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Featured D&D Story: Putting People at the Center in Public Health

Today we are happy to feature another great example of dialogue and deliberation in action. This mini case study was submitted by NCDD student member Megan Powers of Grassroots Solutions via NCDD’s Dialogue Storytelling Tool. Do you have a dialogue story that our network could learn from? Add YOUR dialogue story today! 

ShareYourStory-sidebarimageTitle of Project:

Putting People at the Center: A Fundamental Shift in Public Health Campaigns


One of the most pivotal developments in public health practice over the past 20 years is the attention that is now being paid to the wide range of factors that influence health, such as social connectedness, the built environment, and the characteristics of the places where people live, work, and play. As a result, the public health field not only educates people about individual behavioral changes people can make to improve their health, but also works to change the policies, systems, and environments that shape our world and our ability to make healthy choices.

We’ve seen this impact firsthand. Grassroots Solutions works extensively with public health entities at the local, state, and national levels to reduce tobacco use, mitigate obesity, and address other critical public health concerns.

This work has taught us that while facts and data are, of course, powerful tools, the most successful public health campaigns put people at the center. When you combine data and facts with real people’s passion (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

NCDD 2014 All-Star Sponsor: Public Conversations Project

NCDD is proud to announce that the Public Conversations Project is stepping up as an All-Star Sponsor of the 6th National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation…

Public Conversations ProjectSince 1989, the Public Conversation Project has worked in the U.S. and around the world facilitating dialogues on a wide range of contentious issues including abortion, forest management, homosexuality and faith, biodiversity, the use of animals in research, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and many others. In a world bristling with tension, controversy, polarization, and war, PCP aims to reduce rancor in public squares and promote effective communication within organizations and communities. It also provides workshops and customized trainings that teach people how to use its dialogue methods.

PCP was founded by Corky Becker, Laura Chasin, Richard Chasin, Margaret Herzig, and Sallyann Roth. The founders plus recent additions Raye Rawls and Mary Jacksteit, along with program staff members Robert Stains, Jr., David Joseph, Meenakshi Chakraverti, and Alison Streit Baron make up PCP’s team of associates. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Issue Guide on Economy Choices from NIFI

NIF-logoWe wanted to make sure the NCDD members heard that our organizational partners at the National Issues Forums Institute have published their latest issue guide for deliberative conversations. Released earlier this month, the newest guide is called The Future of Work: How Should We Prepare for the New Economy? The guide is designed to walk participants through tough choices about what policy directions we should take in dealing with the broader national economy.

The following excerpt can help you get a better sense of the approach the guide is taking:

The nature of the work we do has changed in ways that few Americans a generation ago could have imagined, and it will undoubtedly be dramatically different in yet another generation. These changes will bring both opportunities and difficulties…

The stakes are high. Many Americans share concerns about the nation’s competitive edge, stagnant wages, and a sense that young people today will be worse off than previous generations.

We have choices to make together in shaping the future of work. Business, government, individuals, and communities all play a role in addressing this issue. This guide presents some of the options we might pursue, along with their drawbacks.

As with other NIFI issue guides, the new guide encourages forum participants to weigh three different courses of action on a controversial issue. The guide lays out the choices on dealing with the national budget in this way: (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

NCDD 2014 All-Star Sponsor: The Interactivity Foundation

NCDD is proud to announce that the Interactivity Foundation is stepping up as an All-Star Sponsor of the 6th National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation…

The Interactivity Foundation (or IF) works to engage citizens in the exploration and development of possibilities for public policy through small group discussions.  With projects impacting policy discussions as close to home as Madison, Wisconsin and as far afield as Hungary, Kazakhstan and the far east, the Interactivity Foundation works on several levels of public discussions within three main focal areas:

Their Project Discussions are longer-term projects with selected panelists that develop our Discussion Reports with different possibilities for future public policy.  IF sponsors—and their Fellows manage—these discussions on broad, complex topics of social and political concern.  They often refer to these Project Discussions as “Sanctuary” discussions because they are designed to foster a protected space for truly collegial discussion and open and collaborative exploration of difficult issues. (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Join us for our July 29th Confab on Event Closings

Join us on Tuesday, July 29th from 2-3pm Eastern (11-12 Pacific) for NCDD’s next “Confab Call.” Register today to secure your spot!

Confab bubble imageThis will be a different kind of Confab. We’ll be tackling a very practical challenge that many dialogue and deliberation practitioners face, and that NCDD itself faces every time we plan an NCDD conference. The confab will dig into challenges and strategies for planning and managing effective closings at participatory events.

We have four great practitioners who will serve as conversation starters: Lisa Heft, Adrian Segar, Tim Merry and Susanna Haas Lyons. All have extensive experience closing large-scale events using approaches such as Open Space, World Cafe, Conferences That Work, Art of Hosting and 21st Century Town Meetings.

The confab will be an informal conversation (no pre-planned presentations!) where our all-star cast of practitioners will share different strategies for closing participatory events (with an emphasis on larger events). NCDD’s director, Sandy Heierbacher, will share some of the ways we’ve closed our conferences in the past, and what some of our challenges and concerns are. For instance, for large participatory events like NCDD conferences, how can you involve everyone in the room in a way that is powerful and meaningful, without being too cheesy or taking too much time?

We’re encouraging members of our 2014 conference planning team to be on the call and participate by asking questions and sharing their own experiences, and we’ll likely brainstorm ideas for closing this year’s conference. We look forward to a fun, productive confab that serves both our community and the upcoming conference!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Distinguishing Collective Wisdom from “the Wisdom of Crowds”

This reflective piece comes from NCDD blogger Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Project. Tom’s original post can be found at www.tomatleeblog.com/?p=175327099.

The popular book “The Wisdom of Crowds” says a lot about the remarkable accuracy of thousands of people making guesses about something that has a real but unknown answer now or in the future. This phenomenon is fascinating but it doesn’t provide us with actual wisdom to guide our collective future. What would real collective wisdom look like, and how might we find or co-create it?

A friend just sent me this essay from the BBC: “‘Wisdom of the crowd’: The myths and realities” by Philip Ball.

I feel a need to respond to it – publicly and urgently.

I think it is unfortunate that James Surowiecki’s 2005 book “The Wisdom of Crowds” – which is a perfectly good book as far as it goes – has colonized the most popular term for collective wisdom so that it is hard to talk about the subject in any other terms than his, and be heard.

But think about it for a minute. “The Wisdom of Crowds” is about how accurate (or not) dozens or thousands of people are when they are guessing the number of beans in a bottle or predicting who is going to win the World Cup. The number of times their average collective guestimates are accurate is remarkable – which is the subject of Surowiecki’s book. But is that what wisdom is really about?

If some individual could predict the outcome of this year’s US elections, would we call them wise? Is that what we proclaim Christ or Buddha (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Looking Closer at “Mixed Results” in Civic Participation

One our ever-insightful NCDD members, Tiago Peixoto, shared a summary of some important civic participation research that shows that “mixed results” of participation efforts say more when we delineate between “tactical” or “strategic” interventions. We’ve shared Tiago’s piece from his DemocracySpot blog below, and you can find the original here.

Social Accountability: What Does the Evidence Really Say?

democracy spot logoSo what does the evidence about citizen engagement say? Particularly in the development world it is common to say that the evidence is “mixed”. It is the type of answer that, even if correct in extremely general terms, does not really help those who are actually designing and implementing citizen engagement reforms.

This is why a new (GPSA-funded) work by Jonathan Fox, “Social Accountability: What does the Evidence Really Say” is a welcome contribution for those working with open government in general and citizen engagement in particular. Rather than a paper, this work is intended as a presentation that summarizes (and disentangles) some of the issues related to citizen engagement.

Before briefly discussing it, some definitional clarification. I am equating “social accountability” with the idea of citizen engagement given Jonathan’s very definition of social accountability:

Social accountability strategies try to improve public sector performance by bolstering both citizen engagement and government responsiveness.

In short, according to this definition, social accountability is defined, broadly, as “citizen participation” followed by government responsiveness, which encompasses (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Center for Collaborative Policy Job Openings

Our colleagues at the the Center for Collaborative Policy – an NCDD organizational member – have recently announced three promising job openings at their California State University, Sacramento campus. We know some of our NCDD members would be a perfect fit for these positions, so we encourage you to find out more in CCP’s announcements below.

Job Announcement – Business Development Director

The Center for Collaborative Policy, California State University, Sacramento is recruiting for a Business Development Director.  The successful applicant will have experience in attracting significant revenues from public and private sector sources for collaborative public processes and activities.   The applicant is also expected to be a senior practitioner in conducting multi-party collaborative public processes with a high degree of complexity.  Responsibilities include:

  • Directly generate revenue for the Center through communicating with prospective clients as well as teaming partners, responding to competitive proposals, pursuing sole source agreements and creating other statewide business opportunities.
  • Develop and implement an annual Business Development Plan, and train and coach Center practitioners to execute the Plan and attract client business.
  • Develop, supervise and provide oversight for the Center business development personnel and data system.

Salary is (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

JPD Special Issue Looks at “The State of Our Field”

JPD logoThis month, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) and the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) released a special issue of their collaboratively produced Journal of Public Deliberation, and it is a must-read.  They collected writings from leading scholars and practitioners of our work – including numerous NCDD members and our director, Sandy Heierbacher – to create this special issue focused on “The State of Our Field”:

This is a special issue that assess the state of our field, celebrates our successes, and calls for future innovative work. The authors are scholars and practitioners who represent the diversity of our field and provide a wide range of perspectives on deliberation, dialogue, participation, and civic life. The ideas from this issue will be discussed at the upcoming Frontiers of Democracy conference, after which the editors will write an “afterword” reflecting on lessons learned.

We’re excerpting all of the abstracts of the articles in this issue here on the blog, because we think it will entice you to read these important articles. The special issue starts with an introductory overview, then is divided into three areas of focus: the scope of our field, challenges to our field, and promising future directions that some of us are taking.

Visit www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd to download each article for free.

JPD Volume 10, Issue 1 (2014) Special Issue: State of the Field


The State of Our Field: Introduction to the Special Issue by Laura W. Black, Nancy L. Thomas, and Dr. Timothy J. Shaffer – “This article introduces the special “State of the Field” issue. The essay highlights some of the key tensions that our field is wrestling with at the moment, and advocates that we think carefully about the terms we use to describe our work. It previews the articles in this special issue and urges future work in the field to (more…)


Let us know if you work with legislators — or would like to!

Later this week, Hawaii State Senator Les Ihara and I are both involved in an exciting workshop at the Kettering Foundation that will bring together 26 state legislators from 20 states to talk about effective public engagement.

Les asked me recently to gather information about NCDD members who had worked with legislators (or are currently working with them), and with all the conference goings-on, I haven’t been able to squeeze it in. But I think we can still help Les, and create a list of NCDDers who either (1) have experience working with legislators, (2) are interested in working with legislators, or (3) both!  I know Les’ impression is that there are not many NCDDers working with legislators, and I don’t believe that is the case at all.

Will you help me change Les’ mind and help me better represent you at this meeting by filling out the super-simple survey I’ve created.

Les IharaOver the last few years, I’ve networked with about 50 legislators who operate with a collaborative leadership model, rather than power-based model; and I plan to form a Collaborative Legislators Network when the time is right (we’re getting close).

We’re designing our meeting agenda to support legislators who want to conduct new citizen engagement type activities over the next year, and I’m looking for people who may have relationships with legislators in these states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

If you haven’t yet worked with a legislator, I’d also like to know who might be interested in providing assistance to and collaborating with a legislator in your state. Thank you.

Hawaii State Senator, 10th District

If you have worked with local, state or national policymakers, or would like to, please let us know by answering a few simple questions TODAY or TOMORROW. Again, here is the survey link:

Short Survey about Working with Legislators