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Catalyst Entry: “A Collaborative Plan for a National Dialogue Network Infrastructure”

Creates a collaborative and decentralized infrastructure for a viable, cost effective, and sustainable National Dialogue Network. Provides five opportunities for public involvement: to determine issues, frame materials, actively engage, analyze results, and broadly reflect. Core materials will be developed that can be privately customized by local participants but will include a national survey.


“Working Group Members”

John Spady
National Dialogue Network, Coordinator

Craig Paterson
California NIF, Researcher-Writer-Project Manager

Mary Dumas
Dumas and Associates, Principle

Michael Briand
Institute for Democratic Dialogue and Deliberation

Roshan Bliss
University of Denver graduate student, Facilitator at their Center for Multicultural Excellence

Doug Zenn
Zenn Associates, Principle

Colin Gallagher
Private consultant


Practitioners employ diverse methodologies to transcend political gridlock or to empower the public’s voice and wisdom. We will provide collaborative organizations and practitioners with publicly vetted core materials for their use and localized extension. Our tools and techniques will be offered to supporters who request them for their private use. Learning what works will inspire others.


“Advisory Committee Members”

Lisa Heft
Open Space Institute-US, President
“Facilitation, Access and Inclusion and Referrals Clearinghouse advisor for NDN”

Peggy Holman
PeggyHolman.com, Author; co-founder of “Journalism That Matters”
“Media advisor for NDN”

Stephanie Nestlerode
Omega Point International, Inc., Founding Partner
“Organizational Performance advisor for NDN”

Stephen Buckley
retired U.S. government employee, now OpenGov consultant
“Engagement Metrics advisor for NDN”

Daniel Clark
AmericaSpeaks, Program Director
“National Dialogue Advisor for NDN”

Rosa Zubizarreta
Diapraxis, Principal Consultant
“Communications and Facilitations advisor for NDN”

Linda Blong
“Dialogue, Deliberation and Public Engagement (DDPE) Certificate Program at Kansas State University”, Co-Leader
“Process Design advisor for NDN”

Steve Strachan
former King County Sheriff
“Policy and Government Relations advisor for NDN”, not currently an NCDD member

Faith Trimble
FLT Communications, President and CEO
“Policy Research and Analysis for NDN”, not currently an NCDD member


To meet its objective of being a viable, cost effective, and sustainable civic infrastructure, this project will require the efforts of as many collaborating organizations and individuals as possible. The more people who participate overall the better the results will be and the more participation our efforts will engender. This is a big step. How can we possibly imagine we can create an infrastructure for national dialogue? But if we break it down, keep it simple, and be open to the spirit of collaboration that is being asked of us then I believe it can be done. This will be our first steps together along the road of a national recommitment to strengthen our social cohesions, improve our national conversations, and affect wiser public policy.

Is this a solution chasing after a problem? I guess you will have to answer that question for yourself. I have long heard our leaders decry, “We need a national dialogue about… X” – Did they mean just a conversation among other leaders? I don’t believe that. Well here is one possible response to that appeal. It won’t be perfect but we will strive together to make it nearly so.

The project does not advance any one practice or methodology over another. All are welcome. It is up to the practitioners of those methodologies to utilize them at their natural scales of application – local, regional, state, and national. And if there are no practitioners locally to engage a community, then individuals there who still want to participate can utilize the primary core materials directly and without intermediaries.

This won’t be a one-person show… it can’t be… there is too much to do. It requires a willing team to volunteer their time, energy, and commitment. We have gathered together a good team of “doers and advisors” to start us out but as we identify additional needs we will invite other people to assist in the effort. Please consider joining us — subscribe to our public [NATIONAL-DIALOGUE] listserv to stay in touch with what people are doing: http://tinyurl.com/ndn-listserv

The number of people who participate will be the measure of our success. One of the goals for this project is to engage one million people in the process by 2016 – perhaps even reaching one million participants during the public engagement cycle. While survey response rates will be our most important benchmark, the number of people who participate throughout the five cycles will also be a measure of our impact.

Finally, if this proposal is honored with the recognition of the NCDD voting community then I pledge to deposit the award directly with a nonprofit organization that agrees to act as steward for the funds and will provide additional oversight that they are spent solely on this project for a national dialogue network infrastructure.

Link to your Catalyst Awards page on CivicEvolution:

Link to Additional Web Presence:

Questions? Email John at admin@NationalDialogueNetwork.org.