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From the CommunityFrom the Community

Journalists Convene Divide-Bridging Dialogue in Pacific NW

Recently, journalists from The Evergrey undertook an effort that provided an inspiring, real-life example of dialogue work that is #BridgingOurDivides, and we wanted to highlight it for our network. The group brought people from urban, liberal King County, WA together with people from rural, conservative Sherman County, OR to have conversations about politics and their perspectives. Not only did they avoid shouting mathes, but people acutally listened to and learned from each other.
We encourage you to read the excerpt below from the great write up about the trip below from one of the organizers, Mónica Guzmán of The Evergrey, and check out the full version here. You can also learn more by watching the recording of the live chat that The Evergrey hosted to debrief the trip, which you can find here.


Seattleites took a 10-hour road trip to cross a political divide. Here’s what happened

Sherman County, Oregon, sits just south of the Washington border, east of the Cascades. Fewer than 2,000 people live in its 831 square miles. Stand on one of the hills near Moro, the county seat, and you’ll see wheat fields all around – and maybe some tall wind turbines.

Sherman County has very little in common with Seattle and King County. And yet, we’re connected: It’s the nearest county to ours that voted exactly opposite us in the presidential election. While 74 percent of King County voters went for Clinton, 74 percent of Sherman County voters went for Trump.

So on Saturday, about 20 of us King County residents took a 10-hour road trip to pay the people of Sherman County a visit.

We called the trip “Melting Mountains: An Urban-Rural Gathering.” Sandy Macnab, a just-retired Sherman and Wasco County agricultural agent who planned the event with us, came up with the name. It refers to the snowmelt that runs down the mountains dividing the eastern and western parts of our states, nourishing the land below.

We like the metaphor. And though we know we can’t melt the political and cultural “mountains” that divide our two counties in an afternoon – red vs. blue, liberal vs. conservative, rural vs. urban – we figured we might help people take a first step…

We encourage you to read the full version of this piece by Monica Guzman of The Evergrey at www.theevergrey.com/took-10-hour-road-trip-cross-political-divide-heres-happened.

NCDD NewsNCDD News

New NCDD Podcast Episode Featuring Bring it to the Table!

The latest episode of the NCDD Podcast is now live! You can find this on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play.

In this episode, NCDD Managing Director Courtney Breese speaks with Julie Winokur of Bring it to the Table. Julie is Producer and Director of Bring it to the Table, a project seeking to bridge political divides and break down partisanship through a documentary, webisodes, online platform and community engagement campaign. Julie speaks about her experiences filming the original documentary in 2012 (some of you saw the documentary at NCDD 2014!), as well as her more recent work bringing the film and table talks to college campuses. She also shares her reflections on the state of U.S. politics today and the opportunities she sees for us to come together through dialogue.

The NCDD podcast is a new format for leaders and practitioners from the D&D field to share their stories and ideas, as well as discuss opportunities and challenges in this work. The podcast will also help us to continue our conversation from the NCDD 2016 Conference about #BridgingOurDivides.

We invite you to listen to this episode and share your thoughts here, particularly about the opportunities you see for dialogue across political and other divides. In light of Julie’s story, what more can we be doing as individuals and dialogue & deliberation practitioners to bring people together across our differences? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Our thanks to Ryan Spenser for his continued help recording and editing these podcast episodes.

Please share this episode and the podcast links with others – and let Courtney (courtney@ncdd.org) know if you have any ideas for future episodes!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Univ. of San Diego Hosts “Rebuilding Civility” Conference

If you work on political civility or live in the San Diego area, we encourage you to consider attending the Restoring Respect conference at the University of San Diego this April 18-19. The gathering convenes teachers, students, and community members to discuss civic engagement, dialogue, and other work that can help us in #BridgingOurDivides, as well as a plenary session panel moderated by long-time NCDD member Carolyn Lukensmeyer of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. We encourage you to learn more in the USD announcement below or learn more at the conference website here.


Restoring Respect – 6th Annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue – “Rebuilding Civility”

The 2016 election was the most divisive and vitriolic in American history. From candidates’ personal attacks to paralysis and dysfunction in national government, the price tag of incivility, and resulting failure to reach political consensus, has never been greater.

Join other concerned members of our community in an ongoing discussion about how to restore respect to the local and national civic dialogue. Explore ways to better educate the next generation of citizens and community leaders on how to better build our American community.

The 6th annual Restoring Respect conference will be held April 18-19, 2017 at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. The morning and afternoon of Tuesday April 18 and the afternoon of Wednesday, April 19 will be dedicated to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Winner of the 2017 Taylor L. Willingham Award Announced

Every year, the National Issues Forums Institute – one of our NCDD member orgs – gives out the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award in support of people advancing the work of deliberative democracy and in honor of the memory of our friend Taylor and her work in the field. We invite you to join us in congratulationg Lauren Gabbard of Kentucky who won the 2017 award. You can read more about Lauren’s work and the award in the NIFI announcement below or find the original here.


Lauren Gabbard is Recipient of Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund Award

Lauren Gabbard, an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Kentucky Campus Compact, is the 2017 recipient of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award. She is developing an understanding of deliberative democracy and plans to moderate four forums in 2017. She is also helping to build the capacity for a statewide democratic deliberation movement in Kentucky, called the Kentucky Network for Public Life. Read on to learn more about Lauren and her plans.

Lauren Gabbard is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Kentucky Campus Compact. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Northern Kentucky University. Lauren’s dedication to community, justice, and diversity motivated her to serve with AmeriCorps, where she is currently working on a statewide democratic deliberation movement called the Kentucky Network for Public Life.

Lauren developed a passion for democratic deliberation after attending the 2016 West Virginia Civic Life Institute. As a young leader and activist, she connected with the idea of engaging community members to have conversations and take active roles in shaping their future together. As a queer woman, Lauren especially values the way dialogue can be used to discuss issues within oppressed communities and with the wider community to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Participate in DC-Area Moderator Training for Higher Ed

We encourage our DC-area NCDD members in higher ed – students, faculty, and staff – to consider attending a training for deliberative dialogue moderators this April 29. The training is hosted by the American Democracy ProjectThe Democracy Commitment and the Kettering Foundation in preparation for the 2017 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement meeting on June 9 in Baltimore, which we also encourage our NCDD higher ed folks to attend. You can read more in ADP’s announcement below or find the original version here.


Deliberative Dialogue Moderator Training Workshop in Washington, DC

AASCU’s American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment, in partnership with the Kettering Foundation, are proud to announce a special professional development opportunity for area students, faculty, and staff interested in a moderator training for deliberative dialogues.

We will be hosting a Deliberative Dialogue Moderator Training Workshop on Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 10am – 2pm at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), 1307 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005.

Hosts:

  • Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, American Democracy Project National Manager, AASCU
  • Verdis LeVar Robinson, National Director, The Democracy Commitment

Trainers: (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Reflections on Civic Courage & Bridging Our Divides

In these times, the work of #BridgingOurDivides continues to be one of the biggest contributions our field can make to the nation. But it takes a lot to do that difficult work. Today, we wanted to share a great piece by NCDD member Martha McCoy of Everyday Democracy reflecting on civic courage – what it means, why it’s important for bridging divides, and ideas for how to cultivate it. The piece also invites D&D practitioners to share your stories and thoughts about civic courage with EvDem, which we hope you’ll do. You can read Martha’s piece below or find the original version here.


Practicing Civic Courage in Our Time

EvDem LogoThe day after the election, we shared a piece by our board member Peter Levine, in which he called for civic courage. As division, uncertainty, and anxiety continue to grow, I find myself coming back to this important idea. When messages of fear become louder and more frequent, what does civic courage look like ? How can we practice it?

At difficult times throughout our history, many people have exercised civic courage. What kind of courage do we need to practice today? What will it take to advance a democracy that values the voice and participation of people of all racial and ethnic groups, economic means, creeds, ages, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and walks of life?

Since Everyday Democracy is a national civic organization that focuses on providing ways to lift every voice, we have opportunities to work with and learn from civic practitioners and visionary leaders across the country. Here are a few lessons about civic courage we have drawn from their experiences:

Reach in

The work of strengthening democracy is ultimately collective, but it is alsoan “inside job.” Those whose words and actions touch us most deeply draw on (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Harwood Institute Opens New Studio on Community

The team at The Harwood Institute – an NCDD member organization – recently announced an exciting new initiative that they are calling the Studio on Community, and they are looking for two associates to help launch its work. The Studio will dig into work that we are sure many in our network would thrive in, so we wanted to share about the initiative and the opportunity here on the blog. We encourage you to read the announcement from Harwood below or or find the original here.


Rich Harwood’s New Studio on Community Announced

Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, is creating a studio within The Harwood Institute to support special efforts to advance new ideas for strengthening communities and society in a rapidly changing world. He is looking for two studio associates to begin work this year.

The studio will explore topics such as:

  • The emergence and meaning of a new American narrative;
  • The importance of belief and a can-do spirit in moving communities and countries forward;
  • New mechanisms and spaces for bridging societal divides and engaging individuals in collective efforts;
  • A new approach to shared responsibility in communities;
  • The role of civic rituals in society; and
  • The renewed role for the human element in civic and political affairs.

The Studio Concept

Studios have long existed as a combination workshop and space where the act of reflection can merge with acts of production. Studios have been (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Capturing Lessons from the Journalism-D&D Confab Call

Last week, NCDD and Journalism That Matters (JTM) co-hosted a special Confab Call between journalists and public engagement practitioners, and it was an incredible discussion. We had just shy of 70 practitioners, journalists, and others from our network who participated, along with some distinguished guests.

Confab bubble imagePeggy Holman and Michelle Ferrier of JTM kicked us off with a discussion of some of the amazing potential of more meaningful collaboration between the D&D world and journalism professionals, then we launched into examples of what’s already been happening. Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center and 45-year journalism veteran Doug Oplinger shared stories of how they collaborate to help Ohio journalists rebuild public trust in the press. Betty Knighton shared about how the W. Virginia Center for Civic Life has partnered with public broadcasting groups to help regular people explore the interconnections between hot current issues. We also discussed how journalists can provide a much-needed “community listening infrastructure” for public officials and many other critical topics in our break out group discussions.

If you missed the call, you missed an exciting and thought-provoking conversation. But don’t worry – we recorded it, and you can hear (and see) the whole thing again by checking out the recording below or here. You can also follow along with what was happening in the live chat during the call by downloading the saved conversation here.

We know that we only scratched the surface on this call, and that the conversation about how we can strengthen our field’s connection to the power of the media world will continue to percolate over the coming months and years.

If you want to delve deeper into this topic, we highly encourage you to register to attend JTM’s Elevate Engagement Un-Conference this May 18th-21st in Portland, OR where journalists and public engagement/D&D practitioners will all come together in person to take this collaboration to new heights. We also recommend checking out the recent NCDD podcast on the same topic here, or revisiting the D&D-journalism panel discussion that we hosted during NCDD 2016 here.

Thanks again to Journalism That Matters, all of our featured speakers, and the participants for helping make this a great conversation. We look forward to continuing it in the future and seeing the fruits of where it can lead our work!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

PB Network to Host Study Session on Deliberation & Voting

The Participatory Budgeting Project team recently launched the exciting PB Network – a learning and collaboration infrastructure for cities and institutions using participatory budgeting – which is hosting periodic “study sessions” online, and the NCDD network is invited! Their next study session will be a webinar focused on citizens juries and deliberative methods of decision-making this Wednesday, March 22. We encourage you to learn more in the PBP announcement below or sign up here.


Upcoming PB Network Event

We’d like to invite you to the PB Network’s next PBP Study Session on Wednesday, March 22nd!

One of the ideas behind participatory budgeting is that we need to get beyond the simple yes/no votes we’re usually presented with at ballot boxes. Choosing between 2 options doesn’t capture the breadth and subtlety of the needs that many communities face. Deliberation and new voting techniques can help get better decisions that benefit broader groups of people.

The study session will feature Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, who will share some lessons from “citizen juries“, which take a randomly selected and balanced group of citizens to deliberate and make informed and thoughtful recommendations about a public issue. We’ll also learn from Ashish Goel of Stanford’s Crowdsourced Democracy Team, who works on collaborative decision-making, including developing innovative ballot platforms for participatory budgeting in many cities across the US.

Join us for a discussion on new innovations in participatory decision-making with broad sets of stakeholders.

The webinar will be:
Wednesday, March 22nd
1pm EST/10am PST
Click here to register and receive the webinar info

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Designing Dialogues for Understanding & Conflict

The team at Essential Partners – an NCDD member org – often has insightful reflections about the work of dialogue on their blog. Today we wanted to share one of those reflections by John Sarrouf, who writes about how well-structured dialogue can help us bridge our divides like a road that guides us across difficult or dangerous terrain with a well-placed signs and a few simple rules. We encourage you to read the piece below or find the original version here.


Rules of the Road: Designing the Structure in Difficult Conversations

Every time I drive down an undivided highway, speeding along at 60 mph past cars whizzing to my left and right, I am amazed that this is possible – mostly without incident. I remember learning to navigate the winding Berkshire Mountain roads as my father taught me to decipher the dividing lines. Sometimes the line in the middle is double striped (everybody stay in their lane), sometimes solid on our side and dotted on the other (they can pass; I cannot), sometimes solid on the other side and dotted on mine (I can pass; they cannot). This delicate dance, silent choreography, all based on impulses channeled by well thought out structures.

These structures – yield signs, flashing yellow lights, or blinkers – that tell us in varying ways to slow down and pay attention: change is underway. An encounter is coming. These systems, while legally enforced, are mostly adhered to by agreement – a tacit understanding that these structures allow us to move gracefully and efficiently. I follow the guidelines because others are willing to do the same and because when we all do, we all stay safe and get where we are going.

Conversations are complex journeys, too. And the most difficult ones are also best navigated with some well-placed structures, offering a design that channels our impulses in constructive ways. Think of the simple difficulty of deciding who gets to (more…)

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