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News from the Public Conversations Project

The Public Conversations Project (www.publicconversations.org) has just sent out an update about their current activities. This month’s news includes conversations in Mexico City, Havana, and Northern England; a new Dialogue Guide available in Spanish; an opportunity to particpate in a Faith Quilt initiative, and a list of upcoming workshops in March, April and May. Read on…

(1) PCP IN MEXICO CITY AND HAVANA
PCP Senior Associate Sallyann Roth has been working with our neighbors in Mexico and Cuba. She conducted a three-day training workshop in Mexico City (December 13-15), From Conflict to Connection. Socios México, Centro de Colaboración Cívica, A.C., the Mexican affiliate of Partners for Democratic Change International, sponsored the training. The participants, twenty-four experienced practitioners of dialogue facilitation, mediation, and group-process consultation, came from the fields of education, politics, union organizing, and community development, among others. All were engaged in trying to reduce the political polarization generated by the recent Mexican presidential election.

In January 2007, Sallyann traveled to Havana, Cuba, to participate in the International Narrative Conference, Encountering the Spirit of Community in Narrative Therapy and in Cuban Social Programs. The World Psychiatric Association, in association with the International Federation of Social Workers, sponsored the conference. In addition to the 200 Cuban attendees there were about 160 participants from other countries, including Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, Mexico, New Zealand, and Spain. At the conference, Sallyann conducted a daylong training, Interviewee-Guided Work: Working Collaboratively to Imagine and Move toward Preferred Possibilities. There she presented her approach to clinical work, including the ways in which it is deeply influenced by the dialogue facilitation methods of PCP.

(2) SPANISH VERSION OF PCP DIALOGUE GUIDE TO PURCHASE OR DOWNLOAD
Fostering Dialogue Across Divides, PCP’s highly acclaimed new dialogue guide, is now available in Spanish translation for free downloading at the PCP web site, or for purchase ($21) at cafepress.com/PCP_press. Publication of the guide was made possible by the JAMS Foundation. Translation into Spanish by Julio Richter was funded by an anonymous donor.

(3) PCP-STYLE DIALOGUE IN NORTHERN ENGLAND
Martin Pearson, a practitioner in the UK, reports that the local practitioners who work in different sectors and areas of Bradford (in the north of England) have been gathering to develop ways to facilitate constructive conversations using the new PCP dialogue guide, Fostering Dialogue Across Divides, among other tools. This initiative, Programme for a Peaceful City, is organized and sponsored by the University of Bradford, and consists of 15-20 practitioners meeting every month. One month they test a new of facilitating and structuring dialogue, and the next month they reflect on their experiences as facilitators and participants. According to Martin, “At our first meeting, we used PCP’s stereotyping exercise as a way to explore issues that people are dealing with every day in the district. It was fascinating to hear all the stereotypes that we think other people have of us, and how we thought this played out in our everyday lives. It was a particularly useful way into setting an agenda for future dialogues, as even the act of agenda-setting is contested: different groups want to frame district problems in different terms: religious, socioeconomic, ethnic, and so forth. The stereotyping exercise helped us approach these problems in another way, and surprised us all. All of the issues we expected to emerge did so, but other interesting questions concerning gender, regional differences, appearance, accent, and family, came out as well.”

“Since then, I and several colleagues have used other sections of Fostering Dialogue Across Divides with a group of young professionals and with a group of participants who wanted to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have found the guide to be a great help, especially the emphasis on preparation before the dialogue, on the reflection needed afterward to inform future practice, and on the importance of taking into account the dialogue context. We hope that the guide and our newly established relationship with PCP will help us develop ways of talking with each other about district issues that concern us, confuse us or make us curious.”

(4) ENVISIONING A FAITH QUILT THROUGH DIALOGUE
If you missed the activities last spring related to the Faith Quilts Project (www.faithquilts.org), there’s another opportunity to be involved. Please join us to engage in dialogue and help envision a faith quilt to be made by people in Greater Boston as a gift for the Quaker Meeting House in Ramallah. The idea for this gift came from Faith Quilter Emily Ronald when Jean Zaru from the Meeting House contacted the Faith Quilts Project in Boston to learn how they could obtain a faith quilt.

The session, co-sponsored by Public Conversations Project, The Pluralism Project, and the Dialogue Forum (Harvard University) will take place Sunday, February 11, 1-5 pm in the Braun room, Andover Hall, Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Avenue, Cambridge.

Participants will engage in dialogue about what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict means to them and about the visions and hopes they have for Israelis and Palestinians. The group will also consider what messages they might like to send to those who engage in peacemaking activities at the Quaker Meeting House in Ramallah. Lead quilter Emily Ronald will work with artist Clara Wainwright and PCP Senior Associate Maggie Herzig to lead participants through a process of dialogue and to do some work with fabric—no experience necessary!

Please RSVP to mherzig@publicconversations.org or eronald@thedialogueforum.org. Questions? Call Maggie at (781) 862-4795.

(5) WORKSHOPS STILL OPEN

APRIL 26, 27, 28: Boston, MA
Power of Dialogue*
Sallyann Roth and Dave Joseph draw upon their extensive dialogue facilitation experience to share the key elements of PCP dialogue. Participants work together to design, facilitate, and debrief an extended dialogue simulation. (Note–the April 2007 Power of Dialogue workshop is now full).

MAY 8-9, 2007: Boston, MA
Staying Grounded When on the Spot
Participants learn to quickly and effectively handle the inevitable surprises and challenges of facilitation in this two-day workshop with veteran trainers Maggie Herzig and Bob Stains. Through presentations, exercises, case examples, and discussion, participants develop skills in staying focused and staying grounded, even in difficult moments.

SPRING 2007 (date TBA): Boston, MA
Reflective Leadership in Frenzied Times

Reflection, inquiry, and dialogue can reinvigorate and enhance organizational and community leadership. PCP’s Director of Program Dave Joseph, MSW, leads this two-day workshop for leaders wanting to become more creative and resourceful in their roles.

APRIL 11, 2007: Boston, MA
The Art of Interviewing
Effective interviewers encourage people to talk and think creatively about their stories. Senior Associate Corky Becker will help participants develop the art of interviewing through skill-building exercises, interviewing opportunities, presentations and discussion.

* The Power of Dialogue trainings are co-sponsored by the Family Institute of Cambridge (FIC) and PCP. FIC is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education (CE) hours for psychologists. FIC maintains responsibility for the program. Total CE hours eligible: 18.
PCP is approved by NASW and NBCC to offer CE credits for all its workshops. Total CE hours eligible: 6 per day.
PCP workshops fill quickly. To register, or to explore possibilities for bringing a customized PCP training to your organization, contact Alison at 888-PCP-TEAM x13 or email training@publicconversations.org. To learn more, visit www.publicconversations.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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