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“Poverty/Wealth in America” is the September Inaugural Issue of the National Dialogue Network

Here’s an important announcement from John Spady of the National Dialogue Network project…

Hello friends,

I have important results to share with everyone!

The National Dialogue Network (NDN) conducted a survey in April 2013. A total of 415 people participated (including both self-selected and random panel responses). Each participant ranked their top five choices from a provided list of twenty-two issue titles to identify the top issue for our inaugural 2013 national conversations that will take place in communities across the U.S. in September. The top ranked issue title selected was “Poverty/Wealth in America.”

The NDN is a volunteer working group that received a Catalyst Award from the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) to model a social and technical infrastructure to support “a national conversation on a common issue of importance in communities across the county.” The NDN working group and advisors confirmed the 2013 topic in early May. Broad public participation is requested to help NDN prepare nonpartisan core materials and a national survey that will be available to all this September.

To prepare for this, the public is again invited to help “frame and focus” the national conversation further by answering a quick survey on specific aspects of “Poverty/Wealth in America.” What should concern our communities as we struggle together under challenging economic circumstances?

Submissions received by June 30 will be reviewed by the NDN volunteer working group in a publicly transparent process to identify and prepare core materials and resources that touch on regional, urban, and rural concerns and questions. These materials will be used online and also offered to local hosts across the country to conduct their own conversations beginning Monday, September 2, 2013 until mid October (date still to be determined).

To submit one or more ideas to help frame and focus the national conversation on the topic of “Poverty/Wealth in America,” visit this link: http://tinyurl.com/NDN-Cycle2-2013

The formal PDF report from our NDN working group with summary, graphs, and rankings is available through this link: http://surveygizmolibrary.s3.amazonaws.com/library/95644/2013Cycle1report.pdf

To stay up to date on this topic, please subscribe to our NDN listserv that is hosted for us by NCDD:

And if you have any comments or other feedback then please leave us a message below. Thank you!

Voice messages for the NDN can be left on their info line: 800-369-2342; Email can be sent to info@NationalDialogueNetwork.org. Local collaborating organizers are being sought for a September rollout.

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  1. Jon Denn says:

    It will be difficult to get a left/right conversation on this topic. That does not mean it is not an urgent and important issue. However, by definition there is a median income in the U.S: generally speaking the upper half is content with their lot, and are proud of their individual achievements—they are conservative and view the whole topic as the other half’s whining. What will motivate conservatives to come to the table? Higher taxes for them? An even larger government deficit? There may be a convergence here with Ending Crony Capitalism and Electoral Reform, but, again, choosing an issue with a decided liberal bias does not stimulate a national conversation, but a progressive partisan conversation. I have no ax to grind, I lean locally conservative, and nationally progressive. I do care deeply about this subject and I recently wrote about it here http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/05/the-penny-game.html. I will still be submitting ideas for framing, but—how are we going to get national conservatives to join in?

    • Ben Roberts says:


      The survey process that led to this topic being selected was designed to surface an issue with appeal across the spectrum, but I share your concern. I wonder if you might help us to get some input from a group of conservatives on our framing? Maybe there is a way to approach this terrain that has transpartisan appeal.

      We are hosting a week long virtual dialogue for people who care about the NDN project from 6/18-25. There will be Maestro calls, tentatively scheduled for Tue. 6/18 and Tue 6/25 from 4:30-6:30pm Pacific/7:30-9:30pm Eastern, with additional conversations convened during the week as well. More info coming shortly. Would love to have this issue addressed then.

    • John Spady says:

      Hi Jon,

      NDN should do what it can to increase diversity among all participants. Our Network works best with the collaborative efforts of all our supporters. If you know individuals and organizations that should be involved in our conversations then please reach out to them personally — I believe all efforts for sincere outreach to others will be largely reciprocated and appreciated.

      Please check in with Ben about his response… I hope you will be able to participate in our special week long process to influence the core materials produced for national conversations in September. NOW is the best time to get involved in the process.


  2. Chad says:

    Wanted to offer M. Harrington, F. Fox-Piven, J. Kozle as important ‘reads’ for the orientation piece. If you are familiar with them you know they’re dated (as am I) but where I “cut my teeth”. Well balanced/apolitical and evocative for initiating a conversation.
    Haymarket Fund in Boston has some “national conservatives” as IDed above – as does Calvert Funds, grant making boards, Fortune 500s, but agreed, there are few of the Brahmins and Blue Bloods as we used to call them (40 yrs ago in Boston).

  3. Chad says:

    “input from a group of conservatives on our framing? ”

    One last:
    Not quite an answer to the above but a grass roots response.
    We went to the legislature and other power brokers with something to the effect of:
    “We are viewed as ‘hand out seekers’ and want nothing of the sort. We assure you we want to contribute, not be a drag on the economy. We’ve all got to pull together or sink alone. We have some ideas we’d like to share and want to hear yours for this turn around effort for our nation.”
    Was crafted better than that but it’s been awhile (the last big recession, not this the ‘Great Recession’).

  4. John Spady says:

    The public phase of national conversations on the topic of Poverty & Wealth in America is now active and available at the website http://NationalDialogueNetwork.org/get-involved

    Please visit the site and download our Conversation Kit after providing your Zip Code so outreach can be shown on our front-page map at NationalDialogueNetwork.org

    Remember, this public feedback through the national survey closes at the end of October so NDN can begin its analysis. Be sure to participate before the end of October… but, of course, the sooner the better!

    If you have any questions, you can reply on this page OR call the NDN message and information line at their toll free number: 800-369-2342 THANK YOU!

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