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From the CommunityFrom the Community

Join us in #WeavingCommunity during crisis

NCDD is partnering once again with numerous organizations in our field to encourage a national conversation – this time around the importance of weaving community during times of crisis. We hope you can take part!

The National Conversation Project is a coalition of partner organizations inviting Americans into online conversations and mutual support to weave a stronger community even now–especially now. Together, we’re promoting conversations and community amidst fear and isolation. We seek to serve our neighbors and nation in a moment of acute social crisis.

This pandemic can drive us apart or it can drive us together. Americans often rise to common challenges like this with kindness, love, mutual support, and shared responsibility to endure together. We need community now more than ever. Although our nation’s social fabric is badly frayed by distance and division, together we can weave a strong social fabric and emerge healthy and united.

Though we may avoid gathering in person, we can support each other in many ways online, via phone, and through acts of kindness for neighbors. By #WeavingCommunity now, we will be a stronger, more genuinely connected society on the other side of the pandemic.

We invite you to…

  1. Check out the Weaving2020 website now.
  2. Use the hashtag #WeavingCommunity whenever you invite people to your own online conversations or talk about your work.
  3. Host a video or phone conversation, spark a social media or text conversation, or do an act of kindness for a neighbor.
  4. Become a partner by contacting pearce@weaving2020.org.

Check back at www.weaving2020.com, where we’ll soon be adding lots of resources for online dialogue, dialogues you and others can participate in, and more.

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Watch the NCDD Network Call on COVID-19

Last week, NCDD hosted a call for our network to discuss how we are adjusting our plans and work in light of COVID-19. We had 70 people join us for this call, and we touched upon numerous topics! Thank you to everyone who made the time to join us and share your questions, ideas, and resources.

The call was recorded and can be accessed here. The chat, which contains a bunch of helpful links, can be found here. We started a Google doc with helpful resources and tools for navigating conversation and connection during this COVID-19 pandemic – find it here. Feel welcome to add to the doc, any resources/tools you think would be helpful.

We’re thrilled to share the below recording by Lydia Hooper, which captures the topics discussed and ideas shared:

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Announcing a Virtual Conversation Cafe about COVID-19

Friends, the desire for connection and thinking together is overwhelming in this time of physical distancing. NCDD, along with our member and dear friend Susan Partnow, have decided to offer another opportunity for our network to come together in dialogue to support us all during this time. Next Wednesday, March 25th from 1:00-3:00 PM Eastern/10:00 AM-Noon Pacific, we will hold a virtual Conversation Cafe – all are welcome! Register here to join us.

This Cafe is intended as an opportunity for us to connect around how we are feeling and what we are thinking at this time, as well as exploring what we do next. We hope this will help build community among us in this difficult time, as well as help generate ideas for what we might do individually and collectively.

It will also be an opportunity for you to experience Conversation Cafe in an online format. This model is an elegantly simple process for bringing people together in small group conversations to share, listen to one another, and deepen their understanding of one another and a topic. It was built for face-to-face conversations, but Susan and I have been experimenting with it online and are finding that it may be a great model to help people connect virtually during a time of distancing physically. We plan to share some materials for moving this to an online format in advance of the call!

If you want to participate, please register today!

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Watch the Confab on Hope for Democracy!

We enjoyed hosting the March Confab Call featuring the new book Hope for Democracy! For those who may have missed it, or those who want to refer back, this post has all the important information from the event.

In Hope for Democracy, John Gastil and Katherine R. Knobloch introduce new tools for tamping down hyper-partisanship and placing citizens at the heart of the democratic process. They showcase the Citizens’ Initiative Review, which convenes a demographically-balanced random sample of citizens to study statewide ballot measures. Citizen panelists interrogate advocates, opponents, and experts, then write an analysis that distills their findings for voters. Gastil and Knobloch reveal how this process has helped voters better understand the policy issues placed on their ballots. Placed in the larger context of deliberative democratic reforms, Hope for Democracy shows how citizens and public officials can work together to bring more rationality and empathy into modern politics.

The Confab was a great conversation about the Citizens Initiative Review and how it has improved democratic participation in the places it has been utilized. The recording of this event can be found at this link. Our participants asked a whole lot of great questions and our presenters shared several helpful links – if you are curious to see those, you can check them out here.

Our sincere thanks to John Gastil, Katie Knobloch, as well as Robin Teater and Linn Davis from Healthy Democracy for presenting this session. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of the book! If you choose to purchase through Amazon, don’t forget to go to smile.amazon.com and ask Amazon to donate a portion to NCDD!

Confab bubble imageTo learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit www.ncdd.org/events/confabs. We love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Confab Calls and Tech Tuesdays. It is through your generous contributions to NCDD that we can keep doing this work! That’s why we want to encourage you to support NCDD by making a donation or becoming an NCDD member today (you can also renew your membership by clicking here). Thank you!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Common Ground for Action (CGA) available for online forums

NCDD partner National Issues Forums Institute sent out a message to contacts yesterday regarding the availability of their platform, Common Ground for Action, for online forums. This platform can be used to support your community or classroom work during the COVID-19 crisis. Read more below or at www.nifi.org/cga.


National Issues Forums’ (NIF) Common Ground for Action (CGA) online deliberative forums can be convened specifically for your campus or classroom, neighborhood or town, or community group. Participating in online forums is easy-many of you are already familiar with the Common Ground for Action platform.

Here is how a locally-organized online forum might work:

  • You set the date and time in coordination with our CGA coordinator, Kara Dillard, and invite your participants.
  • Participants will register online for your specific forum at a link available only to those in your community, campus/classroom, or organization.
  • Online forums deliberate in groups of 10-12, but we can organize multiple simultaneous “breakout” sessions to accommodate your forum plans. Online forums last about two hours but can be easily modified to fit a shorter or longer time window.
  • You and your team of moderators can moderate as usual. If you like, we’ll provide a co-moderator who’s very familiar with the CGA platform and can handle any technological tasks or issues (They’re actually very rare).
  • All of the NIF issue guides are available for you to use in CGA, including those recently updated for the Hidden Common Ground initiative. These include:
    • Health Care
    • Mass Shootings
    • Immigration
    • A House Divided
    • The Economy (starting in September)
    • National Security / Foreign Policy
    • Safety and Justice
    • Opioids

There is no software to download; Common Ground for Action runs in any browser. CGA forums are user-friendly, so participants of all ages and levels of tech-savviness can participate with ease. We have a lot of resources available for CGA moderators, including a tips sheet from CGA moderators, a basic moderator script, issue-guide specific moderator scripts that include sample deliberative questions, and moderator scripts specific for a classroom-length forum.  For more details about CGA go to: nifi.org/cga.

Contact Darla Minnich or Kara Dillard if you’d like to explore this online option. We’d be pleased to work with you on it.

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Join NCDD for a Network Call about COVID-19

With the declaration yesterday of a global pandemic, it’s clear that everyone’s way of life will be impacted. Public events are being cancelled or postponed, and people are being asked not to come together in person. Social distancing is being recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This social distancing has impacts on individuals and our communities, for certain. But it also impacts the very way in which many of us conduct our work. For the dialogue and deliberation field, the work we do happens most often in public spaces and with people face to face. In the wake of COVID-19, how can we adapt to ensure that this important work proceeds?

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NCDD is convening a conference call next Thursday, March 19th at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific to allow our network to discuss this issue and share ideas for how to continue our work in ways which address the health and safety issues that currently exist. We’ll discuss how each of us are adapting our approach to the work, and consider what best practices we may want to adopt as we move forward. Everyone will be invited to share tools and resources they are utilizing. We hope this call will be a helpful opportunity for everyone to tap into our collective wisdom, and collaborate on plans to continue to assist communities in engaging and making decisions together. NCDD will compile what emerges from the call – the practices, resources, and tools that can be shared with our wider network and the public.

To join the call, which will take place via Zoom, please register here.

We are wishing you all the best.

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Register for TODAY’S Confab Call on Hope for Democracy

Join us TODAY for our March Confab Call, which will introduce a new book from John Gastil and Katie Knobloch, Hope for Democracy. This free call takes place today, March 10th from 2-3 pm Eastern/11 am-12 pm Pacific. Register today to secure your spot.

Concerned citizens across the globe fear that democratic institutions are failing them. Citizens feel shut out of politics and worry that politicians are no longer responsive to their interests. In Hope for Democracy, John Gastil and Katherine R. Knobloch introduce new tools for tamping down hyper-partisanship and placing citizens at the heart of the democratic process. They showcase the Citizens’ Initiative Review, which convenes a demographically-balanced random sample of citizens to study statewide ballot measures. Citizen panelists interrogate advocates, opponents, and experts, then write an analysis that distills their findings for voters. Gastil and Knobloch reveal how this process has helped voters better understand the policy issues placed on their ballots. Placed in the larger context of deliberative democratic reforms, Hope for Democracy shows how citizens and public officials can work together to bring more rationality and empathy into modern politics.

The Confab will give folks a chance to ask questions of Katie and John, and Robin Teater from Healthy Democracy, which convenes the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review. Subjects will include the Review itself, American politics and deliberative democracy, research partnerships with nonprofits, and anything else that seems even slightly relevant.

This free call will take place in just a couple hours today, March 10th from 2-3 pm Eastern, 11 am-12 pm Pacific. Register today so you don’t miss out on this event!

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

NCDD EventsNCDD Events

Announcing the March NCDD Confab: Hope for Democracy!

NCDD is thrilled to announce our March Confab Call, which will introduce a new book from John Gastil and Katie Knobloch, Hope for Democracy. This free call takes place Tuesday, March 10th from 2-3 pm Eastern/11 am-12 pm Pacific. Register today to secure your spot.

Concerned citizens across the globe fear that democratic institutions are failing them. Citizens feel shut out of politics and worry that politicians are no longer responsive to their interests. In Hope for Democracy, John Gastil and Katherine R. Knobloch introduce new tools for tamping down hyper-partisanship and placing citizens at the heart of the democratic process. They showcase the Citizens’ Initiative Review, which convenes a demographically-balanced random sample of citizens to study statewide ballot measures. Citizen panelists interrogate advocates, opponents, and experts, then write an analysis that distills their findings for voters. Gastil and Knobloch reveal how this process has helped voters better understand the policy issues placed on their ballots. Placed in the larger context of deliberative democratic reforms, Hope for Democracy shows how citizens and public officials can work together to bring more rationality and empathy into modern politics.

The Confab will give folks a chance to ask questions of Katie and John, and Robin Teater from Healthy Democracy, which convenes the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review. Subjects will include the Review itself, American politics and deliberative democracy, research partnerships with nonprofits, and anything else that seems even slightly relevant.

This free call will take place on Tuesday, March 10th from 2-3 pm Eastern, 11 am-12 pm PacificRegister today so you don’t miss out on this event!

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About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

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Check out the February NCDD Confab on Hidden Common Ground!

It was our pleasure to host our February Confab Call featuring the Hidden Common Ground Initiative! For those who may have missed it, or those who want to refer back, this post has all the important information from the event.

Hidden Common Ground is a joint project of USA TODAY, Public Agenda, the Kettering Foundation, and National Issues Forums. At the heart of the initiative are National Issues Forums in communities and online across the country about compelling public issues: health care, immigration, the economy, and divisiveness.  USA TODAY will provide press coverage and commentary, Public Agenda will publish issue-based research, and Kettering Foundation will develop nonpartisan discussion guides.  Since there are too few opportunities for Americans to discover their “hidden common ground,” participating in the year-long initiative is vitally important.

The Confab was a wonderful overview of the initiative and opportunities to participate, and it can be found at this link. Our participants asked a whole lot of great questions – if you are curious to see those, you can check them out here. Additionally, the presentation materials can be accessed at this link.

Our sincere thanks to Betty Knighton, Darla Minnich, and Kara Dillard for presenting this session. NCDD hopes we’ll hear about our members participation in this initiative soon!

Confab bubble imageTo learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit www.ncdd.org/events/confabs. We love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Confab Calls and Tech Tuesdays. It is through your generous contributions to NCDD that we can keep doing this work! That’s why we want to encourage you to support NCDD by making a donation or becoming an NCDD member today (you can also renew your membership by clicking here). Thank you!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

New Report on Transforming Relationships Between Community and Local Elected Officials

NCDD member org The Harwood Institute, in collaboration with fellow NCDD member The Kettering Foundation, recently announced the release of their new report, Seeking a New Relationship with Communities: How Local Elected Officials Want to Bridge Divides, Distrust, and Doubts. In this report, The Harwood Institute interviewed 36 elected officials from cities across the US about their perceptions, experiences, and aspirations when engaging with their communities. You can read the article below, as well as find the original version of this piece and the actual report on Harwood’s site here.


Seeking a New Relationship with Communities: How Local Elected Officials Want to Bridge Divides, Distrust, and Doubts

In 2019, The Harwood Institute interviewed 36 leaders to learn how local elected officials view and feel about their interactions with community members. We heard about the tenuous rapport between local officials and the people they serve and, more specifically, the state of outreach and engagement between them.

Our interviews revealed a dynamic between officials and the public that is uncomfortably strained by distrust in government. According to the leaders we interviewed, people harbor deep doubts about their leaders, and those leaders are seeking a new footing to help them reach past those doubts and (more…)

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