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From the CommunityFrom the Community

The Front Porch Forum: Hyperlocal Media

There’s an interesting model of neighborhood-based social networking evolving in Vermont called the Front Porch Forum. I was recently struck by its connection to broad, national concern about the loss of local news coverage. But before I go further, I have to confess some skepticism about the recent sense of malaise around the media. Here’s why:

Just about everywhere you turn, you are bound to read omphaloskeptic writing about the sufferance of media – its consolidation, how it is biased, how there has been a turn from the local, and certainly the absence of an “alternative” voice. At its finest, some have even called Viacom-produced shows like the “Colbert Report” “independent” news sources. This all plays up the general state of disarray and incoherence out there – but not, at least to me, a state of crisis. And perhaps part of the equation lies in some of the unique qualities of a state like Vermont: small, northern, rural, inconsequential, largely and often overlooked. Perhaps this has allowed something other than the dominant narratives to play out among our bonny green hills.

One of those is the healthy ecology of small town newspapers. Right here in the northern piedmont we have more than a dozen local papers serving a disbursed population of roughly 70,000. Which are all complemented by the circulation of the larger area papers – the Times Argus, Burlington Free Press as well as out of state ones, including the Boston Globe and the New York Times.

So why the health of so many local papers?


From the CommunityFrom the Community

Looking for a "Dispute Resolution" Job?

Emily Menn, Director of Education and Professional Development at the New York State Dispute Resolution Association, manages a great mailing list that shares, on a weekly basis, a long list of current jobs in the dispute resolution field. We’ve posted a few of these lists in the past, but if you want to keep up-to-date, I would highly recommend subscribing. To receive future job listings, you can join the list by emailing her at emily dot menn at gmail dot com with the subject “ADD TO JOBS IN DISPUTE RESOLUTION LIST”

Here’s an example of a current job opportunity… (taken from the Dispute Resolution List)

Assistant Dean of Mediation, Woodbury College, Montpelier, VT

Woodbury College, a dynamic institution offering graduate degrees in mediation and legal studies, and undergraduate degrees in paralegal, pre-law and advocacy studies, seeks an Assistant Dean of Mediation with the capacity, credentials, energy, and wisdom to lead its Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies program to its next level of national prominence. The ideal candidate will hold appropriate academic credentials and be an accomplished mediator, teacher, and established — or emergent — leader in the field. Strategic vision, organizational expertise, and process management skills are essential. Expressions of interest, including a cover letter and vita, and nominations, should be sent to Alison Underhill at alisonu@woodbury-college.edu. Additional information is available at www.woodbury-college.edu.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

University of Michigan Job Openings for Intergroup Dialogue Experts

IGR LogoCharles Behling, the Co-Director of the University of Michigan’s Program on Intergroup Relations, emailed me this weekend asking me to share a job announcement with the network. The announcement is actually for two interdependent half-time positions, and you must apply for both:

The University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts seeks a highly motivated and inspired person to serve as Associate Director of the Program on Intergroup Relations. The Program on Intergroup Relations is a joint academic and student affairs program concerning social diversity and social justice. A sequence of at least eight courses is offered, with special attention to Intergroup Dialogue pedagogy (a formal methodology developed at UM and now employed nationally).

The Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR) also invites applications for a position as Adjunct Lecturer to begin September 1, 2008. The successful candidate is likely to have substantial experience in intergroup dialogue pedagogy, social justice education, and experiential teaching. The position will teach three courses each academic year, with at least one course being taught each term [Fall and Winter]. Among the courses to be taught include the processes of intergroup dialogues facilitation; a practicum in facilitating intergroup dialogues, and a first year seminar and/or foundations of intergroup relations.

See the full descriptions for both positions.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Upcoming "Dialogue Mapping" Workshop

NCDD member and developer of the Dialogue Mapping facilitation technique, Jeff Conklin, will be running his next Dialogue Mapping workshop May 7th & 8th in Menlo Park, CA at SRI. The two-day CogNexus Fundamentals of Dialogue Mapping workshop introduces managers, project leaders, facilitators, and consultants to the skill of Dialogue Mapping, and a whole new way of helping groups solve problems and move forward. Learn more at the CogNexus Institute website. Jeff recently posted a video on YouTube that might give those new to the Dialogue Mapping technique a better sense of the process.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Do You Have A "Dotmocracy" Story?

Jason Diceman

Jason Diceman, NCDD member and the creator of the Advanced Dotmocracy process, is looking for Dotmocracy stories and photos and hopes you can help. Since October 2004, he has been distributing various versions of the Dotmocracy Sheet and instructions he designed to help large groups find agreement. In the past year at least 500 people have downloaded the Dotmocracy Handbook for free from www.dotmocracy.org and countless numbers of groups have received copies of the materials through legal and encouraged duplication.

In 2008 Jason plans to release a new version of the Dotmocracy Handbook and he needs to know:

  • Have the Dotmocracy Sheets and instructions worked for you?
  • What worked well and how could the Handbook be improved?

Please email Jason (jd@cooptools.ca) with your stories and suggestions. He would especially love to see photos of groups using the Dotmocracy Sheets. You are also invited to post comments directly on pages of www.dotmocracy.org, join and start a conversation on the Dotmocracy Facilitators Google group or submit a short case study. If you are really savvy, you could post pictures from your Dotmocracy session on flickr.com, tag it with “Dotmocracy” and it will soon show appear in the gallery.

Jason will use your suggestions, stories, insights and photos to develop version 2.0 of the free Dotmocracy Handbook.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

AmericaSpeaks Seeks Communications Coordinator

AmericaSpeaks (www.americaspeaks.org), an organization that specializes in large scale citizen engagement and public deliberation, is looking for a Communications Coordinator to support their communications and marketing activities and take a role in their mission of reinvigorating American democracy by engaging citizens in the public decision-making that most impacts their lives. The coordinator’s roles will include researching, writing and disseminating key communications documents and supporting the development and implementation of media strategies for AmericaSpeaks’ projects. You can learn more about this position on the AmericaSpeaks website.

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Email Templates for Publicizing the 2008 Conference

Please Note:  The following information dates back to the planning stage of our wonderful 2008 event in Austin, TX.  We’ve kept it on our website for reference.  Most links, specifically those with the domain “thataway.org” will no longer work. You can learn more about our Austin events at www.ncdd.org/events/ncdd2008 or www.ncdd.org/events/ncdd2010/austin.

Below are a bunch of different email “templates” you can use to help get the word out about the conference. Just pick the one that works best for the person, group, listserv, etc. you’re reaching out to, copy it (control-C or apple-C) and paste it into your email program (control-V or apple-V).

If your email program allows it, feel free to also paste the pictures at the bottom of the page into your message. And certainly use one of these pictures and/or the NCDD logo in blog posts, e-newsletters, print newsletters, etc.

Also – a bunch of other ideas for getting the word out about the conference, like distributing postcards and Moo cards, are posted at www.thataway.org/events/?p=67. And a banner and two smaller images for the conference are posted at www.thataway.org/events/?p=143.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

On the Media, Dialogue & Deliberation

Recently a couple of news items have caught my attention as exemplary of what NCDD’s Dialogue Bureau concept aspired to achieve. Readers might recall that during 2004 and 2005, NCDD sponsored research into the feasibility of a service that would: 1) assist news outlets make better use of dialogue and deliberation techniques to augment reporting; 2) help dialogue and deliberation practitioners make better use of partnerships with news outlets; and 3) help track and promote dialogue and deliberation in the news.

This week, two news items caught my attention for their salience to how dialogue and deliberation can enrich the coverage of local and national issues. The first is the City of Portland’s Restorative Listening Project sponsored by the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement headed by NCDDer Judith Mowry. The second is the recent establishment of a National Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.


From the CommunityFrom the Community

Model Dialogue Coverage on the Oregon Website

Restorative Listening Project Online CoverageNCDD member Judith Mowry runs a Restorative Listening Project in Portland, Oregon that uses dialogue, storytelling and restorative justice to engage the city in race dialogue. Some amazing press coverage went up today on the Oregonian website which highlights the project using articles, a multimedia website and beginning a year long community wide dialogue. Check it out at www.oregonlive.com/special/.

Mowry, now with the city Office of Neighborhood Involvement, designed the project from her background in restorative justice, which aims to mend harm by inviting the sufferer to describe the harm, revealing, for both sides, their shared humanity. “The one who strikes the blow doesn’t know the force of the blow,” Mowry says. “Only the one who has received the blow knows its force.”

I love one page of this web coverage in particular, and the image on the right shows you what the page looks like. The page allows you to click on the faces of dialogue participants and then listen to audio of them talking about what race and gentrification means to them (I clicked on Judith’s name so her image and audio is the one highlighted). It’s an amazing example of how to cover dialogue in the local press using new media.

Be sure to also read the accompanying article by Erin Hoover Barnett, called “Speak. Listen. Heal.” and the column by S. Renee Mitchell titled “A successful crossing of the racial divide.”

You can also read a nice write-up of the Restorative Listening Project in NCDD’s Learning Exchange.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Community Arts Fellowship Program

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center (www.jmkac.org) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin announces its Community Arts Fellowship program. In its inaugural year, the Community Arts Fellowship is designed to experiment with and define new ways of hands-on collaboration within an arts organization between artists and a broad community. Working in The ARTery space—a hands-on, drop-in, collaborative art-making gallery—the Fellow will have the opportunity to develop interactive projects specific to his/her area of interest that reach out to new communities, provide more in-depth engagement into the exhibitions in the galleries, and provide an accessible entry point to the Arts Center for active participation by people of all skill levels and ages. The fellowship is intended to offer an artist, teaching artist, or artist-administrator (graduate-level candidate or an exceptional undergraduate candidate) professional experience in a nationally acclaimed arts environment. The fellowship start date is August 1, 2008, and the deadline for applications is May 15, 2008. Please see their website for more information.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is a nationally acclaimed visual and performing arts complex in downtown Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The Arts Center is devoted to innovative explorations in contemporary art, new models for community arts, unique educational partnering with an emphasis on early childhood education, presenting internationally acclaimed performing artists, as well as supporting practicing artists through a variety of residencies. The 100,000-square-foot complex includes ten galleries, a theatre, an interdisciplinary performance space, studio-classrooms, meeting spaces, gift shop, and café. The Community Arts Department is one of the programming departments at the Arts Center—the others being Curatorial, Performing Arts, Education, and Arts/Industry—and is comprised of five programs: Connecting Communities, The ARTery, the Community Gallery, the Partnership Program, and Community Events.