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Local, Regional and National Events

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Our regional NCDD events brought together over 700 people total this October and November. A huge shout-out to all the members of our local planning teams!

Archives for October 2006

Global Dialogues Makes “Virtual Events” Available Online    

The Global Dialogue Center, one of the supporters of the 2006 NCDD Conference in San Francisco, has new “virtual events” posted on line. With BK Currents, the Global Dialogue Center hosted a conversation with nine authors about the role of personal responsibility in creating a better world. And at the eco6 Conference in Zurich, Switzerland, the Global Dialogue Center recorded an up-close and personal dialogue on Corporate Social Responsibility and Socially Responsible Investing. Meet these global pioneering speakers, learn from their diverse perspectives, sage advice and calls-to-action for us all. To listen to these conversations go to

LaGuardia Offering NVC Course This Month    

In conjunction with the LaGuardia Community College, the LaGuardia Center for Complementary and Alternative Health and Healing will offer a course in Non Violent Communication starting November 6 called Enjoying Difficult People. In the course, participants will learn how to connect with even the most difficult people at work and home. Participants will learn how to really listen to what’s going on, resulting in greater understanding, effectiveness, harmony, and ease. $20 materials fee for purchase of text book on first day of class. You can register for the course at:

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 at group decision-making. And, while they are different, it’s clear they don’t exist apart from each other – rich deliberative processes incorporate, to some exent, rich dialogic components.

But what about The Third D: Debate? My immediate thinking about where debate fits in was that it’s a deliberative technique – debate is a way to move towards a decision. Debate involves advocates of different positions crafting the strongest set of premises for their own position while critiquing alternative positions. That certainly seems to relate to the idea of deliberation, so problem solved, debate is a deliberation technique.  But wait…

E-Democracy Brunch in San Jose    

DoWire logo.

Steven Clift of and is organizing an informal gathering on Friday, November 17th in the San Jose, CA area to talk about issues relating to e-democracy. He has a sign-up page on his wiki and you can find more information about the gathering on his blog. Steven has been involved with the e-democracy movement since the dawn of the internet and became a central figure with the establishment of the DO-WIRE mailing list, the seed that grew into his current online endeavors, in 1998. Both his websites are remarkable sources for e-democracy news & information, and well worth a visit.

Find similar posts: D&D,online & hi-tech

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 claim the space of civil discourse and/or debate while modeling the opposite: it redefines the public’s and the academy’s understanding of these forms of discourse. Civil and authentic discourse is now associated, in significant portions of a lay and academic audience, with Crossfire, Hardball, O’Reilly, etc.

Which implies: With this mis-definition of the concept of meaningful discourse and how to be a participant in such a conversation, the popular audience (i.e. real people) either
1) Becomes adverse to participating in advertised opportunities for authentic discourse because they associate it with the negativity of an inauthentic popular model, and/or
2) Unwittingly sabotages spaces for authentic discourse by modeling what is honestly believed to be proper argumentative behavior, but is in fact disingenuous and fallacy-ridden, and/or
3) Becomes unable to, through authentic discourse, contribute meaningfully as a partner to a relationship OR as a citizen to a democracy.

If these premises are true, we have a real problem – and an urgent responsibility to reclaim in the popular mainstream concepts of dialogue, deliberation, and debate. What do you think?

RedBlue Online Dialogue Needs Testers    

Logo for RedBlue project.

Dave Joseph, Program Director at the Public Conversations Project (PCP), asked me to share this request with the D&D community. PCP could use your help recruiting participants to serve as beta testers for their new RedBlue online dialogue project.  For the past year, in partnership with Internews Interactive, PCP has been developing the capacity for people to connect with and learn more about the viewpoints of others with whom they differ.  The RedBlue website is about to launch and they need several hundred volunteers with different political points of view to try it out and provide them with feedback about their experience.

Can you help identify people who would be interested in spending a total of about two hours over a period of two weeks, beginning in early November? PCP is particularly interested in attracting conservatives and those who may not be as experienced with dialogue (online and otherwise). (more…)

National Issues Forums Celebrates 25 Years    

Logo for NIF.

I’m a proud member of the board of directors of the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), and I wanted to share this announcement about NIF’s 25th Anniversary with the D&D community…

National Issues Forums, the nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally-sponsored public forums, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and calling attention to hundreds of organizations and individuals in communities across the nation striving to produce substantive citizen deliberation on tough issues during this exceptionally fierce election season and beyond.

NIF forums are dramatically different from the so-called “town meetings” that either stack the deck or turn into brawling free-for-alls.  In dozens of NIF deliberative forums across America this fall, citizens from all walks of life and political perspectives will come together to seek shared understandings of critical issues and search for common ground for action.

“These are not the quaint ‘town hall gatherings’ of nostalgia,” said William Winter, National Issues Forums Institute Chairman and former Governor of Mississippi.  “NIF is at the center of a modern movement to ensure that systematic, productive deliberation by real people guides our nation’s public discourse.  It is a growing movement of committed individuals and organizations who have witnessed important outcomes resulting from forums and believe that increasing the frequency and prominence of deliberation is a crucial antidote to the ills of today’s vicious partisan politics.”


Closing Our Triangles    

Recently I spent a couple of days focusing on social networks.  Weaving Smart Networks: Building Capacity for Positive Change in Organizations and Communities was facilitated by Valdis Krebs, Lisa Kimball, June Holley and Jack Richiutto.  The sponsors of the program, held in Washington, DC, were the Plexus Institute and Aspen Institute.

The whole idea behind social networks is that capacity increases when the connections between people enable open sharing of information and collaboration.  When you seek to understand a network, you undertake Social Network Analysis (SNA) which involves a short survey and mapping software that displays the connections.  A typical network map, as Valdis Krebs has created, will look something like this: (click on the image to enlarge it and see the detail)

SNA As you examine the larger network map, notice where there are points where two people each connect to the same person but are not connected to each other.  June Holley calls these “twosies”.  When the person at the center of that open triangle closes it, the ties become stronger in that part of the network.

Jack Richuitto suggests seven levels of network weaving we are capable of.  Starting with the strongest and most involving and moving down, they are:

7. Introducing A to B in person and offering a collaboration opportunity to get A and B off to a successful partnership
6. Introducing A to B in person and following up with A and B to nurture connection
5. Introducing A to B in person
4. Introducing A to B in a conference call
3. Introducing A to B in an email
2. Suggesting A talk to B and calling B to look for a contact
1. Suggesting to A that A should talk to B

Consider how often you are in the position of closing the triangles through network weaving.  As a facilitator of communication, collaboration, innovation and social change, where does network weaving fit in your personal philosophy?  Are you ready for the opportunities it provides?

Find similar posts: D&D,collaborative action

Public Agenda Seeks Practitioners for Online Projects    

Logo for Public Agenda.

Marc Weiss of Web Lab wants the D&D community to know that Public Agenda - a nonprofit, nonpartisan public opinion research and civic engagement organization that helps Americans explore and understand critical issues - is looking for consultants/practitioners to work with them on several online projects:

  1. Exploring “social networking” models for deliberative dialogues — less structured, more user-driven.
  2. Investigating and implementing models for an online “town hall” for education stakeholders.

If you have expertise in any (or all) of the above areas, please email Lara Birnback <


Entries Invited for Urban Excellence Award    

Attention collaborative planners! The Bruner Foundation ( has just invited nominations for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. The award is given to urban places in the United States that demonstrate the successful integration of effective process, meaningful values, and good design. RBA winners are distinguished by their social, economic, and contextual contributions to the urban environment, and often provide innovative solutions to cities’ most challenging problems. (more…)

CPRN Embarks on Youth Civic Engagement Research    

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Canadian Policy Research Networks ( begins a new research project this month designed to help shape new directions for youth participation in Canada. It will build on the results of CPRN’s Youth Dialogue conducted last fall. The project, led by Director Mary Pat MacKinnon, begins with three research papers: Political and Civic Participation of Young People in Canada – Indifferent or Just Different? The author, Brenda O’Neill of the University of Calgary, will examine how young people engage in civic and political activities and what needs to change to improve their civic participation. Challenges and Opportunities of Engaging Young People in Political Parties. Authors Bill Cross of Carleton University and Lisa Young of the University of Calgary will research the views of young Canadians towards political parties, what motivates them to join parties and how family and friends influence political participation. The State and Potential of Civic Learning in Canada (from Kindergarten to Post-Secondary). Authors Joel Westheimer and Sharon Cook, both of the University of Ottawa, will look into what knowledge/skills/aptitudes people need to be active and engaged citizens, and how changing pedagogy and curricula might make a difference. These three papers (and others to follow) will be informed by a workshop with young people. Watch for more in the coming months.

Announcing Wise Democracy Victoria    

Wise Democracy Victoria ( is a new organization in Victoria, British Columbia, devoted to developing a system that lets ordinary people discuss problems creatively and collaboratively, to reach conclusions and to be heard by elected officials. They have organized three kickoff events for the next coming weeks, culminating in a November 10 workshop with NCDD friends Tom Atlee and Jim Rough in Victoria, BC. Jim and Tom will discuss Dynamic Facilitation and Wisdom Council methods of collaboration and problem-solving. For information on these and other Wise Democracy Victoria events, visit their website!

Mark Your Calendars for Transformative Dialogues    

Logo for the Taos Institute.

The Taos Institute at the University of New Hampshire is organizing a weekend retreat called “Transformative Dialogues” for June 24 – 29, 2007 in New Hampshire. Their series of workshops promises an enriching, engaging and entertaining week of learning, connecting, and relaxing. Participants choose two main workshop sessions as well as whole-group plenary sessions along with plenty of time for cross-discipline dialogue, sharing and blending of ideas, practices and theory. Additionally, time will be reserved for experiencing the seacoast, the mountains and quaint New England towns. Families and friends are welcome to join for this learning vacation. For more information or to register, go to

Dialogue Mapping Workshops in November    

CogNexus Institute has just announced two training seminars in Dialogue Mapping, one on each coast of the US. The workshops, called Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems, will be held from November 2-3 in Redwood City, California and November 9-10 in Washington, DC. (more…)

Peace Alliance Announces Holiday Cards    

Logo for the Peace Alliance.

The Peace Alliance ( has just announced thier beautiful 2006 holiday cards are available for pre-order. These popular cards are a wonderful way to help spread the word about the national campaign for a Department of Peace. This year’s peace card features a beakless dove with the message “Give Peace a Voice.” The inside of the card is blank. The back consists of a short introduction to The Peace Alliance and the Department of Peace Campaign. The cards come in sets of 20 cards for $25, which includes envelopes. To order these cards, click here.

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