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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 2010

NCoC Seeks Director of Civic Health Index (apps due Aug. 6)    

Sorry for the late posting on this one, but it’s a great job opportunity for someone in our field. NCoC is looking for a DC-based entrepreneurial leader who can help expand their groundbreaking Civic Health Index program into all 50 states and over 100 cities within the next few years.

National Conference on Citizenship Seeking Director of the Civic Health Index

Please send resume/CV and cover letter to David B. Smith at dsmith(at)ncoc(dot)net
All applications due by August 6, 2010

Founded in 1946 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is a leader in promoting our nation’s civic life. We track, measure and promote civic participation and engage in partnership with other organizations on a bipartisan, collaborative basis. We focus on ways to enhance history and civics education, encourage national and community service, and promote greater participation in the political process. Through our programs, research, and reports, NCoC defines modern citizenship. (more…)

New NCDD Events Video… please watch & share!    

Our creative director, Andy Fluke, just created a new 3-minute video featuring some of our favorite photos from NCDD conferences over the years (maybe you’re in one of them!). Those of you who have attended NCDD events will enjoy revisiting some of the highlights of the events, and those of you who haven’t may be inspired to join us at the one-day regional events we’re holding this October and November in Austin, Boston, Denver, Portland and San Francisco!

Enjoy the video, and please consider sharing it the YouTube link, which is, on FaceBook, Twitter, your blog or website, and elsewhere!

What Does It Take to Have a Civil Conversation These Days?    

I wanted to share this great article posted on the Huffington Post this afternoon. The article is by Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Founder of America Speaks (an organizational member of NCDD).  Check it out at HuffPo, or read on…

What Does It Take to Have a Civil Conversation These Days?

Carolyn Lukensmeyer, July 23, 2010

On Tuesday, America Speaks will release a report on the results of our June 26 National Town Meeting on the nation’s fiscal future. The report will provide additional insight into what a diverse group of 3,500 Americans had to say when they sat down with one another for seven hours to talk about the federal budget.

Above and beyond the conclusions reached by people in the national discussion, what really stands out to me is the tone and quality of what took place.

Based on watching the news these days, it would be safe to predict that fights would break out if you sat thousands of people together from across the political spectrum and asked them to talk about sensitive political questions. Instead, we saw that people had the courage to sit down with one another and really listen to each other. There was plenty of disagreement, but the disagreements tended to be civil and respectful.

MaryEllen, a participant from Albuquerque, wrote:

It was so refreshing to have civil discourse among people of different ages, persuasions, and backgrounds. Congress could learn a lot from our experience. The tone of our discussions was polite, respectful, and everyone contributed. (more…)

Looking for promising practices in public engagement    

The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) is conducting an important survey of public engagement practitioners in collaboration with Penn’s Fels Institute of Government.

Fels is looking for stories about successful (however YOU define it) efforts to engage people in public policy and community problem-solving – as well as lessons learned from less-than-successful efforts. They’re working on a Promising Practices Report on Public Engagement, and your contributions could be featured. NCDD is looking for such stories as well, for the NCDD website and for other projects that benefit our field.

If you think your experience could contribute to these efforts, I encourage you to take a few minutes to complete this survey today (deadline is next Friday).

The survey is online at (feel free to share this link with your colleagues and networks!)

Announcing CommunityMatters10 conference and Strong Communities competition    

NCDD member Ariana McBride asked me to extend an invitation to all NCDD members to consider attending the Orton Family Foundation‘s upcoming conference, CommunityMatters10, which is taking place October 5th – 8th in Denver, Colorado. The event is shaping up to bring together an exciting coalition of leaders, thinkers and doers committed to building strong, vibrant communities from the ground up.

CommunityMatters is an interactive exchange for individuals and organizations working to engage citizens and build strong, vibrant communities from the ground up. CommunityMatters fuels a growing network of leaders, thinkers and doers in a variety of disciplines—planning, sustainability, health, democracy, education, economic development and the arts. CommunityMatters is a project of the Orton Family Foundation, in collaboration with other partners. Register before August 27 and benefit from Early Bird Rates. You’ll also get first pick of our Workshops and Mobile Tours and reserve your place to take part in a unique innovation-action experience with our Strong Communities competition finalists and hundreds of other community innovators.

In addition to registering for the CommunityMatters10 conference, consider submitting an entry in the Strong Communities Competition. Finalists will be showcased at CommunityMatters10, and the top 3 entries will win $5,000 each.

Submissions will be accepted from June 16 to August 11, 2010 at  Here’s a bit more info about the Strong Communities competition… (more…)

Updated Results of Open Gov Plan Audit Released    

I received the following announcement today from Amy Bennett at Those of you keeping up with Open Gov news will find this very interesting. I’m so impressed with what our friends at OpenTheGovernment have been able to accomplish!  Here’s the message from Amy…

“As many of you may know, earlier this year launched a project to evaluate open government at the agencies. The first step in the project was an audit conducted by volunteers from nonprofit groups, academia, and other organizations that serve the public interest who have experience working with the agencies and evaluating information policies of the Open Government Plans required to be posted by April 7, 2010 by the Open Government Directive (OGD). Our audit found that many of the Open Government Plans produced by the agencies failed to fulfill the basic requirements outlined in the OGD. In light of the ample room for improvement, invited revisions to the plans by June 25 for re-evaluation.

Twenty-three of 39 agencies that have published substantive open government plans submitted revised plans for re-evaluation. Today we are releasing the results of those re-evaluations, along with evaluations of plans created by agencies that were not required to do so, but did anyway.

This is the last time we will audit the open government plans. Currently we are working with a consortia of academic institutions to develop some metrics to measure implementation. Soon, we will release our proposed metrics for public comments. Please let us know if you have any questions about our project, or the results.

Amy Bennett

NCDD resources are back online (all 2,392 of them!)    

I wanted to let everyone know that the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation’s resource database is back up and running (yay!) at (on the NCDD site, you can click on “resources” at the top of any page to get to the Resource Center).

The Resource Center describes and categorizes close to 2,400 resources — including many dialogue guides, D&D methods, online tools, case studies, videos, higher ed programs, articles, NCDD publications, and more.  It’s up on the new site (we’re transitioning from to so you can see the new, simpler, cleaner site design while you’re at it.

One of our summer interns, Allyson Gasdaska, has been updating the Resource Center with resources we announced on the NCDD blog while our old Learning Exchange was down.  She and our other summer intern, Cait Kershner, will be doing all kinds of other work in the Resource Center, but we could really use some volunteer help as well.  We need to check all existing resources, updating broken links and adding appropriate categories and tags.  And we need to add new resources that came out during the hiatus.  Let me know if you’re interested in helping out with this project!

Also, when you look over the main page of the Resource Center, you’ll see that the right sidebar includes some things to help you find and navigate resources:

  • A list of Meta-Resources (like our helpful Glossary and beginner’s pages)
  • Advanced Search, which allows you to look for resources in specific categories and tags (search for your name and make sure YOUR work is listed!)
  • Categories, which show how many resources we have in each (54 journals & newsletters, for ex)
  • Newest Resources (most recently added)
  • Tag Cloud (which will be more and more useful as we add tags to more of the resources)

Please check out the Resource Center and let me know what you think (and whether you’d like to help update and add resources).  And feel free to add the RSS feed, which is, to your RSS readers, facebook walls, linkedin accounts, etc!

Whose Voice Matters Most?    

NCDD member Jeffrey Abelson gave us permission to share his article here on the NCDD blog.  It was featured on the Huffingting Post here, and on Jeffrey’s Song of a Citizen blog. On the NCDD Discussion list, we’ve been discussing the heck out of the recent AmericaSpeaks national discussion on the federal debt (and the surrounding controversy), but we haven’t posted much to the blog about it.  Jeffrey’s article is a good summary and a good example of how people in our field can respond…

All serious citizens claim to revere Thomas Jefferson. It might be worth noting how deeply rooted were his convictions and faith in the people’s ability to govern themselves. A faith justified by what he saw in the common sense of the common man, and a faith in the power of reason to regulate human affairs.

Cut to June 2010, and the odd outburst of anti-self-governance sentiment by some of America’s popular thinkers on the left — each trying to outdo the next in excoriating AmericaSpeaks, and the national town meeting they recently held. Since that event (like all citizen deliberation events) was the kind of grass roots democracy-building exercise that one would expect to be trumpeted from the heights of liberalism, one must ask: What’s going on here?

On the surface, the criticism was directed at perceived bias in the study guides prepared for the event (though also sprinkled with baseless assertions about AmericaSpeaks as an organization) — charges nicely rebutted by Harvard’s Archon Fung. But beneath the surface, there seems to lurk a sense that The People can’t be trusted to think for themselves about the priorities of our national budget, or the direction of our country. And I fear that view is not limited to critics of AmericaSpeaks, but is shared by many on the left. (more…)

Common Sense CA merging with Davenport Institute at Pepperdine    

NCDD member Pete Peterson invited me to share some big news with the NCDD network.  Common Sense California is merging with the Davenport Institute at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy to form the new Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. Pete just started as its executive director.

Pete feels this will be a great platform to continue CSC’s training, consulting, and grant-making in the area of participatory public problem solving. He sees the connection to Pepperdine is part of a shift happening in policy schools across the country that are realizing that public engagement is a civic “leadership skill,” and one that should be included in curriculum and internship opportunities.

See below for the press release and Pete’s new contact info. (more…)

Welcome to June’s new NCDD members!    

20 new members joined NCDD during the month of June: 3 organizational members and 14 individuals (3 dues-paying and 11 non-dues). 4 non-dues members became full dues-paying members, and 9 of our dues-paying members renewed their memberships (2 organizations and 7 individuals)!

We post these monthly summaries not only to welcome our new members and to thank those who re-upped, but also to help members connect with one another. Click on anyone’s name below to learn more about them and connect with them.

Our new organizational members:

  1. Tomorrow Makers, Inc. (Contacts: Todd Johnston and Gail Taylor)
  2. City of Boroondara in Victoria, Australia (Deb Ganderton, Mandy Bow, and Belinda Lowing)
  3. IFOK (Felix Oldenburg)

Our 14 new individual members (some dues-paying and some non-dues) are:

  1. Peg Carlson-Bowen of San Jose, California
  2. Kathleen Rice, Consultant with K L Rice Consulting
  3. Karen Hirsch at Clearing The Way
  4. Lilly Bertz at Fels Institute of Government
  5. Janice Thomson at Involve
  6. Allyson Gasdaska, NCDD summer intern
  7. Will Thomas at the University of Alabama
  8. Tim Hartnett with Consensus Facilitation
  9. Steve Levin with Leading Change Consulting & Coaching
  10. Daniel Phillips at the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado
  11. Melinda Epler at Re-Vision Labs
  12. Bill Scheurer at KarmaKorn
  13. Maggie Nyabate with the Art Outreach Program in Kenya
  14. David Rosenberg of Massachusetts

We also had 4 of our existing members become full dues-paying members last month, which we greatly appreciate! They are:

  1. Cynthia McDermott at University of Arizona and Foxfire
  2. Susan Loucks at the Greater Boston Employment Collaborative
  3. Ernie Ting at Smart Voter
  4. Craig Freshley with Good Group Decisions

In the month of June, 9 NCDDers renewed their memberships. 2 organizational members renewed:

  1. AmericaSpeaks (Contacts: Janet Fiero, Joe Goldman, and Josh Chirnila)
  2. Clark University’s Higgins School of Humanities (Sarah Buie, Walter Wright and John Sarrouf)

And 7 people renewed as dues-paying individual members, and those are:

  1. Ginny Morrison with Collaboration Specialists
  2. Carol Stewart at New Hampshire Mediation Program, Inc.
  3. Jeff Weissglass at More Than Money
  4. John Stephens with the School of Government at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  5. Delia Horwitz at BRC (Business Relationship Consultants)
  6. Carol Chetkovich at Mills College’s Public Policy Program
  7. Hans-Peter Meister with IFOK

Welcome and thanks, everyone!

To learn about other NCDD members (there are over 1,290 of us now!), find members in your state or city, etc., visit the NCDD members network at

And to see if your membership is in good standing, search for yourself in the members network and look at what’s in the Member Type field in your profile. If it says “lapsed” or “non-dues-paying,” please consider becoming a current dues-paying member (see payment details here). You can also email office manager Joy Garman at if you have questions about your status, need payment instructions, or want to change the info on your profile page.

Boost your Dialogue Skills & Credentials    

NCDD member Paul Weisman is sponsoring a one-day dialogue workshop followed by a two-day certification program in Jacksonville, Florida on July 26-28, and he invites NCDD members to participate at a discounted rate (10% off).

SMART Conversations® is a work that incorporates best practices of thought leaders like Stephen Covey, Daniel Goleman, David Bohm and William Isaacs. After the certification, you will be able to more confidently facilitate public engagement events, strategic planning sessions, business meetings and all types of conversations that would benefit from consensus building, relationship building, appreciating diversity and developing solutions.

SMART Conversations® provides a simple, memorable, heart-centered process rooted in four core conditions: Shared Meaning, Authenticity, Respect and Trust and Five Principles. For more information, please contact Paul Weisman at 617-413-4291 or Michele Simos Weisman at 781-844-4916. Or click here to learn more:

Job opening at Public Agenda for Public & Stakeholder Engagement Associate    

Public Agenda, a national non-profit, non-partisan research and civic engagement organization, and an NCDD organizational member, is seeking a public & stakeholder engagement associate. Public Agenda ( is at the forefront of the vibrant field of public & stakeholder deliberation/collaborative problem solving and is pleased to offer this opportunity for a confident, motivated professional.

Public Agenda’s public and stakeholder engagement methodologies and practices include issue framing, community forums, leadership dialogues, and on-line engagement strategies. Current projects involve work with community-based organizations and leaders at all levels across the United States to build capacity for engaging critical stakeholders in problem solving on issues around K-12 and higher education reform, economic development/regional planning, the environment/energy use, health care and others. The engagement associate will work on a variety of research and writing tasks, on field–based work on diverse projects, and will assist with organizational tasks in support of a busy department.

Public Agenda is looking for a highly motivated, collaborative fully bi-lingual (Spanish/English) individual who is interested in joining their team in New York City and developing into a project leader over time. (more…)

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