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Join NCDD Confab Call on the Nevins Fellowship Program on Sept. 21st!

We encourage our NCDD member organizations to register to join us for a special Confab Call on Wednesday, September 21st from 12-1pm Eastern / 9-10am Pacific that can help your organization build capacity while helping the emerging student leaders of our field gain skills and experience in D&D work!mccourtney-logo

NCDD is hosting an exciting presentation and discussion with the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, who will be sharing about the incredible opportunity for organizations to host a D&D-trained student fellow at no cost next summer through their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program! You won’t want to miss it!

This is a rare and competitive opportunity for leading organizations in our field, and this Confab Call will be one of the best ways to find out more about how your group can take advantage of this program, so make sure to register today to save your spot on the call!

The Nevins Democracy Leaders Program was founded in 2014 after a gift from David Nevins, an NCDD Sustaining Member. The program provides Penn State students with education and ­training in transpartisan leadership skills by exposing them to a variety of viewpoints and philosophies, as well as teaching critical thinking along with the tools of dialogue and deliberation.

But the flagship work of fostering the next generation of democracy leaders centers on the yearly initiative to place Nevins Program students in unique fellowship position with organizations focused on D&D, transpartisan dialogue, and civic renewal – that means organizations like yours! Stipends and living expenses are provided to the students through the program so that organizations can bring these bright, motivated students into their work for a summer at no cost to them. It’s an amazing opportunity for everyone involved! You can get a better sense of what the program experience is like by checking out this blog post from a 2016 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with the Close-Up Foundation.

NCDD is proud to have partnered last year with the McCourtney Institute to help identify organizations in the field that can host Nevins fellows, and we’re continuing the partnership this year. This Confab Call is the best way to get your organization plugged into the process, so be sure to register today to learn more about the program and how to apply!

On this Confab, McCourtney’s Senior Scholar John Gastil and Managing Director Christopher Beem will provide an overview of the Nevins program and its aims, discuss the training that the future fellows are going through, and share more about how your organization can take advantage of this great chance to help cultivate the next generation of D&D leaders while getting more support for your work – all for FREE! We can’t wait to talk more with you on the call!

About NCDD’s Confab Calls…

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing, and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Register today if you’d like to join us.


Contribute to the Youth Scholarship Fund for NCDD 2016!

The 2016 NCDD national conference on Bridging Our Divides is getting closer and closer, and we couldn’t be more excited! But there’s still a lot of work to do in the lead-up to this amazing event, and1398790_744145238968706_3393677302500008784_o we need to ask for our NCDD community’s help with one important task!

As we recently announced, NCDD is offering scholarships to help make sure that young people, students, and others who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend the NCDD 2016 conference can join us. Before our 2014 conference, we received an incredible $10,000 anonymous donation to help ensure we had plenty of resources to offer scholarships to young people and low-income folks – but we can’t count on that kind of support this year.

That’s why we are calling on our amazing NCDD community to donate to our NCDD 2016 Scholarship Fund to make sure that this year’s conference is brimming with the next generation of emerging D&D leaders. We are hoping to raise at least $10,000 for scholarships, if not more, by October 7th and we can’t do it without you! Whether you can give $5 or $500, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Scholarship Fund today.

Your tax-deductible donation will go directly to helping us provide travel reimbursements, shared hotel rooms, and registration for scholarship hopefuls. Plus, anyone who donates $50 or more will have their contribution acknowledged in the printed conference guidebook!

The Importance of Young People Attending NCDD 2016

YoungPeopleAtNCDD2014Our last NCDD conference in Reston, VA had more young people than any before it — a dynamic that was universally seen by the attendees as making the conference experience much more engaging and exciting. Ensuring that young people are involved in our conferences adds a great deal of fresh energy and perspectives to our field’s work, and it helps us diversify our field, spark new partnerships, bring in new volunteers and researchers, and foster mentoring relationships between emerging leaders and seasoned practitioners.

Additionally, NCDD recognizes that one of the important divides in our society that needs to be bridged is the divide between the younger generations and their elders whose are still in charge of the nation’s direction. That recognition is part of what animated our 2014 conference theme, Democracy for the Next Generation, and we continue to be committed to helping foster positive, collaborative relationships between older and younger people as a way to continue to strengthen our democracy. Being sure that younger folks are at the table for our conversation about about Bridging Our Divides is part of that ongoing commitment.

But maybe most importantly, engaging young people and students in our work helps us foster long-term resilience for the field of dialogue & deliberation. In coming years, we will continue to see many of the pillars and pioneers of the field exiting the work, and so it is critical for us to be making a conscious decision today to begin developing the D&D leaders and practitioners of tomorrow. Today’s younger generations will be charged with utilizing our methods to address some of society’s most pernicious issues and to bridge our most persistent divides, which is why it is so vital to ensure that we are intentionally investing in engaging and cultivating their leadership. They already have valuable insights and experiences that can help us forge new paths for our field, but we can’t tap into them if they aren’t with us!

That is why we feel it’s so important that we are successful in reaching our goal of $10,000 for the NCDD 2016 Scholarship Fund, and why we urge you to make a contribution now.

How You Can Support This Effort

IMG_1562We at NCDD are putting our money where our mouth is with incentives for students and young people to attend NCDD 2016: we have reduced the registration rate to just $250 for students (a $200 discount!), and we are offering even lower group rates for teachers and other practitioners who are bringing groups of students from their youth-oriented programs! So we’re counting on our NCDD community to join us in helping make sure every young leader in our field is able to join us at the conference.

There are several other ways that you can support youth and student engagement during NCDD 2016: (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Learning from Feedback Frames: An Innovative Decision Making Tool

Feedback+Frames+logoLong time NCDD member Jason Diceman is introducing an accessible new tool for public engagement this summer called Feedback Frames. His project is a great example of the innovation and creativity inherent in our network, and we thought the strategies he’s using to leverage social media, crowdfunding, and crowdspeaking platforms would be useful one for other NCDDers to learn from.

The love child of a polling station and a game of Connect Four, Feedback Frames offers a fun and flexible way to gather input from participants at large or small group events. Featuring private voting, built-in validation, flexible data-gathering, and quick visual results, this highly adaptable tool offers an elegant solution to group think and the bandwagon effect that can adversely affect any deliberation program.

Creator of Idea Rating Sheets, originally called Dotmocracy (featured at NCDD2006), Jason serves as Senior Public Consultation Coordinator for the City of Toronto. He has led public consultations for some of the City’s most controversial and high profile infrastructure studies, including downtown separated bike lane installations, the redesign of Front Street at Union Station, new roads and bridges in Liberty Village, contentious multi-use trails, and the Gardiner Expressway financing.

Jason is about to launch an Indiegogo campaign to support the manufacture of Feedback Frames, and he’s tapping into every modern tool and technique he can find to get the word out.  Having started with more traditional media (check out his humorous Prototype Video below), Jason has now turned to (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Missed Our “Democracy Machine” Confab Call? Hear it Now!

NCDD hosted another one of our Confab Calls last week, and it was one of our most engaging calls yet! We hosted a conversation with the dynamic duo behind the concept of the “Democracy Machine” and had a very lively discussion with nearly 40 participants about the possibilities and practicalities of building a massive, integrated, deliberative online commons. You really missed out if you weren’t there!

Confab bubble imageOur presenters were John Gastil and Luke Hohmann, who have been working together to outline the technical, organizational, and collaborative process that would be needed to begin to link and integrate the many existing online D&D tools and platforms to create a functioning digital public commons that could facilitate sustained deliberative engagement and send ongoing feedback to both government and citizens to improve how the public interfaces with the public sector. It’s hard to understate the enormity of this undertaking, but the Confab Call presentation and discussion with John and Luke was a great opportunity to wrap our heads around the idea and discuss its pros, cons, and potentials.

If you missed out on the call but still want to see and hear the presentation and conversation, then we encourage you to watch the recording of this Confab Call by clicking here. This Confab Call also had one of the most active discussions we’ve had in the accompanying chat box, and the great back and forth is also worth reading along with the presentation, so you can find discussion from the Confab Call’s chat by clicking here.

NCDD is proud to have supported John and Luke in taking another step in making the Democracy Machine a reality by hosting this first broader conversation on our Confab Call. As you can hear in the call recording, there is still a lot more work to do to make the idea feasible. But the next step that John and Luke have planned is to use their interactive session on building the democracy machine during our NCDD 2016 conference in Boston this October 14th-16th. They’ll be using the session to collect more feedback and ideas from leaders in the field and also to enlist collaborators for the future, so if you’re interested in being involved in their project, be sure to register for the conference today so that (more…)


Call for D&D Showcase Presenters at NCDD 2016

NCDD is excited to announce that we’ll once again be holding our popular “D&D Showcase” during the 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, and we are looking for presenters!

yardsign_300pxThe D&D Showcase is a lively cocktail networking event that provides an opportunity for select individuals and organizations in our field to share some of the leading ideas, tools, projects, and initiatives in dialogue & deliberation with conference participants all in one space. It’s a fun way for conference-goers to meet some of the movers-and-shakers in D&D and hear about the projects, programs, and tools that are making waves in our work.

How the Showcase will work

Showcase presenters display simple “posters” about their work, tools, or projects and bring handouts and business cards to share with participants who are interested in learning more or following up. Showcase presenters will be ready to succinctly express what’s important for conference participants to know about their resource, method, research, program, etc. and to elaborate and answer any questions people may have.

During the 90-minute Showcase event, conference participants will stroll around the ballroom, chatting with presenters, and checking out their displays and picking up Showcase2014-2handouts. We’ll also have finger foods and beverages available as well as a cash bar, adding to the social atmosphere of the session.

The Showcase is a great chance to strike up conversations with leaders in the field and other conference participants who are strolling around the room, perusing the “wares.”

You can get a good sense of what the Showcase is like by watching this slideshow from our 2012 conference in Seattle.

You can also see Janette Hartz-Karp and Brian Sullivan presenting at the 2008 Showcase event here (back when we called it the “D&D Marketplace”), and check out the video of Noam Shore, Lucas Cioffi, and Wayne Burke presenting their online tools here.

Showcase2014-1Becoming a Showcase Presenter

The conference planning team is hard at work planning NCDD 2016, and one of our upcoming steps includes selecting people and organizations who are passionate about sharing tools and programs we know will interest our attendees as presenters during the Showcase. If you are interested in having your tool, project, idea, or work being featured in the Showcase, please email our conference manager Courtney Breese at courtney@ncdd.org and include: what it is you would like to showcase, a brief description of it, any links to where more information can be found, and any questions you have.

Please note that these slots are very competitive, and we will be favoring Showcase presentations that relate to the conference theme, Bridging Our Divides. So if your work, project, or tool focuses on (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

When Dialogue Facilitators Can’t Be Neutral

In the wake of the week of high profile violence and killings that took place earlier this July, NCDD member Parisa Parsa of the Public Conversations Project penned a powerful piece on neutrality in situations of injustice that we thought it was important to share. Parisa highlights some pitfalls of being neutral at certain times in our field, and how “multi-partialness” can offer a way forward for dialogue in the face of power imbalances. We encourage you to read her piece below or find the original here.

Turning To Each Other

PCP new logoThe violence, grief and acrimony of the last week has been brutal. In the midst of such public anger and heated rhetoric, I was reminded of another piece of sad news: the death of Holocaust survivor and man of brilliance Elie Wiesel. Of a lifetime of wisdom, no words of his have felt more urgent than these; I have clung to them for both courage and challenge:

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel

It seems like a forthright, straightforward – if bracing – statement. We have a duty, moral and relational, to stand with those who are suffering injustice. As an activist, I prided myself on living that commitment: to be on the side of what was right, to speak up for those who were being tormented.

Now I lead an organization that works to bring people with very different perspectives, beliefs, and backgrounds, into relationship. What we see in our work that community is not a given – it does not arise spontaneously due to our proximity in neighborhoods or workplaces. Community is a choice: an act of courage when fear and mistrust threaten to tear us asunder.

Because of our commitment to being present with the many perspectives that reside around any issue that matters, we do not take a side on the issues. Yet we are not neutral. We make an active commitment to listen, to engage, to honor each person and perspective that arrives. Our practitioners call this being multi-partial – not im-partial, or lacking a (more…)


NCDD is the New Steward for Conversation Café! – Now What?

In case you haven’t heard, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation has become the new steward of Conversation Café (CC). Andy has revamped the CC website, which you can check out at www.conversationcafe.org, and we are in the process of reconnecting with the CC network and figuring out how we can best support and grow this important community.

NCDD’s Sandy Heierbacher and Keiva Hummel will be spearheading this effort, so feel free to contact either of us if you have questions or want to help out!

We’ve created a new one-way announcement list to share news about Conversation Café happenings once in a while (no more than monthly). We encourage all of you to subscribe to that list if you have some interest in CC’s by sending a blank email to conversation-cafe-subscribe-request@lists.ncdd.org.

If you’re a Conversation Cafe host or promoter (or want to be) also consider joining the new Cafe-Community listserv – a discussion list we’ve modeled after the NCDD Discussion list to encourage CC leaders to network, share information, and discuss key issues facing the CC community. To join that list, send a blank email to cafe-community-subscribe-request@lists.ncdd.org.

Why does NCDD feels it’s important to support Conversation Café?

Back in March 2014, we had an amazing conversation with the NCDD community on the blog here about whether we should play this role, and though there were many eloquent arguments both for and against NCDD becoming the new stewards for the CC method, we decided in the end that it was important to help this elegantly simple approach survive and thrive – and we hope you can support our decision!

We think Conversation Café is a wonderful model for dialogue that can and should be widely adopted across the U.S. and the globe. Our vision for Conversation Café, in part, is that it be used to help communities address national and local crises that call for immediate dialogue.

We think CCs are nimble, accessible, and elegantly simple enough to be used very quickly by many people, and NCDD is particularly well equipped to help new CC groups use other forms of dialogue and deliberation when the time is right.

We also just want to see more people, in more places, engaging regularly in conversations that matter, and feel that Conversation Café is uniquely suited to helping make this happen.

In addition to subscribing to the announcement list or discussion list mentioned above, we strongly encourage any of you who have hosted CCs to take a minute and complete the quick form at www.conversationcafe.org/main-survey to tell us a little about your work and interests. Our main interest right now is to learn about what is currently (and has been) going on in the Conversation Café community, and this would help us a great deal!

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Join NCDD’s “Democracy Machine” Confab Call on Thurs.

We wanted to share a friendly reminder that time is running out to register for our next NCDD Confab Call, which takes place this Thursday, August 25th from 1-2 PM Eastern (10am-11am Pacific)! We are excited to be hosting a call with NCDD members John Gastil and Luke Hohmann about their expansive vision of creating a “Democracy Machine” – an integrated online commons comprised of today’s best civic technology and digital deliberation platforms. Be sure to register today to join the conversation!Confab bubble image

On the call, John and Luke will introduce the NCDD network to their project of making this vision a reality. They are gathering together software designers, civic reformers, academics, and public officials to envision and build the “democracy machine” as a digital public square that would draw new people into the civic sphere, encourage more sustained and deliberative engagement, and send ongoing feedback to both government and citizens to improve how the public interfaces with the public sector. NCDD members will have an important role to play, so make sure to register for the call to find out how you can be involved!

Participants in the call are invited to bring ideas and questions about the design and development of the “democracy machine” to share with John and Luke.  We also encourage participants to read about the basic concept in John’s recent post on the Challenges to Democracy blog or read his full essay, “Building a Democracy Machine: Toward an Integrated and Empowered Form of Democracy,” by clicking here.

Don’t forget! John will also be hosting an interactive session on building the “democracy machine” during the NCDD 2016 conference, so be sure to register for the conference today so that you can continue the conversation in person!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Initiative Experiments with Collective Healing Processes

In the lead up to our NCDD 2016 conference, we continue to lift up stories of people who are Bridging Our Divides. So we wanted to share the piece below written by NCDD member Beth Tener of New Directions Collaborative about a great collective healing initiative she’s involved in that seeks to experiment with processes that will help large groups heal from old wounds that maintain separation. We encourage you to read her piece below or find the original here.

Collective Healing: Shifting Historical Patterns that Divide Us

We live in times of extreme partisanship, increasing divisions between the rich and poor, the working class and upper class, experiences of people of color vs. whites, and disconnects of people from nature. As the US Presidential election and the Brexit vote in the UK illustrate, our current political process tends to amplify divisions and generate more discord rather than greater understanding, stronger connections, and wise solutions balancing multiple needs.

When people are divided and disconnected, it is not surprising that there is a lack of empathy, curiosity, and care for the experiences and well being of people different than us. It can be easy to label people and disdain their views versus seeing them as individuals whose stories and struggles I understand and have talked to them about.

Finding new ways

It is time to find ways we can work together that overcome these patterns of division and separation. This is already happening in many places, perhaps at the edges and not that visible yet, but real nonetheless. Global communities of practice are inventing and evolving these processes (e.g., circle process, participatory processesparticipatory budgeting, networks for system change.) While these experiments may seem at the edges when all the attention is focused on the mainstream political debate, they can hold seeds of a better way.

Over the last two years, I have been part of a rich dialogue with people who are exploring ways to bring people together that can help heal these long-standing harmful patterns. This group includes (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

KF & NIFI Launch Environmental Issues Forums, Host Webinar

The good folks with the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forums Institute – both NCDD member organizations – recently launched a key partnership with the N. Am. Association for Environmental Education called Environmental Issues Forums, and we want our members to know about it. The program provides trainings, issue guides, online forums, and other resources for educators wanting to host deliberative forums about our changing climate. We encourage our members to learn more about this important effort here.
The team is hosting a webinar on Aug. 24 about how this program can be applied in higher ed, and we encourage you to register. Learn more in the NIFI blog post below or find the original here.

WEBINAR: Environmental Issues Forums & Higher Education

NIF logoJoin the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) for a webinar on Wednesday, August 24th, at 4:00 PM EDT!

Climate change. Drought. Energy. Biodiversity.

How can we facilitate civic deliberation about controversial issues like these on our college campuses?

NAAEE and the Kettering Foundation created the Environmental Issues Forums (EIF) to help. Join this webinar to learn more about EIF, the newly published issue guide Climate Choices: How Do We Meet the Challenge of a Warming Planet?, and how faculty at UW Stevens Point and Eastern Kentucky University are integrating deliberations in their coursework.

Click here to register.

For more information about NAAEE’s Environmental Issues Forums, visit us online.

You can find the original version of this NIFI blog post at www.nifi.org/en/webinar-eif.