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A Message from NCDD Board Chair Martín Carcasson

For the past seven years, I have had the honor of serving on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, the last four as the chair. My term is officially over at the end of the year. NCDD serves as an umbrella organization for academics, practitioners, artists, and volunteers committed to improving how we all talk to each other and address our shared problems. They are a network of networks, a bridging organization dedicated to helping individuals, organizations, and communities build capacity for quality democratic engagement.

I still vividly remember my first NCDD conference in San Francisco in 2006. I remember because it was the first time I ever got that wonderful, overwhelming feeling of finding my people. I was passionate about community, democracy, and improving the world, but the world of politics was incredibly frustrating to me, and seemed mostly counterproductive. I had strong views about how things needed to change, but politics did not seem to be a useful route. People seemed to just talk past each other, assume horrible motives for those that disagreed, and while they sometimes won elections and sometimes lost, not much seemed to really change about the issues I cared about. It was a game people loved playing that to me seemed at best a distraction and at worst something that undermined everything democracy requires to function well (trust, mutual respect, the ability to have tough conversations, etc.).

NCDD was a whole other world. People that shared my passions for community and democracy, but recognized that what we were doing wasn’t working. They realized we needed to work together, to bridge differences, and get past simple narratives, but also knew that was not going to be easy. We needed a lot of new ideas, tools, and organizations. They also recognized that we didn’t just need a simple “both sides” or an abstract balance, but deeper explorations of what it would mean to work together across perspectives.

I greatly looked forward to NCDD’s conferences every other year, to learn new tools, meet new people, and engage deeper with others that shared my concerns. I started doing everything I could to get more of my students to attend, and with a lot of help from a lot of people, managed to take groups of 10-25 to conferences in Seattle, Washington DC, and Boston. In 2014, I accepted the call to join the board of directors of NCDD, and in 2016, became the board chair.

I’ll be honest, it has been tougher than I thought. NCDD does incredible work on a very tight and tiny budget. The board is all volunteer, and we survive with essentially three part time employees (sometimes just 2). We spend too much time thinking about money and not enough time thinking about the actual work. It is difficult to fund organizations like NCDD that serve more as a connector and a resource to other individuals and organizations rather than as a direct service provider. We literally spend billions on election campaigns, but struggle to raise hundreds for an organization truly dedicated to make democracy work.

As I exit my role — but still plan to be heavily involved with NCDD moving forward, I very much plan to serve again once I retire from my day job so I can really focus on elevating the organization — I ask you all to consider a NCDD membership (either for yourself or as a gift to a friend you think may be interested in what I’ve described) or consider NCDD in your end of year giving. I know you have a lot of options, and with the pandemic, an incredible amount of immediate needs. NCDD is much more of a long term investment. I truly believe the most pressing issue we have in our communities is the inability to talk with each other and work together on our shared problems. I think it will be difficult to move forward on any issue unless we first make some progress on that. In many ways, the pandemic has shown us that even a global crisis caused more polarization and distrust, rather than sparking the collaborative efforts that we know we are capable of as humans. Even a $10 or $20 donation can make a big difference to NCDD having the resources to help communities across the country build capacity for the kind of engagement democracies need to thrive.
More information about membership is here (https://ncdd.org/community/join), gifting memberships here (https://act.myngp.com/Forms/1424112249932744704), and donations here (https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-8754304382901286912).

Lastly, as I leave the board, I want to thank all the exceptional people I have had the pleasure to work with these past seven years (too many to mention), and I am particularly excited about the incoming chair, Lori Britt, and the strength of the board moving forward. I’ve known Professor Britt since her Ph.D. days at CU-Boulder, when she assisted with CPD events, and have been incredibly impressed with what she has built up at James Madison University. NCDD is in wonderful hands with her, the board, and Courtney Breese’s exceptional leadership as our executive director (who very very much deserves a higher salary and full time job!). We aren’t quite sure when we will all be able to gather together again — and may end up with more of a virtual conference this year — but I do know I can’t wait to gather with my people once again.

Martín Carcasson, Ph.D., is a professor in the Communication Studies department of Colorado State University, and the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD, www.cpd.colostate.edu). We thank him for his service to the NCDD network and all he does to help advance efforts for dialogue and deliberation in communities and higher education!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Post Election Community Conversation Reveals Concerns

Days following the election, an online community conversation hosted and facilitated by NCDD member org The Interactivity Foundation, together with IONA Senior Services took place. During this convening,  exploratory questions about our society and the prospect for forming a more perfect union were asked. The outcome is compiled in this article as a list of concerns in various sectors: the elections and health of our democracy, polarization and the role of the media.We look forward to Interactivity Foundations’ decision to further follow this topic in 2021 as part of their #WeavingCommunity Initiative.

Below you  will find the entire resume of key points and for the original post here.


Toward a More Perfect Union? A Community Conversation about the 2020 Election

Toward a More Perfect Union? Exploring the 2020 US Elections
What did the 2020 US elections mean to you? What did they say to you about our prospects for forming a more perfect union? What lessons might we draw for reweaving our society after the elections, revitalizing our democracy, and moving toward a more perfect union?
These were the key questions we explored in a November 5, 2020 online community conversation, convened and facilitated by the Interactivity Foundation in partnership with IONA Senior Services. This was an exploratory discussion, one where participants were asked not only to bring forward their own perspectives, but also to help each other delve into divergent perspectives in a spirit of generosity. You’ll find a summary of some of the key points below. In light of the rich material we discussed, the Interactivity Foundation may move forward with this topic as a new online community conversation series in the new year (watch this space). This Community Conversation was part of the #WeavingCommunity initiativeWhat concerns rose to the surface surrounding the election and about our prospects for forming a more perfect union? (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

In Class Group Discussions Effects Beyond the Classroom

This story comes to us from the Interactivity Foundation an NCDD sponsor member. In ( this piece) Discussion Groups Weaving Social Connections we follow Greg Johnson, a Computer Science major that struggles with a stuttering condition. He begins his  journey towards fulfilling the requirement of his course load while tackling on his interpersonal communication skills knowing support would keep him on track. To ensure his success,  a speech specialist from his Universities Learning Team began to work with Greg and classmates on ways to assist him in his communication but, what he and his group found was an added victory.

Read the story below and visit the original post here.


Discussion Groups Weaving Social Connections

Discussion groups can foster social bonds that are critical for student success

Greg Johnson was a Computer Science major with a problem. He had a rather severe stuttering condition. Normally this wasn’t an issue in his CS classes, but Greg was required to take a small group communication class. The class had a heavy discussion focus. Greg petitioned his advisor to substitute another communications class that didn’t require group discussions.

“Let’s see if we can make this work,” responded Greg’s advisor. “One of the complaints about IT professionals is that they don’t work well with others. But I’m going to see what our Learning Services Unit can do to help.”

When Greg met with the Learning Services Unit, they worked out a plan with the communication instructor. Greg would be assigned to a discussion group who would agree to work with him on his stuttering issue. An intern in the Learning Services Unit was a Speech Pathology major and she joined the class and was placed in Greg’s group. Throughout the semester a specialist met with Greg’s group to show them how they could help Greg. Greg also met with the specialist privately.

As the semester progressed, Greg was able to better manage the speed of talking with the help of finger signals from his group. Each of his group also practiced breathing regulation with him. The comradery of the group also helped him reduce his anxiety. The group also was very mindful not to intervene when he was struggling with a word. But perhaps the greatest benefit of all was that Greg finally had friends on campus to socialize with. Up until that semester, he was a loner who was embarrassed by his stuttering.

Discussion groups can play an important role beyond just the classroom experience. In Greg’s case, they were a support group that was helpful in reducing his stuttering. Discussion groups can also become relationship groups, building social bonds that are critical for student success and retention.

Rather than thinking of discussions as simply an academic activity, faculty should also think about how these groups can benefit students in other ways. Discussion groups can create student enrichment opportunities in ways that traditional lecture-based classes cannot.

* * *

“Stuttering is painful. In Sunday school, I’d try to read my lessons, and the children behind me were falling on the floor with laughter.” – James Earl Jones (An actor with one of the most famous voices in show business )


This post is part of our “Think About” education series. These posts are based on composites of real-world experiences, with some details changed for the sake of anonymity. New posts appear Wednesday afternoons. 

 

NCDD NewsNCDD News

All Are Welcome at NCDD

First of all, thank you to everyone in this community for sticking with the work in a tough year.

NCDD’s staff and board have been talking a lot over the last nine months of the pandemic about what this year has shown us about this network’s necessity in the world, and where we can most support you all. It’s been encouraging to see that much of what we’ve always offered – news and resources, and opportunities to connect and collaborate – are still highly valued and needed, especially when times are tough.

There are also some areas we can work on – expanding our network, for one, in an inclusive way to welcome everyone who is committed to helping their communities have better conversations. It doesn’t matter whether you are a professional doing this work as your career, or a volunteer doing this to better your own community – all are welcome at NCDD.

And, there are some real opportunities for NCDD’s community of practice to embrace. The opportunity to look at how privilege shows up in our work and to address it, and to increase community access to dialogue and deliberation opportunities. This year has brought both of these opportunities to the forefront and it’s time to address them. There is plenty more for us to work towards together, and to discuss this and more, we will be announcing a call for early January. More on that soon.

But today, I’m reaching out to let you know that NCDD is launching an effort to boost our membership as we continue our end of year fundraising. This starts today with new options for membership and opportunities to invite others in.

First, NCDD has decided to make a few adjustments to our membership levels. For individuals, we have added a “pay-what-you-can” option to the membership form. This allows us to remove the primary barrier to membership and welcome everyone in.

For our organizational members, we’ve expanded our membership levels to better reflect the reality of many of our small organizations working on a limited budget. Those with budgets under $150,000 a year now have lower priced options.

Finally, we’ve launched a gift-a-membership option! That means two things: First, that members of our community have the option to invite others in with a gift of a year’s membership. And second, that you can gift a membership to those who need a subsidized member rate. These gifts are offered at a special reduced rate!

As 2020 comes to a close, we hope you will renew your commitment to the work by renewing or gifting a membership today! As always, membership and donations are tax-deductible!

Thank you for all you do to keep this community of practice vibrant. Here’s to getting through 2020, and to the work ahead in 2021!

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Join Virtual Book Club Discussion with Author of Engaged

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy, an NCDD member org invites you to an exciting discussion with the author of Engaged: A Citizen’s Perspective on the Future of Civic Life. The event will take place via Zoom on Monday, December 7,  at 4 pm Eastern, 1 pm Pacific. Register for the call here!

On the call, author and Penn State alumnus Andrew Sommers, will be available for a group Q&A session, and then participants will have the option to break out into smaller groups for further discussion. You don’t need to read the book to join the event – check out the additional resources provided in the post below to get an understanding of the book’s contents and be able to better participate in the conversation. Read more below and find the original announcement for this here.


Virtual Book Club
Engaged: A Citizen’s Perspective on the Future of Civic Life

By Andrew D. Sommers

Discussion with the author
Monday, December 7th, 4:00 pm ET

Purchase the book from Bookshop

Written by Penn State alumnus Andrew Sommers, Engaged provides a unique perspective on the state of our civic life today and why it matters to democracy. It explores key aspects of engagement through personal stories, vignette’s from the Shaw neighborhood in Washington, DC, and inspiring examples of those who are trying to make a difference. The book speaks to all Americans — veterans, entrepreneurs, religious leaders, community organizers, educators, parents, and everyday citizens — who want to make a difference in the country we all love.

Andrew has a B.A. from Penn State and an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has over a decade of experience, primarily as a management consultant working with federal agencies, bringing innovation to their (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Civvys Nominations Accepted Until Friday December 4th

ICYMI The 2020 American Civic Collaboration Awards (The Civvys) are accepting nominations until Friday, December 4th. The Civvys, celebrate best practices in civic collaboration that put community and nation before party, ideology and narrow interests. These annual awards are organized by NCDD member org, The Bridge Alliance Education, Big Tent Nation, and the National Conference on Citizenship. Read the details in the post below and find more information on the main website; and most importantly, make sure you nominate those outstanding efforts of civic collaboration making impacts in local, national and youth communities!


THE CIVVYS: The American Civic Collaboration Awards

Celebrating Partnerships that Strengthen America

The 2020 Civvys are here – submit nominations here!

In its fourth year (and what a year!) the American Civic Collaboration Awards will continue to highlight outstanding initiatives working to collaborate across divides at the national, local and youth levels. In light of the events of this year that have gripped our nation – from the spread of a deadly virus to the murder of George Floyd to a highly polarized election season – the 2020 Civvys Awards will focus more pointedly on those efforts at the national, local and youth levels that work toward greater equity, diversity and inclusion.

An esteemed panel of civic leaders will review the submissions to designate finalists and winners. The 2020 Civvys Winners will be announced in a livestreamed, virtual ceremony in (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Creative Strategies for Change Seeking Executive Director

Denver-based organization, Creative Strategies for Change, is currently seeking a new Executive Director! We encourage folks in our network to learn more about the position in the announcement below and find the original information on the CSC site here.


Creative Strategies for Change is expanding our team! We are currently hiring for an Executive Director to start in February of 2021, could it be you or someone you know?

Background: Creative Strategies for Change (CSC) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2013, in Denver, Colorado, with a mission to mobilize arts and education for social justice, and a racial equity imperative. Our offerings include: community and youth programs, interactive performances and workshops, consultation, leadership and professional development.

Position Description: The Executive Director (ED) is a member of the team that stewards CSC mission, vision, and values. This dynamic team and community member will be responsible for the efficient administration of day to day organizational operations, budgetary and fiscal matters, organizational development and fundraising, board development and relations, as well as hiring, training, guiding, and evaluating administrative staff.

The ED is a member of CSC’s collaborative leadership team, the Executive Committee consisting of two Co-Directors of Arts and Education and the Board of Directors. The ED’s priorities are maintaining a sustainable organization with a focus on administrative, board, and financial capacity building. The ED will galvanize our internal and external commitment to equity, excellence, and wellness.

Schedule: 40 hours/week between 8am – 6pm (some evenings and weekends will be required)

Start Date: Preferred start date February 8th (Participation in CSC Workshop is Required)

Compensation: $60,000-$80,000 annually (depending on experience)

After 60 days of employment (or the equivalent hours) employee will be eligible for health care contributions and paid time off as follows: (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Submit 2021 All-America City Award Letter of Intent by 12/1

ICYMI NCDD member org, The National Civic League, is now accepting Letters of Intent for the 2021 All-America City Award (AAC2021). For over 70 years, the All-America City Award has recognized communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues. Every year communities from across the country compete for the All-America City Award, telling the story of their community and their work. This coming year, AAC2021 will be a robust virtual event, lifting up communities’ work related to the theme “Building Equitable and Resilient Communities”. Submit Letter of Intent by December 1st and save $100 on your 2021 application fee. Join the free informational webinar this coming Monday, November 23rd from 12-1pm Pacific, 3-4 Eastern, to learn more about the AAC award program – register here!

Read more about the 2021 All-America City Awards in post below and find more information on NCL’s site here.


Since 1949, the National Civic League has designated over 500 communities as All-America Cities for their outstanding civic accomplishments. The Award, bestowed yearly on 10 communities, recognizes the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses and nonprofit and government leaders.

The 2021 All-America City theme is “Building Equitable and Resilient Communities.” The 2021 All-America City Awards will recognize communities that have worked to improve equity and resilience. Equity is the fabric that allows communities to achieve broad-based economic prosperity and other goals. Resilience enables communities to face challenging times by not only preserving what makes their community great but adapting and growing stronger. Both qualities depend on (more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

EP Offers Four Weeks of Post Election Healing Support

With the elections behind us, Essential Partners, an NCDD sponsor member is offering post-election support. This assistance arrives straight to your inbox in the form of one newsletter per week over the course of the next 4 weeks.  Each newsletter comes with guiding prompts and resources from the pool of experts and 30 years of experience of EP to better assists in continuing the work of healing and caretaking in all of our community circles.  Click here to sign up to the EP email newsletter list! Read below to find the upcoming themes and for the original post here.


WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? EP OFFERING 4 WEEKS OF POST-ELECTION SUPPORT

The election is finally here. Years of campaigning, media coverage, social media shares, and protests have culminated in this one event.

Now we all turn to the pressing question: what happens next?

During this time of extreme polarization, fear of an uncertain future, and a general reticence to speak with people about what matters most, many dialogue organizations are bringing folks together for post-election conversations.

But we think there is a lot of work to be done—on a personal level, in our trusted circles, and in our larger networks—before our communities are healthy enough to come together again for that kind of dialogue.

Essential Partners will spend the next four weeks doing what we do best—empowering you to repair the fabric of your community, piece by piece. In one email each week over the next four weeks, we will draw on 30 years of experience to offer guidance and resources in support of this crucial work. Click here to sign up to the EP email newsletter list. Here’s what we have planned.

Week 1: Your Best Political Self

We’ll begin with ourselves, taking some much-needed time and space to reflect on what matters most to us and who we want to be.

In this first week, we’ll share a tool to help you think about the stories that inform your political values, the people who influenced you, and the places where you grew into yourself.

We want to help you become curious about who your best political self is—and how that connects to what you decide to do now that the election season is over.

Click here to download the free Week 1 resource.

Week 2: A First-Draft Conversation
(more…)

From the CommunityFrom the Community

Reporting on All Narratives/ Hidden Common Ground in Unprecedented Times

The growing sense of division in our country has been felt  strongly this year in conjunction with the physical separation of pandemic life and elections right around the corner. This article published on USA Today, written by David Mathews, President of Kettering Foundation, explores a narrative that is rarely reported on. USA Today networks and America Amplified, a public media collaborative, equipped with research provided by organizations including Public Agenda and the Kettering Foundation want to uncover the common ground. The main findings reported demonstrate more common ground exists than we realize, and sustains the possibility of collaboration as divergent narrative for Americans and journalists alike.

To read the op ed in detail read below and for the original posting on USA Today click here.


How Americans can learn once again to solve our nation’s problems together

To solve really difficult problems, people realize that they have to work with others who may be different.

The year 2020 will go down in history as extraordinary. Americans, by most accounts, are deeply divided. They can’t even talk to those they disagree with.

Many people appear traumatized by fear. Some insist that change is long overdue. Some see the country sliding into moral chaos and want to preserve what they value in the American way of life. But there is little agreement on what needs to change or what needs to be preserved.

That’s the dominant story. But it isn’t the only one.

In covering the 2020 election, some journalists are telling another story. The group includes the USA Today Network and America Amplified, a public media collaborative. They are drawing on nonpartisan research provided by organizations including Public Agenda and the Kettering Foundation, where I work.

Kettering’s research draws on nearly 40 years of results from local deliberative forums held by a nationwide network known as the National Issues Forums. Here are the main findings from our research:

►There is more common ground on policy issues than is recognized. People favor such policies as increasing economic opportunities, providing for affordable childcare and keeping jobs in the U.S. But the thing Americans agree on most is that there is too much divisiveness — even if they contribute to it sometimes.

►Citizens and government officials often talk past one another, which makes the loss of public confidence in government grow even greater. For instance, on health policy, those in government are naturally concerned about the cost to their budgets. But NIF forums show that people are most concerned about a health care system so complex it is almost impossible to navigate.

►Despite the tendency to favor the likeminded, in some circumstances people will consider opinions they don’t like. There is a space between agreement and disagreement, an arena in which people decide, “I don’t particularly like what we are considering doing about this problem, but I can live it — for now.”

This is the arena of pragmatic problem-solving. Observers of National Issues Forums have seen people move into it even on explosive issues like immigration. Described as a pivot, it changes the tone of decision making. When it happens, problem solving can move forward, even without total agreement.

This pivot occurs when issues are described in terms of what people find deeply valuable — not “values” but age-old imperatives like safety and being treated fairly. When issues are described in this way and framed with several options for solutions, with both advantages and disadvantages clearly laid out, people will confront tensions between what they prefer and consequences they may not like.

Recognizing that everyone is motivated by the same basic imperatives removes barriers to listening to others who may not be like us or even like us. Even if people disagree, they become aware of greater complexity. They explore the tradeoffs inherent in difficult decisions. That opens the door to understanding the experiences and concerns of others.

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