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What We Know Post-Election: Dialogue & Deliberation is More Critical than Ever

The Presidential election and the week following has brought the deep divides in this nation to a head, and brought to light numerous issues in our country. The results show us that huge swaths of the country feel unheard and anxious about the future, and sadly, many responses to the election and events taking place in its wake have highlighted issues of pent up frustration, racism, bigotry, and more. flag-cracked

We don’t know for sure what the coming weeks, months, and years will bring, but we do know this: dialogue & deliberation is more critical than ever. Our community may need some time to process this and think about what to do next, but we know our involvement is essential to helping bridge our divides, addressing substantive disagreements, and finding ways for us to work and move forward together as a nation.

The Needs We See & Our Network’s Response

There are many different needs that our country and our communities have right now, but we see a few key needs that stand out as ones that are especially suited for D&D solutions: bridging long-standing divides, processing hopes and fears together, encouraging and maintaining civility in our conversations, and humanizing groups who have become “the other.”

We at NCDD have been discussing bridging our divides all year, and we have an ongoing campaign focused on that work, but the election highlights that need even more. The partisan divide is always there, of course, as well as our historical racial divides. But the election also highlighted the disconnect between rural and urban communities, between people who attended college and who didn’t, and between people from different class statuses. The D&D community needs to be responding to all of these divides – exploring their origins, understanding how they impact people, and imagining how we can dissolve them. Essential Partners just released a Guide for Reaching Across Red-Blue Divides that can be a helpful tool for these needed conversations, and there are more.

After the election, people also need to process and reflect. There is a critical need for dialogue right now where people can express how they’re feeling and explore their hopes and worries for the weeks and months to come. Processes like Conversation Cafe are easy access points for people looking to have a dialogue to reflect on the election as well as what they’d like to see happen now. It’s a tool that provides the structure people need to have thoughtful, respectful conversations in person, and Essential Partners’ work to engage people about what happens #AfterNov8 is a good social media complement.

There is also a need – possibly more than ever – for civility in our discussions that allows us to disagree without attacking each other. D&D practitioners have our work cut out for us in helping people approach both public and private post-election conversations with civility and respect. Several NCDD members are leading efforts to maintain and restore it, with the National Institute for Civil Discourse leading the charge in their Revive Civility campaign, yet much more is needed.

fatima-talkingFinally and maybe most importantly, the country needs help finding approaches to humanizing the people and groups that have become “the other” – unapproachable and unredeemable caricatures – to our own groups. Conservatives are feeling unfairly vilified and misunderstood. Many immigrants, Muslims, and women are feeling threatened, at risk, and unwelcome. NCDD is continuing to support this work and promote collaboration through our new Race, Police, & Reconciliation listserv, and Not In Our Town has many resources for opposing bullying and hate groups that we recommend checking out. But this strand of potentially transformational D&D work needs much more energy and investment devoted to it in coming months and years.

Share What You’re Doing

As we look ahead, we want to ask NCDD members and our broader network, what work are you doing in response to the election and the issues that have arisen? What resources can you share to help others at this time?

Please share any efforts you are making, ideas you have, resources or tools you know of that could be helpful in the comments section of this post or on the #BridgingOurDivides campaign post. We learn so much from being in communication with one another about what we’re up to. NCDD will continue to share your responses on the NCDD Blog and our social media using the hashtag #BridgingOurDivides to continue lifting up stories and resources to a broader audience, and we’ll be working to compile the best divide-bridging resources in our Resource Center.

Furthermore, tell us what you think we can be doing together as a community to address the post-election landscape. Let’s talk with one another about how we can work collaboratively to engage the public and bring peaceful interactions and greater understanding to everyone.

It’s clear there is a lot of work to do to help our country come together, and heal the divides this election season has unearthed or widened. Our community is well suited to do this work, and we call on all of us to be supporting one another in our efforts.

Continue the conversation with NCDD on social media: FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Guide for Conversation Across Red-Blue Divides #AfterNov8

As our field continues to process the election results, we hope our members will keep sharing divide bridging projects and resources as part of NCDD’s #BridgingOurDivides campaign. We know there are many conversations that need to be had in our country, and we want to encourage you to continue to use the hashtags #BridgingOurDivides and #AfterNov8 as you have them. To help those discussions, both online and in person, we want to share a guide that NCDD member organization Essential Partners recently released for conversations across partisan divides. We encourage you to read Essential Partners’ announcement about the resource below or find the guide here.


Election’s Over. But We Still Have a Choice

Today, we gathered together in our offices in Cambridge with friends and supporters to try to begin to understand what happens now. What happens, now that half of our nation feels bereft and hopeless and half feel at last heard and recognized? How can we approach one another again?

Calls for “healing” are proliferating right now. I’m sure you’ve seen them. But I don’t think healing is a possibility until we accomplish something much more basic: simple human encounter grounded in genuine curiosity.

The choice before us as a nation is stark. We can dive into our isolated encampments and stay there, magnifying the chasm, bemoaning our own righteousness and the other side’s blindness. Or we can choose to act with courage, to walk into a room where we will encounter people who have voted for a candidate (or a President-Elect) we can’t stand and explore your most deeply held beliefs.

So, that’s what we plan to do, with your partnership. We’ve put together a guide for conversations across political differences that we hope you’ll use in your own conversations and communities. Today wasn’t the beginning of conversations across the divide, but it was a deep recommitment to pushing past media-induced stereotypes to ask each other questions that ground us in shared humanity.

Who do we want to be, and how do we want to be with those neighbors whom we have called “other”? What will we need to hold back in our own knee-jerk propensity in order to say the larger truth we need to share? What do we want that “other” to know about us and our values? And what do we want to know about theirs?

NCDD NewsNCDD News

NCDD Launches Listserv on Race, Police, & Reconciliation

Link to NCDD listservsThere were many connections made, collaborations started, and projects launched during our NCDD 2016 conference last month in Boston. But there’s one initiative that we want to specifically highlight today and encourage our NCDD members to support.

As NCDD 2016 participants dug into the conference theme of Bridging Our Divides, two important and related divides were clearly feeling urgent for participants – our nation’s racial divides, and the parallel divide between police and the communities they work in. During several conference workshops, conversations in the hallways, and during the plenaries, our NCDD members were also exploring and sharing ideas about the power of truth & reconciliation processes to possibly help our nation address such issues, asking themselves not only what D&D practitioners can do to play a more active role in growing work aimed bridging these fraught divides, but also, what are we already doing?

That’s why NCDD is launching a new email discussion listserv that we hope will serve as a space where we can continue to share and discuss ideas, tools, projects, and resources about race dialogue, community-police dialogue, and truth-telling & reconciliation work. We encourage anyone in our network who works on, studies, or has an interest in race relations, community-police relations in the face of violence, or broader truth-telling and reconciliation processes to join this email list to network and share with others who work in these areas.

Join the Discussion Today

You can subscribe to the Race, Police, & Reconciliation Discussion List by sending a blank email to race-dialogue-subscribe-request@lists.ncdd.org. Then once you’re subscribed, you can send messages to everyone on the list by emailing race-dialogue@lists.ncdd.org.

We know that there many NCDD members – and even more outside of our network – already engaged in ongoing dialogue efforts across historical racial divides and doing the difficult work of trying to help everyday people angry with police to hear and be heard by law enforcement officials. And we at NCDD want to try to harness that collective energy and catalyze even more collaboration among those who are seeking to strengthen that work or move it towards real healing and reconciliation.

We believe that our D&D field has a special role to play in making substantive progress about how we move forward together as a country on these difficult divides, and we invite you to join us on this new discussion listserv to begin figuring out just how we do that.

Learn more about NCDD’s many other discussion and updates listservs at www.ncdd.org/listservs.

NCDD NewsNCDD News

Participate in NCDD’s #BridgingOurDivides Campaign

As the election winds down, ballots are counted, and the debates about the many decisions on the ballot finally have clear outcomes, we have arrived at a time when we as a field need to take stock of what we should do next. A major theme of our NCDD 2016 conference in Boston was how D&D practitioners can help repair our country’s social and political fabric, both after this bruising and bitter election year, but also in light of many of the longer-standing divisions in our country.

NCDD has made an ongoing commitment to answering that question, and as part of that commitment, we are calling on our members and others to enlist in our new #BridgingOurDivides campaign!

In this new effort, NCDD is asking our members to help us collect information about the projects, initiatives, or efforts that you and others are undertaking to help our nation heal our divisions and move forward together, with a special focus onncdd_resources collecting the best shareable resources that folks are using to support or spark bridge building conversations in the aftermath of the election and beyond.

To do that, we ask that you share about those efforts and resources in the comments section of this post – post your links, write ups, reports, and descriptions that will help NCDD and others learn about divide bridging efforts you’re connected to, whether they are election-related or not.

In addition, we want to foster a broad conversation about what our field is doing and offering to bring people together to discuss difference and find common ground, so we are encouraging everyone to join the conversation on social media by sharing those comments, resources, links, and thoughts about this work using the hashtag #BridgingOurDivides. This will be a great way to increase the visibility of our field’s work, and we hope it also increases support for NCDD, so we encourage you to include a link to NCDD’s “Get Involved” page at www.ncdd.org/getinvolved, too! (You can also use the shorter bit.ly/ncddinvolve for tweets.)

There are already some great efforts to bring people together across divides in the NCDD network now:

  • The Utah Citizen Summit is being convened by the Salt Lake Civil Network and the Bridge Alliance as part of the ongoing effort to help bridge partisan divides
  • Essential Partners is working to start forward-looking, post-election conversations on social media with their #AfterNov8 hashtag, which we encourage everyone to participate in alongside the #BridgingOurDivides conversation
  • The Americans Listen project is calling on everyday people to have empathetic, one to one listening conversations with Trump supporters about both what they find appealing about his message and what keeps non-supporters from really hearing their concerns

These are just a few examples of projects that are #BridgingOurDivides, and we know that the NCDD network is full of thoughtful, creative people engaged in many more. So tell us – what are you doing or planning to do that is bridging our divides? Not just the divides exposed or widened during the election, but the ones that were there before as well? Share all about it in the comments section below and on social media!

Our nation’s divides, whether related to the election or not, didn’t emerge over night, and they certainly won’t be bridged overnight either. But we at NCDD believe they can be healed – one conversation at a time. Join us in helping the world see how, and support us in this effort.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Two NCDD Members Share IAP2 USA Research Award

We are proud to share that two of our great NCDD members – Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center and Tina Nabatchi of the Maxwell School at Syracuse – have been jointly awarded the Research Project of the Year Award by NCDD member organization IAP2 USA.

The award came as part of the US branch of the International Association for Public Participation‘s annual Core Values Awards, which it gives to outstanding organizations or projects that represent the best of the best in public participation.

Kyle and Tina’s project was called “Clearing the Error: Public Deliberation about Diagnostic Error,” and it used the Citizen Jury process to involve everyday medical patients in improving their common problems with health diagnoses. It was an innovative use of deliberation to really empower people to make an impact on a key issue in health care systems, and we congratulate them on a job well done!

You can learn more about the award-winning “Clearing the Error” project in the video below:

There is more info on Kyle and Tina’s project as well as all the other award winners at www.iap2usa.org/2016cva. But for now, please join us in congratulating Kyle, Tina, and their teams on winning this important award!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

How D&D-Journalism Partnerships Hold “Infinite Potential”

Our media collaborations panel during the NCDD 2016 conference had the whole room buzzing. NCDD member Peggy Holman facilitated a conversation between accomplished journalists and conference participants on how the D&D field can create stronger partnerships with media makers, and we uncovered some very powerful possibilities for D&D-journalism collaborations.
One of the panelists was Chris Faraone of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and he recently penned an article reflecting the conference and those possibilities. In it, he shared advice for how our field can bring them to fruition that we hope our members will take to heart, so we encourage you to read the piece from Chris below or to find the original version here.


Talk Kin: Where Journalism Meets Dialogue and Deliberation

“Where the heck have you all been my whole career?”

I found myself thinking and saying such things repeatedly at the National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, which was held outside of Boston two weeks ago. I only learned about the host group, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), a few months earlier, but by the time its members came to Massachusetts for their biannual gathering I felt like I was meeting long-lost cousins.

Other realms cross over into media as well  –  from research and academia, to public relations, to technology and programming. But while several virtually simpatico professional alliances may lurk out there, the discovery of Dialogue & Deliberation  –  or simply D&D for the initiated  –  was particularly surprising and exciting. Comprised of voices from a wide range of fields, from life coaches and lawmakers to psychologists and social workers, they’re primarily communicators, and are therefore kin to any journo worth a damn.

The theme for NCDD 2016 was “Bridging Our Divide,” a timely guideline amidst so much partisan crossfire and political warfare, but also a reference to how the D&D community is ready to engage new partners and expand. In their welcome letter, NCDD Executive Director Sandy Heierbacher and Program Director Courtney Breese wrote that they hoped attendees would “take a systemic look at why so many initiatives in our field [D&D] are underfunded and under-reported,” and added that their intention for the weekend was to “provide an opportunity to build a new foundation of relationships … and create new momentum.”

Which is where I entered the picture. This year NCDD tapped Journalism That Matters, a nonprofit that convenes conversations (one of which inspired me to start the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism nearly two years ago) to foster collaboration, to help bridge individuals and outlets doing D&D with those involved with journalism.

According to JTM Executive Director Peggy Holman, “the engagement space is where journalists and communities intersect,” and after taking in the conference and participating in the final plenary which examined this topic, I’m happy to report that I believe there’s absolutely infinite potential in a D&D and journalism matrimony. I have no doubt that deliberation is an industry that I will write about, revisit, and consider for years to come; for now, here are my takeaways from the NCDD event neatly parsed into two sections: comments that I heard in last week’s sessions that are relevant to my reportorial experience, and ideas for how these fields can start (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Join the #AfterNov8 Conversation on Bridging Our Divides

During the NCDD 2016 conference, we focused on how our field can help bridge our divides after such a toxic and divisive election cycle, and now team at NCDD member organization Essential Partners have launched an effort to continue that conversation on social media. It invites us to share their hopes and goals for how we move forward as a country after Nov. 8th by making a video, a voice memo, or posting on social media, all using the hashtag #AfterNov8 – we encourage our members to participate!

We think this can be a powerful way for our field to shift the conversation to moving forward together as we transition out of the election, so we hope you’ll add your voice! You can read more about the #AfterNov8 campaign in Essential Partners’ blog post below or find the original version here.


#AfterNov8 Launches

Essential PartnersThis election season, we’ve spent a lot of time obsessing about November 8th. We watch debates, we share memes, we pore over maps, heralding the candidate of our choice and criticizing their opponent. But little attention has been paid to what happens after November 8th.

What do we do after the election? How do we heal? The fact remains that we have to live and work together. No matter the winner of this election, it will not undermine our responsibility to do meaningful work over the next four years.

Whether we have a President Trump or President Clinton will not change the need to volunteer in our schools, to work toward racial reconciliation, to commit to supporting refugees from war torn nations, to supporting our veterans and soldiers, to help families in need, to living out our professed beliefs that all people are created equal.

So we want to hear from you… not about your hopes for this election, but for our lives and our nation after November 8th.

  • What do you wish for us as a nation after Nov. 8?
  • What do you hope we can work on together?
  • What issues do you hope we will meaningfully address?

Using #AfterNov8, please share your perspective on social media. We’ll be sharing some of the ones we’ve collected. Email us your audio or video file(s) and we’ll integrate them into our story. Ask your family, friends, students, neighbors to join the conversation.

Please consider sharing your voice with us directly – we’ll integrate it into a video debuting next week!

Here are images for you to share on Facebook and Twitter.

You can find the original version of this Essential Partners blog post at www.whatisessential.org/news/afternov8-launches.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Statewide Deliberative Forum Series Launches in Alabama

In case you missed it, we wanted to share some exciting news about deliberation in the South that we heard from the team at the National Issues Forums Institute. NIFI and the Mathews Center for Civic Life, both NCDD member organizations, will be partnering to host a series of deliberative forums aimed at helping Alabama residents plan for their futures over the next two years. We encourage you to read more about the initiative below or find the original NIFI blog post here.


“What’s Next Alabama?” Statewide Initiative Moving Forward

NIF logoThe David Mathews Center for Civic Life (DMCCL), based in Montevallo, Alabama, has launched an ambitious project to help residents of the state take stock of how well their communities are working for them, where people would like to see their communities be in the future, and how they might get there. Titled, What’s Next, Alabama? a recent DMCCL newsletter described pilot activities leading up to the initiative:

In preparation for our 2017-19 AIF initiative, What’s Next, Alabama? Mathews Center staff is piloting this new approach in Cullman, Alabama. Our second of three public forums is scheduled for October 25. The community will ask itself, “Where do we want to go from here?” as they uncover common ground for economic, community, and workforce development. From local news source Cullman Tribune, read about the first forum, focused on answering the questions, “Where are we now, and who else should be at the table?”

The following excerpt is from a more complete description of the initiative: (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Utah Citizen Summit: Bridging Divides After the Election

For those eager to continue the conversation we began at NCDD 2016 about how to bridge our nation’s divides after the election, we encourage you to attend or tune in to the Utah Citizen Summit on Nov. 12th in Salt Lake City. The day-long event has been organized with the help of many NCDD members, and the centerpiece of the event, a conversation across partisan divides about the common good, will be livestreamed. You can learn more about the Summit in the announcement below from NCDD Sustaining Member John Steiner, or by clicking here.


An Invitation to Participate in a National Conversation

The national heart of the Utah Citizen Summit – to be held on Saturday, November 12th in Salt Lake City – is an afternoon, 90-minute dialogue, which will be facilitated by Mark Gerzon, with a leading Democrat, Republican, an Independent, and a major civic leader. The animating question will be: Now What? After this election how can we, as Americans, come together across our many divides to address challenging issues and to work for the common good?

We’ll be asking the following or similar questions of our participants:

  1. Now that the election is over, what are your hopes and dreams for Americans coming together?
  2. How might we learn to better live with our differences – with greater mutual respect and honor, with civility and compassion – in order to address challenging issues and to make progress for the common good?
  3. What first step might you (and your organization) be willing to take to help make this possible?

This conversation will be live streamed and recorded.

With the intention of recreating our public square – as Hannah Arendt once said, “Democracy needs a place to sit down” – we would like to catalyze similar conversations around our country after the election and before the inauguration. We’re reaching out to national organizations and networks with which we’ve been involved to see who might want to host similar dialogues in their communities, whether in living rooms, public (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Free Webinar on Making Participation Accessible, Oct. 27

As you may have seen recently on our NCDD discussion listserv, NCDD members are invited to attend a free webinar this Thursday, Oct. 27 on how to make our processes more accessible. The webinar is being offered by MH Mediate, and will be a good opportunity for practitioners to continue to learn new tools for going beyond “the usual suspects” for participation in our events. You can learn more in MH Mediate’s announcement below or register here.


Become Accessible to a Wider Audience

Thursday, October 27th, 1-2pm Eastern / 10-11am Pacific

Accessible processes are equally appealing to people with diverse abilities and needs, including people with disabilities. After we explore a universal design framework for creating accessible dialogue processes, we’ll apply key accessibility principles to some examples. Finally we’ll discuss how to communicate your accessible practices to constituents and organizational partners.

Register free by clicking here or visiting https://goo.gl/sfv5Xy

E-mail dan@mhmediate.com if you have any questions or examples you’d like to cover during the presentation. You can also submit them when you register for the webinar.

About the Presenter
Dan Berstein is a mediator living with bipolar disorder and the founder of MH Mediate. He has hosted a variety of dialogue events, including the first New York City National Dialogue on Mental Health event which became a model for inclusive discussions around the country. Dan is an expert in accessibility, having trained practitioners across a dozen states. Dan’s workshops stress designing processes that work better for everyone while ensuring they work with people living with disabilities and other needs.

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