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Voting Open for the Catalyst Awards!

Voting opens today for the NCDD Catalyst Awards — two $10,000 prizes for team projects run by NCDD members in the areas of Civic Infrastructure and Political Bridge Building.


A special project run in conjunction with NCDD’s 10-year anniversary and 5th National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, the Catalyst Awards were designed to tap into NCDD’s most valuable resource — our membership of 1,700 leaders and innovators in public engagement, conflict transformation, group process, and community problem solving. Using a combination of activities (our Seattle conference, the CivicEvolution platform, the NCDD blog and listservs, and more), the Awards process encouraged our members to form teams to address challenges facing our field that are too complex to solve on their own.

Voting will be open for ten days (January 28 through February 6), giving you enough time to check out the full proposals and lists of team members associated with the six contenders vying for your support:

Projects in the Civic Infrastructure Category…

  1. A Collaborative Plan for a National Dialogue Network Infrastructure (main contact: John Spady)
  2. A Macroscope for Online Dialogue and Deliberation (main contact: Ben Roberts)
  3. e-Liberate, Roberts Rules of Order in the 21st Century (main contact: Douglas Schuler)
  4. Online Dialogue and Deliberation Infrastructure (ODDI) (main contact: Mark Frischmuth

Projects in the Bridge-Building Category…

  1. Crowd Sourcing Transpartisan Dialogue (main contact: Amanda Kathryn Roman)
  2. Real Dialogues: D&D Reality Show (main contact: Tim Bonnemann)

Click on the project titles above to look over the full proposals. Below, we’ll list out the projects, their main contacts, and their project summaries for those just looking for the basics.

A special, heartfelt thank you to the donors who made these awards possible. The Civic Infrastructure award is funded by generous contributions from members of the NCDD Board of Directors and the Bridge Building award is funded by a donor advised fund called the Harrison Giveaway Fund.

We are also greatly indebted to NCDD supporting member Brian Sullivan, who donated the use of his CivicEvolution platform and many hours of his time to the Catalyst Awards process.

Ready to cast your vote?
Look for an email from “sandy@ncdd.org via surveymonkey.com <member@surveymonkey.com>” sent after noon Eastern on January 28th inviting you to vote. Your vote is tied to you via the link in your email, to ensure a fair vote among NCDD members. If you didn’t receive the email, check your junk/spam filter first, then email sandy@ncdd.org. She’ll verify your membership and make sure you receive an invitation to vote.

Four Contenders in the Civic Infrastructure Category…

1. A Collaborative Plan for a National Dialogue Network Infrastructure

Main Contact:  John Spady, National Dialogue Network, Coordinator

Creates a collaborative and decentralized infrastructure for a viable, cost effective, and sustainable National Dialogue Network. Provides five opportunities for public involvement: to determine issues, frame materials, actively engage, analyze results, and broadly reflect. Core materials will be developed that can be privately customized by local participants but will include a national survey. Full proposal at www.ncdd.org/catalyst-entry-ndn.

2. A Macroscope for Online Dialogue and Deliberation

Main Contact: Ben Roberts, Co-founder of The Conversation Collaborative and Occupy Cafe

This tool makes it possible to engage in complex conversations online. Instead of comments shown in lists, a multi-dimensional dialogue map is generated from data provided by participants, showing the content and the energy of the conversation. Participants can find the places where they want to engage and do so in ways that are generative, including moving between small and large group modes. Full proposal at www.ncdd.org/catalyst-entry-macroscope.

3. e-Liberate, Roberts Rules of Order in the 21st Century

Main Contact: Douglas Schuler, President of Public Sphere Project; Professor at Evergreen State College

e-Liberate is an online version of Roberts Rules of Order (RRoO) for distributed meetings. It has many innovative features including an online manual and a context-dependent user interface. e-Liberate is intended to be just one tool in a larger deliberative toolbox. After we successfully host meetings with RRoO, we plan to integrate other modes of deliberation into e-Liberate and integrate e-Liberate with other deliberative systems. Full proposal at www.ncdd.org/catalyst-entry-eliberate.

4. Online Dialogue and Deliberation Infrastructure (ODDI)

Main Contact: Mark Frischmuth, DemocracyLab.org Board Chairman

This proposal will facilitate the development of open source software tools to engage people in online deliberative processes. We will connect communities of D&D practitioners, software developers, and donors to design, build and fund online tools that will realize the transformative potential of the internet to increase public participation in community decision making. Full proposal at www.ncdd.org/catalyst-entry-oddi.

Two Contenders in the Bridge-Building Category…

1. Crowd Sourcing Transpartisan Dialogue

Main Contact: Amanda Kathryn Roman, Co-Founder of Living Room Conversations

This project is about creating an online space where average Americans can find and share resources and experiences that will empower and support them in holding Living Room Conversations – self-facilitated, face-to-face political bridge building dialogues in intimate settings. The online space will also provide an easy connection to the resources and assistance of the dialogue and deliberation community. Full proposal at www.ncdd.org/catalyst-entry-transpartisan.

2. Real Dialogues: D&D Reality Show

Main Contact: Tim Bonnemann, Intellitics, Inc., Founder & CEO

The world needs more dialogue and deliberation in order to successfully address challenging social issues, yet most people still aren’t aware of the possibilities. By producing a pilot for a highly engaging reality show based on deliberative practices, the Real Dialogues project will introduce D&D to a broad public. This easily reproducible format will help our field gain mainstream visibility. Full proposal at www.ncdd.org/catalyst-entry-reality.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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