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"Can our field present a united front to the new Administration? Let's start by seeing if we can develop a set of principles for public engagement we can all endorse..."

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    When discussing strategies to increase participation among marginalized groups, the discourse tends to focus greatest attention on increasing the individual capacities of people to participate in civic life through trainings and education.

    However, lack of civic education is often not the primary barrier to increasing engagement in public discussions and meetings. Structural and social barriers to participation are often more difficult to identify and address because they may require adjusting what many consider as “normal” to account for diverse needs and points of view.

    Structural barriers such as meeting times and location can impede people’s ability to participate. Lack of child care or language translation services can also informally regulate who can and who cannot participate in public meetings.

    Social barriers to participation include issues like the meeting's social setting and/or enviroment, the pre-established parameters of the discussion [what are acceptable options/alternative proposals and what are not] and the form of decision-making at the meeting.

    For instance, in community or neighborhood planning meetings facilitated by professional planners it is important to be aware of the academic and epistemological biases carried into the conversation by the facilitators. These biases will by default legitimate certain input and point of view while deligitimizing others. In doing so, input provided by certain members of the community will carry greater influence than others because they are delivered in the manner and/or are within the parameters of the pre-conceived biases of the facilitator, who's "expert" opinion validates knowledge.

    These barriers to engagement must also be addressed to ensure an open system fully accessible to those who desire to participate.

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Special Note:

Welcome to the NCDD website. What you see here, in the way of web design and layout is a work in progress. The forum feature works as you would expect, but we have just begun our web re-design and are testing the "bare bones" with this conversation. Many of the links and buttons outside the forum may not work as expected and we thank you in advance for your patience with us.

This re-design marks a new chapter in the online life of NCDD. It began in 1998 with a small online project called the Dialogue to Action Initiative and became the NCDD website after our first national conference in 2002. Beginning in 2009, we are turning our focus to embracing existing tools, instead of creating our own, as a way to further the networking opportunities of our members and offer examples, through use, of the many great tools that are available to us and our community.

Visit the Main Page of our website to learn more about NCDD. Please let us know what you think of the design! Send your feedback to [email protected].