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From the CommunityAuthor Archives: Kai Degner

Blogger Bio:  Kai is a member of the Harrisonburg, VA city council and previously Harrisonburg mayor. As mayor, Kai brought his passion for public engagement to the forfront of his service and continues to do so as a leader in the Harrisonburg area.

The Heart of the Matter

I returned from a 3-day Dynamic Facilitation workshop last week inspired, challenged, and healed. For those unaware of the method, as I was prior to attending Jim and Jean Rough’s workshop in Port Townsend, let me vouch for its unique place on our D&D toolbelts – or, rather, its own color on our D&D practioner palettes. DF is different, as it relies on intuitively following the energy of the conversation and purposely probing participants to get at their root concerns and ideas. Please do check […] (continue)

Become a Host for Conversation Week Today!

[Video intro at www.ConversationWeek.org] Conversation Week 2007 is planned for March 25-31 and will celebrate the power of conversation and the fifth anniversary of Conversation Cafe. By March 5, we hope to have over 200 registered hosts who are willing to coordinate a small group discussion in their local community at a convenient time that week. All hosts will receive training in Conversation Cafe, OrangeBands, and various other resources to make their discussion a success. Conversation Week is being organized by The OrangeBand Initiative, Conversation […] (continue)

NCDD – and D?

Does authentic ‘Debate’ require as high an explicit distinction in our community of practice as ‘Dialogue’ and ‘Deliberation’? Such things keep me up at night. I’ve always appreciated the explicit distinction in the “DD” of “NCDD” – dialogue and deliberation. In fact, I can’t seem to overemphasize the importance of the different experiences a dialogue and deliberation provide – both are highly appropriate in varying degrees given different purposes for a conversation. Dialogues are divergent processes, aimed at building understanding. Deliberations are convergent processes, aimed […] (continue)

How urgent is our work?

We probably agree with this: Participation in meaningful discourse is a central right and responsibility of those living in a democracy. Without a citizenry skilled and comfortable with dialogue and/or deliberation, a democratic community cannot function as it is intended. And this: Meaningful discourse is as much at the heart of meaningful relationships as democracy. And this: “Crossfire”-type shows, partisan politicians, and issue advocates frequently showcase reactionary and fallacy-ridden argumentation. But do we think enough about: The alarmingly dangerous impact these speakers have as they […] (continue)


Last week, I came across YouthNoise, a web-based organization focused on providing a space for youth to discuss issues important to them (their OrangeBands). For those interested in working with an international youth-focused organization that promotes dialogue, check it out. It’s inspiring to see youth so active. The website is dynamic and clearly makes an effort to reach out to a youthful target audience – and it’s buzzing! The discussion board activity is a clear indicator of the organization’s effectiveness in keeping the attention of […] (continue)

Success! Weekend SGA Retreat Benefits from D&D

For my first post, I’m excited to share with you a success story from this weekend: a 24-hour retreat for a university’s student government association complete with opening ice breakers & team-building, OrangeBand, World Cafe, Open Space Technology, Conversation Cafe and a “nominal group technique.” It may sound like a lot to put into a weekend, but these methods flowed seamlessly into each other! The result was spirited and authentic conversation and a rich list of priorities for their academic year. These methods and NCDD […] (continue)