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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 February 2009

Sign the “Forward Together Declaration”    

The Listening Post Project at Johns Hopkins University is organizing the Forward Together Declaration: Empowering America’s Citizen Sector for the Change We Need.

The declaration reads, “As concerned leaders in the nonprofit, or citizen, sector, we have come together in this time of national crisis to renew our commitment to serve as partners in public service in addressing the challenges our nation faces. We invite our colleagues in the nonprofit sector, in organized philanthropy, in government, in the business world, and in academia, to join us in this effort so that together we can use the present crisis as an occasion to rededicate our nation to the principles of joint responsibility and concerted action that have long been the source of our strength.”

Read the full declaration at, sign it if you agree with it, and pass it along to your networks and colleagues.

Pre-Conference Training Proposals Due for 2009 IAP2 Conference    

IAP2 logoProposals for pre-conference trainings are due TOMORROW (Friday, February 27th) by noon GMT for the 17th Annual IAP2 conference in San Diego, California this September 21st through 23rd. Facilitators of pre-conference trainings set their own participant fees for their trainings.

The theme for this year’s International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) conference is Making Sustainable Decisions: The Price and Promise of Public Participation. As a Conference Partner, NCDD is playing a major role in the San Diego conference and we hope to have a large NCDD contingent there. NCDD members will pay a discounted registration fee for the conference, and we will hold at least one NCDD gathering and/or workshop at the event.

IAP2 wants to expand the definition of sustainability to encompass all the characteristics that make decision-making processes and the resulting decisions sustainable. Specifically, we are looking for presentations focused around the following themes:

  1. Sustainable decision-making processes: what characteristics are necessary for a public participation process to be sustainable?
  2. Sustainable decisions: In what ways does public participation lead to decisions that are more workable and enduring than those made without public participation?
  3. Sustainable outcomes: How do public participation processes and better decisions specifically contribute to the sustainability of projects and programs?

We believe now is the time to embed in decision-making sustainable processes that will lead to sustainable outcomes. We look forward to seeing you in San Diego to explore and advance our understanding of how to make better, stronger, durable decisions that improve our quality of life and leave a better world in place for future generations.

Visit or for more details about the event.

Call for proposals for this year’s Engaging The Other conference    

Engaging the Other bannerThe 4th Annual International Conference on “Engaging The Other:” The Power of Compassion is taking place November 13-15 in San Mateo, California (outside San Francisco), and we encourage all NCDDers interested in conflict resolution and intergroup relations to attend! NCDD is co-sponsoring this event with the Common Bond Institute and the International Humanistic Psychology Association, and registration will be discounted for NCDD members ($290 rather than $350 for the early rate).

Engaging The Other (ETO) is an innovative interdisciplinary conference examining concepts of “The Other” from a universal, cross-cultural perspective to promote wider public dialogue about concepts of “Us and Them.”

Now is the time to submit your proposal for a concurrent session (workshop), and/or to sign up as a dialogue group facilitator. (more…)

Save the Date: Deliberative Democracy in Higher Ed Conference this July    

Co-hosted by NCDD members The Democracy Imperative and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, an event called “No Better Time: Promising Opportunities in Deliberative Democracy for Educators and Practitioners” will take place this July 8-11 at the University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH).

Details have not been officially released, but I wanted you to think about saving these dates. The conference will be centered around “Learning Exchanges” – thoughtful discussions about key challenges in deliberative democracy hosted by leading scholars and practitioners. It looks like I’ll be co-hosting a Learning Exchange with Martin Carcasson and Jim Fishkin on choosing, mixing, and adapting deliberation models and methods. (more…)

Upcoming ALIA Institute Trainings (formerly Shambhala)    

The Shambhala Institute recently changed its name to the ALIA Institute (Authentic Leadership In Action), and asked us to share some info about their upcoming trainings with you. Their Leading Profound Innovation training with Otto Scharmer, a 3-day exploration of the U Process, will take place April 5-8 in Kingbridge, Ontario. Their long-running Authentic Leadership in Action program will be held in June in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the Shambhala Summer Institute, and the ALIA West will be held in May in Victoria. (more…)

Join the Presencing Institute’s new social network    

Otto Scharmer’s Presencing Institute has a new social network, too! Check it out at if you’re interested in the U Process and the concept of presencing. It’s pretty active.

Also check out the great web tool they’ve created to illustrate “U Tools” at – a social network for gov’t types    

I just joined an interesting social network called GovLoop, that I heard about through NCDD member Stephan Buckley. Govloop is “the premier social network connecting the government community,” and you are encouraged to join if you are: a government employee, a public policy student or professor, a good government organization, or a government contractor with good intentions.

Thought some of you deliberative democracy folks would be interested. Seems like a good way to connect with people in the public sector and stay updated on new developments in e-government, open government, etc.

Did the stimulus house parties tend to invite only one kind of guest?    

NCDD member Pete Peterson has a new article on the conservative City Journal, titled Obama’s One-Way Social Networking: “Stimulus house parties” tend to invite just one kind of guest. He posted to the NCDD Discussion list about the article, and there’s been some interesting discussion about it so far.

In the article, Pete posits that the format of the recent DNC stimulus house parties “suggests that the campaign will never end—and, unfortunately, that serious public engagement with important national issues will rarely occur.” Pete makes some good points, and this article is definitely worth checking out!

Will and Alison Promoted at Public Agenda    

NCDD member Public Agenda announced today that Will Friedman has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In addition, Alison Kadlec has been named Vice President of Public Engagement and Director of Public Agenda’s Center for Advances in Public Engagement (CAPE), which researches, develops and disseminates new insights and practices to build the field of civic engagement and citizen-centered politics.  Congratulations, Will and Alison!

In his new role, Friedman will be responsible for leading the planning, implementation and administration of Public Agenda’s new business development efforts and day-to-day operations. A main focus will be on executing growth strategies for the organization to more closely align its core competencies in public onion research and public engagement. He will remain Director of Public Engagement Programs and continue to expand and oversee Public Agenda’s burgeoning portfolio of community-based public engagement projects.

Kadlec will be responsible for managing CAPE, where she will lead the development of research and evaluation to inform the work of practitioners in advancing civic problem solving. She will also act as Friedman’s deputy in running the overall operations of the public engagement department, including new business development and will serve as project director for several of Public Agenda’s major engagement initiatives. (more…)

Notes from 1-31-09 Austin Focus Group    

On Saturday, January 31st, we conducted an intentionally small focus group with just a few people from the Central Texas conference planning team. Present were Diane Miller, Juli Fellows, Tobin Quereau, Steven Fearing, Patricia Wilson, Taylor Willingham and Terry Crain. We wanted to discuss two things with the focus group:

1. A local D&D network
What would you want from a local network of dialogue and deliberation folks? What can NCDD to support a local network? How can we make the network as low-maintenance and self-organized as possible?

2. A local, multi-process D&D “demonstration project”
What might a demonstration project look like in Austin? What role would NCDD have? What role could outside NCDD members/method leaders have? See for more info about the demonstration project idea that came out of the 2008 NCDD conference.

Here are some things group members seemed to agree on…

Asset mapping and project mapping.
We need to map the existing resources (D&D, but also broader civic engagement) in Central Texas. We want to know who’s doing what work in Central Texas, and be able to connect with each person/organization. We need to figure out what technology will best enable us to do this.

Assessment and learning.
We want people to start doing some basic reporting on their programs. What were the successes? What was challenging? We want to capture learnings from public engagement initiatives, and make them available to those doing this work.

Coordinate activities.
In any given issue (health care, climate change, etc.), there are many activities being run already. Rather than start from scratch on a demonstration project, why not start recording and assessing what’s already happening? We can agree in principles, on elements we think should be consistent across programs, and on assessment measures, and then ask people to practially continue what they’re already doing. This would strengthen our capacity without starting from scratch, and give us data to amplify citizens voices and make a greater impact.

Learning community.
The people in the room were more interested in forming a small learning community than in establishing a larger local network. Members of a learning community would meet to share learnings and challenges, and might work together on projects. They would run professional development activities for each other, such as informal trainings in different D&D methods. Although NCDD would want to help with a more exclusive learning community however we can, we are determined to help create the space for a larger, open local network of practitioners and scholars.

Demonstration project.
The group felt that they had the human resources locally to be able to design and run a multi-process D&D demonstration project, without much involvement of outside process leaders. The involvement of NCDD was most welcome in several ways:

  1. To bring in additional funds (it was felt that, as a national organization, NCDD would be more successful with national and local funders)
  2. To provide guidelines and evaluation mechanisms that could be standardized among multiple programs
  3. To collect and amplify the results of public engagement programs

Group members agreed that any demonstration project should focus on one particular topic that is timely in the community. They agreed that the issue needed to be one where we could have some control over the process (local government is not already planning a major engagement initiative around the issue, for example). And they felt that a key ingredient of any project would be to have specific goals, and be very clear about what you’re trying to accomplish (too many things have been happening lately with no clear endpoint or purpose).

A couple of clear next steps emerged…

Larger-Scale Networking
NCDD is going to create a larger listserv to help public engagement folks in Central Texas connect, share resources, and announce opportunities (or we partner with Texas Forums to do this together).

Mapping Resources and Projects
Research technology that would allow us to map out who’s doing what D&D work in Central Texas. Look into whether we can also get people to start doing basic reporting on their programs (what were the successes? what was challenging?).

A small group met to talk about these things in depth. What do others from Central Texas think about the idea of a demonstration project, or how best to run a local D&D network? Your ideas and feedback are most welcome!

Summary of Demonstration Project Idea    

The idea of an NCDD-led “demonstration project” emerged at the 2008 NCDD conference from a two-part workshop titled “How can WE revitalize democracy with D&D?” The workshop was co-led by DeAnna Martin of the Center for Wise Democracy and Adin Rogovin of the Co-Intelligence Institute.

The workshop brought together method leaders and practitioners in a dynamically facilitated fishbowl conversation to explore how we can weave together our work to enhance democracy. Workshop attendees were invited to observe the process and a couple of chairs in the fishbowl were left available so audience members could join in.  At different times the fishbowl conversation included: Tom Atlee, Theo Brown, Lucas Cioffi, Peggy Holman, Sen. Les Ihara, Julianna Padgett, Pete Peterson, Jim Rough, Elliot Shuford, John Spady, Patricia Wilson, Landon Shultz, Alexander Moll and others.

A demonstration project could…

  1. Give us the opportunity to collaborate on a tangible project that helps us learn and move forward together
  2. Generate momentum and resources for ongoing, sustainable, integrated method use
  3. Help us learn how to better meet the interests of decision makers
  4. Introduce a variety of D&D methods into governance, and integrate these methods into a system that is a citizen platform for having citizens make wise decisions in an inclusive way
  5. Build capacity at the local level and build capacity for our field – through capturing case studies, stories, and bringing leaders together to learn from one another
  6. Funnel into national processes (and vice versa) (more…)

Find similar posts: NCDD2008

Janette’s Write-Up on Australia’s First Citizens’ Parliament    

Australian dynamo and long-time NCDD member Janette Hartz-Karp, who played a huge part in making this month’s Australian Citizens Parliament happen, sent me a write-up last night for the NCDD blog. The Citizens Parliament was the first of its kind in Australia and is a model for us all.

Here’s a preview (click “more” for the full story if it doesn’t appear below)…

For me, as the key designer of the 4 day deliberation and its co-lead facilitator, it felt like a being on stage in a TV drama where unscripted onstage and offstage dramas had a life of their own, and where the participants stepped up to become extraordinary. If anyone needed convincing that ‘ordinary’ people can create extraordinary outcomes, deliberating wisely and co-intelligently, then this Citizens’ Parliament was exemplary.

Lyn Carson also sent me links to two great articles on the Citizens Parliament:

And you can also download a two-page summary Carson sent me, which goes into a little more detail about the process and the specific outcomes. (more…)

Carson’s Take on Australian Citizens Parliament    

Citzens Parliament logoLyn Carson (“Carson”) sent me the following text last night for the NCDD blog. Carson is the University of Sydney’s Chief Investigator on the Citizens’ Parliament Project, and it’s great to have an insider’s view…

I have just returned from Australia’s first Citizens’ Parliament ( which really was an extraordinary event, focused on how to strengthen Australia’s political system to serve us better. It seemed like a curious counterweight to this bushfire tragedy which raged as 150 randomly-selected citizens collaborated (some of the CP folks were affected by it—homes, friends and family—but remained at Old Parliament House with us). The fires were ghastly, really ghastly. The CP was uplifting and empowering. It was a strangely beautiful juxtaposition which participants will never forget, any more than those so cruelly affected by those fires will ever forget.

Held over four days, it was a terrific combination of small group work in the Members’ Dining Room with networked computers that beamed back their collective ideas, along with some plenary sessions in the former House of Representatives chamber. Fred Chaney and Lowitja O’Donoghue chaired the formal proceedings and introduced and closed each day’s proceedings. Academics and politicians came along as resource people to share their expertise. Twenty three capable facilitators kept the 23 small groups to task with a massive agenda that was determined by the participants themselves. The 150 Citizen Parliamentarians were supported by these facilitators as well as two Lead Facilitators, Janette Hartz-Karp and Max Hardy.

By the final day, many members of this citizen body had shifted dramatically and they spoke passionately about that change—from the youngest member (18 years old) to the oldest member (93 years old). The youngest member went from being a timid young woman to suggesting she might aspire to be Prime Minister. Citizen Parliamentarians wanted an extra copy of the final report (which was handed to them on departure) to lobby their local Member of Parliament. Senator John Faulkner opened the event and promised to take the recommended seriously. Parliamentary Secretary Anthony Byrne closed the event and reiterated that promise. More information is available from or contact Lyn Carson at .

Cool Video from Born Again America    

A big thank-you to Stephanie Nestlerode for sending this to NCDD’s Central Texas listserv. I enjoyed and was moved by the video, and love the message: “the people’s will must have the upper hand” in our democracy.

View the video at, then sign the pledge to become a more active citizen. Declare yourself is encouraging people to vote, volunteer, and let their elected officials know what you think.

50% Discount on American Citizens’ Summit for NCDD Members    

If you haven’t yet joined NCDD, now might be the time…

Joseph McCormick of the Transpartisan Alliance is offering a huge 50% discount to all NCDD members who haven’t registered yet for this month’s American Citizens’ Summit in Denver.

When you register for the American Citizens’ Summit, choose your registration type (affiliated, unaffiliated, leadership delegate) and a box will pop up asking you to “Enter code here.” Enter “friendfamily” (no quotes) in the box and you will be charged half price. I hope some of you – especially those of you near Denver! – will be able to attend this important event. NCDD is a proud co-sponsor of the Summit.

Visit for more details. You can also look over ALL the great discounts that NCDD members who pay the optional annual membership fee (just $50) receive at

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