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How Can We Address the Major Challenges Facing our Field?

Please Note:  The following refers to a program we offered in preparation for our 2008 national conference and has been saved for reference purposes.  Some links may no longer work.

For the next couple of months, members of the 2008 conference planning team and members of the greater dialogue and deliberation community are coming together at CivicEvolution.org to conduct an important experiment. We will be working together, using an online platform for dialogue, deliberation, and action planning, to determine how we can make progress on seven major challenges facing our community.

The seven challenges we’d like to address emerged from the first three NCDD conferences, and it is our hope that we will tackle these challenges in creative, collaborative ways – at, before, and after the fourth NCDD conference in Austin this October. The challenges focus on questions we face as a community, like “how can we talk about this work in a more accessible way?” and “how can we embed dialogue and deliberation in systems like schools, organizations and government?” Our online dialogue at CivicEvolution will help us decide how to best approach this daunting task, and we hope to see you there!

We will work together in three stages:

  1. Review and refine the 7 challenges and launch numerous new dialogues to further explore elements of each challenge. (Example: Ted initiates a new dialogue focused on what words and phrases appeal to young people under the “Framing this Work in an Accessible Way” challenge.)
  2. Participate in these new dialogues to explore the challenges in depth and develop common ground upon which we can propose ideas that can be further developed and incorporated into an action plan. (Example: After some online dialogue about language that is accessible to young people, Ted and Nancy decide to propose the idea to recruit 50 young people to attend NCDD Austin and engage them in dialogues and discussions on language throughout the conference.)
  3. Work together as teams to develop detailed proposals for accomplishing the team ideas. (Example: Ted, Nancy, and several others decide on the steps it will take to move from their idea to action.)

Below are more details about the three stages and some how-to info you can refer to as needed.

Stage 1: Review and discuss the challenges

Visit the dialogue at http://civicevolution.org/d_d_challenges and register. After you register, you need to click on “join this team” to participate in the main dialogue. The 7 challenges are in the boxes outlined in blue. The challenges are also listed at the top of the right sidebar, and you can use the “show details” links after each challenge to go directly to that challenge and people’s comments on it.

Please review and discuss the challenges, and endorse the ones you feel are important. You can help us refine how we name and frame the challenges through dialogue, or by directly editing the challenges. You can also add a new challenge if you feel we missed something important. How-to tips for using CivicEvolution are below.

Action: Visit the main dialogue and participate by adding an introductory comment at the top and then commenting on each specific challenge lower on the page. Suggest/initiate a new dialogue (or several!) to delve deeper into an aspect of a challenge or a potential strategy for addressing the challenge.

Outcome: By the end of stage 1, at least one dialogue should have been initiated for each challenge area.

Timeline: Most of this should have happened before Sunday, April 11th.

Stage 2: Explore a specific challenge in depth

In stage two, we will focus on brainstorming concrete actions for addressing the challenges both at the 2008 NCDD conference and otherwise. This brainstorming will take place in the new set of dialogues people have initiated under the challenge areas. The idea is that small groups will coalesce in these new dialogues around shared concerns. At the end of stage 2, we should have generated one or more ideas under each challenge; teams will develop these ideas into detailed proposals in stage 3.

Action: Choose one or two challenges you want to work on. Join in the dialogues in those challenge areas to delve deeper and develop common ground with others who care about those challenge areas. Brainstorm specific actions you, the conference planning team, or the D&D community could take to address the challenge.

Outcome: Several ideas for proposals should be posted by Friday, April 25th.

Timeline: Enter the dialogues for specific challenges by around Friday, April 18th and start brainstorming ideas. Participants should join a proposal team by Friday, April 25th.

Stage 3: Join a team to develop a proposal

In stage 3, teams form around proposal ideas. The teams work through a series of dialogues to develop their detailed proposal. The steps include: agree to the idea, articulate the goals, develop an action plan, consider the impacts, and recommend steps to move the plan forward.

Action: Join one or more proposal teams in a challenge area that interests you. Recruit your colleagues and friends to join. Commit to one of the team management roles to help your team succeed.

Outcome: Teams will complete detailed proposals to address their challenge area and share them with the conference planning committee and the D&D community.

Timeline: We encourage teams to launch their ideas by Friday, April 25th and aim at completing their proposals in three weeks, around Friday, May 16th. These guidelines are intended to keep the teams focused and make sure there is time for their proposals to be incorporated into the conference planning process.

Get started today!

You can get started right now by visiting the D&D challenges dialogue at http://civicevolution.org/d_d_challenges. Please introduce yourself and browse the dialogue. Let us know what you think about the challenges, and most importantly, join a dialogue or start one about one or more challenge areas with which you are concerned.

If you would really like to step up and help make this engagement a success, you can make a commitment to be a motivator for a specific challenge by modeling good dialogue behavior, helping to maintain a safe and inviting space, and making sure there is at least one dedicated dialogue within the challenge you want to promote.

If you have questions or need more information, contact Sandy Heierbacher at sandy@thataway.org or Brian Sullivan at brian@civicevolution.org.

Tips for Using CivicEvolution

  1. To participate in the dialogue, you must register with CivicEvolution. You can participate in the top-level dialogue that lists the 7 challenges immediately, but you will need to join any additional dialogues you want to participate in. Registration is free and easy – just click Register in the top right. To join a dialogue (In Depth Dialogues are framed in green and listed under the challenges they pertain to), just visit the team, then click Join this team.
  2. Orange text on the page is a link.
  3. Open a comment to read it by clicking the comment title. Click the title again to close the comment.
  4. When you first visit, introduce yourself or add a general comment to the dialogue by entering a title and comment in the form at the top of the page and then clicking Submit.
  5. Comment on a challenge or resource by clicking the Comment link at the bottom of the item to open the comment form. Enter a title and comment and press Submit.
  6. Reply to a comment by clicking the title to open the comment if it isn’t open, then clicking Reply. Enter a title and comment and press Submit.
  7. Edit any comment you have made at any time by clicking the Edit link next to our name and the comment title. You can permanently delete your comment by clicking the Delete button in the lower left corner of the form.
  8. Share a resource by clicking the Share a Resource link in the top of the comment form. You can share a resource anywhere you can add a comment or reply.
  9. The challenges listed in the D&D challenges are commonly referred to as key points in CivicEvolution.
  10. Endorse a challenge by clicking the Endorse link below the key point. You can withdraw your endorsement at any time by clicking the Unendorse link.
  11. Add a new challenge by clicking the Suggest a Challenge link in the top of the comment form. You can suggest a challenge anywhere you can add a comment or reply.
  12. Edit an existing challenge/key point by clicking the Edit link below the key point. Anyone on the dialogue team can edit a key point. A complete revision history is maintained. Be respectful about what the current author has written when you edit a key point or challenge. If your changes fundamentally change the meaning of the challenge, it may be more appropriate to create a new challenge.
  13. To create a new dialogue or proposal project, click “Create a Related Dialogue or Proposal” at the bottom of the box for the challenge you’d like to delve deeper into. A popup form will guide your through 4 simple steps to create the new dialogue. Help is available by clicking the blue question mark in a circle.
  14. Dialogues are listed under the challenges to which they relate. They are labeled “In Depth Dialogue” and outlined in green. Just click the dialogue title to open it.
  15. Each day you will receive an email report that contains all of the comments, resources, and challenges that have been added to the dialogue or edited during the previous day.
  16. Browse the dialogue content by clicking the View All link in the top right corner. New content will be listed at the top and marked New. The link also indicates the number of new items. View All lets you sort the dialogue content by time, author, and title.
  17. Advanced users can subscribe to the RSS feed for the dialogue and get updates throughout the day. Click the RSS link in the top right corner to get the URL.
  18. Click the Help link in the top right corner to display the CivicEvolution FAQ. Click the orange links to see specific information.
  19. An introductory video and a detailed FAQ are available at http://home.civicevolution.org/learn_more.html
  20. A blue question mark in a circle is a link to specific context-sensitive help
  21. Click the Contact Us link in the top right corner to send us a message requesting help or offering feedback.
  22. CivicEvolution works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari browsers. If you have a problem using CivicEvolution, please send us the details in an email to help@civicevolution.org.
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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. Amanda says:

    I want to comment you an excellent column about dialogue that was written by Andrea Turchi at http://www.laopiniondetrenquelauquen.blogspot.com
    in spanish.

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