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From the CommunityFrom the Community

City of Cambridge Adopts PB, Partners with PBP

We could hardly be more excited to share that yet another city has adopted participatory budgeting and will be partnering with our friends at the Participatory Budgeting Project, an NCDD organizational member. We learned about this great new development from the Challenges to Democracy blog, which is run by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance & Innovation, another NCDD organizational member, and we encourage you to read more about the news below or to find the original article here.


Ash logoIn June, Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh announced the successful allocation of $1 million dollars from Boston’s budget to fund seven capital projects, formulated and proposed by the city’s youth. Boston is one of several cities across the United States to have not only enthusiastically embraced participatory budgeting (PB), but have adapted the concept – for example by extending the opportunity to youth.

Boston has begun to facilitate greater civic engagement and empowerment among its young residents. Its experiment in civic activism is also generating momentum behind PB in another city in the Greater Boston area. The City of Cambridge recently announced that it would initiate its own PB process, in partnership with the nonprofit Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP).

Cambridge City Council member Leland Cheung first introduced PB to Cambridge over two years ago when he learned about its implementation in other cities, but its implementation has been fully embraced by Cambridge Mayor David Maher, City Council, and the City Manager. With the process formally underway, the City Budget Office will continue to handle all matters related to PB.

The city has made available half a million dollars in the FY16 capital budget for city projects.

Whereas Boston’s PB initiative targets residents age 12-25, Cambridge will open its PB process to all residents of Cambridge who are 12 years and older. Jeana Franconi, director of the city’s Budget Office, and her team has scoured the city’s library’s, senior centers, non-profits, schools and youth centers to solicit ideas for proposals. This ideas collection phase – which closed officially on December 31 – will help narrow down city priorities as reflected by resident concerns.

After residents submit ideas, “Budget Delegates” – volunteers at least 14 years old and whom are either a resident or affiliated with Cambridge in some way – will be tasked with transforming the project ideas into concrete proposals to be voted on in March.

Like the Boston PB process, the City of Cambridge envisions PB to be a tool for fostering civic engagement and community spirit. To that end, it has four goals it hopes to achieve through experimenting with PB.

Make Democracy Inclusive. As the Boston case demonstrated, PB brought together stakeholders (e.g., youth) who are not normally invited to participate in the decision making process and emphasized their role in strengthening civil society and enhancing civic engagement. Through expanding and diversifying participation in the decision-making process, the City’s budget is able to better reflect the priorities of stakeholders and preserve their engagement with the city over the long-term.

Have Meaningful Social and Community Impact. Residents are encouraged to submit ideas to the ideas map and other residents are able to “support this project” by clicking on the appropriate link. The city and budget delegates (see above) are able to then collect some data on which projects would generate “meaningful social and community impact.”

Promote Sustainable Public Good. Cambridge has outlined that all project considerations benefit the public, are implemented on public property, and can be completed with funds from one year’s PB process.

Create Easy and Seamless Civic Engagement. The city dedicated several meetings to establishing a steering committee that will lead the PB process (there are 22 current members), articulated themes of inclusion, and sustainable, meaningful impact, and launched its first PB Assembly to encourage community members to brainstorm ideas.

Like Boston’s Youth Lead the Change initiative, Cambridge’s PB project will complement other city programs that seek to encourage civic participation and engagement on the part of all city residents and those who are affiliated with the city. Franconi noted,

PB really ties in to many of the civic engagement efforts the city is involved in. [For example], the Community Development Department recently hosted Community Conversations in several neighborhoods to receive recommendations for the upcoming Citywide Plan.

With regards to young people in particular, Franconi spoke of the city’s Kids’ Council, through which participants travel to the annual National League of Cities conference to represent Cambridge and support youth participation on a national level. Youth involvement in the PB initiative, however, will provide opportunities for direct impact on the city’s most relevant needs.

Cambridge will begin its evaluation phase in April, but has already reflected on a few lessons as outlined by Richa Mishra’s piece on the promises and pitfalls of PB. In particular, Mishra’s emphasis on “process backed by results” should resonate with any local government attempting PB. The temptation to seek quick results over preserving the fidelity to process has, as she asserts, a deleterious effect on participation and ownership. Likewise, if process is emphasized at the expense of meaningful moves towards achieving results, participants could become disillusioned that their voices will not make a difference.

Franconi recognizes this inherent tension in the decision making process, and believes the city has still a lot to learn about the nature of PB. For one, Cambridge will initiate the next year’s PB process in the summer rather than the fall to fully capture citizen participation in every stage—from ideas collection to voting on the proposals—and to give residents more time to digest their responsibilities and sense of civic duty.

As the city designs its evaluation strategy, Hollie Russon Gilman, PhD, an expert on U.S.-based PB initiatives, further recommends that “civic experiments and civic innovations like PB need room to grow, evolve, and engage people. At times privileging initial indicators, over social impact, has the potential to stifle early process creativity.”

In the meantime, the city has achieved some incremental wins. It has opened up multiple avenues for participation (i.e., steering committees, online map tool, volunteering as a budget delegate or facilitator). Additionally, “a strong online and social media presence has helped tremendously,” Franconi asserts. “It has allowed us to do more outreach and canvassing to our underserved populations.”

As of this writing, Cambridge is on target with its proposed timeline. Over 380 ideas have been submitted to the online ideas map. To move forward with the formulation of concrete proposals, Cambridge hosted a Budget Delegate training on January 6 and will host a Volunteer Facilitator Training on January 10. For more information on how to get involved, please click here.

You can find the original version of the is piece on the Challenges to Democracy blog at www.challengestodemocracy.us/home/cambridge-is-next-u-s-city-looking-to-foster-engagement-with-participatory-budgeting/#more-1413.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NCDD Director to Speak at Personal Democracy Forum 2015

We want NCDD members to know about Personal Democracy Forum 2015, a cutting-edge event being hosted by Personal Democracy Media this June 4-5 in NYC. PDF will bring together a diverse group of changemakers, and we’re excited to say it will feature NCDD’s director Sandy Heierbacher as one of the featured speakers. Early bird registration is as low as $350, but it ends Jan. 30th, so register ASAP!

Learn more in the announcement below or by visiting www.personaldemocracy.com/conference.


Personal Democracy Forum is the definitive event in the world of technology and politics. PDF brings together a thousand top opinion makers, political practitioners, technologists, and journalists from across the ideological spectrum for two days to network, exchange ideas, and explore how technology and wired citizens are changing politics, governance, and civil society.

We’ve already confirmed these amazing speakers, global leaders and innovators at the cutting edge of technology, politics and social change: (more…)

NCDD NewsNCDD News

Help NCDD Explore a D&D Youth Leadership Initiative

Some of you may have heard already on our Discussion Listserv that, as part of our continued commitment to cultivating “democracy for the next generation,” NCDD’s director Sandy Heierbacher asked me to help conduct a scoping project to explore what possibilities there are to potentially launch a youth leadership /emerging leaders program within the NCDD network.

IMG_7985We are already collecting input from NCDD’s student and young professional members (young folks/students, share your input on our survey for a chance to win $50, and write to me at roshan@ncdd.org to join our youth conference call Jan. 25th at 7pm ET!) , but we are also looking for ideas and suggestions from the broader NCDD community on the big picture questions of:

  1. How you think NCDD might best support students and young people who are interested in or want to be involved in the D&D field? And,
  2. What role would you want to see young people who are part of NCDD playing in the Coalition? What kinds of contributions could you imagine them making and/or see the network supporting them to make?

So we are looking to start a discussion here on what you think NCDD as an organization and as a community could potentially do to cultivate more opportunities for and leadership from young people – who are the next generation – in our field.

We are open to hearing any and all of your thoughts on these bigger questions for our field. And to help get the conversation started, we also want to invite you to think about a few more specific questions:

  • What do you think is THE most important and/or effective thing that NCDD and the D&D community could do to support you getting more involved in the D&D field?
  • What other programs, schools, organizations, etc. do you know of that already are doing a good job getting young people involved in D&D work? What are others doing that we could learn from or build on?
  • Is there anything else that NCDD and the D&D community should do, change, keep in mind, and/or work on to support youth and student involvement and leadership in this field?

We know there are a lot of possibilities for potentially creating more programmatic or organizational supports for young people looking to join the D&D field, and thinking together with our brilliant NCDD members is a great way to unearth some of the best of those potentials.

We hope that you will take a few moments to contribute your input to our ongoing exploration in the comments section below. We hope to harvest the ideas that this discussion generates by the end of the month, so please chime in soon!

Thanks so much for all that you do, and of course, thank you for continuing to support NCDD!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Register for the Facilitate ’15 Online Conference, Feb. 20

We want to encourage NCDD members to attend Facilitate ’15, an online conference being organized by former NCDD Board member Lucas Cioffi of Qiqo Chat where attendees can host their own sessions, in addition to those being offered. Regular registration is $50, but NCDD supporting members are eligible for a 30% registration discount! Today is the last day for the early bird rate of just $30, so make sure to learn more in the announcement below and register today.


The Facilitate ’15 Conference

Facilitate ’15 is an interactive conference is all about the cutting edge of facilitation. Meet innovators working in dozens of fields. Experiment with new technologies, and co-create new solutions to challenges you’re facing.

Active & Experiential Learning

Not only will we talk about the cutting edge, we will actively explore it with all the technologies that you and your fellow participants bring to the table for testing.

You can schedule a session on any topic and use any facilitation technique and any online tool that you have access to! If you do not have a preferred tool, an easy-to-use group video chat tool will be available as the default.

Who Will Attend

This event is for facilitators who want to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Evaluation & Collective Impact Workshops from Tamarack

We want to make sure NCDDers know about two great workshops on evaluation and collective impact being offered this winter by the good people at Tamarack, an NCDD organizational member. We encourage you to read their announcement below or find out more at www.tamarackcommunity.ca.


As you plan your winter learning schedule, we invite you to two of our signature 3-day workshops that are designed to advance your work in community change.

Both of these workshops were completely oversubscribed in 2014, so we encourage you to register or Hold a Seat for these workshops today.

Evaluating Community Impact: Capturing and Making Sense of Outcomes

Liz Weaver and Mark Cabaj are leading the ever-popular Evaluating Community Impact workshop in Toronto, ON from February 23-25, 2015Each year, they carefully incorporate new tools and trends into the curriculum to ensure you are getting the latest and greatest information about how to capture, evaluate and communicate impacts in your community.

Recent upgrades to the Toronto curriculum will include: (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

ALA Midwinter Meeting Includes Engagement Meetup

The American Library Association (ALA) has been focusing increasingly on community engagement and using libraries as spaces for civic dialogue recently. As part of that work, they sent out an invitation to a reception of engagement professionals during their 2015 Midwinter Meeting. We encourage NCDD members to read the invitation below and learn more about ALA at alamw15.ala.org.


An invitation for those of you attending ALA’s 2015 Midwinter Meeting:

Are you an expert in engaging your community? Or do you simply want to be? Join ALA’s Public Programs Office for a Libraries Fostering Community Engagement Reception at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting.

The gathering will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, January 31, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Hyde Park/CC 11A (on-site at the convention center). Connect with like-minded library professionals at this informal networking reception. Share your ideas, vent your frustrations, and hopefully walk away inspired.

Light refreshment will be served.

Please add the event to your Scheduler at the following (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

A Participant’s Reflections on NCDD 2014

We were so appreciative of the reflections on our 2014 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation that NCDD supporting member Cynthia Kurtz shared on her blog that we wanted to share them here on ours. There are great lessons she took away that all of us can learn from, so we encourage you to read her piece below or to find the original version here.


What I Learned at the NCDD 2014 Conference

So I’m back from my first real conference in ten years, and I learned a lot. This is the conference I mentioned a few blog posts back, of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation.

NCDDers-with-signs-borderThe first thing I learned was: I’m ten years older than I was ten years ago. Conferences have always been exhausting, but this one felt like a strange dream in which crowds of faces surged and receded while I surfed on crests of … of … lots of stuff. However, I survived; I have vague memories of the event; and I have some things to tell you.

Natural story workers

One thing that surprised me at the conference was how many people there do story work. Only a few people said they do story work, but a lot of people worked with stories in some way, while they were trying to get people to understand each other.

My initial reaction on pointing this out to myself was, “Sure, but they don’t really do story work. It’s not as intense or authoritative or authentic or deep or….” And in the midst of trying to justify myself to myself, I realized that (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

IAF N. American Conference Content Proposals due Jan. 24

We want to make sure that NCDD members are aware of a great opportunity to participate in – and maybe present at – the International Association of Facilitators‘s 2015 North American Conference (IAFNA 2015), which will be taking place this May 14th – 16th in Alberta, Canada. The conference has recently released a call for proposals, and NCDD members are encouraged to submit conference proposals before the January 24th deadline.

Iiaf logoAF was one of the wonderful co-sponsors of our NCDD 2014 conference, and we know that IAFNA 2015 will be a great event that NCDD members will find useful. We want to thank them for supporting NCDD, and we hope you will support them as well!

The theme of IAFNA 2015 is Innovating, Promoting and Applying. This is a bit more on how IAF Canada, who is hosting the event, describes the conference:

The IAFNA 2015 Conference will weave the three learning streams Face-To-Face, Graphic (Visual), and Virtual through the Conference themes of Innovating, Promoting and Applying facilitation expertise. Additionally, the Saturday morning sessions will focus exclusively on how these three streams may be applied in Indigenous/Multi-Cultural situations within any nations. Coupled with the less structured other three half-days, we‘re inviting a wide variety of educational opportunities for our Delegates.

If you are interested in submitting a workshop proposal, you can get started by (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NIF Hosts Live Conversation on Higher Ed & Work, Jan. 21

We want to encourage you to watch the live broadcast of a key conversation event that the National Issues Forums Institute & the Kettering Foundation – both NCDD organizational members – are hosting on Jan. 21st on the role of higher education in our country and in the economy. You can learn more below or read the original NIF announcement here.


Join us for a national conversation on The Changing World of Work: What Should We Ask of Higher Education?

NIF logoOn Wednesday, January 21, 2015, from 9 am-noon, the National Issues Forums Institute will stream the event live from the National Press Club on the all-new nifi.org.

Speakers and panelists include:

  • Jamie Studley, Deputy Under Secretary of Education
  • Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University-Newark
  • David Mathews, President, Kettering Foundation
  • Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar in Public Philosophy, Augsburg College
  • William Muse, President, National Issues Forums Institute
  • Other distinguished leaders from policymaking institutions, business, and civic and community groups

Organized by the National Issues Forums Institute, the American Commonwealth Partnership at Augsburg College, and the Kettering Foundation, this conversation responds to concerns voiced by thousands of citizens in more than 160 local forums in which (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

“Resilient Communities” Conference Call from CM, Jan. 22

We are pleased to invite NCDD members once again to join CommunityMatters – a joint partnership that NCDD is proud to be a member of – for the next installation in their capacity-building call series. This month’s call on “Resilient Communities”, CM_logo-200pxand it will be taking place on Thursday, January 22nd, from 2-3pm Eastern Time.

The folks at CM describe the upcoming call like this:

Our communities are constantly changing. Most changes are gradual and predictable – a new store opens on Main Street, newcomers come to town and priorities shift. But, sometimes change is abrupt, unexpected – a major natural disaster or an epidemic.

How can your city or town best prepare for unanticipated change? What will help your community respond to challenges not only to bounce back, but to become stronger than ever?

Michael Crowley, senior program officer, Institute for Sustainable Communities, and Christine Morris, chief resilience officer with the City of Norfolk, Virginia, join CommunityMatters for an hour-long conference call on January 22. They’ll share ideas about and lessons learned from building resilient communities.

We highly encourage you to save the date and register for the call today by clicking here.

Before you join the call, we also suggest that you check out the blog piece on boosting community resilience that Caitlyn Davison recently posted on the CM blog to accompany the call. You can read her piece below, or  (more…)

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