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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 July 2008

Creative Conversations on the Arts    

Every October, in honor of National Arts & Humanities Month, Americans for the Arts partners with emerging leaders from across the country to host Creative Conversations. Last year, more than 1,000 emerging arts leaders participated in 41 locally hosted Creative Conversations throughout the country, and those leaders continue to be engaged at the national level.

Want to host a Creative Conversation? Learn more.

Suggest a Topic for Friday's Networking Session    

You’re coming to the conference, in large part, to meet people who share your interests. At NCDD conferences, people tend to leave knowing that they’ve built a slew of new supportive, collaborative relationships.

To help this along at NCDD Austin, we’re holding a structured networking session during the very first plenary session of the conference. This networking session will allow participants, right off the bat, to meet people with similar interests as them. Maybe you’re passionate about a particular issue, like climate change, racism or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Perhaps you focus on a specific area of D&D work like restorative justice or deliberative democracy. Maybe you’d like to meet other researchers who are at the conference, other college students, or others from outside the U.S.? This networking session will give you the chance to meet others like you.

But like everything we do at NCDD, this will work best if you’re involved. If you are passionate about a topic, process, etc. and you’d like to meet others who feel the same, or you’d like to meet others in the same circumstance as you, please submit that topic for consideration.

All conference participants are invited to suggest topics for this networking session – whether or not you are willing to serve as the “table host” for that topic and move the conversation forward with some light facilitation. The point of this session is networking – meeting and starting to get to know others who share your interests, so hosts will ensure people have the chance to introduce themselves and share how their work relates to the topic.

One suggestion:  focus broadly, like the topics suggested above (“using D&D to address climate change” rather than “using D&D to encourage high school students to recycle”).

Complete this form to suggest topics and/or offer to serve as a table host. And visit to see the topics people have submitted so far.

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Eric Haltmeier to Create Original Musical Composition at NCDD Austin    

We’re very excited to announce the special role that musician and educator Eric Haltmeier will be playing at the 2008 NCDD conference. Using a variety of acoustic and digital instruments, and collecting sound samples throughout the 3-day conference, Eric will create and perform music that will serve to reflectively represent conference themes in sound.  Eric will work with our graphic recording team, and conference attendees will have the opportunity to become a part of the musical creation.

Eric has worked with D&D practitioner Don Proffit in the past. In fact, we learned about Eric because in his workshop titled “Cafe U,” Don plans to have Eric create a “real-time, improvised musical score documenting our journey through the U, providing an authentic example of co-sensing, co-presencing and co-creating during this session.” (Read more about this and other workshops that will be offered at NCDD Austin.) Needless to say, we were intrigued and wanted to learn more.

You can see an incredible example of Eric’s improvised musical composing at, where the process for creating Cafe Concerto is outlined. You can listen to a number of MP3′s to see how the piece evolved. The piece begins with ambient sounds of street noises, leading to the sounds typically found in a cafe (clinking glasses, cash registers, conversations). The ambient sounds lead into a layer of music inspired by a Peruvian percussion rhythm. “Vision Statements” were collected from participants and recorded as sound clips which, when heard in the musical composition, represent the array of ideas heard and overheard in conversation.

As the cafe process evolved at this event, participants wrote important individual “notes” (or thoughts) on circular pieces of paper which a graphic recorder then placed on a wall mural that looked like a musical staff. These ‘notes’ ended up forming three different ‘melodies’ that were to become the integral musical material of the Cafe Concerto. Each cafe participant held onto one of their written ‘notes’ and was then asked to read the note into a microphone. Every person attending the cafe recorded their own ‘sound note’. These ‘human notes’ were incorporated in the Cafe Concerto in between each of the melodic phrases.

The Cafe Concerto was performed in real-time at the end of the cafe, as we plan to do on the last day of the 2008 NCDD conference, using a combination of keyboard controllers, laptop software, and saxophone. The performance acted as a reflective summary of the entire cafe. The final composition, bringing together all of the above elements, can be heard at

Eric Haltmeier is an active performing musician and educator.  For twelve years he taught and developed the Instrumental Music Program at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.  Eric has also been on the faculty of Westminster Choir College of Rider University since 2000, teaching courses in music education and technology.  He performs regularly with his experimental-jazz trio and with Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter (and former student) Matt Cranstoun.  Eric’s current research interest focuses on the development of critical media literacy through the arts, education, and technology.

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European eDemocracy Award 2008    

The annual European eDemocracy Award honors the most valuable European eDemocracy initiative amongst 50 selected websites in EU, 27 featuring a wide range of eDemocracy tools and content strengthening eParticipation, transparency, representative participatory democracy and citizen participation in the democratic decision-making processes at the European, national or local levels of governance. The “call for candidatures” is open until August 8th.

Sounds like something we should be doing in the U.S. too, no?

Looking for Democracy Short Film Contest    

Show what democracy means to you in the Looking for Democracy Short Film Contest. Any genre is fair game: documentary, narrative, experimental, music video. Filmmakers are encouraged to unleash their radical imaginations and look for democracy in creative and unusual places. Can you find democracy where you might least expect it?

As the 2008 presidential election heads into its final months, democracy is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But democracy is defined by more than just electoral politics. Where do you find democracy in your life? Can you find it in your school, church, union, community, or a professional or sports association? How do you see democracy functioning locally, nationally, and globally?

Videos cannot be more than five minutes and must be submitted by Tuesday, September 2, 2008.  For more information, please contact Maggie Berndt at The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council at 312.422.5585 x239 or or visit

Using the Arts to Generate Dialogue    

I just read about this cool project in Animating Democracy‘s latest e-newsletter…

In 2003, community artists Jean-Marie Mauclet and Gwylene Gallimard sent 56 handmade three-legged stools as gifts to artists around the world, as a proposal to use the arts to generate conversation about globalization and social justice issues. Artists, artisans, and arts collaboratives who agreed to participate were challenged to create an object, installation, performance, or other project in response to the worldwide issues. Thus, artist residencies, workshops, gift exchanges, and other events took place in England, France, India, South Africa, and the United States.

Beginning September 12, the stools and resulting projects will come to Charleston, SC, to be presented as a means to create community dialogue in The Future is on the Table. A multitude of special events—including multidisciplinary performances and dialogue—are planned through September and October.

Learn more at

The Challenge Process at NCDD Austin    

At the first three NCDD conferences, we used a multi-tiered process to encourage participants to think about what needs to be done to move this “field” or community of practice forward.  What are we not doing as well as we could be or should be doing?  What vital questions do we seem not to have sufficient answers to?  What are our greatest barriers to doing this work effectively?

At NCDD 2008, we focused in on 5 of the most pressing and challenging issues our field is facing – issues that past conference participants agreed are vital for us to address if we are to have the impact we’d like to have on our communities and in our world…

  1. Making D&D Integral to our Systems
  2. Framing this Work in an Accessible Way
  3. Strengthening the Link Between D&D and Action/Policy Change
  4. Walking Our Talk in Terms of Bias and Inclusion
  5. Demonstrating that D&D Works

In the opening session, attendees met the “Challenge Leaders” and the graphic recorders who worked closely with them.  Attendees were asked to share their insights, questions and ideas with both the challenge leaders and graphic recorders throughout the conference.

Workshops, presenters, panelists, and the outcomes of some of the pre-conference workshops and activities also contributed new insights, clarity and direction to the process.  These insights and the graphically recorded narratives were summarized during the closing session.

Coordinator of the Challenges Process:
Steven Fearing, Facilitator for the Texas Dept. of Aging and Disability Services

The Five Challenges

Learn more about all the concurrent workshops that are listed below at

1. Systems Challenge – Embedding D&D in Our Public and Private Systems

Most civic experiments in the last decade have been temporary organizing efforts that don’t lead to structured long-term changes in the way citizens and the system interact.  How can we make D&D values and practices integral to government, schools, organizations, etc. so that our methods of involving people, solving problems, and making decisions happen more naturally and efficiently?

Challenge Leaders:
Matt Leighninger
, Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium
Will Friedman
, Executive Vice President of Public Agenda

Read more…
Summary of the pre-conference online dialogue held at on the Systems Challenge:

Relevant sessions held at NCDD Austin…

  • Deliberative Democracy and Higher Education (Thurs pre-conference workshop)
  • Including Our Voices: Young Adult Leadership in the D&D Community (Fri 1:30)
  • Creating Room at the Head of Our Tables: Exploring New Mentoring Roles As Young Leaders Emerge (Fri 1:30)
  • University and College Centers as Platforms for Deliberative Democracy (Sat 9:00)
  • Embedding D&D Into Government Systems (Sat 9:00)
  • Fireside Chat on Embedding Citizen’s Voices in Our Governing Systems (Sat 12:00)
  • If There’s Something Strange in Your Neighborhood, Who Ya Gonna Call? Ex-ten-sion! Li-brar-ies! (Sun 9:00)
  • Direct Democracy in the Mountains: Lessons from the Past, Prospects for the Future (Sun 11:00)

2. Framing Challenge – Framing D&D in an Accessible Way

How can we “frame” (write, talk about, and present) D&D in a more accessible and compelling way, so that people of all income levels, educational levels, and political perspectives are drawn to this work?  How can we better describe the features and benefits of D&D and equip our members to effectively deliver that message?   Addressing this challenge may contribute greatly to other challenges.

Challenge Leader:
Jacob Hess, Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical-Community Psychology at the University of Illinois

Read more…
Summary of the pre-conference online dialogue held at on the Framing Challenge:

Relevant sessions held at NCDD Austin…

3. Action and Change Challenge

How can we increase the likelihood that D&D engagement streams of “exploration,” “conflict transformation”, and “collaborative action” will result in community action?  How can we increase the likelihood that the “decision making” engagement stream will result in policy change?  What can we learn from promising D&D efforts that did not result in the action or policy change desired?

Challenge Leader:
Phil Mitchell, Director of Seattle Climate Dialogues

Relevant sessions held at NCDD Austin…

  • Choosing Deliberation and Dialogue Techniques that Work (Thurs pre-conference workshop)
  • How can we Combat Climate Change with Dialogue and Participation? (Fri 1:30)
  • Exploring How our Work in D&D Contributes to Social Change (Sat 9:00)
  • Virtuous and Vicious Cycles: Beyond a Linear View of Outcome and Impact (Sat 9:00)
  • The Role of the Facilitator in International Development: Collective Reflection for Sustainable Change (Sat 11:00)
  • Connecting the Dots: How Does Dialogue and Deliberation Work Lead to Change? (Sun 9:00)
  • Findings About Public Participation from the New National Academy of Sciences Report (Sun 11:00)

4. Bias and Inclusion Challenge

What are the most critical issues of inclusion and bias right now in the D&D community and how do we address them?  What are the most critical issues related to bias, inclusion, and oppression in the world at large and how can we most effectively address these issues through the use of dialogue and deliberation methods?

Challenge Leader:
Leanne Nurse, Program Analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Relevant sessions held at NCDD Austin…

There are too many relevant activities to list them all. Here are a few:

  • Whiteness Learning Lab (Thurs pre-conference workshop)
  • Traces of the Trade Viewing (Thurs pre-conference activity, 7:30)
  • Debriefing Issues Raised in Traces of the Trade (Fri 1:30)
  • Including Our Voices: Young Adult Leadership in the D&D Community (Fri 1:30)
  • Creating Room at the Head of Our Tables: Exploring New Mentoring Roles As Young Leaders Emerge (Fri 1:30)
  • Coming To the Table: Addressing Racial Reconciliation in America (Sat 11:00)
  • Either sub-plenary – the Conservatives Panel or Cultivating Trans-generational Leadership in the NCDD Community (Sat 2:15)
  • Lessons Learned from Facilitating Dialogues about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict within the Jewish Community (Sun 9:00)
  • “The Straight Talk Dialogues” From Practice to Research (Sun 11:00)
  • Taking It To the Streets:  Innovative Approaches to Dialogues Addressing Racism (Sun 11:00)

5. Evaluation Challenge – Demonstrating that D&D Works

How can we demonstrate to power-holders (public officials, funders, CEOs, etc.) that D&D really works?  Evaluation and measurement is a perennial focus of human performance/change interventions.  What evaluation tools and related research do we need to develop?

Challenge Leaders:
John Gastil, Communications Professor at the University of Washington
Janette Hartz-Karp, Professor at Curtin Univ. Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Inst.

Relevant sessions held at NCDD Austin…

  • Evaluating Dialogue & Deliberation: What are we learning? (Sat 11:00)

Note: Many other workshops can and hopefully will feed into this challenge – especially those focused on how D&D relates to action and policy change.

More about how we addressed the 5 challenges

We wanted to address all five of these issues in meaningful ways, and to give all conference participants the opportunity to focus some of their time and attention at NCDD Austin on these challenges if they chose to.

Day 1:
One or two point people were assigned to each challenge area before the conference.  These “challenge leaders” introduced the challenge areas during the first plenary session after the welcoming.  They were asked talk about why their challenge area is important to them, and to the future of our field/community of practice.

Throughout the conference:
Many of the workshops and other sessions offered at the conference addressed (directly or indirectly) one or more of the challenge areas. Workshop leaders, plenary facilitators, etc. whose sessions address a challenge area were asked to summarize (1) key points, concerns and data regarding the challenge and (2) ideas that are identified for addressing the challenge. They were asked to share these summaries with the challenge leader tracking that challenge.

Our graphic recording team created five gorgeous posters – one for each challenge – that were displayed throughout the conference in the main ballroom where the plenary sessions were held.  Conference participants were encouraged to add to the posters (on sticky notes) their thoughts, insights, and ideas related to the challenges. The point people for the challenges kept track of what’s new on their posters, added their own sticky notes on what they’ve been gathering, and gleaned themes and ideas from the posters. The graphic recording team translated the thoughts and ideas on the sticky notes and added them to the graphic murals

Conference participants also had the opportunity to address the challenges areas over meals, during breaks, on Saturday evening, etc.

Final day:

During our final plenary session, we heard prepared report-outs about each of the challenges from the challenge leaders. The challenge leaders also submited written versions of their report-out (with any additional information they would like to include) after the conference.

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NCDD 2008 Supporters    

NCDD thanks these organizations, groups and individuals for their generous support of the 2008 conference. We couldn’t do it without you!


Donated $2000 or more to help make NCDD 2008 a success.

Bluebonnet Hills Christian Church
Bluebonnet Hills Christian Church is a unique congregation of about 50-75 folks living in and around Austin. The Sunday morning services begin and end with Prayer and Song, but minister Landon Shultz has replaced the traditional Sermon Time with a more flexible Dialogue Time. During the Dialogue Time, they use questions intended to deepen understanding of issues related to the practice of their faith. Their goal is to empower people to live meaningful Christian lives in the world of the 21st Century.

The Democracy Imperative
TDI is a national network of multidisciplinary scholars, campus leaders, and civic leaders in the fields of democratic dialogue, public deliberation, and democracy-building. Their mission is to strengthen public life and advance deliberative democracy in and through higher education. The resources TDI produces are open source, and membership in TDI is free. TDI is sponsored by the University of New Hampshire, and their membership is national.

The Forum Foundation
The Forum Foundation conducts futures research in the field of Administrative Theory and Many-to-Many Communication technology to discover those dynamics which tend to move organizations and institutions, universally, toward solving their problems and anticipating or adapting to changes in their internal or external environment. The foundation is primarily in a research mode and not a service delivery mode. It is interested in applying the Fast Forum® groupware technique using an “Opinionnaire®” and “Viewspaper®” to assist leaders to “talk” symbolically with constituents and for them to “talk” back. This assists in (1) diagnosing system problems as a first step in solving them, (2) learning through the dynamics of the Socratic Method by individuals and organizations participating, and (3) moving organizations and individuals participating toward organizational and societal peace. Some limited grants are available to support services to organizations interested in participating in the research. States, cities, schools, and organizations interested are invited to apply.

Global Facilitator Service Corps
GFSC is a network of volunteers who use facilitative methods to build resilient and self-reliant communities throughout the world. Tools and skills for improving communities already exist in every community. The GFSC model encourages the development of, and reliance on, these local resources as much as possible. We help local volunteer facilitators worldwide create processes that increase capacity, sustainability and participation in their communities, agencies and organizations. We train, mentor and coach an initial group of professionals, who then share the tools and techniques with an ever-expanding base of community members to increase the community’s resourcefulness to address their challenges (cascade model).

Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University
The Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (ICDD) was formed in 2004 to promote citizen deliberation on tough political and social issues, resulting in increased citizen participation, reflection, communication, and respect. ICDD works to enhance democratization locally, nationally, and internationally through improved community deliberation, facilitation and evaluation practices, development of a certified facilitator training program, and interdisciplinary research on models of civic discourse. ICDD is a non-partisan agency bringing together a diverse group of scholars and practitioners to address the relationship between democracy and civic discourse.

LBJ Presidential Library & Museum
The beautiful Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, located at the University of Texas in Austin, provides support for Texas Forums – an initiative that engages people in dialogue about issues that affect their lives. The Mission of the LBJ Library and Museum is threefold: to preserve and protect the historical materials in the collections of the Johnson Library and make them readily accessible; to increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibitions and educational programs; and to advance the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum’s standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world. The Library is situated on a 30-acre site on The University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas.

The Public Conversations Project
The Public Conversations Project (PCP) guides, trains, and inspires individuals, organizations, and communities to constructively address conflicts relating to values and worldviews. PCP’s central objective is to avoid repeating unproductive debates and to develop new modes of communicating that lead to mutual understanding, respect, and trust. This reduces the costly effects of conflict and creates new possibilities for change. PCP began in 1989 when a group of family therapists from the Family Institute of Cambridge started exploring whether their ways of working with personal conflicts could be fruitfully applied to public disputes. Part “think tank,” part service provider, and part training center, PCP houses a broad range of capacities under one roof. Their major services include convening, designing, and facilitating dialogues, meetings, and conferences; training, both packaged and customized; consulting to those who want to apply our methods and resources; and writing and speaking to a variety of professional and general audiences.

Regis University’s Institute on the Common Good
ICG at Regis University serves the greater Denver community by promoting the common good and providing a safe and effective space for community dialogue, communal discernment, and public deliberation. Regis University sponsors a number of community outreach initiatives which provide a variety of ways to extend the Regis commitment of “men and women in service to others”. One of these community outreach initiatives is the Institute on the Common Good which was established in 1998. The Institute on the Common Good was created to provide opportunities for people in the community with diverse perspectives to engage one another around civic and social issues.


Donated $1000 to help make NCDD Austin a success.

Envision Central Texas
Envision Central Texas (ECT) is a non-profit organization composed of concerned citizens who share the common goal of addressing growth with sound planning that has the interests of the region’s existing and future citizens in mind. ECT engaged citizens in one of the largest conversations ever to occur in Texas about how to shape future growth, with thousands participating in focus groups, workshops, surveys and educational forums. This input formed the basis of the “Vision for Central Texas”. ECT continues to serve as a catalyst for regional collaboration and planning in support of the Vision and convenes ongoing dialogues about growth issues, such as transportation planning, environmental preservation and land use policy.

Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy (formerly the Study Circles Resource Center) is a national organization that helps local communities find ways for all kinds of people to think, talk and work together to solve problems. They work with neighborhoods, cities and towns, regions, and states, helping them pay particular attention to how racism and ethnic differences affect the problems they address. Everyday Democracy was created as the Study Circles Resource Center in 1989 by The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. Since 1989, they have worked with more than 550 communities across the U.S. on many different public issues.

Harold Saunders
Founder and president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Hal Saunders played a central role as a senior U.S. diplomat in the Arab-Israeli peace process after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Working with a team headed by Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter that mediated five agreements, 1974-79, he learned three lessons: (1) the power of a continuous political process to change the political environment; (2) the importance of the human dimension of conflict; and (3) the importance of the relationship between whole bodies politic—citizens outside government as well as those inside government.

Social Media Club
Social Media Club is being organized for the purpose of sharing best practices, establishing ethics and standards, and promoting media literacy around the emerging area of Social Media. This is the beginning of a global conversation about building an organization and a community where the many diverse groups of people who care about social media can come together to discover, connect, share, and learn. The idea for Social Media Club originated in the Fall of 2005 with the Web 2point1 BrainJam. This led us to create the non-profit BrainJams organization to promote the idea of unconferences and ad-hoc collaboration to a broader audience of non-geeks. Over the course of the last year, BrainJams has brought us together with people from all over the world. As a result of thousands of conversations since, we realized that the passion we have for Social Media was the real purpose of what we were doing and have now launched this site to begin the conversation about the future of Social Media.

Special Thanks

Pflugerville Council of Neighborhood Associations
A special thank you is in order to the Pflugerville Council of Neighborhood Associations (PICONA), and especially Clay Leben, for donating a sound system for the conference!

Scholarship Contributors

Contributed $100 or more to the scholarship fund for NCDD 2008:

Contributed $50 to the scholarship fund for NCDD 2008:

Contributed $25 to the scholarship fund for NCDD 2008:

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Workshops at NCDD Austin    

Below is a list of the amazing workshops from NCDD Austin, our 2008 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. Use the anchor links below to focus in on specific times. Enjoy!!

Friday, October 3 – 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Saturday, October 4 – 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Saturday, October 4 – 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Sunday, October 5 – 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Sunday, October 5 – 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Workshop and Session Materials

Many presenters our providing us with materials from their workshops, and we’re collecting them all together on a page dedicated to material from the conference. You can take a look at what we have so far by visiting the Session Materials from NCDD 2008 page. If the reference number at the end of the workshop entry has been made into a link (bold & blue), then you can click on that number to access the workshop material for that session.

Friday 1:30-3:30

Debriefing Issues Raised in Traces of the Trade

Harold Fields, National Training Director for Traces of the Trade, and Holly Fulton, Facilitator and Family Participant in Traces of the Trade

Participants interested in this workshop are encouraged to view the screening of “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North” Thursday evening at 7:30 pm.  The workshop will begin with the viewing of a few short excerpts from the film so all can participate if they have not had the opportunity to view the film in its entirety.  Attendees will have the opportunity to dialogue and process personal issues raised while viewing the documentary.  The power of this film comes from watching a white family discover and deal with information about their ancestors’ central role and the widespread northern complicity in building the economy of the United States through the slave trade.  This session investigates how this film can initiate dialogue about white privilege and institutional racism still persisting in what many hope is a colorblind or post-race society.  Participants will explore how dealing with the history and awareness in this film can bring new possibilities to help individuals and groups connect the past and the present when addressing slavery and racism.  They will be invited to discuss a framework for moving beyond cycles of domination and subordination to meaningful reconciliation and repair in their communities. (01)

How Can We Combat Climate Change with Dialogue and Participation? An International Perspective

Dr. Hans-Peter Meister, President and Founder of Meister Consultants Group and Janette Hartz-Karp, Professor at Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute in Western Australia

In this working session, participants will identify what needs to be done and can be done within and by the dialogue community to move forward on the climate change issue. Session hosts from Germany, Australia, and the U.S. will bring an international dimension, sharing their experience with groundbreaking projects in Europe, Australia, Canada and the US (including the timely “Deliberative Democracy and Climate Change” project). Drawing on the knowledge of session participants, we will analyze how dialogue and deliberation can be effectively used at different levels, from the institutional to the personal, to effect change. We will then assess possible approaches for tackling the complex issue of climate change. This session is noteworthy not only in the international dimension to this global issue – helping to strengthen the bridge being built between a global problem and local action – but also the combination of the general with the specific. Included in the more general segments of the session will be ideas for creating broader, whole-systems societal change, made more tangible by the concrete projects contributed by the hosts and participants and the focus on action resulting from the session’s learning. (02)

Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives

Jacob Hess, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Illinois and Rev. Greg Johnson, Pastor and Director of Standing Together

Although dialogue events may be arguably beneficial to citizens from any background, many communities still face unique barriers to participation. With a growing attention to the limited participation of conservative-leaning individuals in such events, there has been much speculation and theorizing as to “why conservatives don’t like dialogue?!” As conservative practitioners of dialogue ourselves, we offer insights from our own work in two dialogue initiatives across Liberal-Conservative and Mormon-Evangelical lines. After describing each project and sharing a brief video illustration, we will share stories and results (both positive and negative) that reflect a full picture of their impact. Next, we will discuss together unique lessons learned about structuring and framing dialogue events to be attractive to a broad range of citizens – including in their socio-political diversity. Finally, we will facilitate an open discussion with participants to explore questions and wisdom from experiences other people bring. (03)

How Can WE Revitalize Democracy with D&D? – Part 1

DeAnna Martin, Executive Director of the Center for Wise Democracy and Adin Rogovin, Board Member of the Co-Intelligence Institute

NCDD draws together amazing practitioners using many methodologies to improve and transform democracy. We will be exploring how we can collaborate to enable a thriving democracy. This two-part session seeks to begin the conversation among leaders of various methods, those with the passion to transform democracy, and those with resources to discover how we can collaborate to enable a democracy that is truly of, by, and for the people. In 2 sessions over the course of the conference, method and organization leaders from groups like the Co-Intelligence Institute, the Jefferson Center, and the Forum Foundation will be dynamically facilitated in a creative, fishbowl conversation about what might be possible if we were to work together and may achieve concrete next steps for moving forward. Participants are invited to join in the fishbowl if they feel moved to contribute to the conversation and can attend part 1, 2 or both. The session aims to charter an ongoing conversation and collaborative relationships to extend beyond the conference. Strategies will be explored that may lead to local, regional, and national partnerships that will produce results and demonstrate D&D effectiveness on the issues we face. (04)

Raising Revenue, Raising Awareness, Raising Expectations: Supporting Growth Through Business Development, Branding, and Stakeholder Engagement

Cherry Muse, President of the Public Conversations Project; Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks; and Amy Malick, Communication Director at Everyday Democracy

Organizational sustainability, always a concern in the non-profit world, takes on added urgency during challenging economic times. This three-person panel will address sustainability in the context of business development, marketing and communications, and thoughtful planning that involves many stakeholders. This workshop is a panel of representatives from three organizations: AmericaSpeaks (Carolyn Lukensmeyer), Everyday Democracy (Amy Malick) and Public Conversations Project (Cherry Muse). Carolyn will talk about the relationship between strategic planning, social entrepreneurship and business development for a non-profit organization. Amy will share the work that went into the evolution of Everyday Democracy from Study Circles Resource Center. Cherry will outline an initiative of the Public Conversations Project that involved every stakeholder, including board members, staff and practitioners, in charting the organization’s course over the next 20 years. After the panelists have spoken, there will be fifteen minutes for Q&A. The final 30 minutes will be open for attendees to share best (or worst!) practices around fundraising, communications and strategic planning in groups of 2-3. Staff members who are responsible for raising funds, communicating their organization’s mission or strategic planning will be able to speak with, listen to, and gain support from colleagues who face similar challenges. (05)

Transforming Tensions: Enhancing Dialogue and Deliberation Practice through Practical Communication Theory

Barnett Pearce, Professor at Fielding Graduate University; Kimberly Pearce, Professor at De Anza College and co-founder of The Public Dialogue Consortium and Pearce Associates; and Linda Blong, Program Co-Leader of the Dialogue, Deliberation and Public Engagement Certificate Program at Fielding Graduate University

As the D&D community has become more sophisticated, we have encountered inherent tensions in the work that we do. As we design processes or make in-the-moment decisions about how to facilitate, we are often pulled in different directions to work toward equally important aims and ideals. These are not dilemmas to be solved, but we have much to gain from exploring and understanding these tensions and how we can effectively act into them. This workshop invites you to take a communication perspective on your D&D work and the tensions you encounter. You will be introduced to the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) communication theory, and learn about how to apply a few of the many concepts and heuristics of CMM to your work. The workshop will involve guided discussion, exploration of a case study, and small group practice in applying the CMM tools to enhance D&D work through transforming tensions. (06)

Speaking Truth to Power: Authentic Voices, Responsive Ears

Robert Stains, Jr., Vice President of the Public Conversations Project and Dave Joseph, Program Director at the Public Conversations Project

Speaking truth to people with power and having them hear and respond requires thoughtful invitation, preparation, speaking and listening. This workshop describes the Public Conversations Project’s efforts to help psychiatric clients (who prefer to be called “Consumer/Survivors”) and high-level state mental health department leaders to communicate and collaborate effectively to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint in psychiatric settings. Building trust and connection was vital, and in the face of unequal power relationships and trauma required extraordinary efforts on the part of all participants and facilitators. In this project, Consumer/Survivors wanted to convey their traumatic experiences with passion, in ways that would invite understanding, not alienation. Many agency staff were extremely empathic and sympathetic, but felt personally attacked and vilified. Poor communication left everyone feeling frustrated and dehumanized. After outlining the background of this case, we will describe a particular moment during which we faced a challenge that involved multiple definitions and dynamics of power. Participants will work in small groups, addressing issues of preparation, the complexities of power imbalances, facilitator assumptions, premises and choices. Upon reassembling, they will share their ideas and insights and learn how PCP responded in the actual case. (07)

And two Youth Dialogue Project Sessions…

NCDD welcomes the Rockrose Institute’s Youth Dialogue Project (YDP) at NCDD Austin to ensure that the voices of young leaders are included in creative and innovative ways. Toward this end, the YDP is hosting three separate and inter-related sessions at the conference: one workshop for people under 30, one for people over 30, and a trans-generational sub-plenary session. Participants to any and all of these trans-generational leadership sessions are requested to bring a photograph or two, of a beloved teacher, mentor, friend, parent, etc., who is no longer among us and/or pictures of children who are currently inspiring their lives. Learn more about the Youth Dialogue Project at NCDD Austin.

1. Including Our Voices: Young Adult Leadership in the D&D community

Hosted by young leaders from On the Verge, a leadership program for young people working in the social change and public benefit sectors. Graphic recording by Mariah Howard. Sponsored by The Rockrose Institute’s Youth Dialogue Project (YDP), San Francisco, California.

Along with the realization of the burgeoning leadership gap within the public benefit and social change communities, came a buzz that has mentors and elders taking a thoughtful look at the next generation of leaders. We invite all young leaders (ages 30 and under) to participate in a peer-led dialogue to surface possibilities, challenges, and requests we want to explore with D&D leaders of all ages. The goal of this session is to provide a safe and supportive environment for each participant to connect with others, and to reflect on their leadership role within the D&D community from a trans-generational perspective. This dialogue will lead into Saturday’s sub-plenary session: Cultivating Trans-generational Leadership in the NCDD Community, and participants in this session are encouraged to attend the sub-plenary as well. (08)

2. Creating Room at the Head of Our Tables: Exploring New Mentoring Roles as Young Leaders Emerge

Co-hosted by YDP mentoring team, Deborah Goldblatt, Ken Homer, Catherine Martell, Milton Reynolds. Sponsored by The Rockrose Institute’s Youth Dialogue Project (YDP), San Francisco, California.

There is an ancient and eternal dialogue unfolding between the generations. Regardless of the time or the culture in which we find ourselves, there is always a conversation going on between the youth, the mentors and the elders. When the dialogue between the generations stalls or falters, for any reason, we collectively lose access to the gifts of wisdom that each of these stages of life has to offer to the others. This results in a weakening of our social fabric and the impoverishment of our culture. If you are over 30, you are invited to join this focused inquiry into how “the more seasoned among us” in the D&D community can best support younger D&D leaders in realizing their full potential, while opening ourselves to better appreciate the gifts they bring to our shared visions. The fruits of this session, along with those harvested in the under 30 dialogue, will inform the whole YDP team in planning and designing the trans-generational sub-plenary session on Saturday: Cultivating Trans-generational Leadership in the NCDD Community. Participants in this session are encouraged to also attend the sub-plenary. (09)

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Saturday 9-10:30

Conducting a Deliberative Poll: Practical Issues

Jim Fishkin, Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, Robert Luskin, Associate Professor of Government at University of Texas, and Alice Siu, Research Assistant and PhD candidate at Stanford University

Deliberative Polling employs scientific samples to assess what people would think if they really engaged with the issues and became more informed. This workshop will provide an overview and discusses the practical steps in conducting a Deliberative Poll topic selection, advisory group, briefing materials, questionnaire, moderator training, small group discussions, final questionnaire, data analysis, release of results and role of the media. We hope to prepare potential collaborators for these practical challenges. We especially welcome potential collaborators to attend – those representing groups or organizations that might consider Deliberative Polling (whether online or face-to-face) at the local, regional or national levels. (10)

Citizen Engagement in the Missouri River Basin Ecosystem Recovery Program

Janet Fiero, Senior Associate of AmericaSpeaks; Brian Manwaring, Program Manager at the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution; and Taylor Willingham, Director of Texas Forums

Do you have a passion for nature and the environment? Do Big, Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) excite you? In this working session, participants will learn about upcoming citizen engagement efforts to address endangered species recovery in the Missouri River Basin. In addition, participants will contribute ideas and learn how to get involved in this large-scale project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is developing the Missouri River Ecosystem Recovery Plan (MRERP), and is committed to authentically engage people from the 10 basin states, 28 Native American Tribes, numerous interest groups, other federal agencies, and the general public in developing and implementing the plan. The Corps, in partnership with the U.S. Institute of Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR), is looking to D&D practitioners to make this ambitious citizen engagement a reality. Participants in this session will roll up their sleeves to work on this large-scale project involving multiple D&D processes. The scope is daunting; the potential results are exciting – a long-range citizen engagement process to restore the ecosystem of one of America’s great rivers. (11)

What Moves You? Exploring the Spiritual and Moral Roots of Our Dialogue Practice

Sarah Beller, Nina Talley-Kalokoh and Kelsey Visser-Eason, Masters Candidates at American University

What originally inspired you to do dialogue and deliberation work? What are your sources of sustenance in the rocky times? Whether you want to reconnect with your own deep motivations to do this work or get energized by tapping into others’, this session will provide a safe space for your exploration. The highly experiential and participatory format of the workshop will include mindful introspection, creative expression, and open dialogue to delve deep into our sources of inspiration. The workshop will conclude with an opportunity to share ideas about using arts-based and experiential tools—-beyond just verbal discussion—-to help achieve the goals of dialogue. All are welcome, whether you are taking your first steps into dialogue or you have journeyed many miles, and whether you see your motivations as moral, spiritual, or both. Bring an open mind and an adventurous spirit. (12)

Embedding D&D into Government Systems

Stephanie Nestlerode, Partner at Omega Point International, Inc.; Lori Alvarado, Regional Director of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services; and John Spady, Executive Vice President of the Forum Foundation

The session will highlight county and state government efforts to transform how they do their work by transforming how they conduct conversations. In other words, how equipped are government agencies to listen – internally and externally? Government efforts to be highlighted: King County (Seattle area), The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, The Colorado Prevention Leadership Council, and The El Paso County Department of Human Services (Colorado Springs area). A panel and participants will contribute to a conversation about lessons learned and questions that remain in the areas of 1) creating structures to support conversation on any topic 2) infusing and sustaining conversational tools in organizational and political systems and 3) fostering social capital. The panel will include multiple perspectives with representatives from government, business, a non-profit, and a consulting firm. The session will be interactive and lively with time devoted to exploring issues in depth. Detailed handouts will be provided from the example agencies. The session will conclude with a conversation on this topic:  If you hold an intention to transform government, what are the most effective ways to approach government agencies? (13)

Sustained Dialogue: It’s Not Just Talk—Students Committed to Changing Campus Climate

Christina Kelleher and Rhonda Fitzgerald, Program Directors of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network

In 1999, students began using a unique process called Sustained Dialogue (SD) to proactively improve race relations on college campuses. A network of Sustained Dialogue practitioners has since formed, connecting students at over a fifteen colleges, universities, and high schools. The Sustained Dialogue Campus Network (SDCN) represents a budding social movement of passionate students, deeply engaged in changing the dynamics of their communities. Come learn the theory behind Sustained Dialogue, the practical steps students across the country are taking to create safe spaces to address divisive issues like race relations that are often taboo in social settings. In this space, participants learn from one another and are changed by the experiences they share so that they can begin to truly understand the problems that face their communities and what power they have, as a group of individuals, to address them. (14)

Exploring How our Work in D&D Contributes to Social Change

Philip Thomas and Bettye Pruitt, Co-Coordinators of the Generative Change Community

This interactive workshop will explore and extend the question raised by the NCDD Streams of Engagement framework: when we facilitate D&D, what are we using the tools for? Recognizing that all we may do with D&D is necessary but not sufficient to bring about the larger social change goals we hold, we will uncover and reflect on some of the assumptions we hold about how change happens and how D&D can contribute. As a group, we will map strategies for change and draw distinctions among different approaches, considering their differences, similarities, and complementarities. We will work on more effective ways to articulate and talk about what we are doing, and what we hope to achieve when we employ different D&D methodologies. The session hosts, from the Generative Change Community, will share ideas and insights that have emerged from similar sessions in other parts of the world (e.g., Canada, Australia, the Philippines). (15)

Virtuous and Vicious Cycles: Beyond a Linear View of Outcome and Impact

Maggie Herzig, Senior Associate of the Public Conversations Project and Lucy Moore, Independent Public Policy Mediator

When dialogue and deliberation practitioners model their work on conflict resolution, they typically see a linear set of steps: talk, generate ideas, decide, act.  Their initiative is seen as having a clear beginning and end and the value of the whole is judged by the decision or action at the end.  In this session, Maggie Herzig will present her “Virtuous and Vicious Cycles” model for thinking about outcomes and impacts, which addresses the limitations of this linear view.  Her model recognizes that in complex systems, endings are also beginnings and a single initiative may, in fact, go through several cycles of engagement and impact and it may generate ripple effects that extend far beyond the formal endpoint of the initiative.  It accommodates the idea that overly defining outcomes from the start is potentially undermining of participants’ ownership of their efforts and under-appreciative of possibilities that were unimaginable before the initiative began.  Finally, the model organically integrates different kinds of work with D&D, including leadership development, prejudice reduction, dispute resolution, and action planning.  In the first half of this session, Maggie, an experienced dialogue practitioner and one of the founders of the Public Conversations Project, will present her model and Lucy Moore, an experienced public policy mediator, will comment on the model from her perspective.  In the second half, the group will offer feedback about this new model and engage in discussing how more systemic and organic ways of thinking about impact and outcome, if adopted by practitioners, leaders, and funders, may foster more energetic and robust civic engagement and problem solving. (16)

Café U

Donald Proffit, Northeast Region steward for The World Café and Eric Haltmeier, performing musician and educator

The Café process has, for us, frequently mirrored the stages of Theory U where first round questions provoke us to suspend the Voice of Judgment and begin to see with fresh eyes and listen with fresh ears. As we move deeper into round two questions and the “magic in the middle” appears in the center of each table, we begin to connect to the source – places and practices of stillness and presence. And, finally, in round three, we emerge into bold new possibilities and future actions. Join us as we delve into Scharmer’s Theory in a World Café format simulating the deep dive experience of the U. Applying the Café framework – three rounds of questions and a final harvest – participants will create a microcosm in which the whole system (all of us) can show up, connect, and transform the structure of our relationship. In addition to graphic recording during the Café, we will also include a real-time, improvised musical score documenting our journey through the U, providing an authentic example of co-sensing, co-presencing and co-creating during this session. (17)

University and College Centers as Platforms for Deliberative Democracy

John Stephens, Coordinator of the Public Dispute Resolution Program at the School of Government, UNC at Chapel Hill; Martin Carcasson, Director of the Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation (CPD); and Windy Lawrence, Co-Director of the University of Houston-Downtown Center for Public Deliberation

Across the country, a diverse network of university-based public deliberation programs focused on practical scholarship and hands-on deliberative activities has formed. This roundtable is for college and university staff and faculty as well as D&D practitioners outside of universities to learn about the University Network for Collaborative Governance (UNCG) and other university-based centers focused on deliberative democracy. Practitioners are invited to share their experiences, interests and concerns about university-based public deliberation work. Information on current university supported public deliberation programs and centers will be presented, and three programs will be highlighted to show the breadth of university based centers as they link people involved in programs such as Everyday Democracy, The Democracy Imperative, National Issues Forums, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, Policy Consensus Initiative, and public policy dispute resolution programs in addition to NCDD. Small group discussion will focus on (1) the advantages and disadvantages of working with universities for public deliberation, and (2) the opportunities and pitfalls of university-practitioner relationships. (18)

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Saturday 11-12:30

Fireside Chat on Embedding Citizen’s Voices in Our Governing Systems

Carolyn Lukensmeyer, President of AmericaSpeaks

Now is a unique time in history with a surge of citizen involvement and increased voter turnout. If we care about dialogue and deliberation we need to embed new procedures, processes and practices in all levels of governance: local, state, regional and national. As we design new approaches on one level how can we be mindful of the impacts on other levels of governance? We must be strategic on the initiatives we design and support. Come chat with Carolyn Lukensmeyer about her latest thoughts on institutionalizing new government mechanisms that will sustain citizen engagement long past the 2008 election. (19)

Vets4Vets: Iraq-Era Vets Show How They Use “Deep Democracy 2″

Jim Driscoll, Coordinator of Vets4Vets, and several Iraq-era vets who are V4V leaders

Vets4Vets (www.Vets4Vets.US) has trained over 500 Iraq and Afghanistan vets in more than 30 weekend workshops in the last two years all over the U.S. They learn the guided conversation tools of Deep Democracy 2–peer support groups, participant-set topic group discussions and action-oriented decision groups based on individual empowerment rather than consensus. The goal is to build an international peer support community using local groups (8 currently meeting around the country), phone and internet connections among the 1.6 million (and growing) vets who have served in the Global War On Terror and to empower these vets to play meaningful roles of their own choosing in the larger society. If you are really interested in “supporting the troops,” please come and learn from these vets themselves how you can help reach out to this important constituency–and learn a model which can be applied to any other constituency group, including non-traditional ones, for both healing and empowerment. (20)

How to Teach a Course on Deliberation

John Gastil, professor of communication at the University of Washington and William Keith, professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This workshop gives participants tools and ideas they can use to teach a college or university course on deliberation (or simply sharpen their understanding of the concept). Broadly defined, deliberation connects with a range of research topics and concerns – how political conversations reinforce preexisting prejudices, how media monopolies limit public debate, how partisan pressures warp Congressional debates, etc. The workshop uses a presentation and Q&A to show how to organize a college, high school, or community course on these and other topics, and the workshop includes interactive demonstrations of student activities that teach deliberative skills. (21)

Evaluating Dialogue & Deliberation: What are we learning?

Natasha Manji, Senior Communications Advisor of Public Involvement at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC); Jacquie Dale, President and CEO of One World, Inc.; and Miriam Wyman, Principal Consultant of Practicum Limited

The need for quality evaluation is frequently overlooked and is often an ad hoc consideration rather than a well-integrated component of the dialogue process. There is a growing understanding that many factors influence effectiveness and we need to better understand these if we are going to continue to improve our work and make it more relevant. This session will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the importance of evaluation in sharing learning, building capacity and documenting the ongoing legacy of dialogue and deliberation. The session leaders will bring years of experience and countless evaluation case studies to this session, and a case study on a national process focused on public health will be used as a conversation starter. (22)

Coming to the Table: Addressing Racial Reconciliation in America

Phoebe Kilby, Associate Director of Development at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University; Betty Kilby, CEO of Cultural Innovations; and Amy Potter, Associate Director of the Practice Institute at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding

Coming to the Table was initiated by descendants of slave-holders and descendants of enslaved people, who were inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that the “sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners would be able to sit down at the table of brotherhood.” They sought to share their own history and experiences of race as related to the legacy of slavery, including all aspects of that legacy (re-enslavement practices after the Civil War, Jim Crow, civil rights struggles, and modern day racism).  An intentional space and community has been growing where people can share their truth related to the structure of “race” and the emotional impact of slavery’s legacy as well as grapple with what it will take to make things right and create a larger family. Connected descendents Betty Kilby and Phoebe Kilby will share their very different experiences of race related to slavery’s legacy.  Amy Potter, director of the program, will describe what we have learned about creating space for racial reconciliation. Please join us at this symbolic table of brother and sisterhood. (23)

The Power of Poetry to Facilitate Change

David Markwardt, published poet and leadership development professional; Michael Baldwin is Director of the Benbrook (Texas) Public Library; and Neil Meili, founding member of Imago Relationships International’s Peace Project

Just as poetry is an art, so too is creating change. Poetry’s expansive language and images and ideas provide practical insights, create possibilities, and invite courage. Change agents do the same. Are you realizing your potential to create change? Are you having the courageous conversations with yourself and others that you need to be having? The future of our communities needs bold change agents who will create a future distinct from the past. Come to this workshop to have a creative confrontation! (24)

Bullying: A Flexible Community Discussion Model

Nancy Polk, Project Manager of Community Conversations About Education and Penny Rogers, Director of Community Programs at Community Mediation, Inc.

Bullying is one of the urgent issues of the day, in schools, the workplace and society. Community based conversations offer a chance to share experiences, often painful, that can lead to shared strategies. The Community Conversation model creates a pathway for action. You will work together to suggest next steps to confront the issue of bullying. In a small group discussion circle, you will learn how to organize and moderate a discussion on bullying. You will discuss strategies to organize a community conversation on bullying. You will view a short PowerPoint on bullying that uses a flexible format adaptable to a variety of settings. We encourage you to take the PowerPoint home to modify for your own community conversations. We will answer your questions and offer technical assistance to those who wish to organize a community-wide conversation on bullying. (25)

Social Media and the Power of Conversation: Everything is Personal Again

Chris Heuer, Senior Partner in The Conversation Group and Co-Founder of the Social Media Club and Kristie Wells, Co-Founder and President of the Social Media Club

Every day more and more people, non-profits and corporations are joining the conversation online.  In this workshop, we will briefly explore why, and deeply explore how you can make the most of it. Have you heard of conversational marketing?  It is a new trend in which companies are looking at how to reach their customers and potential customers by joining an online dialogue. There is much you can learn from them, and more they can learn from you. During the course of this workshop, we will look at practical uses for new online dialogue tools such as: Twitter, Ning, Facebook, Flickr, and FriendFeed and how you can be more effective in developing grassroots efforts and staying connected with the broader community. Still not interested? Let us know what you want to learn during the course of this workshop, and we will adjust the presentation to your needs.  Whatever you want to know about Social Media and what you are not afraid to ask is what you will learn during this workshop. (26)

The Role of the Facilitator in International Development: Collective Reflection for Sustainable Change

Patricia A. Wilson, Professor of Participatory Development at the University of Texas and Varun Vidyarthi, Executive Director of Manavodaya

“Development from below” is not enough. The key to sustainable social change is development from within – i.e. change in individual and group consciousness that leads to collective capacity for self-management among people’s organizations. A practitioner and a scholar of participatory development explore the inner and outer journeys of both development facilitators and women villagers, as they present the core of their new book, Development from Within: Facilitating Collective Reflection for Sustainable Change. The authors recount first hand the story of Manavodaya, a non-profit organization that has facilitated self-help groups among rural poor and trained development practitioners in methods of dialogue and empowerment for over twenty years. They present a successful method of dialogue called collective reflection that has enabled significant changes in the lives of the participants – both development professionals and villagers alike. (27)

Compassionate Listening: D&D from the Inside Out

Susan Partnow, Certified CL Trainer and Coordinator of Advanced Training and Rachel Eryn Kalish, Certifed CL Trainer and Principal of Workplace Connections

Compassionate Listening is a practice that reaches deep into the heart of discord or disconnection, teaching people to listen and speak with a different “ear” to those around them, with a ‘spiritual ear.’ As facilitators it is vital that we cultivate ways to keep us in connection in the midst of the fire, staying heart centered to foster dialogue and wise deliberation. These powerful tools enhance any D&D process, helping to transform the energy of conflict into opportunities for understanding, productive teamwork, healthy relations, and positive action. In this inspiring and highly experiential session you will learn ways to: integrate the wisdom of the heart, learning about recent findings from neurocardiology; nurture compassion for yourself and others; expand your ability to suspend judgment of self and others; stay more present and open to any group you are part of or leading; manage your triggers so you can stay centered and calm even in challenging situations; cultivate comfort with stepping into the fire by listening and speaking in ways that transform conflict to deeper learning and connection; engage Compassionate Listening as a way to heal wounds that divide communities, transform conflicts within organizations, or build relationships among individuals. (28)

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Sunday 9-10:30

Bluebonnet Hills Sunday Conversation

Dr. Landon Shultz, Minister of the Bluebonnet Hills Christian Church

Conversation in a religious context tends to be more about ‘dispensation,’ where speaking is mainly by authority figures for the purpose of imparting doctrine, than about ‘dialogue,’ where speaking is shared among many participants for the purpose of seeking understanding. At Bluebonnet Hills Christian Church, we use dialogue as a primary approach, and we encourage the expression of a diversity of viewpoints. Each Sunday, we engage in a conversation that is not built around proclaiming established answers, but rather around encountering meaningful questions. Join us for a Bluebonnet-style Sunday morning service! (29)

The Inquiry Process: Zen Meditation and Dialogue as Liberating Intimacy in a Social Context

T. Flint Sparks, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Zen Buddhist Teacher at the Austin Zen Center and Margaret A. Syverson, Ph.D., Director of the Undergraduate Writing Center and Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas

This interactive session will offer participants an opportunity to learn about and experience a deeply nourishing and restorative process of personal exploration and inquiry supported by skillful guidance, interpersonal connection, and contemplation. Recent research in interpersonal neurobiology and the psychological processes of attunement and attachment ground this practice of mindfulness as a relational process that deepens wisdom, clarity, and compassion. Buddhist teachings and practices for expanding awareness, attention, and nonjudgmental responsiveness offer methods for realizing these profound gifts through the immediacy and directness of dialogue. This session will include guided meditation and is offered as a Sunday morning spiritual experience. (30)

If There’s Something Strange in Your Neighborhood, Who Ya Gonna Call? Ex-ten-sion! Li-brar-ies!

Mike Baldwin, director of the Benbrook (Texas) Public Library; Jan Hartough, State Coordinator for Public Deliberation at Michigan State University Extension; Tom Moran, Program and Outreach Manager for the Austin Public Library; Laura Walth, Librarian at the Des Moines Public Library and Member of Iowa Partners in Learning; and Taylor Willingham, co-founder and director of Texas Forums, an initiative of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

Contrary to what you may think, Libraries and Extension are more than just books and bulls! They have an historic civic mission and are vital to democracy. They are trusted institutions with expertise, information, and are in the public’s education business. They are the people’s university, the public’s forum for dealing with contentious public issues. Libraries are an ideal venue for public forums. The number of libraries exceeds the number of MacDonald restaurants. University extension educators are the land grant institutions’ “boots on the ground” providing problem-solving expertise in every county throughout the country. Thus these institutions, stalwarts of democracy, are ideally positioned to help communities facing difficult problems. Unfortunately, they are also the community’s best-kept secret! This workshop will highlight innovative ways that librarians and university extension educators are helping communities tackle tough problems. (31)

Beyond the Choir: Using Film and Story for Cross-Sector Dialogue and Policy Change

Shaady Salehi, Program Manager at Active Voice

Immigration. Race relations. LGBTQ rights. In our divided political and social climate, punditry rules, and many people are speaking and working within their own “silos,” keeping a lot of important dialogue isolated. Do you ever feel like you’re talking in a bubble? Would you like some practical tools that can reach BEYOND THE CHOIR and build bridges across divides? Active Voice, a media strategy team, can help you use film to initiate more productive dialogue with people who don’t necessarily share the same perspectives on contemporary issues. Filmmakers are experts at capturing the complex human drama behind the tough issues of our day, telling stories that can help diverse audiences find a “common text” around social and political issues. In this workshop, we will lay out a series of different scenarios, constituencies and opportunities to use documentary film for solutions-oriented dialogue that reaches Beyond the Choir and paves the way for policy change. (32)

Connecting the Dots: How Does Dialogue and Deliberation Work Lead to Change?

Will Friedman, Executive Vice-President and Director of Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement and Alison Kadlec, Associate Director of Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement

This workshop explores the relationship between dialogue & deliberation (D&D) work and processes of change (or impacts) at all levels (e.g., attitudinal, institutional, community, culture and policy). Our aim in the workshop is to make significant progress on developing a richer and better articulated theory of change for D&D work than currently exists. We believe that doing so will help workshop participants improve their work and explain it in clearer and more compelling ways to funders, officials and communities. The workshop will be highly interactive, combining short conceptual presentations, large and small group reflections and discussions, and collaborative model building as we explore such questions as: (1) What are the indicators of significant change that lead us to classify D&D initiatives as either powerful agents of change or as weak ones? (2) In what ways do particular D&D methods relate to different kinds of change? (individual attitudes? policies? new partnerships? transformed culture? institutional changes?) And (3) How do our experiences and observations match up against several existing theories of change and what kind of model of change is suggested by our collective/collaborative thinking? (33)

Beyond the Tools: Applying D&D Principles to Online Engagement

Brian Sullivan, Founder of Practical Evolution, LLC and developer of CivicEvolution and Janette Hartz-Karp, Professor at Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute in Western Australia

Though it is seductive to add an online component to our dialogue and deliberation initiatives, simply bolting on a blog, wiki, or forum is unlikely to deliver the desired results. The question is how to maximize their value? To explore this, we overview the broad range of online tools and social media from a goal oriented perspective: We examine what we are trying to achieve and how each of these tools might help. Specific goals of our fellow participants will provide real-world examples. Effective online engagement is about more than tools: we need to consider the promise, the tools, and the bargain. By applying D&D principles to our tools we can create the structure and process that allows us to deliver on the promise and satisfy the bargain. For example, CivicEvolution is an online workspace that employs process driven collaborative dialogue to help citizens develop solutions to community problems. We will explore some applications of CivicEvolution including sustainability issues and government reform and review the lessons learned and challenges ahead. Participants can continue the discussion on CivicEvolution, exploring their specific challenges with the group. (34)

Tools for Dealing with Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and Paradox: Reflective Methods for Group Development

Tom Murray, Chief Visionary & Instigator at Perspegrity Solutions; Sara Ross, President/Founder of ARINA, Inc.; and Jan Inglis, Director of the Integrative Learning Institute

Dialogue and deliberation can become particularly challenging when the focal topic involves substantial uncertainty, ambiguity, or paradox.  When participants hold tightly to particular interpretations, assumptions, and definitions of terms, it is more difficult to find common ground and clearly articulate differences.  We will introduce several methods (for example, TIP Issues Framing and Polarity Exploration) for helping groups grapple with such topics.  These methods are designed to promote mutual understanding and open participants to more flexible understanding of the various perspectives on a topic, and the different ways it can be interpreted.  It includes support for working with grey areas, holding conflicting ideas in mind, thinking in terms of probabilities, spectrums, and systems, all with the goal of greater understanding and “cognitive empathy.” These methods are particularly appropriate to contexts that allow rich dialogue for small to medium group sizes, with facilitation. (35)

Lessons Learned from Facilitating Dialogues about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict within the Jewish Community

Rachel Eryn Kalish, Principal of Workplace Connections; Mitch Chanin, Executive Director of the Jewish Dialogue Group; and Dave Joseph, Program Director at the Public Conversations Project

Within Jewish communities, conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are often either extremely contentious or avoided, due to the intensity of feelings and potential for disrupted relationships. This workshop will introduce methods for organizing and facilitating dialogues programs that create enough safety for participants to take risks and cross challenging divides. It will address how to bring polarized community members to the table; how to create a safe environment; and how to encourage depth and connection across divides. Participants will utilize experiential activities, as well as hear success stories and lessons learned from the workshop leaders, who have facilitated and supervised dialogues in a variety of settings. The workshop will focus on the heart and spirit of dialogue and offer resources that can be used to facilitate dialogues in synagogues, organizations, and communities. The workshop will also explore how dialogue can be used to foster systemic change, through stories and discussion about dialogue projects that have engaged key leaders and/or shifted the culture of institutions and organizations. Participants will leave with an enhanced sense of what’s possible to accomplish and an array of resources to address the challenges inherent in facilitating such dialogues. (36)

Evolutionary or Misapplication? The Use of Innovative “Large Group” Techniques for Dialogues about Diversity

David Campt, Principal of The DWC Group and Senior Associate with AmericaSpeaks

This workshop will explore two primary questions about conversations focused on issues related to race, diversity, and identity: (1) What are the additional complexities involved in using large-scale dialogue approaches that involve trying to coordinate and connect multiple small groups? (2) What are the opportunities and complexities in using audience response keypads in such settings? Dr. David Campt is experienced with AmericaSpeaks’ approach to very large-scale dialogues, and he has organized small group dialogues and extensive dialogue efforts around race and diversity for The White House, Members of Congress, foundations, and community-based organizations. In recent years, David has increased his use of audience keypads in attempts to accelerate the process of finding points of convergence and divergence. The workshop will highlight lessons learned about using audience response keypads and large group techniques when the topic sometimes touches core identities for participants. (37)

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Sunday 11-12:30

“The Straight Talk Dialogues” From Practice to Research

Julie Graves, doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Paul Alexander, Director of the Institute on the Common Good at Regis University

This workshop will present the process and preliminary findings of a 4-session dialogue series, called The Straight Talk Dialogues, involving adult heterosexual participants addressing the topic of homosexuality and related social issues.  The dialogues are in progress now (early Fall 2008) and facilitated by the Institute on the Common Good at Regis University, in Denver, Colorado.  This dialogue series is also the subject of a doctoral dissertation study on attitudes toward lesbians and gay men, heterosexual identity, and the potential for transformation of bias through dialogue. This workshop is co-presented by the dialogue coordinator and the researcher, offering the interwoven perspectives of both practice and research.  Attendees will gain insight into the planning and facilitation challenges of hosting a dialogue on this controversial topic and the ways we met and addressed these.  You will come away with a deepened awareness of the power of intra-group dialogue in general and for addressing social controversy over sexual diversity and related policies.  Handouts will include copies of materials used in the actual dialogues and a complete bibliography. (38)

Findings About Public Participation from the New National Academy of Sciences Report—A Briefing and Commentary From Practitioners

Roger Bernier, PhD, MPH, Senior Advisor for Scientific Strategy and Innovation, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others

In this session, organizers will present a brief summary of the new report just released by the National Academy of Sciences entitled “Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making.” This landmark report has been years in preparation and is the most extensive and exhaustive review of the available evidence on the value and effectiveness of public participation in government decision making. While the report is focused on environmental public participation, its conclusions may be applicable more broadly to the entire field of public participation in decision making. Following the brief summary of the contents of the report, a “reactor panel” of public participation practitioners will provide their reactions to the conclusions from the report and its relevance and offer their perspectives on exactly how this landmark report can be made useful for the field. (39)

Interactive Theater and Dialogue

Trip Barthel, Founder and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Mediation Center in Reno, Nevada and Shamil Fattakhov, Russian screenwriter, director and television producer

This will be a highly interactive session allowing the conference attendees to perform actual skits from a variety of countries and to discuss the principles and solutions to those difficult situations. We will compare your principles and solutions with the culture that created the skit. This will be a new way to experience cultural understanding and practice creative, ethical problem solving. This program uses interactive theater as a way to promote the use of principled decision making through audience participation. Brief skits around local issues are presented and stopped at the high point of the conflict. The audience is then asked to identify the principles involved and the positive, constructive choices available to the parties. The audience can participate in a variety of ways, including acting it out with the participants, writing out solutions, creating a piece of art around the situation and, discussing it as a whole group or in small groups. The Happy Hippo Show originated as a live television program in Kazan, Russia, in 1993 and was eventually shown in 22 cities in Russia. It expanded internationally after the Beijing UN Women’s Conference in 1995. It currently has programs in 63 countries on 5 continents and participated in the 2006 UN NGO/DPI conference. (40)

Taking It To The Streets: Innovative Approaches to Dialogues Addressing Racism

Judith Mowry, Effective Engagement Solutions program specialist for the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement; Catherine Orland, trainer and facilitator; and additional presenters TBD

This session will feature several dialogue and action models which work toward eliminating racism. Interactive cluster sessions will allow workshop participants the opportunity to dialogue with panelists and pose in-depth questions about their methods, goals, challenges, tools and solutions.  In addition to imagining how the models presented could be modified for application in our own communities, participants will also gain an understanding of common practitioner challenges and an opportunity to reflect on the question: What is the internal work that we as D&D professionals have to do to address racism? How do we encourage the conversation, move past our fears, work together for action? (41)

Just Vision: Israeli and Palestinian Peacebuilding Narratives Open New Channels for Dialogue and Action

Irene Nasser, Outreach Associate at Just Vision

Through a screening of excerpts from Just Vision’s award winning documentary film Encounter Point and post-screening small group discussions, this session will introduce a new approach to dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ways to support peace builders. The discussion will explore themes such as bereavement, civic leadership, and human agency. Encounter Point and its supporting resources present under-documented stories of Israelis and Palestinians who have been deeply touched by violence but who nonetheless struggle to stem hatred and promote reconciliation, understanding and nonviolence. Encounter Point has been used by hundreds of communities, schools and individuals as a catalyst for learning, dialogue and participation. This session will model use of Just Vision’s resources, and discuss their application with different audiences. Encounter Point tells the stories of a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother and a wounded Palestinian bereaved brother who risk their lives and public standing to promote a nonviolent end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Encounter Point was jointly produced by a Palestinian, Israeli, North and South American team of young women and has been screened from New York to Dubai to Jerusalem, Jenin, Ramallah, Sderot and Tel Aviv. (42)

Facilitation as Inquiry: Methods Employed in Classrooms, Training Seminars and Public Forums

Erika Mason-Imbody, Project Coordinator for the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (ICDD) at Kansas State University and Tim Steffensmeier; Assistant Professor of Speech-Communication at Kansas State University

A knowledgeable, neutral facilitator can be the key to a successful public deliberation. However, examples of effective facilitation are not commonplace in public discourse. A primary mission of the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (ICDD) at Kansas State University is to provide training and education on facilitation skills. It is our experience that communication trainings typically promote a different skill set – one that values the presentation of answers and arguments over the skills of framing a subject, asking good questions, guiding a discussion, and summarizing results. We approach the concept of “facilitation as inquiry” in three contexts: (1) those who host public forums, (2) those who attend facilitation training, and (3) those who learn in higher education classroom settings. This session will explore theories, methods, and practices that ICDD uses to train participants to see facilitation as a method of inquiry. We will share methods and assignments used in our interdisciplinary classes taught at the university, as well as techniques used in our training of community facilitators. This will include handouts on activities and techniques practiced. We will also have time for group discussion so that others might share ideas that have worked in their teaching of facilitation. (43)

How Can WE Revitalize Democracy with D&D? – Part 2

DeAnna Martin, Executive Director of the Center for Wise Democracy and Adin Rogovin, Board Member of the Co-Intelligence Institute

NCDD draws together amazing practitioners using many methodologies to improve and transform democracy. We will be exploring how we can collaborate to enable a thriving democracy. This two-part session seeks to begin the conversation among leaders of various methods, those with the passion to transform democracy, and those with resources to discover how we can collaborate to enable a democracy that is truly of, by, and for the people. In 2 sessions over the course of the conference, method and organization leaders from groups like the Co-Intelligence Institute, the Jefferson Center, and the Forum Foundation will be dynamically facilitated in a creative, fishbowl conversation about what might be possible if we were to work together and may achieve concrete next steps for moving forward. Participants are invited to join in the fishbowl if they feel moved to contribute to the conversation and can attend part 1, 2 or both. The session aims to charter an ongoing conversation and collaborative relationships to extend beyond the conference. Strategies will be explored that may lead to local, regional, and national partnerships that will produce results and demonstrate D&D effectiveness on the issues we face. (44)

Direct Democracy in the Mountains: Lessons from the Past, Prospects for the Future

Susan Clark, adjunct faculty member at Woodbury College

Dialogue and deliberation practitioners dream of governmental structures wherein citizens would, as a matter of course, co-create and implement their vision for a common future. What would such a system look like? Mountain towns in Vermont and Switzerland may hold some of the secrets. For centuries, town meetings have involved citizens from all income and education levels and political perspectives in the “public talk” at the heart of this decision-making institution. Whether or not town meetings are the highest example of “real democracy” (as some supporters contend), elements of Vermont and Swiss town meetings continue to astonish political scientists worldwide. In this workshop, explore practical lessons today’s D&D practitioners can take away from the Vermont and Swiss systems. Learn about recent data on the Vermont system, with surprising details on its participatory nature. Pitfalls of the systems, including exploitation for undemocratic purposes, will also be discussed. An evocative slide “tour” will include eye-opening photos of outdoor Swiss assemblies. And, as in any good town meeting, there will be plenty of time for interaction and idea sharing. (45)

Thinking More Deeply About What We Do: An Introduction to the Practice of Civic Reflection

Deva Woodly, Project Associate of the Project on Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University

This workshop will introduce NCDD members to civic reflection, the practice of reading and discussing short pieces of literature as a means of reflecting on central questions of civic life. This practice can help citizens talk more comfortably about values, think more deeply about choices, and respond more imaginatively to the needs of their communities. In the past several years, through the work of the Project on Civic Reflection and its partners, thousands of people across America have participated in civic reflection conversations tailored to their civic settings and concerns—from young people clearing trails through the Civilian Conservation Corps in Montana, to retirees volunteering at a food pantry through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in Ohio, to professionals giving to their community through Rotary in Nebraska, to community organizers leading health reform in Illinois. This workshop will begin by introducing participants to the principles of civic reflection. We will then break into smaller groups to share a reading and participate in a facilitated conversation. We will conclude with an overview of resources available through the Project on Civic Reflection, with time for questions and general discussion. (46)

Visual Thinking Tools for Policy Change

Virginia Hamilton, Principle of Conversations Waiting to Happen and John Baker, President of Strategies for the Future

People tightly hold images of themselves and their organizations in ways that can slow down or even stop change. By using visual tools to explicitly uncover these images and their underlying values, we can more easily help individuals and groups change their behavior. Images have an extraordinary power in communication and facilitation because they instantly reveal relationships while tapping into memory and past associations. They are key to releasing intention and will. Unlike graphic facilitation, which typically captures the journey of a group in dialogue, and sometimes has templates and specific processes to guide a group’s work, the focus of this session is based on the belief that images and visual thinking are actually at the core of an individual or group’s behavior. By making these images explicit, and understanding what is keeping them strong, we can more easily grasp actions that we can take to create the change we want to see. The visual method taps into both our intuition and creativity. This session will focus on the use of visual tools in working with groups to accelerate change. Using a set of images from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), participants will review how to use images to tap into right brain thinking and into a bias for action. They will learn how change is deeply rooted to visual thinking, and how image shifts are at the heart of individual and organizational change. (47)

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Notes from 7/1 Conference Call on Inclusion    

Conference call participants: Catherine Orland, Rogier Gregoire, Harold Fields, Sandy Heierbacher, Landon Shultz, P.J. Longoni, Leanne Nurse

Before the call began, Rogier discussed some of his work with encouraging school districts to move from Aristotelian to Socratic pedagogy, to move towards a student-centered, dialogue based, approach to education.  The intractability of established curricula makes this process very difficult, since millions of dollars are invested in current textbooks.  Also, teachers are not used to having a genuine intellectual relationship with their students, given the Industrial Mode of our educational system.  The idea of having to become involved with students in genuine inquiry is antithetical to how many teachers believe the classroom process should be conducted.

Sandy began the call by describing how the Core Team is developing a “self-organizing” way for conference participants to tackle and learn about the top 5 challenges facing our field.  Challenges she specifically mentioned were: moving from dialogue and deliberation to action and policy change, presenting our work inclusively, and walking our talk in terms of bias and inclusion. (more…)

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New Book on Peacebuilding by Amb. John McDonald    

McDonald book coverI’m proud to announce that NCDD Board member Ambassador John McDonald just published a new book called “The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons.”

The book brings together the remembrances of Ambassador McDonald, a veteran diplomat whose life serves as a model to those people of vision and action who wish to make a difference in a world that is desperate for the end of conflict. Beginning his career in international diplomacy in post-WWII Berlin under the Marshall Plan, Ambassador McDonald’s 40 years of working with the U.S. government and the United Nations—as well as with various academic institutions and NGOs—offer the reader both inspiration and hope for the future of international peace and cooperation. This international civil servant of extraordinary vision and courage has devoted his life to the successful resolution of conflict through communication.

The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacemaking contains the professional life lessons of Ambassador McDonald and offers his insight into international issues, providing frank and informed discussion on the environment, women’s rights, the global water crisis, sustainable resources, international development, and, above all, peace. Those looking to be inspired into action should read this book to receive guidance about how one person can make all the difference toward building a lasting peace.

Ambassador John W. McDonald is a lawyer, diplomat, former international civil servant, development expert, peacebuilder, and the co-founder and chairman of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy. Order the 360-page hardcover book now from Lexington Books for $80.

“Engaging the Other” Conference Coming up in San Mateo, CA    

Engaging the Other bannerThe 3rd Annual International Conference on “ENGAGING THE OTHER:” The Power of Compassion will take place September 4-7, 2008 in San Francisco (San Mateo), California, USA. This international, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary conference examines concepts of “The OTHER” from a universal, cross-cultural perspective to promote wider public dialogue about concepts of “Us and Them.”

NCDD is an official endorsing organization of this important conference.

This extraordinary conference will address the roots of fear-based belief systems and stereotypes, prejudice, polarization, enemy images, and artificial barriers of misunderstanding and distrust that divide us. Join an international list of over 60 presenters and visionaries, and hundreds of concerned individuals, to engage in 3 1/2 days of workshops, roundtables, and focused, facilitated dialogue bridging the divide and cultivating our capacity for reconciliation, appreciation of diversity, and peace.

Registration is open to professionals as well as the general public, and continuing educational credits are available. The conference is sponsored by the Common Bond Institute and is Co-Sponsored by the International Humanistic Psychology Association, Institute of Imaginal Studies and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. It is also supported by a growing international list of over 90 organizations and universities. (more…)

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