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Networking Topics for Opening Session

Table topics during our Opening Session at NCDD Austin will allow you to meet others who share your interests and affinities right off the bat. We’ve been asking conference participants to submit “networking topics” if they are passionate about a topic, process, venue, etc. and they’d like to meet others who feel the same.

Below are the topics we’re going forward with so far (and the people who submitted them and will be hosting the tables) and some more details about what we’ll be doing and why. Send a quick email to NCDD Director Sandy Heierbacher at sandy@thataway.org if you’d like to host a table on a particular topic!

You’re coming to the conference, in large part, to meet people who share your interests. At NCDD conferences, people tend to leave knowing that they’ve built a slew of new supportive, collaborative relationships.

To help this along at NCDD Austin, we’re holding a structured networking session during the very first plenary session of the conference. This networking session will allow participants, at the start of the conference, to meet people with similar interests as them. Maybe you’re passionate about a particular issue, like climate change, racism or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Perhaps you focus on a specific area of D&D work like restorative justice or deliberative democracy. Maybe you’d like to meet other researchers who are at the conference, other college students, others from outside the U.S., or others who teach at universities? This networking session will give you the chance to meet people during the opening session who you can connect with again and again over the next few days.

All conference participants are invited to suggest topics — especially if you are willing to serve as the “table host” for that topic and move the conversation forward with some light facilitation. The point of this session is networking – meeting and starting to get to know others who share your interests, so hosts will ensure people have the chance to introduce themselves and share how their work relates to the topic.

There won’t be time for in-depth conversations about the topic; this is about meeting people you can connect with again later on.  So focus broadly, like the topics suggested above (”using D&D to address climate change” rather than “using D&D to encourage high school students to recycle”).

Here are the topics we’ve got so far…

Rooting D&D in Government Structures

Submitted by: John Spady (willing to host)

Dialogue across the Partisan Divide

Table host: Jacob Hess

Encouraging Dialogue in Higher Ed

Encouraging the values and processes of dialogue within the academy, including pedagogy, student life, administrative and faculty culture — it’s challenges and its possibilities. (We are have been doing this at Clark University over the last three years, initially with support from the Ford Foundation’s Difficult Dialogues initiative.)

Table host: Sarah Buie

Bridging the Sacred/Secular Divide

Many social change efforts could benefit from alliances between secular and faith-based networks. Effective alliances are often prevented or hampered by lack of contact or mutual stereotyping. In some secular contexts people “of faith” have felt have felt marginalized and “trashed”. The converse is also true. In some religious contexts, people who have a secular world view have felt silenced and dismissed.

I am interested to brainstorm with people who have participated in efforts to bridge this difference as well as people who would like to convene such conversations in the future.

Table host: Laura Chasin

Dialogue on Structural Racism

I work with a number of community based programs in Baltimore and we struggle with the structural racism that exists in education, foundation giving, prison system, etc. and how it plays out as we work together in unity for change. We continue to strive to dialogue about racial disparities in these systems while promoting change. I would like to meet others who work in the community who face these issues and want to find tools and opportunities to having honest, truthful dialogue about race and class.

Table host: Polly Riddims

D&D on Environmental / Land Use Issues

Table host: Steve Zikman

Public Health

I am consulting with some senior leaders in the field of public health. It is my hope that I can connect with others who are also focused in this area.

 Table host: Robert Corman

Using the Arts in Dialogue

As a graphic recorder/facilitator I’m always asking myself how I can most effectively use visuals to assist & enhance the dialogue process. And my interest goes beyond the visual arts – I also see the value and impact of theatre, song, movement, poetry and so on. Would love to connect with others who are also exploring the role of the arts in dialogue, to swap stories, questions, ideas, and maybe try out some stuff together!

Table host: Avril Orloff

Building State Networks to Support Deliberation

We have a statewide network in Oklahoma that we are trying to expand and we’d like to brainstorm with others to find out what they have tried in their states.  We are also thinking of creating a business plan for our state network and would like to discuss this with others as well to see if they have tried something similar.

Table host: Kimberly Williams and Renee Daugherty

Online Facilitation / Deliberation Tools

Table host: Tom Murray

Applying Adult Developmental Psychology to D&D

Table host: Jan Inglis

Critical Social Theory and Dialogue

You love to read Foucault, Habermas, Kristeva, Butler, Adorno, Gadamer, Deleuze & Guattari … but don’t have anybody to talk to about their work? Here’s the chance. Basically, we’re interested in exploring how critical theory can inform dialogue practice more fully.

Table host: Tod Sloan

Gender / Gender Identity and Dialogue

This topic refers to the complexity and tension around roles and power sharing in business and personal life and the leadership demands for a sustainable planet in the 21st century. This topic potentially runs the gamut of processes for gender reconciliation (most commonly related to instances/places of extreme women’s oppression) to processes that address the “undiscussibles” of mate selection and expectations in romantic/sexual relationships.

Table host: Steven Fearing

Conversation Cafes

Table host: Tobin Quereau

Online Dialogue

Table host: Ken Bausch

Embodied Dialogue and Aikido

Embodied dialogue is a term I am experimenting with, and refers (in my thinking, at this time) to the integration of the basic princples and practices of Aikido into deep listening and clear speaking. I have been training in Aikido for six years.

Table host: Laurie McCann

Social Media and D&D

What are all these people talking about online? How are people engaged in dialog and deliberation using social media? What are the big trends?

Table host: Chris Heuer

Intergenerational Dialogue at Work

We have seen the Art of Dialogue used effectively within a social justice context, and we believe we are missing an enormous opportunity to change the quality of people’s lives where they spend most of their time – at work. Whether a for profit coporation, non profit or government organization, dialogue offers employers and employees the chance to create and sustain positive work relationships. Baby Boomers, Generations “X,”, “Y,” and upcoming “Z” need to work together effectively in teams and in one-on-one relationships. We are interested in gathering a table from different generations to explore this exciting topic.

Table co-hosts: Paul Weismn and Michele Simos-Weisman

Assessing the Impact of Race Dialogues

I would like to host a table to bring together others interested in doing research to show the impact on a community of dialogue about race relations.  The opportunities for funding such dialogues are great, but we need to show that we are making an impact.  I am not a researcher, but would love to hear from those who have the research knowledge and skills how they have approached this problem.

Table host:  Kathryn Liss

Capturing Knowledge

Table host:  Kevin Leahy

Int’l Association of Facilitators Members

Table host:  Linda Mather

Interfaith Dialogue with Traditionalists

Table host:  Imam Abubakar Abdul

DIY D&D for the Masses

There simply aren’t enough practitioners nor large enough budgets to create initiatives to help citizens and communities address all of the issues they face. How can we scale the role of D&D in society by putting tools and best practices directly in the hands of citizen stakeholders.

Table host: Brian Sullivan

Building Community by Networking Neighbors

Table host: Cheryl Honey

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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. I think the first 4 or 5 topics (partisan divide, rooting D&D in governance, environment, etc.) will work for networking topics, but some of the others are way too specific to draw more than one or two others.

    The idea is to, right off the bat at the beginning of the conference, meet a group of people who share your interest in Jewish-Palestinian dialogue, deliberative research, climate change, evaluation, etc. so you'll be able to reconnect with them again and again throughout the 3 days – hopefully developing some lasting and potentially collaborative relationships.

    There won't be time to discuss the topics in depth. Rather, the focus of the session is to meet and get to know the others in your group.

  2. Steven Fearing says:

    Wow,

    I have "dibs" on having a meta-lunch or dinner with Tom Murray and a small group.

    Cognitive and social/emotional skills are like cherry-picking through the competency models in the "field" of emotional intelligence (EI and EQ). I have been there. Worth doing.

    Interdeterminacy points, perhaps, in the direction of polarity management – this whole conversation is compelling.

    Ethical parameters, integral theory — Tom, you are one heavy dude. 🙂

    All the topics are good, several extremely important right now. Niger Delta Crisis is a bit specific. Critical social theory (Foucault et. al) and dialogue is bit beyond me. But Tod, join Tom and I for a glass of wine and you can explain it to me.

  3. Avril Orloff says:

    Sandy, do you think "Using the arts in dialogue" is too specific? (I ask because it's not in the first 4-5 topics you cited!)

  4. Actually, I added yours after I wrote the "first 4 or 5" comment, Avril. I think yours is great, and would probably attract a nice group.

  5. In case you're reading over the comments, some of these comments refer to text that I just removed from this post. I simplified the list a bit and added more description.

  6. Tom Atlee says:

    I proposed hosting a table on "Conversation as Conscious Evolution", which somehow got dropped. My notes on that were/are: "Evolution arises from the interaction of diverse entities in challenging and/or supportive contexts. Conversation is how humans evolve together consciously — and it is our main tool for meeting civilization's evolutionary challenges today." For more info, see

  7. Tom Atlee says:

    oops. The reference at the end of my comment 6 should be http://www.co-intelligence.org/EvolutionaryAgentr

  8. Tom Atlee says:

    Ignore my previous comments. This table on Conversation as Conscious Evolution is going to be in the later table "marketplace". However, if anyone would like to talk about weaving all the types of D&D into a coherent effort to establish a voice of public wisdom to create a wise democracy, that would be fun!!! 🙂

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