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Featured D&D Story: Affording Johnson County

Today we’re pleased to be featuring another example of dialogue and deliberation in action. This mini case study was submitted by NCDD member David Supp-Montgomerie of the University of Iowa’s Program for Public Life via NCDD’s new Dialogue Storytelling Tool. Do you have a dialogue story that our network could learn from? Add your dialogue story today!

ShareYourStory-sidebarimageTitle of Project

Affording Johnson County


Johnson County has the highest portion of residents paying over 50% of their income on housing costs in the entire state of Iowa – and the number for its renters is far higher than the national average. In partnership with several community organizations, this year-long public conversation project began with local discussions in several communities and culminates this April in a County Wide Deliberative Summit.

We have held our first meeting so far and it drew business owners, faith leaders (local churches, the synagogue, and the mosque), elected officials at the state and local level, community organizers, and ordinary folks passionate about the topic. City council members were sitting across from refugees and graduate students – this is what democracy looks like.

Which dialogue and deliberation approaches did you use or borrow heavily from?

  • National Issues Forums
  • Open Space / Unconference
  • World Cafe

What was your role in the project?

Co-Organizer, Primary Facilitator, and Sponsoring Organization

Who were your partners for the project (if any)?

Johnson County Affordable Homes Coalition, PATV Channel 18 (local public access station)

What issues did the project primarily address?

Economic issues

Lessons Learned

Some of the small communities had few traditional aspects of civic infrastructure used to organize an event, but we had success when we recruited several faith leaders to help plan and recruit members to participate.

Where to learn more about the project:


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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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