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2018 Brown Medal Awarded to Public Mapping Project

In case you missed it, NCDD member the McCourtney Institute for Democracy recently announced the Public Mapping Project as the winner of the 2018 Brown Democracy Medal. The Public Mapping Project created the open-source software program, District Builder that allows participants to re-draw their congressional maps and has been implemented in Pennsylvania. You can learn more in the article below and find the original on McCourtney Institute’s site here.


Public Mapping Project Wins 2018 Brown Democracy Medal

As conversations about how to stop partisan gerrymandering continue around the country, the work being done by this year’s Brown Democracy Medal winner could not be more timely or more relevant.

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy will award the 2018 Brown Democracy Medal to the Public Mapping Project, an initiative led by Micah Altman, director of research and head of the program on information science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida.

The Public Mapping Project has developed District Builder, an open-source software redistricting application designed to give the public transparent, accessible and easy-to-use online mapping tools. The goal is for all citizens to have access to the same information that legislators use when drawing congressional maps — and use that data to create maps of their own.

“The technological innovation of online redistricting software and especially open-source system provided ordinary people unprecedented access to the tools and data to (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Opportunities with NCDD Sponsor Org Common Knowledge

NCDD sponsoring org, Common Knowledge Group [also founded by NCDD board member Susan Stuart Clark] recently sent out their newsletter with updates on the work they’ve been up to and we encourage you to check it out! They offer free facilitation webinars on active listening and dealing with difficult behaviors; initially designed for librarians, they are great for other agencies and practitioners as well. Learn more about the opportunity coming up at the Code for America summit, recent community engagement work, and a nice shout out for our upcoming conference NCDD2018! You can read their updates below and sign up for the Common Knowledge newsletter here.


Community Engagement in Action Newsletter

Code for America Summit 2018
Interested in the intersection of community and civic technology? Join Common Knowledge at the Code for America pre-summit workshop on Wednesday May 30. We are pleased to be invited back to share our insights about how user-based design is at the heart of effective community engagement.

See all pre-summit workshops here.
Register for the main summit here.

“This workshop drew rave reviews from participants at the last Code for America Summit, and we are delighted to welcome Susan back to offer it to more of our community.”

Effective Community Engagement Requires User-Based Design
LED BY: Susan Clark, Founder and Director, Common Knowledge Group

Knowing when and how to invite community input into government decisions has become an essential skill for civic leaders. This interactive workshop is for those who have worked at the state or local level to increase civic participation and can bring their experiences of what went well and what didn’t. We’ll unpack differences between (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

NCDD2018 Session Proposal Deadline Extended Until 5/23!

A few weeks back we announced the call for session proposals were open for the upcoming 2018 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation in Downtown Denver, November 2-4. We’ve had great proposals come in so far and have seen folks collaborating on the NCDD discussion listserv to develop exciting sessions.

We’d like to give more time for the network to connect with others and craft their session proposals, so we are extending the deadline and now accepting applications until May 23rd!

If you’re still looking for collaborators on your sessions, you can review the calls for session partners that some of our members have put out on the discussion listserv – check out the session inquires from the last few weeks in our listserv archives or consider joining the listserv and ask for collaborators yourself! Click here to read our advice for potential session leaders.

Remember the super early bird tickets are NOW AVAILABLE! Get yours at this great low rate before it goes up!

Here is some guidance for those thinking about presenting sessions at NCDD 2018… (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Tapping in D&D Work with Engaged Journalism

While this piece on the growing movement of engaged journalism was written last fall, we find its lesson to still be of great importance. NCDD sponsoring org, the Jefferson Center wrote on the increasing emergence of engaged journalism, a facet of journalism that seeks to elevate the needs of the community, not just push out click-bait style media. Something that has become quite apparent lately, is the seeming disconnect between the work of the D&D field and the public’s awareness this work is going on – a phenomenon that can significantly be decreased with stronger relationships with community-centered journalism and better exposure of the many efforts going on in the field.

Public News Service gave excellent coverage of last week’s National Week of Conversation that we encourage you to check out:

There is a lot of still-untapped potential between the D&D community and our media makers. The NCDD network has been deepening our relationship with journalists over the last several years, exploring how the D&D community can create stronger partnerships with journalists; and it is our hope to continue to nurture this bond. For additional exploration on how to improve this opportunity, check out our Journalism-D&D Confab call, our podcast with Journalism That Matters, and the recorded media panel from the last NCDD conference in 2016 (click here for the recording). Below is the article from the Jefferson Center and you can also find the original here.


Exploring Engagement & Participation in Journalism

Journalism has had a rough couple of months (or years, if you’re watching closely). News agencies are discredited, criticized, and attacked daily. Partisan news outlets seem to spring up every week, making it difficult to find neutral information.These trends compound another major problem in the journalism world: with the growth of social media, ad-blockers, and the domination of Facebook and Google (and soon, Amazon) in the digital advertising market, traditional models of ad-supported journalism are collapsing. Many citizens also don’t see the news, on a local or national scale, as representing their needs and interests. This is not just a crisis for journalism, it’s a crisis for our democracy. (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Inaugural Hidden Common Ground Report Released

NCDD member org, Public Agenda, in collaboration with fellow NCDDer the Kettering Foundation have recently released the inaugural report of their Hidden Common Ground Initiative. This is an effort which seeks to dive deeper into issues that have been polarizing, in order to illuminate where there is common ground; with the hopes of better uniting the public around concrete, actionable solutions. This first round of research explores incarceration, and the following report that is slated to be released in May will revolve around healthcare. You can read the press release from Public Agenda below and find more information on the Hidden Common Ground Initiative here.


New Research Initiative Fights Narrative of Absolute Division of Americans on Critical Issues

Inaugural project of the Hidden Common Ground Initiative elevates areas of agreement on incarceration and criminal justice reform in America

The state of America’s national politics has led many to believe the country is irreparably polarized and gridlocked. Recently, a storyline has taken hold that portrays this dysfunction as a reflection of our profound divisions as a people. However, a new research initiative launched by Public Agenda, in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation, shows that Americans can find common ground on many of the problems our nation faces.

It has taken decades for our national politics to become as polarized as it is today, leading to stagnation on critical issues like gun control, immigration and health care. While it is important to acknowledge the differences and disagreements that do exist, our divisions are hardly the whole story. The Hidden Common Ground Initiative aspires to tell the story of where the public agrees on concrete, actionable solutions and make those areas of agreement more salient and potent in our public life.

“We believe that dispelling the myth that we are hopelessly divided can not only help fuel progress on a host of issues, but also (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NWOC Partner Shares Piece on Hearing Every Voice

The National Week of Conversation is wrapping up tomorrow, April 28th, and many across the nation have participated in this collective movement to bring Americans together to talk and heal divisions. Which is why we wanted to lift up this piece that fellow NWOC partner AllSides recently shared on their Perspectives blog on Hearing Every Voice written by Tom McSteen of Sacred Discourse. The article talks about the experience of connecting through conversation in a way that honors every voice present and the importance of utilizing structures like those of Living Room Conversations, also a partner of NWOC and an NCDD member. Read the post below and find the original on AllSides site here.


Hearing Every Voice

How do you feel when your voice is heard? How do you feel when it is not?

We all want our voice to be heard. We all want to feel self-expressed. We all want to leave a gathering where we had something to say, having said what we wanted to say. If that does not happen, feelings of frustration, disagreement, and aloneness can creep in. These feelings, particularly when experienced over time, can lead to states of separation and division.

Unsurprisingly, I have experienced many conversations and public events where I felt my voice was not heard, from extended family gatherings at holidays to governmental forums on whether to build pipelines. Leaving these situations with the experience of not being heard left me feeling isolated.

Hearing every voice can be literal, as in taking the time at a particular gathering to give everyone a chance to speak. It can also be figurative, when people feel in some collective way that their views or experiences have been dismissed. This figurative example is often seen in national elections, when groups of people feel (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Creating a Welcoming Environment with Conservatives

As people convene this week for the National Week of Conversation, we wanted to share this piece from NCDD member org, The Village Square – Tallahassee on how to build authentic relationships and civic events with conservatives. In order to truly engage the public, it’s vital to have an actual diverse group. Often times, particularly in the D&D field, the same “usual suspects” of left-leaning folks are gathered and Conservative-identifying are left out. The Village Square talks about the important lessons they have learned on how to create a more welcoming environment and create a space where Conservatives are more inclined to come to the table. We encourage you to read the article below and find it in full on The Village Square – Tallahassee’s site here.


Welcoming Conservatives

As a critical mass of appropriate hand wringing continues as to how to address the deep and increasingly consequential partisan divisions roiling the western world, there is a surprisingly well-developed empirically supported body of knowledge that guides solutions that seem far simpler than the enormity of the problem would suggest.

To grow empathy toward those with different worldviews, moral psychologists tell us, we need to have positive interactions with “the other” (which is referred to as “contact hypothesis”) and emphasize shared “superordinate” goals. Our decade of pushing the civility rock up this steep hill supports their science – it’s almost a secret decoder ring because it shifts entrenched negative attitudes reliably and quickly. Strangely enough, softening hatred turns out to have been the easy part of this big job. The hard part is getting people who disagree on politics to occupy the same space so that the magic can work.

For those of us inspired to the work of building bridges, this first step of getting people with diverse views in a room together has proven a frequently experienced circular challenge – we don’t like each other because we don’t spend time together and we don’t spend time together because (more…)

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

NCDD Teams Up for Bridging the Divides Workshop in CO

Several weeks back, I was invited by Colorado Common Cause to give a workshop at their monthly membership meeting in Denver, Colorado, on Bridging the Divide: or How to Have a “Productive” Political Conversation. This was an exciting opportunity to connect with this fantastic organization and share some of the best practices from the NCDD network on how to navigate emotionally-heated conversations.

Huge thank you to all the participants who attended the event and made it an engaging experience! Another big thank you to Caroline Fry from Colorado Common Cause for inviting NCDD to come speak with their members and share some of the tools and wisdom from our network to help better bridge divides.

Caroline kicked off the meeting with a brief intro to Colorado Common Cause –  an org that has been working for over four decades to improve democratic processes by reducing barriers to voting, working to ensure that elections are run fairly, reducing the influence of money in politics, and that our government is being held accountable through more transparent practices.

During the workshop, I shared the transformative work being done in the NCDD network to enable people to connect more authentically with each other, build deeper relationships, and engage in challenging conversations- specifically around heated political issues. I spoke on the importance of humanizing each other and finding common ground by connecting to our shared values; and how this work is possible in even the most painful conflicts (though it is by no means easy). I lifted up examples from our NCDD members of tools that help facilitate having challenging conversations and shared some deliberative processes that hold space for these conversations while contributing toward policy-making.

Finally, I shared a couple of upcoming events with participants, that I encourage you to join in!

  • National Week of Conversation is going on right now until this Saturday, April 28th – join this national movement to improve listening, deepen our connections through conversation, and better heal the divisiveness in our society. Join an event already planned on the National Week of Conversation site here or create your own, maybe using the resources provided on NWOC or right here on the NCDD Resource Center.
  • Our upcoming National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation is being held this November 2-4 in Downtown Denver. Our conferences are an exciting mingling of enthusiasts and practitioners in dialogue, deliberation, and engagement work and we encourage you to learn more here.
    • “Super Early Bird” tickets are now available for a limited time, so make sure you act fast to utilize this great low rate by clicking here.
    • The theme for this year’s conference is “Connecting and Strengthening Civic Innovators”, and our intention is to focus on how we can further uplift dialogue, deliberation, and engagement work; learn more details on the theme here.
    • For folks interested in presenting a session at NCDD2018, the call for proposals is currently open for concurrent sessions – learn more here.

You can watch the full live stream of the workshop in the video below. I’ve also included a link to the resource doc I shared which has the exercises we did, as well as, the resources I referenced – which you can find here.

If you like what you see – NCDD staff would love to come hold a workshop with your group, organization, or event!  We are happy to tailor the workshop to your needs for navigating challenging conversations. I am located in Denver, Managing Director Courtney Breese is in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Co-Founder Sandy Heierbacher is in Boston; all of us can travel to our respective surrounding areas to hold workshops. For folks that are located outside of these places, contact us and let’s see if we can coordinate logistics with travel or technology to make a workshop happen for you! Please contact me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org for workshop inquiries.  (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Ben Franklin Circles and Understanding Common Ground

One of the more challenging realities when trying to find common ground is that often times the core understanding of words can be dramatically different than from someone “across the aisle”. As NCDD board member, Jacob Hess discusses in this relevant piece with NCDD member org, Ben Franklin Circles, while we live in a period of rampant hyperpartisanship – how can we work together to find common ground when folks can have fundamentally different definitions? How do we take this phenomenon into account when building relationships and working towards bridging these divides? We encourage you to read the post below and carry this with you as you also check out the National Week of Conversation, happening until April 28th, that works to do just this through connecting conversations. You can find the original post on BFC’s site here.


Rediscovering Common Ground We (Mostly) Share

In our polarized American landscape, we often hear that if we “just came together” around values we share, we could find a lot of common ground.

I believe that, but only partially. The reason is I’ve spent years talking with people across the political spectrum about some of these core values.

And for anyone who does that – and there are many wonderful civic, community and dialogue leaders who have done similar things – something obvious emerges. While we might, in fact, hold common agreements on the importance of certain key principles, values and virtues, we sure don’t agree on what those mean, how to define (or redefine) them in the modern age and what, if any, application and relevance they hold for the many complex issues facing society today. For example, what does “justice” mean today or “compassion” or “religious freedom”? (hint: not the same thing across the political spectrum).

This isn’t bad news. It’s just the way things are. Even the very words we use come to mean fundamentally different things. I was involved in a project in 2016 mapping these different meanings in collaboration with dialogue professionals across some of the more salient socio-political differences. The goal was to create (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

NIFI During NWOC and A Public Voice 2018 on May 9th

This week, people are hosting and participating in conversations around the country as part of the National Week of Conversation (and going on until this Saturday, April 28th). NWOC is an opportunity for folks to come together through conversation and build relationships, in order to continue healing the divisive state of our society. The National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) and the Kettering Foundation – both NCDD member organizations – have created an issue guide to facilitate public deliberation around immigration; which is both a resource for NWOC and to be featured in their upcoming A Public Voice 2018 event (#APV2018) happening May 9th.

A Public Voice is an annual event, created to engage people around an important issue through deliberative forums, then bring together Washington DC policymakers and deliberative democracy practitioners to discuss results of the public’s feedback on that issue. You can learn about the several NIFI events happening this week during NWOC, both in person and online (search “Common Ground for Action”), using this issue guide or their previous guides. We encourage you to read the announcement in the post below and find more information on the APV2018’s site here.


A Public Voice – 2018

For more than 30 years, the Kettering Foundation, in collaboration with the National Issues Forums Institute, has organized A Public Voice, which brings together policymakers and practitioners of deliberative democracy from around the country to discuss insights from citizen deliberations.

A Public Voice 2018 focuses on an issue important to all Americans: immigration. After extensive research and testing with citizens around the country, the Kettering Foundation prepared an issue guide for the National Issues Forums (NIF): Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome, What Should We Do? Citizen deliberations using the issue guide are taking place throughout 2018 in public forums around the country. In these public forums, citizens consider the options for dealing with a problem, share their views, and weigh the costs and benefits of possible actions. Forums are held both online and face-to-face, typically last 90 minutes, and (more…)

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