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Update from the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue

The International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (www.sustaineddialogue.org) is directed by NCDD Board member Hal Saunders. Recently we got a report from Randa Slim, IISD vice president, on two exciting IISD initiatives in the Middle East. Click on the link below to read about the Arab-American-European Dialogue and the Arab Democracy Barometer Project, both sponsored by IISD.

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World Citizens To Debate Urban Sustainability Online, Dec. 1-3, 2005

Habitat JAM, an unprecedented online global dialogue on urban sustainability, will be held for 72 hours from 1-3 December, 2005. Sponsored by the Government of Canada, in partnership with UN-HABITAT and IBM, the Habitat JAM promises to engage, empower and stimulate tens of thousands of global citizens, rich and less fortunate alike, with the ultimate goal of turning ideas into action on critical issues related to urban sustainability. The Habitat JAM is a preparatory event to the third session of the World Urban Forum being held in Vancouver in June 2006. The World Urban Forum is an initiative of the United Nations Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) held every two years to debate ideas and issues about sustainable development in today’s context of rapid urbanization. Topics for discussion will include improving the lives of people living in slums, access to water, environmental sustainability, safety and security, finance and governance, and the future of our cities. The Habitat JAM will bring together academics and students, planners and builders, politicians, governments, the private sector and ordinary citizens from across the globe in real time, all contributing ideas and expertise during the 72-hour global problem-solving session. Moderators will include government leaders, renowned experts, and key thinkers. To ensure the most inclusive event possible, grass root organizations, institutions, women, youth groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are helping to bring people to the technology who might otherwise not have access or opportunity to share their experiences and ideas with others around the world. To name just a few examples, the Habitat JAM is teaming with the:

* World Bank Institute to offer access to many of their satellite-based Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) to enable people living in regions with inadequate or no Internet access to participate in the Habitat JAM.
* Huairou Commission and GROOTS Canada to bring the voice of non-English speaking women into the Habitat JAM.
* World Urban Forum and Youth Organizing Committee (WUFY) who will hold over a dozen World Urban Cafe JAM Sessions to engage communities in slums and impoverished human settlements in Asia, Africa, India and Latin America.

For additional information on Habitat JAM and to register for the event, visit www.habitatjam.com.

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Institute for Community Research Announces 2007 Conference

The Institute for Community Research has just announced it will be holding the 2nd International Community-Based Research Conference from June 7 – 9, 2007 in Connecticut, USA. Witht he theme of Beyond the Crossroads: Transformations in Community-Based Research, the conference will bring together those who are committed to using research for social change.
Transformations will build on the themes from our 2004 Crossroads conference addressing critical issues in community-based research partnerships, theory, methodology, methods of dissemination and ethics. (2004 conference program at: www.incommunityresearch.org/news/documents/crossroadsprogram.pdf) The conference will also cover new trends including the democratization of research and the growth of community-based research organizations (CBRO), new movements linking art and research, and the politics surrounding choice of “best practices” in research design and intervention evaluation. Interactive presentations and workshops will cross-cut fields, including health and mental health, education, environment, community development, racial/ ethnic and cultural relations and cultural development. More details to follow soon!

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CIRCLE Announces Grant Opportunity for Research on Civic Education

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, has announced a grant opportunity for research on Civic Education at the high school level. Applicants are invited to submit letters of inquiry no later than December 15, 2005. Full details are available at www.civicyouth.org/whats_new/RFP.htm

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Search For Common Ground Partnership Recognized at Clinton Global Initiative

Last month in New York City, 40 heads of state and almost 1,000 religious, business and nonprofit leaders came together at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) for three days of in-depth discussions in an effort to address and seek solutions for the world’s critical issues: extreme poverty, climate change, problems in governance, and religion as a source of conflict. The talks concluded with the announcement of “commitments” totaling $1.25 billion in pledges for specific initiatives that address these global problems. Clinton singled out the commitment from Nestle to fund Search for Common Ground’s TV drama series in Nigeria, and invited Search For Common Ground (SFCG) President John Marks and Klaus Wachsmuth, Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria PLC, to the stage to recognize this model of corporate and NGO partnership for effecting positive social change. SFCG is currently producing two TV series in Nigeria. Their aim is to promote inter-ethnic tolerance and respect, and to encourage non-violent resolution of conflict. The Station is a 26-part drama about the adventures of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious group of Nigerian TV reporters – Yorubas, Hausas, Ibos, and others – working together as a news team to cover Nigeria’s most pressing problems, such as AIDS and corruption, through the prism of finding common ground. The series focuses on socially relevant themes through entertaining soap opera drama that will appeal to large audiences. The initial production is a 20-part reality series called The Academy, which is intended to build an audience for The Station. The Academy is centered on a nationwide talent search leading to the final selection of the cast for The Station. Over 50,000 applicants answered the open casting call. Both series will be aired on Nigerian national TV, with the direct support of President Obasanjo. To read more about SFCG and the Clinton Global Initiative, visit www.sfcg.org.

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White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation Focuses on "Shared Governance"

Federal officials working for environmental, land-management, and wildlife agencies gathered in August with state, local, and tribal officials; nonprofit conservation organizations; and private landowners and businesses for the fourth-ever White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. The first such conference was convened by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908 and set a 40-year course for conservation in the United States. This year’s theme, “Strengthening shared governance and citizen stewardship,” sought to celebrate what Interior Secretary Gail Norton called a new chapter built on “communication, consultation, and cooperation, in the name of conservation.” The three-day conference was organized by the Council on Environmental Quality, and co-hosted by the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and the Environmental Protection Agency. A number of facilitators, including PolicyConsensus Director Chris Carlson and NPCC Director Greg Wolf, led discussions around nine key topic areas such as expanding the roles of states, tribes, and local governments in cooperative conservation. In her opening remarks, Interior Secretary Norton described an initiative to develop cooperative conservation legislation to submit to Congress, though few details were offered about what the legislation would contain. Two days later, at the concluding plenary session – after Norton and other cabinet members had been summoned to Washington, D.C., to coordinate the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina – federal officials issued an invitation to conference participants to provide input on the proposed legislation. For updates and more information on the conference, visit PolicyConsensus.org.

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PCI and NPCC Launching a "Public Solutions System"

For the past several years, the Policy Consensus Initiative (PCI) and the National Policy Consensus Center (NPCC) have been developing an approach to collaborative governance for states that can be adapted and applied to complex policy issues in which multiple sectors have a stake in the outcomes, and no single entity can produce a solution on its own. The model is based on lessons from the past 30 years about what makes collaborative processes legitimate and effective. This “Public Solutions System” is not intended to replace existing, traditional systems of state decision making. Rather, it serves as an option for state leaders to use on a more routine basis when difficult public issues – issues that cannot be resolved by government alone – need to be approached collaboratively. A fundamental component of the Public Solutions System is the new role it offers leaders – that of convener. Unlike a policymaker, the role of convener involves bringing together all the key sectors – public, private and civic – to develop effective, lasting solutions to public problems that go beyond what any sector could achieve on its own. Rather than deciding for people, leaders in the convener role make decisions with people, giving all impacted stakeholders a key role in problem solving and strategy implementation. The Public Solutions System involves a set of core principles that ensure democratic practices are followed; an “Operating System” that ensures best practices are employed; and a network of leaders as conveners, along with sponsors, practitioners, and neutral forums to carry out the collaborative processes. More information about the Public Solutions System should be available on PCI’s updated website, which will be launched in the coming month (www.PolicyConsensus.org).

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Fetzer Institute Sponsoring Conference on Democracy

The Fetzer Institute (www.fetzer.org) will be sponsoring the Second Conference on Democracy in America, this December 1-4, 2005 in Colorado. The conference is co-sponsored by the Christian Coalition of America, Moveon.org and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation. Facilitators include Mark Gerzon, President, Mediators Foundation (Chief Facilitator, Bi-Partisan Congressional Retreats) and William Ury, Director, Global Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School (co-author, “Getting to Yes”). Three day facilitated dialogue among 20-24 leaders of national political/civil associations, 1/3 generally perceived left, 1/3 generally perceived right, 1/3 generally perceived unaligned. The purpose is to build bridges of trust, respect and communication among leaders of national political and civil associations from across the political spectrum by engaging in a facilitated dialogue about a) the values that unite us as Americans, b) how to expand upon the recent successful left-right-center cooperation in the area of civil liberties, privacy, and constitutional protections, and c) other areas of potential left-right-center cooperation. For more information on this initiative, visit www.democracycampaign.org

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News on Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue Projects

We just heard from Len and Libby Traubman about their recent involvement in two exciting dialogue initiatives. In Summer, 2005, at the most northern tip of South Korea — near the inter-Korean border — ten Israeli students from Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities and ten Palestinian students from Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities met. They were joined by ten Korean university students. Read about this meeting in the Korea Times Correspondent (in English): times.hankooki.com/lpage/culture/200509/kt2005090420155811690. And in California 140 Arabs and Jews met to discover their commonalities at the very successful Camp Tawonga. Read all about it at traubman.igc.org/camp2005 (click on the links at the top of the page to see media coverage).

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Senator Dayton Introduces Department of Peace Legislation

On September 22nd, 2005, Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) introduced the Department of Peace legislation into the U.S. Senate (Bill # S. 1756), calling for an elevation of the Reagan-established “Institute of Peace” to a Cabinet-level position. Speaking from the Senate floor, Dayton said, “If we are to remain the world’s leader, and if we are to lead the world into a more secure and more prosperous future, we must become better known and more respected for our peacemaking successes than for our military forces. Peace, to have any lasting value, must be advanced, expanded and strengthened continuously. Doing so requires skill, dedication, persistence, resources, and, most importantly, people.” To take action to support this initiative, consider calling and/or writing your senators, urging them to support this initiative (bill # is S. 1756). Contact your Senator at the U.S. capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121. To find your Representative, visit //www.vote-smart.org Tell the staffer who answers your call that you want your Senator to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Department of Peace legislation. Request a written response explaining your Senator’s position and the reasoning behind it. To write your Representative, click below to get started. This will allow you to send an email or a fax to your congressperson. www.thepeacealliance.org/action. It’s most effective if you call first, then follow-up with a fax or email.