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From the CommunityFrom the Community

PB Network to Host Study Session on Deliberation & Voting

The Participatory Budgeting Project team recently launched the exciting PB Network – a learning and collaboration infrastructure for cities and institutions using participatory budgeting – which is hosting periodic “study sessions” online, and the NCDD network is invited! Their next study session will be a webinar focused on citizens juries and deliberative methods of decision-making this Wednesday, March 22. We encourage you to learn more in the PBP announcement below or sign up here.


Upcoming PB Network Event

We’d like to invite you to the PB Network’s next PBP Study Session on Wednesday, March 22nd!

One of the ideas behind participatory budgeting is that we need to get beyond the simple yes/no votes we’re usually presented with at ballot boxes. Choosing between 2 options doesn’t capture the breadth and subtlety of the needs that many communities face. Deliberation and new voting techniques can help get better decisions that benefit broader groups of people.

The study session will feature Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, who will share some lessons from “citizen juries“, which take a randomly selected and balanced group of citizens to deliberate and make informed and thoughtful recommendations about a public issue. We’ll also learn from Ashish Goel of Stanford’s Crowdsourced Democracy Team, who works on collaborative decision-making, including developing innovative ballot platforms for participatory budgeting in many cities across the US.

Join us for a discussion on new innovations in participatory decision-making with broad sets of stakeholders.

The webinar will be:
Wednesday, March 22nd
1pm EST/10am PST
Click here to register and receive the webinar info

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Designing Dialogues for Understanding & Conflict

The team at Essential Partners – an NCDD member org – often has insightful reflections about the work of dialogue on their blog. Today we wanted to share one of those reflections by John Sarrouf, who writes about how well-structured dialogue can help us bridge our divides like a road that guides us across difficult or dangerous terrain with a well-placed signs and a few simple rules. We encourage you to read the piece below or find the original version here.


Rules of the Road: Designing the Structure in Difficult Conversations

Every time I drive down an undivided highway, speeding along at 60 mph past cars whizzing to my left and right, I am amazed that this is possible – mostly without incident. I remember learning to navigate the winding Berkshire Mountain roads as my father taught me to decipher the dividing lines. Sometimes the line in the middle is double striped (everybody stay in their lane), sometimes solid on our side and dotted on the other (they can pass; I cannot), sometimes solid on the other side and dotted on mine (I can pass; they cannot). This delicate dance, silent choreography, all based on impulses channeled by well thought out structures.

These structures – yield signs, flashing yellow lights, or blinkers – that tell us in varying ways to slow down and pay attention: change is underway. An encounter is coming. These systems, while legally enforced, are mostly adhered to by agreement – a tacit understanding that these structures allow us to move gracefully and efficiently. I follow the guidelines because others are willing to do the same and because when we all do, we all stay safe and get where we are going.

Conversations are complex journeys, too. And the most difficult ones are also best navigated with some well-placed structures, offering a design that channels our impulses in constructive ways. Think of the simple difficulty of deciding who gets to (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Don’t Miss the Special Journalism-D&D Confab Call on Wed.

As we announced last month, NCDD is co-hosting a very special Confab Call along with member org Journalism That Matters (JTM) on deepening collaboration between the world of journalism and the field of dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement this Wednesday, March 15th from 1-2:30pm Eastern / 10-11:30am Pacific. It’s going to be one our most engaging Confabs yet, so we encourage you to register todayConfab bubble image

During the call, we’ll continue the conversation that we began during NCDD 2016 about how journalists and public engagement practitioners are needed now more than ever to help our communities in #BridgingOurDivides, enhance the impact D&D practitioners’ work, and find new ways to change the narrative about whether and how our country can overcome our bitter partisanship and political disfunction.

How can we bring our skill sets together to do this? How do community engagement practitioners and journalists work together to share stories? We’ll have in-depth conversations about these questions and more, hear from case studies of successful D&D-journalist partnerships, and even host special region-based small group discussions using Zoom technology to allow for more concrete opportunities to move from conversation to action.

We are excited to have NCDD’s Managing Director Courtney Breese co-hosting this call with JTM Executive Director and NCDD member Peggy Holman. We’ll also be featuring insights and stories from JTM President Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, Doug Oplinger of the Akron Beacon Journal, and Betty Knighton of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life. You can find more info about the details of the call and our speakers in our original announcement here.

Don’t miss this highly interactive discussion about an exciting new direction emerging in our field! Be sure to register today!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

School-Community Engagement Conference in New England

If you’re based in the New England region, we encourage you to check out the annual School Redesign in Action conference this March 27-28 in Hartford. The interface between schools and the communities they serve is a space full of under-explored possibilities for our field to grow – not to mention a great way to expose more young people to D&D methods – so we’re excited that the conference planners have included a whole track this year focused on increasing community engagement for schools. Regular registration is $325, but the deadline to register is Mon., March 13, so act fast! You can learn more about the conference in their announcement below or by visiting the conference website here.


School Redesign in Action is the New England Secondary School Consortium’s eighth annual conference for educators and stakeholders from across the country to share success stories, exchange best practices, and continue to build momentum for innovations that will prepare all students for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century.

WHEN:  Monday, March 27th, 1:00-5:00pm + Tuesday, March 28th,  8:00am-2:30pm

WHERE:  Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Blvd · Hartford, CT 06103

WHO:  Educators, students, community stakeholders, policy makers, and teams from secondary schools along with career and technical education centers and higher education from across the country engaged in school improvement

NEW THIS YEAR! A strand dedicated to school-community engagement

Across New England, educators are increasingly aware that meaningful family and community engagement is vital to student achievement and that educators must effectively engage stakeholders to develop more equitable schools. But what does authentic engagement entail? How can educators make the shift from event-based, often-siloed strategies to deeper, more powerful approaches to engagement? And how can communities and educators come together to challenge inequities and effect lasting change for youth?

To explore these questions and more, this year’s School Redesign in Action conference incorporates a strand of presentations and workshops that will increase participants’ capacity to foster authentic school-community engagement, establish meaningful relationships with marginalized groups in schools and/or communities, and strengthen (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Kettering Publication on Engagement & Higher Ed

We want to encourage our members in higher education to check out the newest version of the Higher Education Exchange, a free annual publication from NCDD member organization the Kettering Foundation. The Exchange explores important and timely themes around the public mission of colleges and universities and offers reflections from both domestic and international scholar-practitioners on how higher education can and must shift toward teaching deliberation and civic engagement. We highly recommend it. You can learn more about the 2016 edition in the Kettering announcement below or find the full downloadable version here.


Higher Education Exchange 2016

This annual publication serves as a forum for new ideas and dialogue between scholars and the larger public. Essays explore ways that students, administrators, and faculty can initiate and sustain an ongoing conversation about the public life they share.

The Higher Education Exchange is founded on a thought articulated by Thomas Jefferson in 1820: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.”

In the tradition of Jefferson, the Higher Education Exchange agrees that a central goal of higher education is to help make democracy possible by preparing citizens for public life. The Higher Education Exchange is part of a movement to strengthen higher education’s democratic mission and foster a more democratic (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Join Us at the Elevate Engagement Un-Conference on Journalism & Public Engagement

We are excited to invite the NCDD network to register today to join us at the Elevate Engagement gathering this May 18-21 in Portland – a sequel to the 2015 Experience Engagement un-conference that will continue the exploration of how the journalism world and the dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement field can amplify and deepen each other’s work. Elevate Engagement is being hosted by the Agora Journalism Center and Journalism That Matters – an NCDD organizational member.
This un-conference will continue the exciting, field-wide conversation that we launched with the journalism-D&D panel during NCDD 2016 and will be continuing with our March 15th Confab Call. We encourage our members to learn more about Elevate Engagement in the announcement below and visit the conference website here to save your spot!


Elevate Engagement Un-Conference 2017

The 2016 election was a wake-up call. Trust in media is at an all-time low. Political polarization has taken a sometimes ugly turn. For some, it may feel as though the health of our democracy is in question. We must embrace this moment as an opportunity to consider how conversation, storytelling, journalism, and the arts, can better engage communities to thrive.

It is time to Elevate Engagement.

On May 18-21, 2017, the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication in Portland will host:

“Elevate Engagement: Listen. Connect. Trust.
How to take your engagement to the next level.”

We are delighted to partner with Journalism That Matters, which brings expertise in designing “un-conference” gatherings that maximize interaction and creative engagement among participants.

Who’s Coming?

This open-space gathering is made possible by a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is designed to welcome a diverse group of people who care about journalism, storytelling, and communication in civic life. Included among them are: journalists, public engagement practitioners, academics and students, funders, public servants, and other engagement pioneers and community members. We also seek to welcome diversity that reaches across race, class, gender, generation, political ideology, and geography.

Our Focus

How can the public engage, not as an audience, consumers or marketplace, but as participants, with journalists, in creating civic structures for engagement and storytelling?

In addition, how must news organizations and journalists evolve so they are seen by diverse communities as trustworthy and culturally competent enough to tell their stories?

To mend and strengthen our civic fabric, we are connecting the diverse people who care about journalism and civic communication to elevate knowledge and practices of engagement that (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Invite Your Local Librarians to Join Our Free Online D&D Trainings!

NCDD is proud to be partnering with the American Library Association (ALA) to help build the capacity of libraries across the country to support their communities using dialogue and deliberation methodologies through a series of online trainings, and we are asking our network to invite your local librarians to join us!

This first series of webinar trainings is designed to support staff members at large and urban public libraries in employing D&D methods, but all libraries are welcome to participate. Subsequent series of trainings will focus on supporting medium, small, and rural libraries as well as academic libraries, respectively.

If you have connections at your local library, we encourage you to share more information about this great opportunity with staff there and invite them to join these free online trainings! They can learn all about the partnership by visiting the ALA website, reading our announcement about the partnership from earlier this year, or they can just go ahead and register for one of the upcoming trainings.

The dates, topics, and registration info for the first series is here:

  • Libraries Transforming Communities: Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation
    Thursday, March 9, 2017, 1 – 2 pm Central
    Register Now
  • Libraries Transforming Communities: World Café
    Thursday, April 6, 2017, 1 – 2 pm Central
    Register Now
  • Libraries Transforming Communities: Everyday Democracy’s Dialogue to Change Process
    Monday, May 1, 2017, 1 – 2 pm Central
    Register Now

We also encourage you to invite your local librarians to participate in the training that will be part of the 2017 ALA Annual Conference, which will take place Friday, June 23, 9 am – 4 pm. You can learn more and register by clicking here.

This free webinar series is offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, an initiative of the ALA and NCDD that seeks to strengthen libraries’ roles as core community leaders and agents of change. LTC addresses a critical need within the library field by developing and distributing new tools, resources, and support for librarians to engage with their communities in new ways. As a result, we believe libraries will become more connected to and capable of supporting healthy, sustainable communities.

This initiative is made possible through a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Linking Deliberation & Power for Better Democracy

The gap between the outcomes of D&D processes and real power to implement them is one that our field has struggled with for years. What could be possible if the well-considered recommendations and outcomes of deliberative democracy processes were given the legal power of decisions made through direct democracy? That’s the question that the team at Public Agenda – an NCDD member org – asked recently in on their blog (spoiler alert: they think it would look like PB), and we think their reflections are valuable for us to consider. We encourage you to read their piece below or find the original version here.


Deliberative + Direct = Better Democracy?

Following the Brexit vote in mid-2016, many U.K. voters who elected to exit the European Union expressed remorse at their decision. Immediately following the vote, websites explaining its potential consequences received record traffic. Though the decision has yet to play out, the results of Brexit may have profound and long-lasting ill effects on the U.K. economy.

The Brexit vote was an example of direct democracy. Direct democracy enables the public to decide on policy decisions without a proxy, typically through ballot measures or referenda. California is well-known for its use of direct democracy in its many ballot propositions, a practice that started in 1911.

The counterpart to direct democracy is called deliberative democracy. In deliberative democracy, people discuss issues but usually do not make public decisions directly. In contrast, while people do make decisions in direct democracy, they usually don’t discuss those decisions first.

Each form of public engagement has its pros and cons. As we see in the case of the Brexit vote, direct democracy may not necessarily lead to well-considered decisions that benefit the common good and inspire public confidence. Meanwhile, deliberative democracy can and has led (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NCDD Discount on Dynamic Facilitation Training

We are pleased to share the announcement below from NCDD member Rosa Zubizarreta of DiaPraxis about an opportunity for NCDD members to receive a discount on an upcoming training in dynamic facilitation methods. We encourage you to learn more about the opportunity below!
Rosa shared this piece via our great Submit-to-Blog Form. Do you have news or thoughts you want to share with the NCDD network? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!


Advanced 3-day facilitation training & special offer for NCDD folks

Are you interested in effective ways to help people become curious and interested about differences, instead of defensive and threatened?

Last time I was invited to Maine to offer a Dynamic Facilitation workshop, here’s what one participant wrote afterward about the results of this work: “…a dynamic shift in the capacity of the participants and the group as a whole to hold diversity and complexity with their eyes and hearts wide open.”

It seems to me that these kinds of outcomes are needed more than ever. At the same time, to uplevel our game, we may need to learn to do things somewhat differently. In Germany, Dynamic Facilitation is often described as “ein ganz anders moderieren” (“a very different way of facilitating”). How accurate is that? Below is more info about what we do and how we do it, so you can decide for yourself.

But first, a word about the special offer. One is, as an NCDD member, you qualify for the super-low community fee: $425 early-bird rate, $525 regular rate. And in addition, we have arranged for a two-week extra time period where NCDD members can register at the early-bird rate: so instead of March 1st, you have until March 15th.  Of course, if you already know you want to sign up, here is the link.

Ok, back to what makes this work distinctive:

1) Heart-centered listening. What might “active listening” look like if our aim as facilitators or mediators was not to “be impartial”, but instead, to be “multi-partial” and to really support (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New D&D Job Openings

We’ve heard about several job openings this month in the NCDD network, and so we thought we’d share about them here on the blog.  We know that there are many people in our network who would be great fits for these openings, and we strongly encourage you to apply to these positions or share them with your networks!

The list of the openings and links we’ve seen lately is here:

Public Agenda – an NCDD member org – has an opening for a Public Engagement Assistant. Learn more about the position and how to apply here. This would be a great position for younger or newer folks in our field!

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard – another NCDD member org – is in search of a new Associate Director for Democratic Governance. Learn more about the position and how to apply here.

The Environmental Dispute Resolution Program at University of Utah – also an NCDD member org – is hiring for an Associate Director / Senior Mediator. Learn more about the position and how to apply here.

The City of Laguna Niguel, CA is hiring for a Community Engagement Manager. Learn more about the position and how to apply here. The deadline to apply is March 14th.

The US Department of State is seeking a Regional Public Engagement Specialist. Learn more about the position and how to apply here. The deadline to apply is tomorrow, Feb. 28th, so don’t waste time on this one!

We’d love to see NCDDers fill all of these positions, so we encourage you to apply if one or more of these positions sounds up your alley. Best of luck to all the applicants!

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