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From the CommunityFrom the Community

Help Move Us Beyond Partisan Polarization

We hope you will read the letter below from NCDD supporting member Mark Gerzon asking NCDD members to share their ideas and input for how we can transcend the partisan political divide of our times. Mark and the Center for Transpartisan Leadership will also be offering a chance to be part of the conversation in the “Co-Designing our Transpartisan Journey” workshop during NCDD 2014. Learn more about what the CTL is doing and comment with your ideas below.

Before we are Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, or any of the other labels that divide us as often as define us, we are Americans, all with a personal stake in our country. For some time now we’ve all fallen into a pattern of describing our choice as Left or Right. But is that really an accurate description of the choice before us? Isn’t our choice really not one of Left or Right, but of up or down?

CTL logo no wordsWhat do you think of the preceding sentences?

Whatever you reaction may have been, you should know that I didn’t write them. The author of the first sentence was one of the most liberal presidents in recent memory, Bill Clinton. The author of the second and third sentences was President Ronald Reagan, who spoke them exactly thirty years ago when accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008 made very similar statements.

These leaders know that there is another dimension to political life. It is not all about a horizontal (Left-Right) ideological divide, but also about a vertical (Higher-Lower) axis. In other words:

There is a path that goes “up” toward collaboration, problem-solving and co-creation, not “down” toward cynicism, polarization, and national decline.

NCDD members collectively have both the knowledge and commitment to charting this path toward higher ground. For this reason, we at the Center for Transpartisan Leadership are convening a one-day dialogue immediately preceding the NCDD conference to explore how organizations engaged in cross-boundary, cross-partisan work might deepen our synergy and potentially increase our collective impact.

We are inviting you to share your ideas with us so that (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Sign up for the Morven Park Field Trip at NCDD 2014

We are excited to share an invitation from Abby Pfisterer, a member of our conference planning team, to join her for another great field trip during NCDD 2014 to Morven Park! Find out more below and read more about our field trips by clicking here or sign up here.

Join us during NCDD 2014 for a field trip to Morven Park on Saturday evening and explore a hidden gem in DC’s metro area! Located in Leesburg, Morven Park is a 200 year old historic mansion that has been a home of political leaders from the days of the early republic through the beginning of the 20th century. It’s the perfect setting to relax after a busy (and invigorating!) second day at the conference – plus there will be local wines to try.

I’ve been a part of Morven Park’s educational team for several years, and what I love is that it’s more than just a place for interesting history and wide open spaces. The story and the site are the base for the exciting and forward looking programs we get to create and share with our community.

One of my favorite initiatives here is our Center for Civic Impact, which teaches K-12 youth how to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Submit Nominations for the 2015 Brown Democracy Medal

We want to encourage NCDD members to consider submitting nominations for this year’s Laurence and Lynn Brown Democracy Medal. The award is offered every year by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy, and we know many of our members would be a great fit for the award. Learn more in the announcement below and submit your nominations before Dec. 10th.

Seeking Nominations for the 2015 Penn State Democracy Medal

Each year, the Pennsylvania State University McCourtney Institute for Democracy gives a medal and $5,000 award for exceptional innovations that advance the design and practice of democracy. The medal celebrates and helps to publicize the best work being done by individuals or organizations to advance democracy in the United States or around the globe.

The Institute gives medals in even-numbered years to recognize practical innovations, such as new institutions, laws, technologies, or movements that advance democracy. In odd-numbered years, the awards celebrate advances in democratic theory that provide richer philosophical or empirical conceptions of democracy. The Participatory Budgeting Project won the first medal in 2014 for the best innovation in the practice of democracy (see details at democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu).

Nominations will be accepted through December 10, 2014, and the awardee will be announced in the spring of 2015. The winning individual (or representative of a winning organization) will give a talk at Penn State in the fall of 2015, when they also (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Free 3-Part Webinar on Talking about Difficult Public Issues

We want to share the following announcement from the American Library Association Center for Civic Life, and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life about a great 3-part webinar on discussing public issues that starts next week. We found the announcement over at the NIF blog, and hope you will read it below or view it here.

Does your community have a problem that looks like this?

Join us to learn how you can help overcome deadlock and lead change in your community.

Session 1: “Beyond Deadlock: A Better Way to Talk about Difficult Issues”

Tuesday, October 14, 4 – 5 p.m. EDT / 3 – 4 p.m. CDT / 1 – 2 p.m. PDT

  • Learn to help people work together to talk about public issues and make choices.
  • Uncover the deeper concerns of our communities.
  • Register for Session 1 at http://bit.ly/namingframing1

Session 2: “Tools for Naming and Framing Public Issues”

Wednesday, December 3, 4 – 5 p.m. EDT / 3 – 4 p.m. CDT / 1 – 2 p.m. PDT

  • Learn the steps and processes for leading a “naming and framing” effort.
  • Apply tools that help (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Register TODAY for NCDD 2014 before the Late Fee Starts!

Look, we know everyone procrastinates. I do it, you do it, we all do it.

But if you haven’t registered yet for the NCDD 2014 conference yet, today is your last day to get registered before the extra $100 late fee kicks in. So if you’ve been putting it off until the last minute, now is the last minute!

Make sure to get registered before midnight tonight at www.ncdd2014.eventbrite.com.

You wouldn’t want to miss all of our great workshops, the D&D Showcase, our brand new Short Talks, the exciting field trips, or our wonderful plenary speakers, would you? So stop procrastinating and register already!

We can’t wait to see all of you at NCDD 2014 in just over a week – it’s going to be our best conference yet!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Sign Up for an NCDD 2014 Field Trip to “Toast”

We are excited to share the invitation below from Marla Crockett – NCDD Board member and one of our DC site coordinators for NCDD 2014 – to join her for a great field trip during NCDD 2014! Find out more below and read more about our field trips by clicking here.

Join us for Toast during the NCDD Conference!

Wondering what to do on Saturday night during the NCDD Conference? Tickets are still available, so sign up for our field trip to Capitol Hill to see Toast. Produced by the highly respected theatre group, dog & pony dc, the show is described as a “participatory-performance-meets-science-fair.” You and other members of the audience will get drafted by a “secret society of inventors” to help push the boundaries of technological invention. It’s a fun and creative way to explore engagement and innovation, a few things we’re all interested in.

I saw a performance of dog & pony’s Beertown a few years ago and loved how they got the audience involved. We all became citizens of this fictional community in order to help the cast, playing city officials, determine which items should come out of Beertown’s time capsule and which ones should go in. We made up characters and played our parts seamlessly, arguing and weighing how to best represent life in “our” community. I would expect the same sort of role-playing and interaction with the actors during Toast.

In addition, dog & pony will be (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

CM Call on Rural Brain Drain, Oct. 9th

CM_logo-200pxWe are pleased to invite NCDD members to join our partners at CommunityMatters for the next of their monthly capacity-building calls series. This month’s call is titled “Rewriting the Rural Narrative”, and it will be taking place next Thursday, October 9th from 4-5pm Eastern Time. 

This month’s call will feature the insights of Ben Winchester, research fellow, University of Minnesota Extension. CM describes the upcoming call like this:

Brain drain – the loss of 18-29 year olds – dominates the conversation about rural population change. Yet at the same time, a lesser known migration is occurring. A majority of rural counties are, in fact, experiencing “brain gains” as newcomers age 30-49 move in.

Most communities aren’t tuned in to positive migration and miss out on the opportunities that come with newcomers. Ben Winchester, Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality, has studied the trend and has great ideas for making the most of positive migration patterns.

Join our next CommunityMatters® and Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design™ webinar to hear Ben’s research on rural migration trends and the impacts they have on social and economic opportunity. Learn how communities are responding to these trends and what can be done in your town.

Make sure to register for the call today!

As always, we encourage you to check out the CommunityMatters blog to read Caitlyn Horose’s reflections on brain drain as a way to prime your mental pump before the call. You can read the blog post below or (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Screening of “Bring It To The Table” at NCDD 2014

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be screening the not-yet-released film “Bring It To The Table” at NCDD 2014 on Saturday night starting at 8:30 pm, and you’ll have the chance to talk with filmmaker Julie Winokur about her journey, and about how you might utilize the film.


Democracy is founded on robust dialogue, but somewhere along the line, politics replaced sex as the one thing in America we don’t discuss in mixed company. Bring it to the Table aims to reverse that trend. Filmmaker Julie Winokur traveled across the country with a small star-spangled table, inviting people to sit down and share the roots of their political beliefs.

Using humor and candor, Winokur explores the peaks and valleys of the American political psyche while she strives to bring people together about topics that typically tear us apart. The project, which has been featured on NPR and MSNBC, will launch a college campus campaign this fall. (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

NCDD 2014: Lots of things to get excited about!

If you haven’t yet registered for the NCDD conference (Oct 17-19 in Reston, VA), now’s the time to do it! The late rate goes into effect next Wednesday, and registration will be $550 rather than $450.

NCDD2012-wFranKorten-borderIt’s looking like we’ll reach our goal of 400 attendees (yay!), but we still a few spots open, and maybe one of them has your name on it. ;)

But here’s an added incentive to register now.  You can enter the promo code “25percentoff” at registration to save over $110 on the regular registration rate. This code is only good for 15 uses, so use it asap at www.ncdd2014.eventbrite.com!

As those who have attended know, the National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation is one of the very best places you can connect with top leaders and emerging leaders in public engagement and group process work, learn about the latest and greatest things that are happening in our field, AND have a lot of fun doing it.

Christine Whitney Sanchez had this to say about the last NCDD conference:

“Where else can you collide with social entrepreneurs, scientists, journalists, film-makers, business owners, academics, artists, students, engineers, actors, electeds, consultants, nonprofit leaders, public servants, graphic recorders, techies, videographers, philosophers, lawyers, executives and more who are also agents of transformation?”

NCDD conferences only happen every two years, so you don’t want to wait for the next one!

There are so many things to get excited about this year — here are just a few…

  • The schedule is just amazing. On the first day of the conference, for instance, you’ll participate in a fun collaborative network mapping process that builds on the mapping project we’ve been doing over the past few months in conjunction with leading organizations in the field and 10 awesome graphic recorders.
  • Photo from a working group forming at the 2006 NCDD conferenceYou’ll get to hear from some incredible leaders in D&D, including plenary speakers David Mathews (president of the Kettering Foundation) and Grande Lum, director of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service.
  • Our gamification panelists include Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, among other greats. And our “short talks” presenters include field leaders like Carolyn Lukensmeyer, John Gastil, Tyrone Reitman, Sen. Les Ihara and Peggy Holman.
  • The session selection will leave you wishing you could clone yourself. The workshops cover topics like collective impact, working effectively with public officials, restorative justice, a deliberation “boot camp,” slam poetry for justice, strategies for developing effective university-community partnerships for engagement, how to use visuals to engage communities, participatory budgeting, how technology like texting and engagement tools are advancing this work, facilitating with grace while under fire, how Oregon is creating a statewide infrastructure for civic engagement, lots of inspiring case studies, and so much more!
  • We’ve got awesome field trips that are already filling up, a mentorship and scholarship program for young leaders, and lots of opportunities for networking.
  • Our Emcees, John Gastil and Susanna Haas Lyons, are absolutely top notch.
  • Our Showcase event during Friday’s evening reception will blow your mind, introducing you, at your own pace, to 25 incredibly useful online tools, resources, D&D methods, and other opportunities–and the leaders behind them.
  • We’ll even have a media room, where our videographer will be making clips of you FOR YOU to put on your site (so think about what you might want to say about your great work) and our photographer will be taking professional headshots you can use to beef up your image (both free!). We think these perks will be a great benefit to both our attendees and our field.
  • And we’ll be screening the not-yet-released film “Bring It To The Table” on Saturday night starting at 8:30 pm. Filmmaker Julie Winokur traveled across the country with a small star-spangled table, inviting people to sit down and share the roots of their political beliefs. You’ll have the chance to talk with Julie about her journey.
  • Our attendees are high calibur, accomplished, and frankly, an exciting bunch of public engagement professionals, students, funders, scholars, technologists, public administrators, artists and activists. You can scan all 370+ who have registered so far at www.ncdd2014.eventbrite.com (click “show more” a couple times to see them all).

I could go on, but I think you have the idea. The NCDD conference is truly a must-attend event for people involved in dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement work. I think our team has put together quite the event for you, and we look forward to seeing all of you soon!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Harwood: Is Focus on “Impact” Distracting from Change?

We are pleased to share a thought-provoking blog piece penned by Rich Harwood, director of The Harwood Insitute – an NCDD member organization. Rich reflects on a significant trend in the non-profit world that is familiar to many of us, and how our thinking around it can change. We encourage you to read the piece below or find the original here

HarwoodLogoThe watchword for community change nowadays is “impact.” This little, two-syllable word seemingly insinuates itself into every discussion about change. In doing so, it has redirected everyone’s attention, but not always in the right direction. If we’re not careful, we’ll lose sight of our most precious mission: to help people transform their lives and build stronger communities.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for “impact.” Who isn’t? I’ve spoken before hundreds of funders at an Aspen Forum for Community Solutions conference, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review on this topic, engaged in various roundtables and webinars, and developed thousands of “public innovators” to create collective change in communities across the U.S. and overseas. But the impact of this seemingly little word is not always so productive or positive.

My experience working with people in communities, with foundation leaders, with various national initiatives, and with a variety of others is that the deifying of this word has produced a cascading effect of (more…)