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From the CommunityFrom the Community

Charlie Wisoff reviews “Making Democracy Fun” by Josh Lerner

We just love Making Democracy Fun a great new book by Josh Lerner, an NCDD member and ED of the Participatory Budgeting Project. We love to work with Josh and his ideas – from hosting his great “gamification” talk during the final NCDD 2014 plenary to co-sponsoring PBP’s recent conference – and we hope you’ll read the review of his book written by Charlie Wisoff of the Kettering Foundation below.


In Making Democracy Fun, Josh Lerner addresses a key problem of democracy: “For most people, democratic participation is relatively unappealing. It is boring, painful, and pointless.” This is the case in traditional public hearings that end in bitter conflict and have little impact, but Lerner argues that even idealized forms of participation, such as deliberation, are not intrinsically fun.

To address this problem, Lerner draws on the growing field of game design. Games are defined as, “systems in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, that result in measurable outcomes.” Lerner has in mind a broad range of games including sports, board games, video games, or play-oriented games like tag. In contrast to the paltry numbers many public engagement processes get, 183 million people in the US report playing computer or video games regularly, 13 hours per week on average.

Lerner suggests utilizing a number of game design concepts and mechanics and applying them when designing democratic processes. He outlines 27 game mechanics (more…)

NCDD NewsNCDD News

Last Day to Add to Our Conversation on D&D Barriers

As we announced last month, NCDD is looking for input from our community on the important conversation we started during our national conference about overcoming the biggest barriers to and in our work, and today is the last day to add to that conversation via our online engagement space hosted by Codigital.

GroupWithBubbles-600pxThe period for input in the online space will end tonight at midnight, so if you haven’t already, please make sure to visit www.ncdd.codigital.com to help us identify new and existing strategies for overcoming the four barriers for effective dialogue and deliberation work that our NCDD community has said are most pressing:

  1. Lack of trust in our democracy, in our leaders, and in one another
  2. Unequal access to D&D practices and to government
  3. Lack of cohesion as a clearly delineated field of practice with all parts in communication
  4. Structural barriers within our democracy and in our own infrastructure

We want to hear your thoughts and ideas – what do you think we can or should do as a field to overcome these challenges?

At the same time, we also want you to hear each others, and there are a lot. As of last night there were 145 ideas being discussed, and nearly 4,800 votes cast on them! All of us have great ideas, and we want to hear yours, so make sure that you contribute to the conversation today before it’s over! could not be more excited to see such great participation from our members.

NCDD’s hope that the Codigital activity will help us get a sense of what ideas and actions resonate most with the whole community, which can then help us devise clearer paths forward on how to overcome our field’s most biggest challenges.

Thank you so much to all of you who have already made this post-conference engagement project a huge success, and we look forward to sharing the results with you soon.

NCDD NewsNCDD News

NCDD-CRS Meetings Being Planned Across the Country

One of the highlights of the recent National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation was Grande Lum’s speech on the final day of the conference. Grande is director of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, an extraordinary program that was established 50 years ago as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

GrandeLumGivingSpeechKnown as “America’s Peacemaker,” the Community Relations Service (CRS) has worked with thousands of communities over the years, many of whom came together in crisis and emerged stronger and more unified as a result. CRS delivers four critically important services to communities facing intergroup conflict:  mediation of disputes, facilitation of dialogue, training, and consulting.

See our August 25th blog post at www.ncdd.org/16015 for more details on the vital work that Grande and CRS do.

At the end of his speech (which we’ll be posting soon), Grande committed to holding a meeting between NCDD members and CRS staff at each of CRS’s ten regional offices. Grande is excited to move forward on these meetings, and we have been working with CRS to make these meetings happen in January!

This is an exciting opportunity on many fronts. For one, you will have the opportunity to start a productive relationship with staff of an important government agency based in your area — people who really “get” the importance of process and know what it’s like in the trenches. (As a CRS staff member told me on the phone the other day, “we’re in the same tribe”!)

CRS’s Regional Directors are highly trained professional mediators, facilitators, trainers, and consultants who are experienced in bringing together communities in conflict to help them enhance their ability to independently prevent and resolve existing and future concerns. Regional Directors oversee the regional conflict resolution teams in the development of customized and proactive local solutions.

This is also exciting for the NCDD community as a collective. We often talk about how we can be more responsive during times of crisis that call for dialogue. Developing relationships and making ourselves available to CRS regional directors whose mission, in part, is rapid deployment during crises, can only strengthen our work and increase CRS’s capacity in the process. We also often lament the gap between dialogue and deliberation practice and government, and this addresses that concern as well.

GrandeLum-NextStepBubbleThe 10 regional offices are located in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Their four field offices, where we may also be holding joint events, are located in Miami, Detroit, Houston, and San Francisco. The regional and field offices increase the availability of CRS services to rural communities and aid in rapid deployment during crises.

We have been working with CRS to coordinate meetings at each of these cities in late January. All NCDD 2014 attendees and supporting members of NCDD whose dues are in good standing are welcome to attend. Please send an email to NCDD’s office manager, Joy Garman, at joy@ncdd.org, if you are interested in taking part.

The meetings will be part meet-and-greet between NCDDers and CRS staffers (including the Regional Directors), part discussions of promising practices for helping communities communicate more effectively, and part exploratory sessions about how we might align our efforts going forward.

We’re thrilled to say that our friends at CRS are open to your ideas about what you would like to see happen at these meetings. Use the comments here to share your thoughts on what you’d like to see on the agenda, and what would be most beneficial to you. CRS and NCDD will carefully consider your input when designing the meetings.

Graphic recording of Grande Lum's speech by the amazing Stephanie Brown.

Graphic recording of Grande Lum’s speech by the amazing Stephanie Brown.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Mathews Center Hosts Teachers’ Institute, AL Issues Forums

We are pleased to share about a couple of announcements about from our friends with the David Mathews Center for Civic Life – an NCDD organizational member – about some exciting work they are doing in Alabama. We originally found these announcements separately on the National Issues Forums Institute’s blog, but we’re combining them here to make sure NCDDers hear about it all.

First, for all of our education-oriented members, be sure to note that the Mathews Center is hosting a great civic learning training for teachers this January:

The Mathews Center is pleased to announce that registration for Teachers’ Institute 2015 is now open. Teachers’ Institute is an interactive, hands-on professional development experience designed to equip teachers with skills and tools to increase active civic learning in the classroom and beyond. The workshop will be held January 15 – 16, 2015 at the American Village, and A+ Education Partnership and Alabama Public Television will be co-sponsoring the event.

Registration is free*, but space is limited. Reserve your spot today HERE. For more information, contact DMC Program Director Cristin Foster at cfoster@mathewscenter.org.

* The Mathews Center will reimburse substitute pay for all attendees. CEUs will be provided.

Second, if you live in Alabama, the Mathews Center is launching a yearlong series of dialogues across the state on children’s health: (more…)

NCDD NewsNCDD News

“Vote” for A Better Democracy – Join NCDD TODAY!

XS Purple NCDD logoHappy Election Day, everyone!

As we come to the close of yet another contentious and at-times ugly election season, we are reminded again of the importance of the work that the NCDD community does. As reflected in our “Democracy for the Next Generation” theme for our recent national conference, we believe NCDD and the amazing innovators we represent are a part of the solution to the broken politics of our time. In helping people really communicate, bridging gaps and partisan differences, building better civic infrastructure, and engaging our communities, what we are all doing is working to build a better democracy.

SusanAndMartinSignsThat is why, as we recently announced, our NCDD annual membership rates are increasing tomorrow, Nov. 5th. We are committed to growing our work and its impact on the shape of our democracy’s future, and to support that growth, we will be relying on our amazing community for support.

So we are asking you on this Election Day to “vote” for NCDD and the better democracy we are building by joining or renewing as a member today. Your membership and continued support of NCDD is an investment in the growth of this work and of a new kind of politics, and we hope that you will decide to grow your investment today!

But if you act now and join or renew before midnight tonight, you can lock in the lower membership rates and access to all of our great NCDD benefits for two years instead of one! We want to let everyone take advantage of the old NCDD membership rates, but this is seriously your last chance, so you have to visit www.ncdd.org/join today.

We have not asked our members to pay higher membership rates since 2006, and we don’t take this change lightly. But we see this increase as our way of doubling down on building a more robust civic infrastructure and investing in the success of our wonderful D&D community.

Don’t put it off any longer! Join NCDD or renew/upgrade your membership today!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

National Harwood Public Innovators Lab, Dec. 16-18

We highly encourage you to read the announcement below from our friends at The Harwood Institute, an NCDD organizational member. They are offering one of their great Public Innovators Lab trainings December 16th-18th, which NCDD members can get a 15% discount on. Be sure to check out the announcement below or learn more and register by clicking here.


HarwoodLogoNational Harwood Public Innovators Lab

December 16-18, 2014 in Alexandria, VA

Deepen Your Relationship with the Community

Communities across America are accelerating their change efforts with The Harwood Institute tools and methods shared in the Lab. It’s helping them engage people in new ways, generate new visibility and deepen their ability to lead change with community partners.

The Harwood Institute has a 25-year track record of success in helping individuals and communities accelerate their change efforts and achieve their strategic goals.

The Public Innovators Lab is open to all community leaders engaged in building a community’s capacity for change. It provides both the foundation of the Harwood approach coupled with a strong focus on concrete application. After the three-day training you will be able to:

  • Engage your community beyond the usual suspects to understand people’s shared aspirations.
  • Shift your relationship with the community through (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

The NCDD 2014 Conference has been storified!

Check out our awesome Storify page on the 2014 NCDD conference. Lots of great photos, quotes from evaluations, links and other gems in there that will give you a sense of the event, even if you weren’t able to make it.

Not only is this a great glance at the conference, this is a useful demonstration of how to bring content from a variety of different social media (and other) sources into one place to “tell the story” of an engaging event! (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Workshop on Facilitation Under Fire from PCP, Nov. 11-12

We hope that NCDD members will take advantage of a great training on handling challenging moments in facilitating being offered from our partners with the Public Conversations Project. Also be sure to note that there is a 15% discount for dues-paying NCDD members, so make sure to learn more below and register before the Nov. 3rd deadline if you’re interested!


Public Conversations ProjectDid you attend the workshop at the NCDD 2014 conference on “Facilitating with Grace Under Fire” with Public Conversations Project’s Bob Stains and Maggie Herzig? And did you wish there could be more? As it turns out, Bob and Maggie are teaming up again in just a couple weeks for a two-day iteration of that workshop entitled “Facilitating With Purpose and Poise – Even When Things Get Hot.”

This workshop, which will take place just outside of Boston from November 11-12, will prepare facilitators for handling difficult moments while facilitating. In this workshop, you will:

  • Develop deeper awareness of the personal, social, and cultural attributes you bring to the facilitator role that may help or hinder you in “staying grounded” when working with people whose views, styles, or identities differ from yours
  • Take away core questions you can ask yourself that will help you see through the fog of confusion in difficult moments
  • Gain clarity about resources at your disposal when a clear response or direction is not obvious
  • Build skills through role-play for deciding when and how to address difficulties
  • Learn preventive strategies that can be employed before people are in the room together or in the opening phase of the meeting

The workshop at NCDD 2014 required us to bring in extra chairs, so as we thought of people who would be interested in our two-day workshop, of course NCDD came to mind first! You can find out more about the workshop here, and, if you’d like, you can register directly here.

We are asking people to register by November 3 to confirm their spot, but if you register with a friend, both of you will receive 20% off with our Bring A Friend rate.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email Katie Hyten, Program Manager at Public Conversations, at khyten@publicconversations.org.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Institute for Civility in Gov’t Offers New “Civility Training”

We want to make sure that NCDD hears about a great new training on civility being offered by the Institute for Civility in Government – an NCDD organizational member. We all know our nation’s civic life needs more civility, so please learn more about their training below or contact ICG to sign up.

InstituteForCivilityInGov-logoThe Institute for Civility in Government is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, grassroots non-profit organization founded in 1998, and is a member of NCDD. The Institute works to reduce the polarization of our political and legislative processes by facilitating dialogue, teaching respect, and building civility in both the public and private spheres. Our programs are a laboratory of civility, creating a model and setting a tone for each generation to experience and adopt as their own.

Maintaining civility makes life easier and more pleasant for everyone, but sometimes it can be a challenge. In response to popular demand, the Institute has developed and now offers online Civility Training based on our book, Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square – 10 Rules That Work.

The online course is divided into two sections. The first section teaches the ten rules. The second section provides real-life (more…)

NCDD NewsNCDD News

NCDD Membership Rates Increasing Nov. 5th – Join or Renew Today!

As many of you know, NCDD is a lean organization with a small staff, and we rely on the active support of NCDD members to continue our efforts and raise awareness of the innovations in engagement, dialogue and community-building taking place across the country. It is our strong and growing membership that enables us to add even more to what we can offer our members to support their work.

As part of our effort to step up the support we can offer to our members, we are planning to increase our membership dues on November 5th, the day after Election Day. That means that if you haven’t joined NCDD or renewed your membership, you need to do so today to lock in the lower rates!

Through November 4th (election day!), annual membership dues will stay at their current levels:

  • $25 for Student Membership
  • $50 for Individual Membership
  • $125 for Sustaining Membership
  • $150 for Organizational Membership

Starting November 5th, we will be using a new membership dues scale, and annual membership rates will be as follows:

  • $30 for Student/Young Professional Membership
  • $75 for Individual Membership
  • $150 for Sustaining Membership
  • $200 for Organizational Membership

But we are offering a great deal for those who join NCDD or renew their memberships between now and the 4th: if you join or renew before the new dues scale goes into place, you can lock in your dues at current membership levels for two years! Through November 4th, members will be allowed to prepay their dues at current rates and can avoid paying the new, higher dues for two years. It’s a great deal, so make sure to take advantage before it’s gone by visiting www.ncdd.org/join to join, renew, or upgrade your membership.

You can check what membership level you are currently by looking yourself up in the directory at www.ncdd.org/directory or on this chart (which shows all members’ renewal dates and member types). If you’re still not convinced that it’s worth it, then we encourage you to check out our member benefits page to get a sense of all of the great things your NCDD membership does for you. We think you’ll see why we are already over 2,100 members strong!

In these weeks leading up to the election, we have an opportunity to share what we know is not only possible, but is working, to reclaim our democracy. We hope you’ll take a few moments now to join or renew your membership and to help us spread the word and express your support for NCDD.

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