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Visual Mapping Process Leading into NCDD 2014

NCDD is in the midst of an exciting mapping process leading up to our national conference in the DC area this October. We’re conducting this initial mapping project–and a more in depth mapping process we hope to launch at the conference–in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation.

Cool mapping image f

Cool mapping image from www.mindmapart.com.

There is a vast field of organizations, communities and networks whose work centers around collaborative group practices. This work goes by many different names (dialogue and deliberation, deliberative democracy, whole systems change, collective intelligence, collaborative problem solving, etc.), and NCDD was formed to bridge these and other streams of practice to help us learn from, be inspired by, and work with each other.

People use collaborative group practices to reach numerous ends:  planning stronger communities, influencing policy, addressing long-standing conflict, inspiring people to work together to solve collective problems, increasing awareness of the nuances of public issues, and helping people connect with each other across political and social divides.

The purpose of this initial mapping project is to help people working in this broad field of practice – especially those who attend the 2014 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation – get a better picture of the points of connection, the overlaps, and the possibilities for collaboration between the myriad networks and organizations that are innovating in this field.

The first stage of this mapping project is a very visual one, and was born out of a brainstorming conversation I had with Rosa Zubizarreta. We will begin by interviewing ten highly collaborative organizations that work in different spheres of this work. Kathryn Thomson of LeadershipMind Consulting will conduct the interviews, which will be recorded.

Graphic recorders will use the content generated from interviews with these key organizations and networks to create visually compelling maps of their respective “ecosystems” so that NCDD conference participants may see both the larger, interconnected system and their own points of intersection within that system. (We’re still looking for graphic recorders to partner with, so let us know if you’re interested! We’d love to work with 10 graphic recorders, so we can display a wide range of styles at the conference.)

Graphic mural created by Avril Orloff at the 2008 NCDD conference.

These maps will be on display during the opening plenary of our 2014 national conference, which will bring together about 400 of the most active and influential people in our field.

In the interviews, Kathryn and our graphic recorders will dig into the networks of connections, partnerships, overlaps, and points of possible collaboration among some of the key organizations and communities of practice whose work centers around collaborative group practices.

Kathryn is conducting interviews this month with the following organizations:

  1. Animating Democracy
  2. Art of Hosting
  3. CommunityMatters Partnership
  4. Deliberative Democracy Consortium
  5. Everyday Democracy
  6. Institute for Sustained Dialogue
  7. National Issues Forums Institute
  8. The World Café community
  9. The emerging transpartisan group led by Mark Gerzon
  10. And several other membership organizations NCDD works with, like ICA, IAF and IAP2

We chose to interview these particular organizations and networks not only because we consider them to be highly collaborative, but because they represent a variety of sectors within our broad community. Obviously, there are many other highly collaborative groups in our field that we could have selected.

It is our hope that by seeing some of these ecosystems mapped out and reflected back to the NCDD community, and subsequently creating new maps at the conference, attendees will consider how they might make further, deeper connections that will result in increased capacity for all of us in this field. My recent article in the Journal for Public Deliberation points to a growing desire among many organizations to combine forces, resources and expertise to make a greater impact, and mapping the field will help enable this.

NCDD2014_blog_post_badgeCreating these visual maps is the first step of a larger process. At the October conference, we will announce a more inclusive effort to map the NCDD network using online mapping tools.

Mapping the network is one step toward inviting more people into the kind of leadership that will enable us collectively to grow a more robust, resilient and sustainable network – and recognizing some of the organizations in our field that already embody that kind of leadership.

Let us know your thoughts on this project. And if you are interested in helping advise NCDD on the second phase of our mapping process and have some knowledge about different approaches to digital mapping, please email me at sandy@ncdd.org to let me know!

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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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  1. Julie Ray says:

    Hi Sandy–Are you still looking for graphic recorders?


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