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From the CommunityFrom the Community

Will and Alison Promoted at Public Agenda

NCDD member Public Agenda announced today that Will Friedman has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In addition, Alison Kadlec has been named Vice President of Public Engagement and Director of Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE), which researches, develops and disseminates new insights and practices to build the field of civic engagement and citizen-centered politics.  Congratulations, Will and Alison!

In his new role, Friedman will be responsible for leading the planning, implementation and administration of Public Agenda’s new business development efforts and day-to-day operations. A main focus will be on executing growth strategies for the organization to more closely align its core competencies in public onion research and public engagement. He will remain Director of Public Engagement Programs and continue to expand and oversee Public Agenda’s burgeoning portfolio of community-based public engagement projects.

Kadlec will be responsible for managing CAPE, where she will lead the development of research and evaluation to inform the work of practitioners in advancing civic problem solving. She will also act as Friedman’s deputy in running the overall operations of the public engagement department, including new business development and will serve as project director for several of Public Agenda’s major engagement initiatives. (more…)


Notes from 1-31-09 Austin Focus Group

On Saturday, January 31st, we conducted an intentionally small focus group with just a few people from the Central Texas conference planning team. Present were Diane Miller, Juli Fellows, Tobin Quereau, Steven Fearing, Patricia Wilson, Taylor Willingham and Terry Crain. We wanted to discuss two things with the focus group:

1. A local D&D network
What would you want from a local network of dialogue and deliberation folks? What can NCDD to support a local network? How can we make the network as low-maintenance and self-organized as possible?

2. A local, multi-process D&D “demonstration project”
What might a demonstration project look like in Austin? What role would NCDD have? What role could outside NCDD members/method leaders have? See www.ncdd.org/3478 for more info about the demonstration project idea that came out of the 2008 NCDD conference.

Here are some things group members seemed to agree on…

Asset mapping and project mapping.
We need to map the existing resources (D&D, but also broader civic engagement) in Central Texas. We want to know who’s doing what work in Central Texas, and be able to connect with each person/organization. We need to figure out what technology will best enable us to do this.

Assessment and learning.
We want people to start doing some basic reporting on their programs. What were the successes? What was challenging? We want to capture learnings from public engagement initiatives, and make them available to those doing this work.

Coordinate activities.
In any given issue (health care, climate change, etc.), there are many activities being run already. Rather than start from scratch on a demonstration project, why not start recording and assessing what’s already happening? We can agree in principles, on elements we think should be consistent across programs, and on assessment measures, and then ask people to practially continue what they’re already doing. This would strengthen our capacity without starting from scratch, and give us data to amplify citizens voices and make a greater impact.

Learning community.
The people in the room were more interested in forming a small learning community than in establishing a larger local network. Members of a learning community would meet to share learnings and challenges, and might work together on projects. They would run professional development activities for each other, such as informal trainings in different D&D methods. Although NCDD would want to help with a more exclusive learning community however we can, we are determined to help create the space for a larger, open local network of practitioners and scholars.

Demonstration project.
The group felt that they had the human resources locally to be able to design and run a multi-process D&D demonstration project, without much involvement of outside process leaders. The involvement of NCDD was most welcome in several ways:

  1. To bring in additional funds (it was felt that, as a national organization, NCDD would be more successful with national and local funders)
  2. To provide guidelines and evaluation mechanisms that could be standardized among multiple programs
  3. To collect and amplify the results of public engagement programs

Group members agreed that any demonstration project should focus on one particular topic that is timely in the community. They agreed that the issue needed to be one where we could have some control over the process (local government is not already planning a major engagement initiative around the issue, for example). And they felt that a key ingredient of any project would be to have specific goals, and be very clear about what you’re trying to accomplish (too many things have been happening lately with no clear endpoint or purpose).

A couple of clear next steps emerged…

Larger-Scale Networking
NCDD is going to create a larger listserv to help public engagement folks in Central Texas connect, share resources, and announce opportunities (or we partner with Texas Forums to do this together).

Mapping Resources and Projects
Research technology that would allow us to map out who’s doing what D&D work in Central Texas. Look into whether we can also get people to start doing basic reporting on their programs (what were the successes? what was challenging?).

A small group met to talk about these things in depth. What do others from Central Texas think about the idea of a demonstration project, or how best to run a local D&D network? Your ideas and feedback are most welcome!

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Summary of Demonstration Project Idea

The idea of an NCDD-led “demonstration project” emerged at the 2008 NCDD conference from a two-part workshop titled “How can WE revitalize democracy with D&D?” The workshop was co-led by DeAnna Martin of the Center for Wise Democracy and Adin Rogovin of the Co-Intelligence Institute.

The workshop brought together method leaders and practitioners in a dynamically facilitated fishbowl conversation to explore how we can weave together our work to enhance democracy. Workshop attendees were invited to observe the process and a couple of chairs in the fishbowl were left available so audience members could join in.  At different times the fishbowl conversation included: Tom Atlee, Theo Brown, Lucas Cioffi, Peggy Holman, Sen. Les Ihara, Julianna Padgett, Pete Peterson, Jim Rough, Elliot Shuford, John Spady, Patricia Wilson, Landon Shultz, Alexander Moll and others.

A demonstration project could…

  1. Give us the opportunity to collaborate on a tangible project that helps us learn and move forward together
  2. Generate momentum and resources for ongoing, sustainable, integrated method use
  3. Help us learn how to better meet the interests of decision makers
  4. Introduce a variety of D&D methods into governance, and integrate these methods into a system that is a citizen platform for having citizens make wise decisions in an inclusive way
  5. Build capacity at the local level and build capacity for our field – through capturing case studies, stories, and bringing leaders together to learn from one another
  6. Funnel into national processes (and vice versa) (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Janette’s Write-Up on Australia’s First Citizens’ Parliament

Australian dynamo and long-time NCDD member Janette Hartz-Karp, who played a huge part in making this month’s Australian Citizens Parliament happen, sent me a write-up last night for the NCDD blog. The Citizens Parliament was the first of its kind in Australia and is a model for us all.

Here’s a preview (click “more” for the full story if it doesn’t appear below)…

For me, as the key designer of the 4 day deliberation and its co-lead facilitator, it felt like a being on stage in a TV drama where unscripted onstage and offstage dramas had a life of their own, and where the participants stepped up to become extraordinary. If anyone needed convincing that ‘ordinary’ people can create extraordinary outcomes, deliberating wisely and co-intelligently, then this Citizens’ Parliament was exemplary.

Lyn Carson also sent me links to two great articles on the Citizens Parliament:

And you can also download a two-page summary Carson sent me, which goes into a little more detail about the process and the specific outcomes. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Carson’s Take on Australian Citizens Parliament

Citzens Parliament logoLyn Carson (“Carson”) sent me the following text last night for the NCDD blog. Carson is the University of Sydney’s Chief Investigator on the Citizens’ Parliament Project, and it’s great to have an insider’s view…

I have just returned from Australia’s first Citizens’ Parliament (www.citizensparliament.org.au) which really was an extraordinary event, focused on how to strengthen Australia’s political system to serve us better. It seemed like a curious counterweight to this bushfire tragedy which raged as 150 randomly-selected citizens collaborated (some of the CP folks were affected by it—homes, friends and family—but remained at Old Parliament House with us). The fires were ghastly, really ghastly. The CP was uplifting and empowering. It was a strangely beautiful juxtaposition which participants will never forget, any more than those so cruelly affected by those fires will ever forget.

Held over four days, it was a terrific combination of small group work in the Members’ Dining Room with networked computers that beamed back their collective ideas, along with some plenary sessions in the former House of Representatives chamber. Fred Chaney and Lowitja O’Donoghue chaired the formal proceedings and introduced and closed each day’s proceedings. Academics and politicians came along as resource people to share their expertise. Twenty three capable facilitators kept the 23 small groups to task with a massive agenda that was determined by the participants themselves. The 150 Citizen Parliamentarians were supported by these facilitators as well as two Lead Facilitators, Janette Hartz-Karp and Max Hardy.

By the final day, many members of this citizen body had shifted dramatically and they spoke passionately about that change—from the youngest member (18 years old) to the oldest member (93 years old). The youngest member went from being a timid young woman to suggesting she might aspire to be Prime Minister. Citizen Parliamentarians wanted an extra copy of the final report (which was handed to them on departure) to lobby their local Member of Parliament. Senator John Faulkner opened the event and promised to take the recommended seriously. Parliamentary Secretary Anthony Byrne closed the event and reiterated that promise. More information is available from www.citizensparliament.org.au or contact Lyn Carson at l.carson@usyd.edu.au.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Cool Video from Born Again America

A big thank-you to Stephanie Nestlerode for sending this to NCDD’s Central Texas listserv. I enjoyed and was moved by the video, and love the message: “the people’s will must have the upper hand” in our democracy.

View the video at www.bornagainamerican.org, then sign the pledge to become a more active citizen. Declare yourself is encouraging people to vote, volunteer, and let their elected officials know what you think.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

50% Discount on American Citizens' Summit for NCDD Members

If you haven’t yet joined NCDD, now might be the time…

Joseph McCormick of the Transpartisan Alliance is offering a huge 50% discount to all NCDD members who haven’t registered yet for this month’s American Citizens’ Summit in Denver.

When you register for the American Citizens’ Summit, choose your registration type (affiliated, unaffiliated, leadership delegate) and a box will pop up asking you to “Enter code here.” Enter “friendfamily” (no quotes) in the box and you will be charged half price. I hope some of you – especially those of you near Denver! – will be able to attend this important event. NCDD is a proud co-sponsor of the Summit.

Visit www.transpartisan.net for more details. You can also look over ALL the great discounts that NCDD members who pay the optional annual membership fee (just $50) receive at www.thataway.org/discounts.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Australian Citizens Parliament Starts Today!

Australian Citizens Parliament logoAustralia’s first Citizens’ Parliament began today, demonstrating the Australian federal government’s commitment to community consultation and the core principles of openness, debate and deliberation. The four-day parliament, which involves 150 citizens from around the country, gives ordinary Australians the chance to deliberate on how Australia’s political system might be strengthened to better serve its citizens. Each day the Citizens’ Parliament will produce a report on the day’s ideas, debate and dialogue leading to a final report on Monday which the Federal government welcomes.

Participants in the Citizens’ Parliament, one from each of the 150 Federal electorates, were selected at random to ensure a truly representative sample of ‘everyday’ Australians from all walks of life.

The Citizens’ Parliament is funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant in conjunction with The new Democracy Foundation.

Learn more about this important event at www.citizensparliament.org.au. You can also follow the live blog of the Citizens Parliament here. NCDD members Janette Hartz-Karp, Lyn Carson, and Brian Sullivan were all involved in the design process.

And for those of you in the U.S. who would like to participate in something with a similar spirit, it’s not too late to register for this month’s American Citizens Summit!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

A Message from Vicki and Susan at Conversation Café

I thought I’d share this important message from NCDD members Vicki Robin and Susan Partnow at Conversation Café. It covers this year’s Conversation Week as well as some soul-searching they’ve been doing at CC.

Hello Conversation Café hosts and friends,

Conversation Week 2009 will be March 23-29. It’s time for you to pick your location – and time for us to tell you what support we’re offering at CC-Central.

This year our plan is to give you – our hosts and friends – everything you need to select your community’s own most important question. We’ll post the simplest possible guidance on how to host one, many or a whole city’s worth of Conversation Cafes on whatever topic you select. We’ll also give you the top ten questions of 2007 and 2008 if you want to pick from those and an online tool to make the selection process participatory. We’ll share a couple of questions we find compelling, which you may choose. We’ll give you materials you can use. And most important, we’ll set up a social networking site where you can report what you’ve learned and connect with one another.

In part this innovation is making lemonade out of a lemon. Global Conversation Week has been evolving since our 2007 five year anniversary of the first Conversation Week in 2002. We’ve partnered with some great dialogue projects: Orange Band, Dropping Knowledge, Socrates and Global MindShift. We’ve generated each year the top ten most important questions in the world today via an online question suggestion and selection process. We’ve gathered all of your answers so we could learn together. Through it all we’ve been searching for a mechanism whereby the whole world could sit down and talk about the crucial questions of our day.

We did try to get bigger and more elaborate for 2009, but our resource ran out, and so did our energy. Every element of the big “roll-out” got so far behind schedule that we had to face facts and scale back expectations. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Online Courses in Peace and Development Studies

TRANSCEND Peace University (TPU) announces that its first semester of 2009, which offers 23 online certificate courses in Peace and Development studies, will start on March 9th, 2009.  The online courses will last for 12 weeks, until May 29th. Applications are received until February 25th, 2009. TPU faculty is drawn from amongst the leading peace scholars and practitioners in their fields internationally. For more info, visit www.transcend.org/tpu or email tpu@transcend.org.