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From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Post by Noelle McAfee on Town Hall Democracy

Noelle McAfee posted to her blog, GonePublic, yesterday about the need for more deliberative town halls. Noelle is a professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. View Town Hall Democracy on Noelle’s site, or read over the re-post here.

You can see a list of other articles, posts, etc. people in our field have published in response to the recent health care town halls at www.ncdd.org/1644.

Noelle concludes her post with:

We need to find ways to start deliberating together, to ask ourselves, what should we do and what are we willing to give up to get what we want. We need to think about the myriad consequences and effects of various courses of action. There are people trying to do this, including folks with the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation and with the National Issues Forums.  Be we need more spaces for deliberation, especially online. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Must-Read NY Times Article on Civic Participation, Open Gov't and Social Media

There was a fantastic article (‘Athens’ on the Net) by Anand Giridharadas in Sunday’s New York Times, on the relationship between civic participation, open government and social media.  This is a must-read for everyone involved in public dialogue and deliberation.  (Congratulations NCDD member Jim Fishkin, who is quoted several times in the article!)

Part of the article is below; read the full article at www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/weekinreview/13giridharadas.html?_r=1.

‘Athens’ on the Net

September 13, 2009, New York Times


Perhaps the biggest big idea to gather speed during the last millennium was that we humans might govern ourselves. But no one really meant it.

What was really meant in most places was that we would elect people to govern us and sporadically renew or revoke their contracts. It was enough. There was no practicable way to involve all of us, all the time.

The headlines from Washington today blare of bailouts, stimulus, clunkers, Afpak, health care. But it is possible that future historians, looking back, will fixate on a quieter project of Barack Obama’s White House: its exploration of how government might be opened to greater public participation in the digital age, of how to make self-government more than a metaphor.

President Obama declared during the campaign that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” That messianic phrase held the promise of a new style of politics in this time of tweets and pokes. But it was vague, a paradigm slipped casually into our drinks. To date, the taste has proven bittersweet. (more…)


NCDD’s Twitter Stream & More

NewNCDDLogoJust made two cool changes to the NCDD blog…

(1) Thanks to a WordTwit plug-in, all new posts should now be automatically announced on NCDD’s Twitter stream (at twitter.com/ncdd in case you want to follow us!). They already automatically go to my Facebook wall and the NCDD LinkedIn group.

(2) We also added a new “share” button that appears below each post, that allows you to easily share any post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, Ping, and a bunch of other social media sites.  (We had gotten rid of the ‘share’ links on our blog a while back because so few of you were on these sites, but that’s no longer the case.)  It also allows you to email a blog post to a colleague, and to bookmark posts.

Please consider following NCDD on Twitter, and when you see a blog post you think it particularly interesting or useful, please share it on your social networks!  That kind of exposure is not only a great help to NCDD, but it also helps increase awareness about dialogue and deliberation in general.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Free Nat'l Civic Review issue on decision-making in local government

I received the following announcement from PACE (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement) a few days ago.  A special issue of the National Civic Review (the National Civic League‘s quarterly journal) was just released that focuses on cutting edge forms of dialogue, deliberation and public decision-making at the local government level.  NCL teamed up with PACE to create this special issue, which is based on the recent PACE white paper by Mike McGrath, “The New Laboratories of Democracy: How Local Government is Reinventing Civic Engagement.”

To receive a complimentary print edition of this issue (NCR 98:2), contact Kristin Seavey, kristins@ncl.org.  Full details below. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Inroads Made in Mormon-Evangelical Relations

Thanks to my Google news alerts, I spotted an article that appeared in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News on Friday, September 4th. Those of you who attended the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation in Austin may remember Reverend Greg Johnson. I found him to be extremely personable, and was inspired (to say the least) by his workshop with Jacob Hess called “Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives.” (Look over a great summary of the workshop here.)

Rev. Johnson is continuing his groundbreaking work bridging Evangelical Christian and Latter-day Saint faith leaders, and his latest accomplishment is outlined in the article by Carrie A. Moore, titled “Evangelicals plan Salt Lake meeting in ’11.” Look over the article, and be sure to also check out the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6VoeO7Bwk in which Rev. Johnson and Dr. Robert Millet discuss the importance of real dialogue between the Evangelical & Latter-day Saint faith. (more…)


NCDD Townhall Article Re-Posted Around the Net

Below are some of the places where my recent article, Upgrading the Way We Do Politics, was posted.  The article, which was featured on the Yes! Magazine website, was picked up by The Media Consortium, a network of the country’s leading independent journalism organizations. I believe that’s what led to the article being posted and linked to on so many sites.

Thanks to Lucas Cioffi, I also found out that the article is quoted in “Health Care Reform Without Kennedy” by Lindsay E. Beyerstein, at www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/08/26/weekly-pulse-health-care-reform-without-kennedy.

Check out all three versions of the article (the shorter ones are meant for NCDDers to use for op-eds, letters to congressmembers, etc.) and the one-page hand-out Andy designed: www.ncdd.org/rc/item/3172.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Discount for NCDD Members on Sustainable Development (Un)Conference

On September 25th, a symposium is being held at Pepperdine School of Law’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution in Malibu, California, called Taking It Upstream: Collaboration, Consensus Building & Sustainable Development A Green Leadership (Un)Conference. NCDD members are being offered a special affiliate rate of $125.  This rate includes breakfast, lunch and an afternoon reception.

This groundbreaking symposium will provide a highly participatory forum to explore opportunities for using collaboration, consensus building, and other engagement techniques to create more sustainable communities and manage potential land use and environmental disputes.

Who Should Attend?
Green-minded elected officials, agencies, community leaders, planners, architects, developers, engineers, attorneys, mediators, facilitators and other  dialogue & deliberation professionals.


  • A Mayors’ Panel
  • Morning Framing Sessions: “The Big Picture,” “Local Perspective,” and “Cutting-Edge Collaborative Techniques”
  • Interactive “Sustainability Roundtables” focusing on: Communities, Transportation, Zoning and Development Controls, Construction & Design, Infrastructure, and Resources
  • Networking Lunch and Afternoon Reception

Learn more at http://law.pepperdine.edu/news-events/events/upstream/


Town Hall Op-Ed in Manhattan Mercury

Here’s a good example of an adaptation and elaboration of the NCDD Upgrading the Way We Do Politics article. The following article, prepared by the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University, appeared as a column in The Manhattan Mercury on Sunday, August 23, and it has been submitted to several other papers across Kansas…

Town hall meetings held on healthcare legislation across the country are exploding with emotion, frustration, and conflict.  Citizens are showing up in throngs to protest and shout down their legislators and fellow citizens with whom they disagree.   It seems America has taken yet one more step in degrading another opportunity to talk civilly and thoughtfully with one another about issues so vital to our country’s future.

Part of citizen frustration is understandable as there has been little opportunity for the public to engage and deliberate on the tough choices we are facing in health care reform. The public has a right to be upset with their lack of ability to influence the health care reform options. The “town halls” – where much of the controversy is occurring – conjures up images of townsfolk gathering in some local community building and working together to hash out the latest social and political issue. But unlike this idyllic image of town halls, today’s typical “town hall meeting” is a place where politicians come to promote some policy that’s already well down the road.  These meetings aren’t organized to allow citizens the opportunity to discuss the issue in depth or provide any meaningful input on policy options.  Like public hearings, these town hall meetings tend to largely be gripe sessions, where the most passionate and bold attendees take turns giving three-minute speeches–usually after enduring long speeches from the elected officials at the front of the room.  The real disappointment here is while extreme partisans on both sides find many opportunities to tell us what they think, most citizens lack safe spaces and opportunities to ask honest questions, listen thoughtfully to one another, or explore disagreements on tough policy issues. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Take Part in a CDC Online Dialogue on the H1N1 Flu Virus Vaccination Program

The CDC is seeking public input on its H1N1 flu virus vaccination program, and the organizers wanted to extend a special invitation to NCDDers (though to be clear, everyone is welcome to participate!).  The first dialogue begins this Wednesday and the second will begin a week from Monday (Aug 31).

Voice your Opinions:  Public Engagement Dialogue on the H1N1 Vaccination Program

The public is invited to participate in a two-day WebDialogue to give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) input on its voluntary fall vaccination program against the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. Participants will discuss, deliberate, and offer input as the CDC helps state and local health organizations develop the vaccination program. Two identical dialogues are scheduled for August 26-27 and August 31-September 1. A new discussion topic will be introduced at 9am EDT each day. Participants can enter messages at any time during the day and night.

Participants are expected to review background materials about H1N1, thoughtfully discuss values and priorities, and provide input through a survey, poll, and evaluation. (more…)


Holding Better Town Hall Meetings on Healthcare: 3 Articles You Are Welcome to Use

NCDD members have been sharing insights and tips–on our listservs and in various op-eds, blog posts, and more–on how legislators can engage citizens in ways that are more participatory and more productive than what we’ve seen in the news lately.

In addition to a colorful one-page handout we created for you to print and share with public officials and other leaders in your community, here are three articles we hope you’ll share widely:

1.  My full article (about 2.5 pages long in Word), titled “Upgrading the Way We Do Politics”
This version mentions a number of NCDD members, links to various op-eds, blog posts, etc. that our members have been writing in the past 2 weeks, and includes many ideas that have been shared on our main listserv.  Please consider sharing or linking to this article on your websites, blogs, facebook pages and groups, etc. www.thataway.org/?page_id=1663

A similar version of this article has been posted to the Yes! Magazine website at www.yesmagazine.org/democracy/upgrading-the-way-we-do-politics/ so feel free to link to that page as well.

2.  An abbreviated article (1 page in Word) that lists tips for legislators
This text can be used in letters or hand-outs to your Congresspeople and local public officials.  It’s also a more appropriate length than the full article for letters to the editor. www.thataway.org/?page_id=1659

This article is also available as a great-looking color PDF flyer that’s ready for you to print and share (thanks, Andy!).

3.  An abbreviated article (1 page in Word) that focuses on WHY we’re in the situation we’re in
This text can also be used for letters to the editor. www.thataway.org/?page_id=1661

Please use this text and these ideas freely. We need to get these ideas out there. I’m not concerned about my name being attached to the two shorter articles, but I would prefer you don’t remove the text about NCDD unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Each version lists the following resources as well, which I recommend to anyone interested in engaging the public in healthcare in more meaningful and substantive ways… (more…)