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NCDD Joins Coalition in Launching National Survey on the American Dream

In an era of political divide and confusion, we can learn a lot about what is happening if we slow down and ask people how their thoughts and feelings about the issues that seem to divide us most are changing.

That is why NCDD is proud to announce that we’ve joined a national, nonpartisan coalition that is launching the “What’s Your American Dream?” survey. This survey will ask people across the US to express their values and goals around the issues they see as most vital, and deliver the results to lawmakers. We think that an effort like this can help guide the nation’s leaders – as well as dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement practitioners –  to understand Americans’ goals for this time and then devise the tactics to achieve those goals.

The survey grew out of discussions with former members of Congress and everyday Americans, all frustrated with being out of touch with each other. The coalition rolling out the “What is Your American Dream?” survey – comprised of 25 universities, media outlets, organizations spanning the political spectrum, and spearheaded by the team at TheChisel – has the potential to reach 30 million Americans.

NCDD joined this growing coalition because we believe that the survey is a great tool to help D&D practitioners in our network gain clearer insights on what the people we’re engaging are really thinking and how they’re prioritizing for different issue areas, which will help our field do more impactful work that is responsive to the needs in our communities. That’s why we’re supporting the survey and encouraging our network to participate & share the survey to your own networks!

The seven-week survey is being hosted on TheChisel.com, a unique nonpartisan public discussion platform that encourages people across the US to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NCDD Member Shares Faith & Dialogue Insights on NPR

In a testament to the critical work of NCDD’s network, we were proud to hear our very own Parisa Parsa – Executive Director of NCDD member org Essential Partners and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister – interviewed recently on NPR. Parisa was featured on the show Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys, where she shared about the keys to having good dialogue even in tough conversations. We encourage you to read more about her appearance in the EP blog piece below, find the original version here, or listen to the show here.


Making Difficult Conversations Not So Difficult

There you are – heart rate up, eyes dilated, adrenalin kicking in, jaw tightening. Maybe you’re the celebrity actor waiting for your big moment in your latest action movie. Maybe you’re about to experience your first skydiving jump. Or maybe you’re just standing, looking over the hedge of cubicles lining the company landscape, and beyond that is the curve of the earth.

Most people might see the Arctic Circle and Antarctica as being polar opposite to each other. Some people might see the United States as being on the opposite side of the planet from China. But we know that our planet is a sphere, and ‘opposites’ and ‘sides’ are all relative. We tend to live in fixed perspectives, not yet adjusted and molded as a result of different experiences.

Truth is that we don’t know who other people are until we get to know ‘them’. The other team, other cultures, different beliefs and values sprinkled with our own ignorances, and assumptions are ingredients that can (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Addressing the Problem of Separation through Dialogue

In these divided times, we wanted to share an encouraging piece that NCDD member organization Public Agenda recently posted on their blog. It summarizes insights gained from focus groups PA convened which demonstrated something our field knows – when people from different perspectives engage in dialogue, they realize they aren’t so different or separate after all. We encourage you to read PA’s piece below or find the original version here.


What Discussing Polarizing Topics Like Inequality Exposes

After a divisive election season we continue to see stark evidence of polarization and conflict in our society. But also – and this is less frequently reported on – we see a desire to bridge gaps and find common ground.

Polarization is about more than simply holding differing or even opposing views. These days, it is also about how people with a certain view are, by choice or circumstance, increasingly isolated from those who think differently. The interaction of diverse views is valuable, but the trend of increasing separation of and decreasing interaction between those who hold opposing views is troubling and potentially consequential. The less we interact with those who think differently, the more hardened our views tend to become, and the more apt we are to vilify one another and rely on stereotypes, which in turn further divide us.

Such political polarization is on the rise. While this is much more extreme among political leaders, there are also troubling signs that it is becoming more true among the public. According to a 2014 Pew survey of over 10,000 Americans, Republicans and Democrats are more (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Key Lessons on Community-Police Relations from APV2017

Last week, NCDD member orgs the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute hosted the 2017 “A Public Voice” forum that convened D&D practitioners with congressionl staff to talk about how to improve community-police relations. For those of you who couldn’t tune in to the livestream of the event, we wanted to share this insightful write up of the event’s highlights from our friends at Everyday Democracy below. We encourage you to read their piece below or find the original here. And if you’d like to watch the whole 90-minute recording of APV 2017, you can find links to it here.


A Public Voice 2017: Safety & Justice

EvDem LogoHighly-publicized police shootings, especially of unarmed black boys and men, have highlighted a national crisis of public safety and justice. These devastations lead us to ask how we can reduce crime as well as police violence, and how we can balance security and liberty. The National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) recently published a Safety & Justice guide and is moderating forums throughout the country to help people grapple with these issues and work towards solutions.

“A Public Voice,” the Kettering Foundation and NIFI’s “annual exploration of public thinking on key issues,” held on May 9 in Washington, D.C., provided the opportunity for Kettering to share with policymakers their insights from the 150 Safety & Justice forums held so far. Senior Associate Leslie King represented Everyday Democracy.

In his opening address, David Mathews, President of the Kettering Foundation, declared “There is no one in this city, no matter how important they are, that can (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Navigating a Polarized Landscape with Our Nonpartisan Credentials Intact

In the post-2016 election landscape where talk of “threats to democracy” abounds, many organizations focused on deliberative democracy and public engagement, including NCDD, have had to relearn not only how to balance participating in public conversation about issues that didn’t used to seem partisan before, but how to do so while maintaining our nonpartisan stances and not violating our organizational or personal values. It’s not easy, which is why we appreciated NCDD member org Healthy Democracy‘s recent piece that offers solid advice for how to evaluate and maintain our nonpartisan nature in this fraught new environment. We highly recommend you read their piece below or find the original here.


Nonpartisan Hygiene: 6 Tips to Stay Squeaky Clean

We find ourselves in a political moment where significant sectors of the country warn of existential threats to our democracy. This began before the 2016 election, but it has since reached a fever pitch. Signals such as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s recent “downgrade” of the US from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” have added fuel to the fire. At Healthy Democracy, we do not take a position about whether these threats are real or not, though we spend a great deal of time trying to improve our democracy.

Nonpartisan “Positions”

As a nonpartisan organization, we cannot take a position that would turn off members of any political or demographic group. This is because we rely on our reputation as unbiased process experts when working with citizens from across the political spectrum. Additionally, we don’t take positions on issues that might come before a Citizens Initiative Review panel, including the proposals of our peers in the elections reform space.

In some ways, this makes it easy for us to choose the issues on which we take a public position (pretty much nothing), but when “threats to our democracy” come up, and considering our name is Healthy Democracy, what do we do? Do we retweet a statement praising a free press? Or is publicly expressing support for a free press now (more…)

NCDD NewsNCDD News

Envisioning What We Can Do Together in NCDD

The NCDD network has been finding new ways to address the deep divisions in our world. Most recently, following the 2016 Presidential election, we’ve found our work to be more critical than ever. Our network has been thinking a lot about #BridgingOurDivides, and we think now is the time to get excited about what we can do together!

XS Purple NCDD logoThe Opportunities We See

Recently, NCDD has been working with the American Library Association on their newest project, Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change. This project brings training on numerous D&D methods to librarians eager to learn how they can apply them in their communities. And boy, are librarians eager! We’ve had at least 500 librarians participate in the project to date. This provides an exciting opportunity to introduce librarians to NCDD members, and NCDD’s hope is to expand this effort to include more direct connections between libraries and our members. These libraries will need some guidance and support as they get started with these community engagement efforts – and what better support system than NCDD members!

Our Confab Calls have been focused on new opportunities to connect and collaborate to bridge divides. Recent calls have featured Not In Our Town, which works with communities to address issues of hate and intolerance, and Journalism That Matters, bringing together journalists and public engagement practitioners to explore areas for collaboration. These are just the start of conversations about ways we can align our work to help our communities engage in dialogue on the issues important to them.

NCDD has also been talking with new folks and organizations about opportunities to connect to and tap into our membership. Information on new opportunities are coming soon from the 92nd Street Y’s Ben Franklin Circles, The Chisel, and others for our network to work with, connect to, and collaborate!

Finding new avenues for collaboration, whether with libraries, journalists, or other organizations and sectors is essential to expanding and sustaining the work of bringing people together across traditional lines to make decisions on the issues that affect them. We’re excited for what’s to come, new opportunities, and ways we can continue to help bridge the divides in our communities and nation.

Stay in the Loop!

Make sure you don’t miss out on these opportunities – be sure to join,  renew, or upgrade your membership in NCDD to stay in the loop! NCDD members hear about new events and work opportunities first and get access to special opportunities! Plus, being a member of NCDD gets you a seat at our table – our membership is at the heart of NCDD, and we consult and work with our membership to create programming, explore collaborations, and more!

If you’re currently a non-dues-paying member, the last day to upgrade your membership before the new changes to membership benefits take full effect is June 15th. Don’t keep waiting! We want you to continue to be a part of the future of NCDD and the dialogue & deliberation field, so join usrenew, or upgrade your membership today!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Learn from Iceland’s Deliberative Constitutional Change

We want to encourage our NCDD network, especially those in California, to consider registering to attend an intriguing event this June 3 at UC Berkeley called A Congress on Iceland’s Democracy. This international gathering aims to explore new approaches to democracy inspired by the deliberative process that Iceland used to create its new constitution through a mock legislative process, and we’re sure many NCDDers would take a great deal of inspiration from participating.
You can learn more about the gathering in the invitation letter below sent to the NCDD network from our friends at Wilma’s Wish Productions, whose Blueberry Soup documentary on Iceland’s constitutional transformation we previously posted about on the blog, or learn more at www.law.berkeley.edu/iceland.


A Congress on Iceland’s Democracy

We are writing to extend an invitation to an event we believe would interest you. On June 3rd, 2017, we are hosting a citizen’s gathering at the University of California, Berkeley.

This event will translate participatory discussion into concrete action proposals by organizing as a mock legislative body to develop, debate, and decide on proposals for moving forward with Iceland’s constitutional change process. The event’s structure takes inspiration from the 2010 Icelandic National Assembly and Robert’s Rules of Order.

This powerful summit will revolve around discussions on how to address the current political and social climate in the United States, using Iceland’s constitutional reform process as an example. Iceland’s new constitution was written in perhaps the most democratic way possible and we want to model this methodology and learn how it can be applied in communities across the United States and the world. Our goal is to create a non-partisan environment that will foster new approaches to democracy and a shared vocabulary.

Many prominent political figures from Iceland will be in attendance as well as many of the authors of the new constitution. Furthermore, academics, activists, startups, and journalists from all over the United States and Europe are also coming to (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Lessons on Non-Hierarchical Decision Making from Our Confab with Loomio

On Thursday of last week, NCDD hosted another one of our Confab Call events with over 40 people from our network. The call featured Rich Bartlett and MJ Kaplan of the Loomio cooperative who talked about their experience with decision making in non-hierarchical organizations. If you missed this Confab Call, you missed a great event!

We had a lively conversation on how non-hierarchical organizations can be structured, how decisions are made (spoiler alert: deliberatively!), and how work flows can be managed in ways that don’t require anyone to be “the boss.” Rich and MJ also shared interesting reflections on what they’ve been learning on their US tour in meetings with all kinds of organizations – from government departments to non-profits to grassroots organizations – who are exploring “the democracy question” internally and in civic society.

If you couldn’t participate in the Confab, never fear – we recorded the whole presentation and conversation, and you can hear and see the whole thing again by clicking here. You can also find the slides from MJ and Rich’s presentation by clicking here, and the transcript of the discussion being had in the chat during the call can be found here.

Confab bubble imageWe want to thank Rich, MJ, and the whole Loomio team again for collaborating with us on making this timely conversation happen. We encourage our network to explore how the Loomio tool can help your or other “flat” organizations work together better at www.loomio.org.

To learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit www.ncdd.org/events/confabs.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Tune into “A Public Voice” Safety & Justice Event Tomorrow!

We want to remind the NCDD network – especially those of you focused on community-police dialogue – to tune in live to the 2017 “A Public Voice” event tomorrow, May 9th from 1:30 -3pm Eastern via Facebook Live.

APV2017 Facebook Event

“A Public Voice” is the annual event that the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forums Institute – both NCDD member orgs – host every year to bring public input on policy straight to Washington DC. This year’s APV forum will be a working meeting with Congressional staff about the results of the numerous forums on safety and community-police relationships that NIFI, many NCDD members, and other D&D organizations hosted this year using NIFI’s Safety & Justice issue guide.

They will be streaming the live event tomorrow on Facebook Live, and we encourage our network to join the broadcast, not just to watch, but to send in your questions, comments, and other feedback that will be incorporated directly into the event!

Don’t miss this important discussion! You can sign up for a reminder and find the link to the live feed on May 9th in the APV 2017 Facebook event or learn more at www.apublicvoice.org.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Share Power through Public Participation… Or Else

As NCDD reflects on D&D in “flat” organizations during today’s Confab Call, we found a special appreciation for this insightful blog piece from NCDD member org The Participation Company. In it, TPC leader Debra Duerr writes on how conventional public participation still assumes a top-down model where the regular people address public officials who are really listening. She reflects on how the assumptions of that model are no longer working as power is ever-more concentrated out of the reach of everyday citizens and what might happen if we can’t facilitate, or even force, power sharing through real participation. We encourage you to read her provocative piece below or find the original here.


Revolutionary Conflict Resolution Styles

These are challenging times for us public participation practitioners. Our life’s work is conflict management and dispute resolution, plus adjusting to the various conflict resolution styles. To support this, we’ve built some nice, neat boxes that contain tools for working with people in most of the ‘real world’ situations encountered over the last 40 years. But, boy, the real world has changed. It seems there are no more boxes and no more rules.

The framework developed by the International Association for Public Participation to encompass the range of ways people can impact decisions is our ‘Spectrum’ (IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum). Says the organization, “IAP2’s Spectrum of Public Participation was designed to assist with the selection of the level of participation that defines the public’s role in any public participation process. The Spectrum shows that differing levels of participation are legitimate and depend on the goals, time frames, resources, and levels of concern in the decision to be made.”

Here’s the big But: This whole paradigm, including the ‘empower’ construct, implies that there’s (more…)

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