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A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts

Harold Saunders, former Assistant Secretary of State and negotiator of the Camp David Accords and now Director of International Programs at the Kettering Foundation and Director of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, distills over 35 years of experience working with conflicts across the globe. This 1999 book (St. Martin’s Press) describes how sustained dialogue can help conflicting groups of citizens move toward resolution.

Many of the human conflicts that seize our attention are not ready for formal mediation and negotiation: People do not negotiate about identity, fear, historic grievance, and injustice. Sustained dialogue provides citizens outside government can change their conflictual relationships. Harold Saunders’ A Public Peace Process provides citizens instruments for transforming conflict. Saunders outlines a systematic approach for citizens to use in reducing racial, ethnic, and other deep-rooted tensions in their countries, communities, and organizations.  Order here at Amazon.com.

A Manual for Group Facilitators

The role of group facilitator is often pivotal to good results for groups making the transition to consensus. The Manual for Group Facilitators, by Brian Auvine, is a great introduction to the concept of approaching the role of facilitator as someone who welcomes both rational and emotional input. The staff of the Center for Conflict Resolution put their experience in working with groups into A Manual for Group Facilitators. This is an informal outline detailing useful and effective techniques to help groups work well. More than a simple ‘how to,’ the manual contains a discussion of the values, dynamics, and common sense behind group process that have been verified by our own experience.

Center for Conflict Resolution; reprinted by the Fellowship for Intentional Community (1981). Purchase at the Intentional Communities Store at http://store.ic.org/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=34_43&products_id=61.

Resource Link: http://store.ic.org

A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue: Between Talk and Theology

This book is a collection of essays which investigate the status of dialogue between Jews and Christians. The author argues that Jews have been reluctant to engage in any but the most cursory conversations with Christians, but that there are positive reasonings for going further.

David Schwartz

University Press of America (1994)

Guide for Training Study Circle Facilitators

This free downloadable guide by Sarah Campbell, Writer/Managing Editor at the Study Circles Resource Center, is designed to help you train study circle facilitators. Study circles–small-group, democratic, highly participatory discussions–provide settings for deliberation, for working through social and political issues, for coming up with action strategies, for connecting to policy making, and for building community. (more…)

A Dynamic Facilitation Manual and Reader: Evoking practical group creativity through generative dialogue

This spiral-bound 2002 manual by Rosa Zubizarreta and Jim Rough describes “Dynamic Facilitation” —  a transformational approach for facilitating dialogue in situations where people are highly invested, emotionally charged or polarized, and helping groups arrive at practical and creative breakthroughs. On her website, Rosa Zubizarreta posted the full text of her “Manual for Jim Rough’s Dynamic Facilitation Method” (2006). Go to www.diapraxis.com/home/resources for more info on the manual, or go to www.diapraxis.com to explore Rosa’s site.

Resource Link: www.wisedemocracy.org

The manual can be ordered from Jim Rough and Associates by emailing seminars@tobe.net.

A Community Builder’s Tool Kit: 15 Tools for Creating Healthy, Productive Interracial/Multicultural Communities

This 2001 primer for revitalizing democracy from the ground up can be downloaded for free or ordered for $1.50 per copy. Produced by the Anti-Racism Initiative of the Institute for Democratic Renewal and Project Change.

Resource Link: www.race-democracy.org

Education in a Rapidly Changing Democracy

Education in a Rapidly Changing Democracy: Strengthening Civic Education for Citizens of All Ages is an article by Matt Leighninger and Peter Levine, published in the October 2008 issue of The School Administrator.

Below is the article’s abstract.

The shifting relationship between citizens and government has special implications for public schools. How schools approach civic education isn’t just a matter of course content–it is wrapped up in how teachers and administrators view their role in the larger community. This article describes ways in which both civic education for young people and involvement opportunities for all citizens can be strengthened. By strengthening the connection between students as citizens and adults as citizens, educators might transform the role of schools in local democracy.

To read the full article, go to http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=4750.

The Recent Evolution of Democracy

“The Recent Evolution of Democracy” is an article by Matt Leighninger, published in the Spring 2005 issue of the National Civic Review. The article discusses the increasingly large role of citizens in public decision-making in recent years, a condition which has set the stage for the development of democratic governance. To learn more about this article, go to http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ncr.79/abstract.

The Seven Deadly Citizens: Moving From Civic Stereotypes to Well-Rounded Citizenship

“The Seven Deadly Citizens: Moving From Civic Stereotypes to Well-Rounded Citizenship” is an article written by Matt Leighninger and released in the November 2004 issue of The Good Society, a journal published by the Committee for the Political Economy of the Good Society (PEGS) and Penn State University Press.

Below is an excerpt from the publication. More information about the article can be found here.

American democracy seems to be going through a painful transition process. The symptoms of this shift include declining voter turnout, increasing mistrust of government, and contentious public meetings. Decisions over land use and the siting of public facilities are increasingly mired in lawsuits and “not in my backyard” arguments. Scandals involving the police, and other conflicts between residents and public employees, have become more common and more destructive.

These are not the death throes of democracy; our political system has been through many transitions, and it will continue to evolve as new crises and new conditions arise. The signs of the current shift can now be seen at the local level, where many community leaders are reaching out to citizens, trying to involve them in specific aspects of the political process. Civic experts at foundations and universities are encouraging these efforts by presenting visions of a revitalized American democracy, in which citizens and government have a more constructive relationship than they do today.

Many of these visions and initiatives fail because they do not provide holistic, realistic roles for citizens to play. They rely on one motivation for people to participate — one of seven limited definitions of citizenship — rather than providing different incentives which will appeal to different kinds of people. So citizen involvement efforts often falter because they are conducted on a piecemeal basis, and visions of a revitalized democracy seem utopian because they are based on far-fetched notions of what people are willing to do.

From The Good Society (2004) Vol. 13, Issue 2. Online at http://museweb01-pub.library.uq.edu.au/journals/good_society/summary/v013/13.2leighninger.html.

Open Space Technology: New Stories from the Field

“New Stories from the Field” is a collection of case studies on the application of Open Space Technology (OST) from around the world. The document was compiled and edited Holger Nauheimer, author of the Change Management Toolbook, in 2005. Nauheimer collected a case studies and reports from the field published by Open Space practitioners in the OST mailing list or elsewhere. They demonstrate the spectrum of cultural, thematic and organizational settings in which OST is applied – and the passion and creativity with which the facilitators have approached their task. These are stories from all continents about how to motivate a high-performance staff in an Israeli technology company, how to mitigate the traumas of war in Chechnia, how to plan for social housing scheme in Canada, how to organize a district plan in Northern Mozambique, how to give 1700 street kids in Bogotá hope for their future, how to network for multi-cultural adult education in South-Eastern Europe, and many more. (more…)