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Reflections on NCDD Portland event from Leif Utne

Check out Leif Utne’s wonderful posts about the Portland NCDD conference, which brought 190 people together this past Saturday, making it the largest of our 5 fall regional events. The two posts can be found on Leif’s blog (general reflections here and a post on Gov 2.0 and D&D here), but I wanted to share an excerpt…

“Kudos to the entire organizing team (especially crack facilitators Walt Roberts and Tod Sloan) for putting together a fantastic event that left me enlightened and inspired. It was the perfect antidote to the toxic partisanship of the recent election season.

A Few Highlights
My head is still spinning from the rich stew of ideas, models, processes and projects presented at the event, to say nothing of the amazing people. Herewith, a few highlights:

1. The People
The best thing about this gathering was the people. (I love hanging out with facilitators and social process geeks.) The attendees, about 180 in all, consisted of a mix of professional facilitators, academics, community organizers, techies, consultants, corporate and philanthropic leaders, and government officials. It was great to spend time with old friends and co-conspirators like Joseph McCormick, Susan Partnow, Howard Silverman, John Spady, Peggy Holman, Jim Rough, and one of my personal heroes, Tom Atlee. To finally meet folks long I’ve admired, like DeAnna Martin and Sandy Heierbacher. And to make tons of new connections with inspiring people who are in the trenches daily endeavoring to make democracy work.

2. The Process
Most conferences (and I attend a lot) are sorely lacking in one respect: interactivity. They don’t build in enough opportunities for dialogue — between audience and presenters, or, more importantly, between participants. The old, didactic model of experts at the front of the room dropping knowledge on the audience followed by a short Q&A period misses so many opportunities for participants to interact in creative, generative ways that spark new connections, deepen the conversation and harness the wisdom of everyone in the room. This conference, by contrast, was beautifully designed and facilitated for maximum dialogue potential.

I wish conference planners everywhere would take a few pages from NCDD’s book and design many more opportunities for dialogue and interactivity into their events…

Sandy Heierbacher on FacebookSandy Heierbacher on LinkedinSandy Heierbacher on Twitter
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. craig neal says:

    Hey Leif…great postings. thanks…feel like i was with you all in Portland. love to bring a regional here to Minnesota.

  2. John Spady says:

    I second the idea of a Minnesota regional event. Thanks for this posting Leif. Portland was a fun event!

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