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A Message from NCDD Board Chair Martin Carcasson

I wanted to take an opportunity to make another appeal to everyone to consider supporting NCDD by becoming a dues-paying member. As you’ve likely read, NCDD is changing its membership structure in order to build capacity in the organization. Effective June 19, all members will need to have their dues current to continue receiving member benefits and remain listed on the member map and directory.

As the current chair of the NCDD Board of Directors, I can tell you we struggled with this decision. We want to keep NCDD as open and accessible as possible, which is why we’ve traditionally had open membership without required dues (dues were optional). But as we continue to work to create capacity to address to the troubling hyper-partisanship of our times, we recognized that we needed more stability in the organizational structure to accomplish our work. NCDD had to grow up a little, and have a more consistent funding stream, particularly for our leadership positions. Once we establish the new structure, Courtney and Sandy should be able to focus so much more on doing the work and building, improving, and serving the network rather than searching for the dollars to cover their salaries.

I do hope you see the value in supporting NCDD. Yes, there are member benefits, but above all I hope people see this as a contribution to an organization whose work has never been as important as it is now. At a time when polarization and cynicism is tearing the country apart, those of us in NCDD know we have better ways of engaging the tough issues that actually bring people together. We also know that despite all the rancor, people do yearn for authentic engagement, and prefer that to the noise when given an opportunity.

I first became connected with NCDD in San Francisco in 2006. I don’t actually remember how I initially heard about the conference, but I was in the process of getting the Center for Public Deliberation started at Colorado State, and made it out to the coast to hopefully learn some useful skills. What I actually found was my tribe. An incredibly diverse group of people who saw the world like I saw it, passionate about making a difference and catalyzing change, but recognizing that the best way to do just that was by focusing on changing the conversation and giving people real opportunities to engage each other genuinely. I hope you see NCDD through a similar lens, and will help us expand and solidify our work by supporting the organization moving forward as an NCDD member.

Martin Carcasson
Director, CSU Center for Public Deliberation
Professor, Communication Studies at Colorado State University
Chair, NCDD Board of Directors

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Save the Date for David Mathew Center’s 2017 Civic Institute

The NCDD member organization, David Mathews Center for Civic Life announced the date for their upcoming 2017 Civic Institute on August 18. The 2017 Civic Institute is a day-long opportunity to meet with fellow civic engagement enthusiasts and practitioners to explore the future of Alabama. Participants choose one of three event tracks to delve into deeper during Civic Institute, which are: building civic infrastructure, renewing civic education, and creating civic media. This event will also serve as the official launch of the three year forum series, What’s Next, Alabama? which will be an opportunity for Alabamians to envision the future of their communities. We encourage you to read more about the 2017 Civic Institute in the announcement from David Mathews Center below or find the original version here.


2017 Civic Institute – Save the Date: August 18, 2017

The 2017 Civic Institute is your chance to connect with civic-minded change-makers and thought leaders from across Alabama in a dialogue on our state’s past, present, and future. From the morning panel discussion on the “geography of economic prosperity” in rural and urban communities, to the keynote address by Dr. David Mathews, (President and CEO of the Kettering Foundation), the day will be packed with engaging speakers and interactive sessions centered around some of the most profound issues we encounter as Alabamians.

Participants are able to choose among three different learning tracks for the day, including: building civic infrastructure, renewing civic education, and creating civic media. Each track includes a deliberative forum in the morning, as well as an interactive workshop in the afternoon–all in addition to the panel discussion and keynote address, which will be delivered over lunch!

With our state’s bicentennial on the horizon, (more…)

NCDD NewsNCDD News

Thanking Roshan for His Contributions to NCDD

We’re sad to announce that NCDD’s Blog Curator and Youth Engagement Coordinator, Roshan Bliss, is leaving NCDD this month to accept a position in Denver as a community organizer with a group called Together Colorado. Roshan has been with NCDD for over four years, and has left quite a mark on NCDD and our members who have worked with him.

Sandy and I first met Roshan as we were planning the 2012 NCDD Conference in Seattle. Roshan jumped in and served as our volunteer coordinator at the conference, and we were impressed by his energy, enthusiasm, and organization! He made the conference process smooth for us both, and we knew we had to scoop him up and get him involved with NCDD. He joined the team as our Blog Curator shortly thereafter.

Many of you may know him more recently as our Youth Engagement Coordinator, working hard at the 2014 and 2016 NCDD Conferences to bring students and young professionals to the conferences and engaging them in conversations with one another and with mentors for a mutual exchange of insights and guidance. Roshan has always been a strong advocate for creating more regular programming for students and newcomers to the field, and he took the lead in launching our new Emerging Leaders Initiative in 2016.

Roshan’s NCDD email address will remain active for now, and he’ll continue to work with NCDD periodically. Keiva Hummel, who has served as our Resource Curator for several years, will be taking on a new role of Communications Coordinator and taking over responsibility for the blog. She and I will also be working together to ensure the Emerging Leaders Initiative continues to develop and grow.

Roshan has done a lot for NCDD and our field, and he will continue to be an active member of our community. But we’ll miss working with him daily at NCDD! We’re thrilled for him and look forward to hearing more about the great work he will be doing. Please join us in thanking him for all of his contributions and congratulating him on this new and exciting opportunity!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Video on Bringing Participatory Budgeting in Schools

We are excited to announce that NCDD member org – The Participatory Budgeting Project recently released a new video on bringing participatory budgeting in schools. The video is on the recent participatory budgeting pilot in 5 Phoenix high schools, where more than 3,800 students participated in their first PB process. We encourage you to read more about the new PB in Schools video below or find the original on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s blog here.


NEW VIDEO – Participatory Budgeting in Schools

We are proud to share our newest tool to make civics education meaningful by putting real money on the table, our new Participatory Budgeting (PB) in Schools video!

This video introduces you to participatory budgeting in schools by showing you how it worked in Phoenix. Featuring interviews with students, teachers, principals, local elected officials, and the superintendent — see how PB can be a tool for learning democracy while building stronger schools.

Check out Participatory Budgeting in Schools from PBP on Vimeo.

Now we need your help to share the video and redefine the way democracy is learned. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Exploring Possibilities by Challenging Assumptions

We wanted to share this piece from NCDD member, Beth Tener, on the New Directions Collaborative blog about her recent experience at a workshop she ran on The Art of Strategic Questioning and the insights she took away about the power of framing questions. Tener notes how much more powerful questions can become when they are co-developed by a diverse group of people in order to test the assumptions on how a question is framed and consequently open up the creative possibilities. We encourage you to read Tener’s article below or find the original on the New Directions Collaborative blog here.


Questioning to Question Our Assumptions

Asking powerful questions can spark people’s intrinsic motivation to learn, contribute, and create positive change. They also allow organizations and networks to tap and synthesize the knowledge, experience, and perspectives of many people in a system, organization, or community. Today I taught a workshop called The Art of Strategic Questioning, with a group of about 30 people who do facilitation, sponsored by New Hampshire Listens, a civic engagement initiative of the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH. We explored the art of framing questions that open up possibilities and help a group find its way to a joint vision and/or action steps.

Good questions are framed in a way that is truly open, meaning they don’t lead to a yes/no answer or contain or suggest a solution. Examples of open questions are, “what is an important conversation we are not having?” or “what gifts and assets can be better utilized and connected?” We practiced creating questions for one another’s current challenges and noticing what makes a question powerful. Here are some insights that emerged: (more…)

NCDD NewsNCDD News

NCDD Joins Coalition in Launching National Survey on the American Dream

In an era of political divide and confusion, we can learn a lot about what is happening if we slow down and ask people how their thoughts and feelings about the issues that seem to divide us most are changing.

That is why NCDD is proud to announce that we’ve joined a national, nonpartisan coalition that is launching the “What’s Your American Dream?” survey. This survey will ask people across the US to express their values and goals around the issues they see as most vital, and deliver the results to lawmakers. We think that an effort like this can help guide the nation’s leaders – as well as dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement practitioners –  to understand Americans’ goals for this time and then devise the tactics to achieve those goals.

The survey grew out of discussions with former members of Congress and everyday Americans, all frustrated with being out of touch with each other. The coalition rolling out the “What is Your American Dream?” survey – comprised of 25 universities, media outlets, organizations spanning the political spectrum, and spearheaded by the team at TheChisel – has the potential to reach 30 million Americans.

NCDD joined this growing coalition because we believe that the survey is a great tool to help D&D practitioners in our network gain clearer insights on what the people we’re engaging are really thinking and how they’re prioritizing for different issue areas, which will help our field do more impactful work that is responsive to the needs in our communities. That’s why we’re supporting the survey and encouraging our network to participate & share the survey to your own networks!

The seven-week survey is being hosted on TheChisel.com, a unique nonpartisan public discussion platform that encourages people across the US to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NCDD Member Shares Faith & Dialogue Insights on NPR

In a testament to the critical work of NCDD’s network, we were proud to hear our very own Parisa Parsa – Executive Director of NCDD member org Essential Partners and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister – interviewed recently on NPR. Parisa was featured on the show Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys, where she shared about the keys to having good dialogue even in tough conversations. We encourage you to read more about her appearance in the EP blog piece below, find the original version here, or listen to the show here.


Making Difficult Conversations Not So Difficult

There you are – heart rate up, eyes dilated, adrenalin kicking in, jaw tightening. Maybe you’re the celebrity actor waiting for your big moment in your latest action movie. Maybe you’re about to experience your first skydiving jump. Or maybe you’re just standing, looking over the hedge of cubicles lining the company landscape, and beyond that is the curve of the earth.

Most people might see the Arctic Circle and Antarctica as being polar opposite to each other. Some people might see the United States as being on the opposite side of the planet from China. But we know that our planet is a sphere, and ‘opposites’ and ‘sides’ are all relative. We tend to live in fixed perspectives, not yet adjusted and molded as a result of different experiences.

Truth is that we don’t know who other people are until we get to know ‘them’. The other team, other cultures, different beliefs and values sprinkled with our own ignorances, and assumptions are ingredients that can (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Addressing the Problem of Separation through Dialogue

In these divided times, we wanted to share an encouraging piece that NCDD member organization Public Agenda recently posted on their blog. It summarizes insights gained from focus groups PA convened which demonstrated something our field knows – when people from different perspectives engage in dialogue, they realize they aren’t so different or separate after all. We encourage you to read PA’s piece below or find the original version here.


What Discussing Polarizing Topics Like Inequality Exposes

After a divisive election season we continue to see stark evidence of polarization and conflict in our society. But also – and this is less frequently reported on – we see a desire to bridge gaps and find common ground.

Polarization is about more than simply holding differing or even opposing views. These days, it is also about how people with a certain view are, by choice or circumstance, increasingly isolated from those who think differently. The interaction of diverse views is valuable, but the trend of increasing separation of and decreasing interaction between those who hold opposing views is troubling and potentially consequential. The less we interact with those who think differently, the more hardened our views tend to become, and the more apt we are to vilify one another and rely on stereotypes, which in turn further divide us.

Such political polarization is on the rise. While this is much more extreme among political leaders, there are also troubling signs that it is becoming more true among the public. According to a 2014 Pew survey of over 10,000 Americans, Republicans and Democrats are more (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Key Lessons on Community-Police Relations from APV2017

Last week, NCDD member orgs the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute hosted the 2017 “A Public Voice” forum that convened D&D practitioners with congressionl staff to talk about how to improve community-police relations. For those of you who couldn’t tune in to the livestream of the event, we wanted to share this insightful write up of the event’s highlights from our friends at Everyday Democracy below. We encourage you to read their piece below or find the original here. And if you’d like to watch the whole 90-minute recording of APV 2017, you can find links to it here.


A Public Voice 2017: Safety & Justice

EvDem LogoHighly-publicized police shootings, especially of unarmed black boys and men, have highlighted a national crisis of public safety and justice. These devastations lead us to ask how we can reduce crime as well as police violence, and how we can balance security and liberty. The National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) recently published a Safety & Justice guide and is moderating forums throughout the country to help people grapple with these issues and work towards solutions.

“A Public Voice,” the Kettering Foundation and NIFI’s “annual exploration of public thinking on key issues,” held on May 9 in Washington, D.C., provided the opportunity for Kettering to share with policymakers their insights from the 150 Safety & Justice forums held so far. Senior Associate Leslie King represented Everyday Democracy.

In his opening address, David Mathews, President of the Kettering Foundation, declared “There is no one in this city, no matter how important they are, that can (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Navigating a Polarized Landscape with Our Nonpartisan Credentials Intact

In the post-2016 election landscape where talk of “threats to democracy” abounds, many organizations focused on deliberative democracy and public engagement, including NCDD, have had to relearn not only how to balance participating in public conversation about issues that didn’t used to seem partisan before, but how to do so while maintaining our nonpartisan stances and not violating our organizational or personal values. It’s not easy, which is why we appreciated NCDD member org Healthy Democracy‘s recent piece that offers solid advice for how to evaluate and maintain our nonpartisan nature in this fraught new environment. We highly recommend you read their piece below or find the original here.


Nonpartisan Hygiene: 6 Tips to Stay Squeaky Clean

We find ourselves in a political moment where significant sectors of the country warn of existential threats to our democracy. This began before the 2016 election, but it has since reached a fever pitch. Signals such as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s recent “downgrade” of the US from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” have added fuel to the fire. At Healthy Democracy, we do not take a position about whether these threats are real or not, though we spend a great deal of time trying to improve our democracy.

Nonpartisan “Positions”

As a nonpartisan organization, we cannot take a position that would turn off members of any political or demographic group. This is because we rely on our reputation as unbiased process experts when working with citizens from across the political spectrum. Additionally, we don’t take positions on issues that might come before a Citizens Initiative Review panel, including the proposals of our peers in the elections reform space.

In some ways, this makes it easy for us to choose the issues on which we take a public position (pretty much nothing), but when “threats to our democracy” come up, and considering our name is Healthy Democracy, what do we do? Do we retweet a statement praising a free press? Or is publicly expressing support for a free press now (more…)

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