National Week of Conversation is designed to:

  • Turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division
  • Begin mending the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides
  • Bring people together again–from ‘us vs. them’ to ‘me and you’
  • Build relationships by listening first to understand the other

NCDD is a proud organizing partner of NWOC, and our founding director Sandy Heierbacher is on NWOC’s core team, along with over 100 additional participating partners!

During the NWOC, Americans from all over the country will take a small step to help bridge the political divides in our country. They will do this by reaching out to people who have different political views and engaging them in civil and respectful conversation about the future of our nation. The goal of these conversations is to help people learn from each other, build relationships, and look for ways to reduce the growing polarization in our public life.

You can sign up at www.nationalweekofconversation.org to pledge your intention to participate in NWOC as an individual or organization (let them know that you are connected to NCDD as a partner organization!). Check out the event calendar to see if there are events near you that you’d like to participate in. We encourage folks to start planning an event during NWOC and add it here. If you’re not sure what model to use or topic to focus on, we recommend you check out the organizations listed here or look over the resources under NWOC’s six suggested topics here.

Here are a few events from our friends:

  • Many from the NCDD network are holding events during the week that we strongly recommend you check out on the event calendar – like Annette Strauss Institute, Ben Franklin Circles, Big Tent Nation, Bring it to the Table, Interactivity Foundation, Kettering, Listen First Project, Living Room Conversations, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
  • April 21: Listen First Project will be hosting Listen First in Charlottesville to support the progress of healing and reconciliation in Charlottesville with a number of local and national influencers. (Sandy Heierbacher will be there, so make sure you keep a lookout and say hi!)
  • April 24: Boston Public Library are holding several events – Conversation Cafés, Living Room Conversations, World Cafes, and an option to video chat with folks in Kansas.
  • April 24, 25, 26, 28: Kansas Public Libraries have several events happening at various branches on each of these days

Learn more at NationalWeekofConversation.org and share your experience using #ListenFirst & #NWOC. Let us know if you have an event planned and share it with us in the comments below!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

The Better Arguments Project Nominations due TODAY

Now, this is a tight turnaround for this next announcement, but we wanted to give folks in our network a heads up in case you missed it. The Better Arguments Project is an effort for Americans to engage each other around core US values and they are seeking nominations for communities to host their Better Arguments forums. Applications are due TODAY – April 10th, so check it out and get yours in ASAP!  In the post below, learn more about the funding support and other opportunities for those selected, as well as, find more detailed information on the Better Arguments Project’s site here.


The Better Arguments Project – Nominate your Community!

The Better Arguments Project allows Americans to reach across political, cultural and economic divides to have arguments that bring us closer together instead of driving us further apart. We launched this project out of the recognition that arguments are essential for our democracy. Indeed, America is an argument — between equality and liberty, central and local government, unity and diversity. The more we can equip communities to have arguments rooted both in this history and in best practices of constructive communication, the healthier our country will be.

Visit www.BetterArguments.org for more background on this initiative.

This project is designed to be practiced around a specific issue. How will we do this? We need YOU!

Over the next year, we will pilot the Better Arguments Project through local forums in select communities around the country. Would you and your community like to host one of our pilot Better Arguments forums? You’re in the right place!

With each partner, the Better Arguments Project will: (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

NCDD2018 Call for Session Proposals is Now Open!

NCDD’s 2018 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation is coming up this November 2-4 in downtown Denver.

NCDD conferences bring together hundreds of the most active, thoughtful, and influential people involved in public engagement and group process work across the U.S. and Canada.

Today we’re announcing our call for proposals for our concurrent sessions for NCDD 2018. We’re interested in finding creative ways to highlight the best of what’s happening in public engagement, group process, community problem-solving, civic tech, and arts-based dialogue — and we know you have lots of ideas!

Check out the Application for Session Leaders now to see what we ask for, and start cooking up those great proposals we’ve come to expect from our network! If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, look over the comments on this blog post, where we asked the NCDD community to share what they’d like to see happen at NCDD 2018, and peruse the fabulous sessions offered at the 2016 and 2014 NCDD conferences.

Please note that the deadline for proposals is Wednesday, May 9th. We look forward to seeing what you’d like to offer!

If your work involves dialogue and deliberation, or you want to get involved with this work, you’ll love this conference. Imagine spending three days with some of the most amazing leaders in this field, forming new relationships and reconnecting with old colleagues and friends, hearing about innovative new approaches to the challenges you’re facing, and exploring together how we can shape the future of this important movement, all while using innovative group techniques there’s really nothing like it. (See our 2016 Conference Storify page for quotes and pictures.)

Here is some guidance for those thinking about presenting sessions at NCDD 2018…

Our theme for the 2018 conference is Connecting and Strengthening Civic Innovators, and we invite workshop proposals that in some way build upon or engage the ideas around this theme.

NCDD 2018 is taking place the weekend before the November midterm elections and these are vital times for using the skills and tools of the dialogue and deliberation community to continue to bring people together. We have heard from so many, both in our field and particularly those unfamiliar with D&D work – how do we come together and talk with each other despite the divisiveness that pervades our society? There are many in our country that are unaware of the D&D field’s work to better engage people and improve democratic processes.

Our goal of the conference is to explore how to bring dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement work’s many tools and processes into greater visibility and practice within our society. At the conference, we will dig into how to bring D&D to the more widespread awareness and use by:

  • Cultivating new partnerships and connections with other fields utilizing these approaches, including government, libraries, and journalism;
  • Developing our skills, and building our toolkits to address the emerging needs of the communities we work with and live in;
  • Making the case for public engagement, by elevating the stories of how people are coming together across divides, making decisions and taking action together, as well as demonstrating the value and impact of this work;
  • Growing the skills of D&D in our young people, and cultivating leaders who are drawn to D&D;
  • Building the skills and capacities of others in our communities to do this work;
  • Reaching out to and engaging with those less drawn to D&D, including conservatives, activists, and others;
  • Highlighting the ways D&D can be fun, and exploring innovative methods for public engagement – including the arts.

We invite session proposals that will highlight the work being done to tap D&D into the peoples’ daily lives, build democratic participation, and better expose D&D work through the above connections. Your proposal will be evaluated, in part, by its relevance to our theme and goals.

Some advice for potential session leaders:

  1. Identify great co-presenters.  Most workshops at NCDD conferences are collaborative efforts involving multiple presenters from different organizations and universities. Have you thought about who you can co-present with? Now’s the time to contact them to see if they’d like to offer a session with you! (Use the NCDD Main Discussion list and the comments below to put out feelers for potential co-presenters if you’d like.)
  2. Look over past workshop descriptions. Peruse the list of workshops from NCDD Boston to get a sense of the kinds of sessions the planning team selects. Sessions focused on innovative solutions to common challenges, ways to take this work to scale or to new audiences, and deep dives into great projects (and thoughtful explorations of failed projects!) are especially welcome.
  3. Be innovative with your session.  NCDD attendees are usually not too impressed with traditional panels or long speeches. Get them engaging with you and each other! Think about how you can get them out of their seats and moving around the room. And think about what you’d like to learn from them (not just what they can learn from you). Challenge yourself to run a session without relying on PowerPoint.
  4. Share your stories.  NCDDers prefer hearing your stories to getting a run-down of your organization or methodology.  People are interested in learning about what you did, what you learned, and how they may be able to learn from your experience.
  5. Share the latest.  What’s the latest research? What are the latest innovations in the field? What new challenges are you facing? What are your latest accomplishments?

Not quite ready to draw up a proposal yet? Use the comment field (and/or the NCDD Main Discussion listserv) to float your ideas by other NCDDers and members of the planning team. We may be able to match you up with potential co-presenters who can address the same challenge or issue you’re interested in focusing on.

Look over the comments on our engagement of members around what they would like to see at the conference, on the blog and the listserv. There is a wealth of ideas and insight in those results!

Deadline for submissions
To have your session proposal considered, we need you to submit the session application by the end of the day on Wednesday, May 9th. Members of the conference planning team will review the proposals and plan to respond by email to the first contact listed in your proposal early June.

Don’t forget that the super early bird tickets are NOW AVAILABLE! Get yours at this great low rate before it goes up!

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