We recently saw a post on NCDD organizational member the Davenport Institute‘s Gov 2.0 Watch blog featuring a piece penned by Matt Leighninger – a long-time NCDD supporting member. Matt’s article asks the question “What would happen if the public could rate and review public engagement projects like it can restaurants and stores?” We encourage you to check out the article below or find the original Davenport post here.
A Yelp for Public Engagement?
Over at Tech President, Matt Leighninger discusses why just having public engagement options available isn’t enough – we also need a way for people to give feedback about how these processes are working.
What if your residents could “Yelp” your latest engagement process? How would it rate?
Unfortunately, we have trouble separating productive from ineffective opportunities for civic engagement, in part because of the way we try to measure it. We focus almost entirely on assessing the impacts of discrete projects and tools, when we should also be giving citizens the chance to evaluate their civic environments. People now have the power to rate all kinds of products and services: if they had similar opportunities to rate their opportunities to participate in public life, democracy would improve.
Recently, NCDD Board member John Backman wrote a guest piece on the CommunityMatters blog highlighting a great civic infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest called the Thriving Communities Initiative. TCI is an interesting case study of successful civic infrastructure, and John’s article pulls out some key lessons we can learn from it. You can read his piece below or find the original here.
Civic Infrastructure You Can See
Sometimes the raw materials of civic infrastructure are there but the connections are missing. Sometimes the connections are there but nobody sees them.
South Whidbey falls in the latter category. The residents of this Washington State community – about 20,000 people on the southern portion of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound – know one another well. Local organizations often work on similar issues. If any community would know its civic infrastructure, South Whidbey would.
And still the videos, highlighting unique and compelling community projects around the theme of food, surprised everyone.
One way to think of civic infrastructure is as “the underlying social structure – activities, meetings, community groups, etc. – that brings people together to address their challenges.” Despite all that activity, even the most robust civic infrastructures can go unnoticed… until a group arises to (more…)
Earlier this year, NICD’s Ted Celeste – an NCDD supporting member and one of our 2014 conference mentors – convened one of NICD’s Next Generation workshops aimed at helping legislators in Vermont develop better communication and more collaborative relationships. It was met with rave reviews and yielded some exciting results!
When it comes to rancor between the two major parties at the Statehouse, Vermont has it pretty good compared to other parts of the country. But there is always room for improvement. That’s why 20 lawmakers – Republican, Democrats, and Progressives – sat down Wednesday to clear the air and learn to communicate better. It’s part of a national effort aimed at improving civil discourse in politics.
At the 2014 NCDD conference last fall, we were honored to have David Mathews speak during the opening session. For those who don’t know, David is president and CEO of the Kettering Foundation.
For his talk, we asked David to orient attendees to the past and present landscape in Washington for dialogue and deliberation. We wanted him to look back to his days in the Ford administration, and reflect on what he and Kettering have learned over the years about how citizen deliberation can influence Washington politics and policymakers.
He took the task very seriously, delivering a thoughtful, engaging speech which received a standing ovation from attendees! After the conference, David took the time to expand on his remarks in a must-read 12-page document he prepared for us, titled “A Historic Opportunity to Add the Public Voice that’s Missing.”
David often talks about how the organizations in our coalition have the unique ability to create the conditions that are needed for a real “public voice” to develop, and could bring this voice to Washington with the right approach. In a letter to me about his expanded remarks, David wrote:
Never in our history have we had so many organizations that are dedicated to letting citizens decide for themselves rather than insisting people support a predetermined position. I believe that NCDD can play a key role in seizing this rare opportunity.
Wow! Please take the time to read and reflect on this important document. Next week, we’ll discuss David’s message to our community on the NCDD Discussion list. You’re welcome to add your comments here to this blog post as well.
David’s speech from the conference…
I also want to share some additional text David wrote in his letter to me about his expanded remarks: (more…)
We want to share an invitation from NCDD supporting member Dr. Rebecca Townsend of the National Communication Association (NCA) for NCDD members to join NCA’s recently formed Public Dialogue and Deliberation section. This new NCA section will be a great way for D&D practitioners and scholars to connect and share their work, so we encourage you to read NCA’s announcement below and consider joining!
Good news! NCA’s Legislative Assembly approved the creation of a new division, the Public Dialogue and Deliberation (PDD) division, which allows us to share our scholarly work, practitioner experience, and teaching pedagogy more fruitfully within NCA.
In order to have a vibrant presence, we need to have members sign up soon. If you are a member of NCA (or would like to join), simply contact NCA Membership Manager Justin Danowski at jdanowski[at]natcom[dot]org and let him know you’d like to join the PDD division.
Your formal membership in the division is vital to its success. The size of a division is directly proportional to the amount of activity it can schedule in the NCA conference agenda, so please sign up today!
In case you missed our previous post, we want to remind you again that Text, Talk, Act is back! This April and May, thousands of people, especially young people, will have a nationwide conversation on mental health and how to help a friend in need, and you should join!
Here’s how it works: Through text messaging, small groups will receive discussion questions to lead them through a conversation about mental health – how to take care of their own and how to help a friend in need. The conversation will last for about 45 minutes and all that’s needed is a smart phone and few people to participate.
The next two conversations for Text, Talk, Act will take place on Tuesday, April 14th (in collaboration with Active Minds’ Stress Less Week) and on Thursday, May 7th (in partnership with SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day). We strongly encourage our NCDD members to consider signing up to organize a Text, Talk, Act event in your communities. We know these events are helping make a difference in the lives of young people across the country, and we want to support this innovative way to engage young people in dialogue!
Also don’t forget about the great contest where TTA participants can win $1,000 for their schools or organizations!
If you want to participate but can’t make either date, you can (more…)
We were inspired by this wonderful piece from NCDD supporting member Dr. Jacob Hess of All of Life and Political-Dialogue.com on a controversial but promising development in Utah legislation that was brokered by long-term intergroup dialogue. Jacob’s piece explores how dialogue between religious conservatives and LGBTQ advocates created unlikely collaborations, and it holds a lot of insight for us in our work. You can read Jacob’s article below or find the original here.
Did Something Really Good or Really Bad Just Happen in Utah?
Leaning back in his chair, Jim Dabakis – an openly gay state senator from Utah – quoted one columnist who recently called him a “quisling” for his efforts to explore potential common ground with Mormon legislators.
He added with a wry smile, “I’m not even sure what that word means…but it doesn’t sound good!” (He’s right! quisling = “a traitor who collaborates with an occupying enemy force.”)
Depending on your perspective, something emerged from Utah’s 2015 legislative session last week that is either a “landmark,” a “watershed moment” and even a “miracle” – or a bill variously called “pathetic,” “shameful” and “the baddest of bad ideas.”
Disagreements aside, almost everyone might agree on how surprising it was to see Jim Dabakis hugging a Mormon apostle, Tom Perry, at the bill’s signing ceremony. What’s up with that?!
After the extensive Mormon support of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008, relations between the LGBT community and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were (more…)
NCDD’s Tech Tuesday events had a bit of a hiatus since the conference, but they’re back with a vengeance with the next several being firmed up as we speak. For April’s event, on Tuesday, April 7th, we’re pleased to feature Loomio, an open source app for group collaboration and decision-making that has been generating lots of buzz in the field.
Loomio emerged when activists from the Occupy movement teamed up with the social enterprise network Enspiral, realizing that they were using different approaches to work towards the same aim. Loomio provides an independent and neutral online space for complex discussion with lots of people at once. People can start a discussion, build agreement toward possible solutions, and ultimately come to a decision together for a course of action. Today, Loomio is used by people across the globe in a variety of settings to achieve better outcomes.
In this Tech Tuesday on April 7th (4-5pm Eastern/1-2pm Pacific), Loomio cooperative members Alanna Krause and Chelsea Robinson will join us to demonstrate the tool and share case studies of how it has been utilized. Participants will have the opportunity to see how Loomio works and ask questions. A brief video introducing the tool is below.
This FREE event will take place on Tuesday, April 7 from 4-5pm Eastern/ 1-2pm Pacific. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience this simple yet powerful tool – register today!
Tech Tuesdays are a series of learning events from NCDD focused on technology for engagement. These 1-hour events are designed to help dialogue and deliberation practitioners get a better sense of the online engagement landscape and how they can take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to them. You do not have to be a member of NCDD to participate in our Tech Tuesday learning events.
Climb towards new heights and seek out new vistas! The picturesque mountain scape of Banff Alberta Canada inspires a conference program that gives you opportunities to explore and elevate your facilitation knowledge and skills. The Conference theme is: Innovating, Promoting and Applying! Seeking New Facilitation Heights and Insights.
Innovating – learn about new trends, research, and creativity in facilitation
Promoting – communicate and market facilitation profession and services
Applying – learn, practice and improve facilitation skills
NOW is a great time to register for IAFNA 2015 in Banff to take advantage of current economical fees that increase the longer you wait. Your THREE general steps are: (more…)