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Reflecting on the Movement at NCDD 2014

As we are watching the attendees gather today for the start of NCDD 2014 in Reston, VA, it is a sight to see. Over 400 dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement professionals are coming together to work and learn together, and we couldn’t be more excited!

In the spirit of honoring all that our wonderful NCDD community represents, we wanted to share a thoughtful piece adapted from a talk NCDD Board member Susan Stuart Clark gave at San Rafael City Hall on September 26, 2014 to a local community group about the movement we are building with NCDD. You can read it below or find the original here.


Map of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation network

NCDD: The Invisible Movement

Shhh…can you hear that?

It’s the sound of an invisible movement.  Over 30,000 people across the U.S. and Canada are engaging thousands – and, at times, millions – in doing something that most people have no idea is happening.

What are they doing? They’re leading conversations – a different kind of conversation that challenges the assumption that our society is getting ever more divided.  This is a network of thousands of innovators who bring people together across divides to tackle today’s toughest challenges.

At the center of this growing network is the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation. NCDD is a non-profit organization that provides resources for people who plan and lead meaningful conversations that help find common ground for action on important issues that affect all of us.

1. Who are these people and what are they doing?

The NCDD network is made up of a wide variety of group facilitators, professors, students, government officials, organizational development consultants and committed volunteers.  While the range of backgrounds is diverse, NCDDers share a common dedication to creating opportunities for people to talk, listen and act together in new ways – ways that build deeper understanding and create new openings for (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

A Note from John Gastil, NCDD 2014 Co-Emcee

Before our wonderful community starts arriving in droves for NCDD 2014, we wanted to make sure you all see a message from our  co-emcee, John Gastil. NCDD has inspired John to complete revisions on his best-selling book on democratic methods, and he’s using it to help NCDD continue our work. Read more about it below, and we’ll see in Reston this week!

Gastil BookServing as co-emcee of the NCDD conference spurred me to bring to the finish line a project three-years in the making. I’ve brought into the digital world my very first (and best selling) book, Democracy in Small Groups. And in celebration of NCDD’s conference, all royalties from the first week of sales – from Oct 14-21 – go to NCDD.

Yup, all of ‘em.

Then again, it was NCDD attendees who convinced me to make my next book cheap enough for anyone to buy, so the royalties on a $2.99 book won’t go too far. But everyone needs to buy new office supplies, so it’ll pay for somethin’.

The book’s now available in Kindle format (which can be read via a free Kindle app on phones/PCs/Macs) at http://tinyurl.com/DSG2Kindle

The new edition is expanded and revised, with a special feature built just for online reading. As much as the Internet makes possible, the references link to original sources, so you can drill down as deep as you want while you read.

Twenty one years have passed since the first edition (blackjack!), so there are more than two decades worth of new sources filling out the book’s argument. If you want to make your own groups more democratic or better understand how small groups can change our larger world, this book might help you get there.

Versions for iBooks (I hear ya, iTooners), Nook (anyone using that?), and print will be following shortly.

John Gastil

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Democracy Practitioners Under the Microscope?

We are happy to share the announcement below from NCDD Sustaining Member Caroline Lee of Lafayette College, which she submitted via our great Submit-to-Blog Form. Do you have news you want to share with the NCDD network? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!

As I get ready to head to the NCDD conference, I wanted to share with readers of the blog about a symposium on public engagement professionals I participated in at the International Political Science Association conference in Toronto in July. Organized by Canadian and French researchers Laurence Bherer, Mario Gauthier, Alice Mazeaud, Magalie Nonjon and Louis Simard in collaboration with the Institut du Nouveau Monde, the symposium brought together international scholars of the professionalization of public participation with leading practitioners of public participation from the US, UK, and Canada like Carolyn Lukensmeyer. You can find the program schedule and more details about how to access the papers here.

Topics covered participatory methods and strategies in a variety of public and private contexts in North and South America and Europe. The organization of the symposium made use of participatory methods such as Open Space and a dialogic round table format bringing the scholars and practitioners together to comment on each others’ work. There was honest discussion at the symposium over the areas where practitioners and researchers might collaborate with and learn more from each other, and the areas where the goals and aims of researchers and practitioners may diverge. Of course, there was also acknowledgment that (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Great Things Start at NCDD Conferences: The San Diego Deliberation Network

We know that amazing work in our field often begins with the connections made and synergies ignited during NCDD conferences, and we are so pleased to share a great example of how that happens. The piece below from NCDD supporting members Mary Thompson and Martha Cox tells the story of how, from a conversation at NCDD’s 2012 conference, the new San Diego Deliberation Network was born. We can’t wait to see what other great work will begin this week at NCDD 2014!

A new twist on a collaborative model of deliberation and dialogue has emerged in San Diego, based on the old adage: begin with the end in mind.  In this hotbed of bio-science, communications technology, security and defense innovations, San Diego has incubated a new development, a network of networks, to benefit the region by helping citizens develop their role as producers in the region’s democracy, building stronger communities.

The seedlings of the San Diego Deliberation Network: A Regional Collaboration for Civic Conversation were planted when Kettering Foundation fellow and NCDD Board member Dr. Martín Carcasson connected with NCDD supporting member Henry Williams at NCDD’s 2012 conference in Seattle. The two soon collaborated to have Martín give a talk on deliberative democracy at a local library in San Diego in the summer of 2013. Among the attendees were a few representatives of local universities as well as the League of Women Voters who, excited by the ideas and potentials discussed during the event, began working together on bringing more deliberative practices to San Diego.

A couple months later, a meeting was convened where Martín, San Diego Mesa College political science professor Dr. Carl Luna, and executive director of the San Diego Foundation’s Center for Civic Engagement B.H. Kim sketched a vision of (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Free book for first 60 people to register on Friday!

Here’s an incentive for showing up early to get your name tag and tote on Friday morning! Registration opens at 8am.

ReadTheRoom-coverThis weekend’s NCDD conference coincides with the publication of a new book called Read the Room For Real: How a Simple Technology Creates Better Meetings. The book is intended for facilitators, presenters, conference planners, or anyone who is curious about how to use increasingly accessible audience polling technology to improve meetings.

We are happy to provide preview copies of the book – which include a back cover endorsement from Sandy for which we are very grateful – as a gift to the first 60 people who register for the conference.

Our book is one of the first that we know of focused on the use of audience polling technology outside of the classroom environment. We have a deep background in facilitating dialogues about difficult diversity issues and as well as refining dialogic processes on all matter of topics for very small to very large groups of people. In our view, polling technology is severely under-appreciated by not just the dialogue community, but also by city planners, public officials, diversity professionals, and many others. Our goal is to accelerate the time when audience polling technology is as commonplace a meeting tool as Powerpoint.

We are organizing a campaign to make this dialogue book an Amazon bestseller on its launch day, November 28 (Black Friday). All conference attendees will have information in their packet about how to participate in the campaign, how to get a discount on the book, and how to enter a drawing to get a full day of pro-bono in-person consulting on audience polling.

For those not coming to the conference but who are interested in learning more about the book, contact us at david@read-the-room.com.

- David Campt and Matthew Freeman

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NIF Caucus at NCDD 2014 – Friday Dinner

We want to make sure that all of you who are attending NCDD 2014 this week know that there is going to be a dinner for past or present affiliates of our partners at the National Issues Forums Institute. Learn more in the note below from Nancy Gansender and RSVP to her.

NIF-logoAre you an NIF moderator/facilitator? Are you part of the NIF network, past or present? Do you remember the PPIs or are you part of its successors, Centers for Civic Life?

Can we talk? Let’s do so over dinner this Friday, October 16 at the NCDD 2014 conference.

Let’s share our common past, and build on our rich experience and chart a bright future.

Conveners: Patty Dineen, Craig Paterson and Nancy Gansneder.

Plan to join us? Shoot Nancy an email (nancyg@virginia.edu) so we can make reservations.

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…)