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What would you like to see at NCDD 2018?

NCDD’s staff is in the beginning stages of conference planning, and as we do each conference year, we’d like to hear from the D&D community about what you’d like to see, do and experience at this year’s National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. Over the next twelve days (through March 9th), we’ll be seeking ideas from the NCDD community via email, social media, and the blog.

NCDD conferences look and feel a bit different each year because our events are experiments in collaborative planning, and our planning team is highly responsive to our community’s needs and energy.

NCDD’s national conferences bring together 400+ of our community’s most exciting leaders, innovators, learners, and doers, for an event that enables us not only to network and learn from each other, but to tackle our greatest collective challenges head-on, and to set the direction for our field.

What we cover at our conferences, and how we cover it, is important for this ever-growing, ever-changing field — and we want your input!  Everyone in the NCDD community (members, past conference attendees, subscribers, social media friends) is welcome to participate.

To help you get started, NCDD’s staff and board would like to share some of our thoughts with you and get some feedback. We notice that with the extreme partisan rancor of our current political environment, coupled with the continuous tragedies around gun violence and so much more – has many in this country calling for the need to be able to better listen to each other with more understanding and civility, to work more effectively across differences, and to improve the way people engage in democracy.

Just what our field specializes in.

So for the 2018 conference, we think making space at this year’s conference to dig deep into how we can bring the work of the dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement field out from what seems like the “fringes” and into greater visibility and use. There are so many valuable processes and resources that our field works on, and we’d like to explore the ways in which we can further make this work commonplace and bring it into widespread practice. We’d like to hear from you whether this resonates, and what ideas you might have for how we might explore this together.

We’re also seeking more ideas. As you consider our intentionally broad framing question, “What would you like to see happen at NCDD 2018?”, think about…

  • What do you think about the idea above?
  • What topics would you like to see covered?
  • What ideas do you have for awesome activities?
  • What would you like to contribute to this year’s event?
  • What could we do this year that might improve your work?
  • What could we do that would help us move the field forward?
  • What can we do while we’re together that we can’t easily do virtually?
  • Dream big, or be specific… it’s all good!

Please share your responses to these questions in the comments below, via our discussion listserv, and on social media.

If you’re interested in playing a role at the conference, helping with planning, or just attending, be sure to fill out our interest form for NCDD 2018, too!

We’re excited to hear your ideas and to get working on putting together another great conference!

Keiva Hummel
Keiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Communications Coordinator. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Global Peace, Human Rights and Justice Studies, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Studies.

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We always encourage a lively exchange of ideas, whether online or off. Questions? Please feel free to contact us directly.

  1. I’m really loving this as a special emphasis/theme for 2018 and curious what others think!:

    “we think making space at this year’s conference to dig deep into how we can bring the work of the dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement field out from what seems like the ‘fringes’ and into greater visibility and use. There are so many valuable processes and resources that our field works on, and we’d like to explore the ways in which we can further make this work commonplace and bring it into widespread practice. We’d like to hear from you whether this resonates, and what ideas you might have for how we might explore this together.”

    Focusing on bringing D&D out of the margins / into the mainstream seems like exactly what we need to think together about these days!

    • Andrew Rockway says:

      I’ll plus-one Sandy’s post. That seems like an excellent and timely theme!

    • I like the theme, Sandy, that you are suggesting a lot. I’m wondering if we might use part of the conference to actually brainstorm together how to do this. How can we actually bring more visibility to our field of D&D? What are some strategies we might all use to do so?

      It is a theme that we can all relate to and using D&D to build shared meaning around it, could be very vital and energizing for the whole community. I could totally imagine holding in-depth Dialogues on this subject with core ideas being recorded and then disseminated after the conference. I could even imagine doing some action planning work around it with whomever is interested in taking the ideas forward in some way.

      Open Space might be another way to organize, though it might not help to build on each other’s ideas. Just some thoughts to consider.

  2. I would highly recommend a focus on the ideas and implications of Mary Parker Follett. 2018 is the 150th anniversary of her birth and 100th anniversary of her seminal work on democracy, The New State. (All of her works are available online at mpfollett.ning.com). She invented the concept of “power-with” versus “power-over”; she spoke to everything that NCDD stands for. She may have been ahead of her time, but she is right on time for our time. I (and I’m sure so many of Follett’s admirers) would love to help make Follett’s ideas a part of NCDD 2018.

  3. I’d love to see us use dialogue and deliberation in the event actively. Could we have some kitchen table conversations, an Open Space, a Conversation Cafe, etc. to talk about what’s important? I recently saw World Cafe used brilliantly at an International Association of Business Communicators event where the group talked about ethics in communication (this right after “alternative facts” was in the news). Could we do something like that to address issues facing our profession and interests?

  4. Hi all. I like the theme of bringing D&D etc. from the fringes and think we can work it from a variety of angles. First, let’s make it real. Where are specific settings that we think D&D can make a difference and then engage in some design thinking exercises that help us overcome specific reasons/challenges we are not engaged. Second, participatory processes of varying kinds are everywhere. Some are effective. Some are not. Some are authentically participatory, others are faux participatory. Some are run by folks we would say are “in the field.” Others are run by city staff, large consulting firms, etc. We might want to explore how to improve practice when processes are run by others and how we impact the thousands of meetings held every night in communities around the country.

  5. It breaks my heart to know how much good and thoughtful work is being done by instantiating the principles of deliberative democracy in practice, yet none of this work appears in the national press or on the news. Tom Friedman, David Brooks, “Morning Joe” etc all tear their hair out bemoaning the state of our democracy, yet not once do we hear the phrase ‘deliberative democracy’ used by them or others. We need to develop our own media campaign to get the word out….this could involve coordinated efforts to reach out these individual and organizations ..creating a press kit and a list of names that we could contact, etc…..

    In forming a session on this, we should also reach out to invite someone of that level (perhaps through someone within our group who knows some of these people).

    This is obviously in line with others above….

  6. It’s a little cringe-y to be fringe-y wanting to be out of the fringes…are we really in the fringes? I think we are quickly becoming one of the most relevant groups ever. I don’t have a re-frame at the moment though.

    That said, what I loved about 2014 (I missed 2016) was David Matthews as a keynote and the all the sessions and moving around and the energy of everyone there. oh! and the little station to do video clips, how fun was that?! I didn’t take advantage of it but still thought it was super cool to offer it. I like the idea of making some liberal use of liberating microstructures http://www.liberatingstructures.com/ per Robert’s call for design thinking exercises and Maya’s call for walking our talk.

  7. More on Liberating Structures for fun here and to consider for one or more pieces or organizing piece for Denver 2018.

    I am SO excited about liberating microstructures a la Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz’s book of the same name. Why? They’ve given we facilitators and DD folk a playbook for what we already do already. They point out EVERY structure we use (conventional, any collaborative or liberating structure) has the same 5 elements in it: the invitation; how space is arranged and what materials are used; how participation is distributed among participants; how groups are configured; the sequence of steps and how time is allocated in each step.

    See how genius this is? If you are feeling over-structured, overhelped, or overcontrolled, please go take a look at their free app called Liberating Structures and just start now, start using them. Anyone can use them. Go!

    p.s. “Ecocycle” mapping is one of the 33 micro structures you can find on the app, licensed via creative commons and clear clear instructions on how to use these. Any novice or process expert and everyone in between can use these immediately to create better outcomes when people get together.

    Below is a link to one blog post I did showing how an intergovernmental cleanup partnership used this 90 minute thing. As I re-read the Chaucer quote at the front — “There is an end to everything, to good things as well” I think of our U.S. democracy as we know it. https://www.cadenceinc.us/which-parts-of-your-work-are-ready-to-burn/

  8. Mary Gelinas says:

    Most of my clients are dealing with complex issues that require using systems thinking and engaging constructively with diverse stakeholders. Many of them are also working across networks and networks of networks across geographic, cultural, ethnic, and political boundaries. The fundamental building blocks of this work remain dialogue and deliberation.

    I believe we could move the field forward by investigating how to integrate systems thinking along with the results of brain science and social psychology research into how we design and conduct participatory engagement processes. I am seeing promising results from my forays into doing this with community change efforts (equity and inclusion) and global change processes (climate change).

    Grounding our work in “science” and creating constructive and productive engagement processes to create systems change increases the field’s legitimacy, visibility, and usefulness.

    I would love to collaborate with other NCDD members to present the highlights of the latest information in these three fields (systems thinking, brain science, and social psychology) and create a process through which members could explore how to tap this information to design engagement processes that create real change. I can “see” how this could be a fun, useful and cutting edge plenary session or a breakout.

  9. Kelsey Crowe says:

    Hi! I’m a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley Center on Civility and Democratic Engagement researching how family members with political differences talk to each other for journal publication as well as for a mainstream tradebook. I have interviewed some of your folks in the field, but would love to interview more and mainstream your work- so anyone can email me to do an interview at kelsey.crowe@gmail.com to talk about their experience bridging political differences among people who know each other, and / or their personal experience being a professional in this work who has a family member of different political beliefs. I think that personal perspective (the hard and maybe the good) would be incredible. Like, how do you do this kind of conversation with grandma and still manage another hour together in the car to the airport?

    As a comment with little likelihood of my following up with more comments, but just to offer an outsider perspective on the problem of mainstreaming your work: I have found 1) the terminology is so technical and lofty- like the term “deliberative democracy” doesn’t roll off the tongue at a cocktail party and peak someone’s interest as a general communication tool for the masses, and 2) humor is really important. I also think more evaluation is needed. I have found the most of it in inter-group dialogue literature, but I would love to learn what simple questions work and equally important, what don’t to generate understanding? Again, I probably won’t comment but am offering some food for thought as someone who wants to mainstream your work for the benefit of readers that want my book to help with a personal problem that your tools can help with.

    Thanks for considering this post in any way, and I hope to meet many of you in November!

    kelsey crowe kelsey.crowe@gmail.com

    • David Grant says:

      The word ‘sortition’ does ‘roll off the tongue at cocktail parties’ (in response to a previous comment).
      Humor is needed, indeed. As are cultural artifacts that enhance and enlighten ‘deliberative democracy’.
      And various uses of media (thanks, Tom Atlee, for that example).
      I’ve been working in those areas. See my website or https://amazon.com/author/grantd

  10. Tom Atlee says:

    One of the most powerful examples I’ve seen of mainstreaming D&D was Maclean’s magazine’s 1991 initiative “THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT” which involved 40 pages of coverage of a 3-day dialogue among 12 Canadians specifically selected for their differences, facilitated by a team led by Roger Fisher (co-author of Getting to Yes). It ran the same week of a Canadian TV public affairs documentary about the event. I studied and analyzed this in depth with extensive raw material (from pdfs of the magazine and videos of the documentary to interviews with editors and Roger Fisher), available at http://co-intelligence.org/Macleans1991Experiment.html. The breakthrough in that initiative (in my view) was its brilliant design to give millions of readers and viewers VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE of high quality D&D – a very rare phenomenon that resulted in massive national public conversations across Canada for months afterwards.

    I can imagine a conference track focusing on the use of media to expose people to the experience, dynamics and productivity of quality D&D on public issues. Some other examples are the multi-stakeholder scenario work in South Africa before Mandela’s release from prison and PBS’s collaborations with Jim Fishkin on Deliberative Polling. I’m sure there are others. How did they come about? How were they organized? What are the strengths and limitations of each initiative? How could such things be innovated even more powerfully today? What can we learn from them about embedding the reality and value of D&D in the public mind? (This is different from and intimately related – at least potentially – to various approaches to expanding participation through e-democracy.)

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