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Celebrating What We Accomplished at NCDD 2016

bumper_sticker_600pxWe with the NCDD team want to say one more giant THANK YOU to all of those involved in making the 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation an enormous success last weekend! It was without a doubt one of our best conferences yet, but it couldn’t have been as incredible as it was without you!

NCDD 2016 featured 5 pre-conference events, 54 workshops, 3 engaging plenaries, 3 mentoring sessions, over a dozen breakout discussions during our Networking & Collaboration space, a great field trip, and countless connections made. We also recorded several in-person interviews with NCDD members about the projects their working on which we’ll be turning into videos and podcasts soon. It felt like a whirlwind of wonderful people, good conversation, deep learning, and unlocked potential – you really missed out if you weren’t there!

NCDD is so grateful to the over 350 diverse innovators, practitioners, scholars, elected officials, and young leaders who attended this year’s conference, our tireless volunteers, our generous conference sponsors, our featured speakers, the mentors and mentees, and everyone else who worked to make NCDD 2016 so very special!panorama-smaller

Following up, Moving forward

While we certainly didn’t figure out how to bridge all of the divides that need healing over the weekend, we did share stories of how our field has already started that work, we gained insights on how we can grow and strengthen that work, and many collaborations, partnerships, and new projects were sparked during the gathering. We encourage all of our attendees to do the follow up and deeper connecting needed to make those collaborations and projects materialize.

To support our members in following up and to help those who couldn’t be there to stay connected, we created a conference Google drive folder, which we highly recommend that everyone check out – please add your notes, slides from your presentations, and other info to the folder for everyone to share! We also hope you’ll upload the best pictures you took to this folder so we can see all of the smiling faces of NCDD!

We also encourage you to keep the conversation going on social media with the hashtags #NCDD2016, #NCDD, #BridgingOurDivides, and #NCDDEmergingLeaders or by participating in our NCDD Facebook Discussion Group. Don’t forget to follow NCDD on Facebook and Twitter!

group-talkingNCDD conferences are always an in-person reminder of just how broad and powerful this field is. We are truly honored to be working to support our network and the important work you do. We will continue to share more in-depth updates on specific outcomes and next steps that emerged from the conference over the next weeks, so continue to check back here on the news blog for more.

For now, let’s bask in the great memories we made during this incredible gathering of our field while we make plans for advancing our work until the next time we all meet together in 2018!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Application for Nevins Fellow Placements Closes Friday!

As our NCDD 2016 emcee John Gastil reminded us during our incredible conference this weekend, time is running out for D&D, public engagement, and transpartisan organizations to apply to receive a Nevins Democracy Fellow! The application to host a D&D-trained honors student to work with your organization for two months at no cost is closing this Friday, October 21st, so be sure to apply today! mccourtney-logo

You can find the application at www.tinyurl.com/NevinsFellowApplication.

Haven’t heard of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy‘s Nevins Democracy Leaders Program before? We’ve mentioned it on here on the blog, and we also recommend that you look over the Frequently Asked Questions document that McCourtney created for potential applicant organizations. NCDD also hosted an informative discussion about the program with the McCourtney team during a recent Confab Call, you can listen to the recording of that call by clicking here.

Hosting a Nevins Fellow is like bringing on a new full-time staffer for the summer, and it’s a great way for your to build organizational capacity while helping bring more young people into our field and growing the next generation of D&D leaders. We strongly encourage our member organizations to apply today for this amazing opportunity!

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

NCDD 2016 Is Here!

We are so excited that NCDD 2016 starts today! We are going to have a weekend jam packed with incredible workshops, inspiring speakers, and of course, hundreds of members of our amazing D&D community all in one place! ncdd2016-logo

We can’t wait to spend the weekend in conversation with you all, exploring the challenges and opportunities of bridging our divides, and envisioning the direction of our field. It’s not to late to join if you’re in the Boston area – check out the registration page here and consider registering for even just one day at the $175 one-day registration rate!

The NCDD 2016 Guidebook: A Comprehensive Guide

ncdd-2016-guidbeooks-picNothing makes the conference feel real like having the printed conference guide in your hand, and here it is! Make sure to get your hard copy at registration or follow along with the electronic version here.

We also encourage you to check out the full schedule online or look over the details of all of the great conference workshop sessions here. Start scoping out which sessions you will be joining!

Follow along on social media

NCDD will be keeping you up to date on about what’s happening during the conference via our social media outlets, so make sure to be part of the conversation! Our Social Media Coordinator Keiva Hummel will be live tweeting the whole conferece on Twitter, so follow us @NCDD and using the hashtags #NCDD2016, #BridgingOurDivides, and #NCDDEmergingLeaders.

You can also follow along on NCDD’s Facebook page or on Instagram via ncdd_network. These will all be great ways to be part of the conversation even if you’re not here with us in Massachusetts.


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Field Trip Option for NCDD 2016 – Youth PB Idea Collection

As if there wasn’t already enough to be excited about for this week’s NCDD 2016 conference, we wanted to make sure everyone knows about a great opportunity to take an experiential field trip during the gathering!

Field Trip: Participate in Boston’s Youth Lead the Change PB Process

NCDD participants will have an opportunity to not only learn about participatory budgeting (PB) but to participate in the historic Boston youth PB process. In 2014, Boston became the first city in the country to implement a citywide PB process focused on youth. The Youth Lead the Change program allows young people to directly decide how $1 million dollars of the city’s capital budget is spent every year.

Participants in this field trip will have the rare opportunity to join one of the official idea collection sessions in the Youth Lead the Change PB process – an event where youth PB participants get together to start formulating the ideas that will eventually become proposals to be voted on for how to spend this year’s $1M in PB funds. You can learn more about what the Boston youth PB experience is like for the young people in this write up from a youth participant.

By joining this field trip, you’ll have a chance to get an overview of PB, suggest ideas to make Boston better, and see one of the best PB process in the country live and in action. It’s an incredible opportunity! Then after the idea collection event is over, we’ll take some time to debrief and reflect together over dinner and drinks downtown.

The field trip will be co-hosted by Francesco Tena, the Manager of Boston’s Mayor’s Youth Council, and Shari Davis, Boston’s former Department of Youth Engagement and Employment Executive Director. Francesco and Shari have been involved in Boston’s youth PB process for years, and will be your expert guides and hosts for this unique experience.

We have space for 30 people in the bus, but the trip is filling up, so reserve your spot soon! Email our Logistics Manager Rob Laurent at robdotlaurent@gmail.com to claim your spot, and plan to bring a check for $35 or cash with you to cover your portion of the bus costs. The bus will leave at 4pm return to the conference hotel at around 10pm.

Haven’t registered for the 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation? It’s not too late, but you have to register ASAP!


NCDD’s Leadership is Evolving!

Hi, everyone! With our national conference in Boston just days away, I am excited to announce some important changes that are happening within NCDD.

Our conference is taking place just weeks before one of the most polarizing elections our country has ever experienced, and our intention is to lift up the many untold and under-told stories about how members of this community have bridged the divides that seem insurmountable to so many right now. No matter the outcome of the election, our community will be needed more than ever — and NCDD will be here to help keep this community connected, informed, and equipped.


Courtney Breese (left) and Sandy Heierbacher

In order to best serve our members and our own needs, and to meet these emerging opportunities and challenges, we are shifting to a new leadership model. Program Director Courtney Breese is stepping up to Managing Director, and will be taking over our day-to-day operations. I will become Founding Director which will free me up to focus more on what I truly love — supporting and nurturing our network.

This shift in NCDD’s leadership is part of a broader evolution that the organization is experiencing. Four of our current Board members — Barbara Simonetti, Marla Crockett, John Backman and Diane Miller — are nearing the end of their terms, and we are about to welcome some wonderful new Board members into the fold: Jacob Hess, Betty Knighton, Simone Talma Flowers and Wendy Willis, who will be joining Martin Carcasson and Susan Stuart Clark. In the coming year, we’ll focus more on strategic planning and fundraising in order to enhance our service to you and this wonderful community, which has grown from a group of 50 founding organizations in 2002 to a vibrant network of 2,300 members and 38,000 subscribers in 2016.

On a personal note, Courtney and I have worked closely for years both in her roles as a member of the Board and then as Program Director. I don’t know of a more calm, competent person, and have nothing but faith in Courtney. My own passion lies in creating networks and building supportive, collaborative communities, and after 14 years directing NCDD, I am drawn to new possibilities for how I can help build and strengthen others’ work. You are some of the most creative, intelligent and good-hearted people I’ve ever met, and I look forward to working with you, our wonderful staff, our Board, and other contributors in this new role.

I’m excited about what lies ahead — both for me and the network. Our community has become ever more active and responsive to each other, generously sharing their experiences and know-how over multiple platforms and forming many dozens — if not hundreds — of partnerships over the years. Our website will continue to provide a clearinghouse of thousands of resources and news items.

Courtney, our Board, and I intend to work together to see NCDD continue to grow and thrive so this field can have a greater and greater impact on the world.


Sandy Heierbacher, Founding Director, on behalf of
Courtney Breese, Managing Director and the NCDD Board

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NCDD 2016 Preview: More Featured Speakers!

We hope that you are as excited as we are for NCDD 2016 to kick off next week after seeing this week’s previews of our great plenary features! It’s still not too late to register for this incredible event, but time is running out, so register today!

In addition to all the amazing practitioners and innovators who will be featured during the great workshop sessions, we will also be lifting up the voices of some remarkable leaders in our field who will share important insights they’ve gained from their work, that we can all learn from. Just to give you one more taste of how much there will be to experience at NCDD 2016, we want to introduce them here.

Our Featured Speakers

Betty Knighton, Director of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life

Betty Knighton has been the director of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life since its founding in 1998. A primary focus of her work has been building a network of public dialogue in the state through collaborative partnerships with educational, civic, faith-based, and governmental organizations.

Betty will talk with us about her experiences bridging economic divides, and how this work connects community members, leaders, media, and philanthropists.

Shari Davis, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Participatory Budgeting Project
Shari is responsible for the strategic development and management of PBP’s network-building work and for launching new high impact PB processes. She joined PBP staff after nearly 15 years of service and leadership in local government. As Director of Youth Engagement and Employment for the City of Boston, she launched Youth Lead the Change, the first youth participatory budgeting process in the U.S., which won the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ City Livability Award. Shari first got involved in city government in high school, serving as the Citywide Neighborhood Safety Coordinator on the Boston Mayor’s Youth Council and working at the Mayor’s Youthline.

Shari will talk with us about creative uses of technology designed by PB participants to bridge physical divides and create welcoming spaces in government. She’l share some key and simple strategies that (more…)

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NCDD 2016 Preview: Race, Police, & Reconciliation Stories

With the 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation less than two weeks away, we are continuing to preview the great content we have in store for conference attendees. It’s still not too late to register for this incredible event, but you should register today to save your spot! For those of you who still need more convincing, we want to highlight the powerful set of speakers we will feature during the NCDD 2016 opening plenary.bumper_sticker_600px

Bridging the Race & Community-Police Divides

One of the longest and most visible divides in our country today is the racial divide. Racial division and inequity have a long history in the US, and seem to perennially resurface in our communities and in our politics. In addition, the division between average people – especially people of color – and the police feels like it’s reaching crisis levels with the heightened tensions and conflict rising from seemingly weekly videos of new police violence against unarmed black and brown people combined with the killings of several police officers this summer.

It’s easy to feel hopeless and even afraid about these issues today, which is exactly why we in the dialogue field need to lifting up stories of how people are actively healing our race and community-police divides to show that there is in fact hope. We’ll begin our opening plenary by doing just that.

You can read a bit more about the three practitioners who will be sharing stories with us below, or just register for NCDD 2016 to come hear from them in person!

Our Speakers

Shelby Brown, Managing Director of Everyday Democracy
Shelby is currently the Managing Director at Everyday Democracy, which helps communities talk and work together to create communities that work for everyone. Prior to working at Everyday Democracy, Shelby ran an agency for the State of Connecticut and before that, she served in human resource leadership within the Board of Regents for Higher Education. Shelby has long been involved in community organizing, participatory democracy and racial justice.

We’ll hear from Shelby about how the work she and EvDem are doing is bridging racial divides in (more…)

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NCDD 2016 Preview: Our Philanthropist and Media Panels

Our 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation is just around the corner – we couldn’t be more excited, and we hope you are too! It’s not too late to register for what is going to be an absolutely amazing gathering! As if you needed more reason beyond our incredible schedule and workshop session list, we also want to share a preview of the two great panel discussions we’ll feature during the plenaries to convince all those fence-sitters to register today!bumper_sticker_600px

Background on the Panels

During two of NCDD 2016 plenaries, we’ll be addressing two interconnected parts of what it takes to bridge our divides – stories and resources. Since 2002, the financial and media landscape of civic life has fundamentally changed to our work’s detriment. Funding on the Left and Right – but not the middle – has skyrocketed, and media spheres have become more siloed and divided than ever.

Money and media attention for the “problem-solving sector” – in which the NCDD network plays a pivotal role – has significantly diminished, despite continued growth and innovation in the sector. So at NCDD 2016, we are addressing these issues directly by providing spaces in the conference where we can take an in-depth look as a field at why so many of our initiatives underfunded and under-reported and how we can reverse this trend to create new momentum for our work. These spaces will take the form of interactive panel events on the topic of philanthropy and media.

Engaging Divides through Media Collaborations Panel

Our closing plenary will feature a conversation with representatives from the media who are engaging with society’s divides and the public in innovative ways. We’ll be hearing from journalists and other media representatives about the ways they are engaging with divided communities and divisive issues, discuss how we can increase the visibility of this kind of work, and learn from and envision new ways engagement practitioners and journalists can partner with one another. In short, our media colleagues will help us explore what’s happening now, what’s emerging for the future, and how we can work together to create innovative ways to bridge our divides and shift the toxic political discourse.

During this final plenary session, we will also ask the panelists to reflect on what they heard during the conference, what excites them, and what possibilities they see for lifting up or creating stories of those who are bridging our divides.

Our Panelists

Peggy Holman (moderator), Co-Founder of Journalism That Matters
Peggy is a nationally known author and consultant and is a recognized leader in deploying group processes that directly involve hundreds, or thousands, of people in organizations or communities in achieving breakthroughs. In 2001, Peggy co-founded Journalism That Matters (JTM) with three career journalists. JTM has built a national coalition of journalists, educators, reformers and others to support people who are reshaping (more…)

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Showcase Sessions at the 2016 NCDD Conference

Showcase2014-1We’re excited to share the final list of our featured presenters in this year’s “D&D Showcase” — a highly anticipated, high-energy event held on the first night of the 2016 NCDD conference. The Showcase is a fun way for you to meet some of the movers-and-shakers in our field and learn about their leading-edge projects, programs and tools.

Showcase presenters are asked to prepare a brief spiel to use as a conversation starter during this un-timed session, to provide handouts so you can follow up after the conference, and to prepare an eye-catching poster so people can easily identify their topic. More about how the Showcase works is up at www.ncdd.org/15606.

Assessing Civic Engagement Needs

Susan Jeghelian, Executive Director and Madhawa Palihapitiya, Associate Director, MA Office of Public Collaboration

A recent legislative study by MOPC, the MA state dispute resolution agency, assessed civic engagement needs around destructive public conflict in local communities and provided policy recommendations to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for improved societal results.

Citizen Science

Chris Santos-Lang, Facilitator, Citizen Science Belleville

The most famous use of citizen science may have been to instigate reform of the Flint, Michigan, water supply. As science advances–especially science of the mind, of values, and of the divide–so does the importance of this form of dialog.

Conversation Café


From the CommunityFrom the Community

Turning Dialogue into Action & Other Skills for Engagement

You might have missed it, but the team at NCDD member organization Public Agenda have been running an incredible blog series on “Key Talents for Better Public Participation” this summer. The posts are a great set of resources for D&D practitioners, and we wanted to share an important one about making the often difficult transition from talk to action here. We encourage you to read the piece and find links to the 14 other series posts below, or find the original here.

Supporting Action Efforts

pa_logoIdeas for action emerge naturally in many different forms of public participation. When people talk about issues that are important to them, they often want to:

  • Develop new problem-solving partnerships and new ways to work with others.
  • Express their ideas, concerns, and recommendations to public officials and other decision makers.
  • Strengthen practices and policies within departments, agencies, community organizations, workplaces or other groups.

During participatory processes, people often think about action ideas they would like to take individually and as a community. It is important for participants to be able to hear one another’s ideas and decide together which actions to take.

In some single-day participatory processes, action ideas are shared at the end of the day. In others, there is a separate action-focused event where participants can come together to share ideas. Still others facilitate action efforts with online tools and tactics.

Two skills, planning action events and supporting action teams, can be helpful for all of these processes. (Many of these tips, along with more information on supporting action, are described by Everyday Democracy here.)

Planning an Action-Focused Event

Events that help people transition from dialogue to action typically have three elements: (more…)