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collaborative action

The “collaborative action” stream is focused on empowering people and groups to solve complicated problems and take responsibility for the solution. Study Circles, Future Search, and Appreciative Inquiry are considered part of this stream.

IJP2 Call for Papers – Special Obama Issue    

Here’s an important announcement from NCDD member Steve Pyser, who is the Editor of IAP2’s online journal, the International Journal of Public Participation (IJP2).

Call for Papers – International Journal of Public Participation (IJP2) – Special Symposium Issue (January 2010)

The International Journal of Public Participation (IJP2) brings together academicians and practitioners interested in a multidisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among researchers, practitioners, decision-makers, and citizens about public participation and its impact around the world.  It has been created with the specific intention of bridging the arenas of research and practice within the field of public participation.

Beginning with the presidential campaign, moving to the transition period, and once in office, the Obama team has sought to alter the relationship between American citizens and their government.  IJP2 is interested in learning and sharing the perspectives of all stakeholders about the Obama Administration’s public engagement efforts and invites both scholars and practitioners to respond to our inquiry.

IJP2 will publish in its January 2010 issue a set of essays of 3000 to 5000 words, from both scholar and practitioner perspectives.  We seek manuscripts reflecting all voices and diverse political viewpoints from our worldwide readership.  Submitted essays can address one of the following questions, or authors may choose a different question or set of questions to address. Case studies, experiences, and conclusions based on data are welcome. (more…)

Obama, Public Engagement, and the D&D; Community… An (Extraordinary) Half-Year in Review    

With the transition to a new presidential administration that focused its campaign on getting people involved in government, 2009 has been a whirlwind year of unprecedented opportunity and possibility for the dialogue and deliberation community and all those working in public engagement.  Below is an outline/timeline of what’s happened so far this year that’s relevant to our community of practice.

On his first day in office, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to leaders of executive departments and government agencies calling for a new era of transparency and open government.  In the memo, Obama asserted “we will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration,” and called for an Open Government Directive “that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum” on transparency, public participation, and collaboration.

The memo caused a number of things to be set into motion that have excited, mobilized, and sometimes troubled the entire public engagement community to an unprecedented degree.  Many in NCDD and related networks were concerned that since our field had not yet collectively embraced a standard set of principles or criteria for quality public engagement, people would end up pasting the label of “public engagement” on manipulative efforts that were more about public relations than about learning from or empowering the public.  Others were concerned that the many networks and organizations active in our field would essentially end up competing with each other to be heard by the administration, and that, with our mixed messages, we might drown out each other’s voices in the process.

NCDD, the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and the Co-Intelligence Institute responded to this excitement and concern by leading a collaborative, open process for members of our networks to develop a set of Core Principles for Public Engagement.  Numerous leaders and thinkers in public engagement were involved in the commenting, drafting, and editing process, and the Core Principles document has since been enthusiastically endorsed by dozens of leading organizations in this work, including the National League of Cities, the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, the League of Women Voters, AmericaSpeaks, Everyday Democracy, Public Agenda, the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), and many others. (more…)

Call for Proposals to C2D2 2009    

C2D2 logoOur sister organization, the Canadian Community for Dialogue & Deliberation, is holding its third national conference this fall. The 2009 Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation will take place October 22-25 in Toronto, Ontario, and early registration ends on July 31st. Registration is currently $393.75 CAD with taxes, and the rate will increase $100 CAD beginning in August.

C2D2 is about to announce their call for proposals, and you can download the call and application here. Proposals are due July 31st for concurrent sessions, field visits, marketplace showcases, and night-cap dialogues. Proposals should fall under four broad areas: leading change, conversations, stronger communities, and healthier democracies. Youth are especially encouraged to share the innovative and impactful work they’re doing.

Contact Miriam Wyman at if you have questions, or visit the C2D2 2009 conference site.

New PACE Report on How Local Gov’t is Reinventing Civic Engagement    

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) just released a great new report called “The New Laboratories of Democracy:  How Local Government is Reinventing Civic Engagement.”  Mike McGrath from the National Civic League authored the report, which can be downloaded from the PACE website at http://pacefunders.org/publications/NewLaboratoriesofDemocracy.pdf.

The PACE report details the innovative methods local governments around the country are using to increase civic engagement by the public. “Local governments are at the cutting edge of finding new tools and methods to increase civic engagement in this country. We hope this report will stimulate new thinking within the philanthropic community, as well as in local governments around the country, and help spread the word about these new and successful approaches,” said Chris Gates, Executive Director of PACE.

Featuring a foreword by National League of Cities Executive Director Donald Borut, the report combines original research with an overview of the literature and history of civic engagement and local government reform while highlighting fresh insights from foundation leaders, civic experts, scholars, local officials and public engagement advocates.

“The New Laboratories of Democracy: How Local Government is Reinventing Civic Engagement” traces the quest for deeper and more authentic forms of public engagement from the anti-poverty programs over the last 45 years through the 1990s when a variety of trends came together to foster a “second wave” of civic innovation. Those trends included a growing skepticism about government’s role in society, increasing concern for the need to re-knit the fabric of struggling communities and a desire for more authentic, civil and “deliberative” forms of public discourse and decision-making. (more…)

Request for YOUR Participation from Robynn Sturm    

I received an email today from Greg Nelson, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He forwarded on a message from Robynn Sturm, Assistant Deputy CTO for Open Government, encouraging our networks’ participation in the Discussion phase of the Open Government dialogue that’s going on right now on the OSTP blog at http://blog.ostp.gov/, and giving us a heads up on the soon-to-come posts about citizen participation and civic engagement, which many of you will surely want to participate in if you’re not already active in this phase.

In his email, Greg said “We’re excited about these initial phases, and want to make sure we engage as broadly as possible.”

Here is Robynn’s email:

Thank you so much for joining us on last Thursday’s call about public participation in the development of the Obama Administration’s Open Government policy. As suggested on that call, we want to provide this list with an update and invite your continued participation. The Discussion Phase is ongoing at www.whitehouse.gov/open/blog/.

At present, we are seeking input for our recommendations on transparency policy. We have discussions open for comment on:

Over the next 48 hours, we will also post a new request for input on:

  • Transparency: Open Government Operations and
  • Transparency: Data, Data.gov and Metadata

As we wrap up the transparency conversation with a final posting about information access and the Freedom of Information Act tomorrow, we want to preview what’s coming this week in the discussion about Citizen Participation and Civic Engagement. Beginning on Wednesday we’ll start conversations on Participation:

  • Creating More Opportunities for Citizen Participation in Government Decision making
  • Increasing Citizen Participation and Civic Education
  • E-Democracy: New Tools and Technologies for Participation
  • Web 2.0 Policy Framework
  • Public Participation in Federal Rulemaking

We need your participation to ensure a productive conversation that informs the Administration’s policies on transparency, participation, and collaboration with your expertise and experience. Perhaps even more important, we need your help to ensure that open processes of policymaking become the norm in this Administration.

Many thanks,

Robynn Sturm, Assistant Deputy CTO for Open Government

Notes from Call with Open Gov’t Folks on Phase II    

I was invited via email onto a conference call with members of the White House Open Government team today at noon Eastern, to discuss the launch of Phase II of the Open Government Initiative and opportunities to get involved. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make the call, so I asked two NCDDers (Tim Bonnemann and Lucas Cioffi) who have been paying close attention to the Open Government dialogue process to participate in the call and take notes.

I was able to make the call after all and our combined notes from the call are below. As I posted earlier, you can read about the recent work of the Open Government Initiative at: www.whitehouse.gov/blog/Wrap-Up-of-the-Open-Government-Brainstorming-Transparency/.

My email invitation came from Greg Nelson, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and in his message he noted:

“Phase II focuses on defining the challenges in greater depth. We will be asking for your help with fleshing out the issues, potential solutions, and the pros and cons of proposed approaches. The goal of Phase II is to explore proposals for a Government-wide framework to achieve transparency, participation and collaboration. We want your help with translating good ideas into concrete, measurable and cost-effective solutions.” (more…)

Report on Brainstorming Phase Mentions NCDD and Lists PEP Principles!    

The 13-page NAPA (National Academy of Public Administration) report to Beth Noveck on phase 1 of the Open Government Dialogue is available, and I am excited to say that the Core Principles for Public Engagement we all worked so hard to construct earlier this year were listed in the report in full!

As you probably know, the Open Government dialogue feeds into the Open Government Directive that President Obama called for in his Memo on Transparency and Open Government, which he issued on his first day in office.  The report on the “Brainstorm” phase said the “Grassroots/Local Civic Participation/Deliberative Democracy” group (us!) was “the largest and most well-prepared group in the Brainstorm: they were early to the table and augmented their ranks as the dialogue proceeded.”  Yay us!

Of course, as Tim Bonnemann pointed out in the NCDD listserv, the report does say “Most of the ideas presented by the Deliberative Democracy group do not lend themselves to immediate action; they are, rather, general principles.”  I’m not so sure I agree with that myself, as I know a lot of NCDDers submitted some pretty actionable ideas.

The second phase of the Open Government Dialogue (the “Discuss” phase) launched yesterday, and I was invited by Greg Nelson, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement onto a conference call that’s happening today at noon Eastern about this second phase. This second phase will utilize blog software (the OSTP blog at http://blog.ostp.gov/ to be exact) to dig deeper into topics brought up during the Brainstorm phase. (more…)

D&D; Video Playlists on YouTube    

A few weeks ago, I created 7 public playlists on YouTube, featuring some great videos that show and/or introduce people to dialogue and deliberation. The playlists can be found at www.youtube.com/profile?user=sheierbacher&view;=playlists#play/playlists.

I created the playlists after someone on the main NCDD discussion list asked for links to YouTube videos (read:  short and easily accessible) on dialogue and deliberation, and received a whole variety of replies. I wondered how NCDD could make these videos easy for people to find longer-term (searching for “dialogue” or “deliberation” on YouTube yields too many weird results), and discovered that I could create public playlists.

I organized well over 100 YouTube videos (most of which I had no idea were even available!) into these playlists:

  • About dialogue & deliberation (people talking about D&D;)
  • Dialogue & deliberation in practice (includes clips of actual D&D;)
  • Dialogue & deliberation events (specific projects and events)
  • NCDD Videos (from all our events)
  • NCDD Austin (a bunch of great little videos were taken at our 2008 conference; plus Tim Thomas’ amazing photo journal shown during the closing session can be found here)
  • Sandy’s favorite D&D; videos (to help people quickly find what I consider the best of the best)
  • Graphic recording (these cool videos deserved their own category)

Crisis to Resilience Webinar Series Starts Tonight    

I wanted to post a reminder that the 4-part webinar series, the “Transition from Crisis 2 Resilience Webinar” is holding its first one-hour webinar tonight at 7 pm Eastern.  Regular tuition is $110, which includes a Transition Crisis 2 Resilience Handbook, but fee-paying NCDD members can register for $88 at http://crisis2resilience.com/ncdd.

A Crisis Doesn’t Have to Become A Disaster

Position yourself, your clients, your community facing natural and human-generated crises, for immediate survival through building long-term resilience.

For: Facilitators, Mediators, Consultants, Business & Community Leaders, Emergency Service Providers, Citizens

Upcoming weekly 4 one-hour webinars:  June 2, 9, 15, and 23, 4 – 5PM Pacific Time; 7 – 8PM Eastern Time 12PM GMT

Us Partners and the Global Facilitators Service Corps are teaming up to expand the corps of leaders knowledgeable in crisis management and building resilience. We educate people to be able to facilitate communities, organizations, business, and individuals to emerge from the trauma of crisis to becoming self-reliant, self-organizing, innovative and resilient.

Special discount link for fee-paying NCDD members: http://crisis2resilience.com/ncdd

Questions?  Email Hina Pendle at

Open Space Training this Month in London    

Dr. Sheila Marsh asked me to mention a training in Open Space facilitation that’s being offered June 17-19, 2009 in Little Venice, London.  She said the training is a “great value and diverse group led by 2 experienced open space practitioners.” Contact Sue Strachan, programme administrator at or visit www.healthdirections.org/openspace.htm.  The cost with all materials and refreshments is £495. Some ‘bursaries’ are available.

Submissions Due Next Monday for IAP2 Core Values Awards    

Consider submitting a program or organization for IAP2’s International Core Values Awards.  This is a great opportunity to get lots of additional PR and accolades for successful dialogue and deliberation efforts.  Submissions are due next Monday (June 8th), and at this point your chances are pretty good since there are only 4 submissions so far!  (I’m one of this year’s judges, as the awards will be presented at the San Diego IAP2 conference this September and NCDD is a Partner.)

The IAP2 Core Values Awards recognize excellence and innovation in the field of public participation guided by the seven IAP2 Core Values for Public Participation. Two awards are presented annually; one for a project and one to an organization, which exemplify the spirit and purpose of public participation. Preference will be given to projects that demonstrate the use of innovative techniques, sustainable solutions to problems that face the field of public participation, and the successful involvement of the public in new areas. The winning organization should show how public participation has affected decisions. (more…)

Notes from May 21st Call with White House Open Gov’t Officials    

Here are my notes from the conference call with White House officials that was held on May 21st, 2009 (the day after the official launch of the Open Government dialogue)…

I received an email from Greg Nelson, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, on May 21st inviting me to a conference call later that day with “senior White House officials… to discuss the launch of the White House open government initiative and the start of online public engagement on the open government recommendations.  Your organization’s participation in the process of crafting these recommendations is very important, so we hope that you are able to join us for the discussion.”

Note:  here’s an important tidbit that’s a bit buried in my notes, as Beth Noveck said this towards the end of the question-and-answer segment:

We’re counting on you; it’s the people you work with and talk to who are deeply committed and knowledgeable about the issues here.  Also, we’re getting the best ideas into the mix early; getting the people with both experience and expertise to share their ideas.

In other words, they really are looking for serious involvement from networks of practitioners and experts! (more…)

New Article by Pete Peterson in Fox & Hounds Daily    

NCDD member Pete Peterson just wrote a great article for Fox & Hounds Daily, a website designed to discuss and explain the confluence of politics and business in California. Pete is the Executive Director of Common Sense California, and was one of the panelists on our “conservatives panel” at NCDD Austin.

The last paragraph of this article, which I highly recommend reading, sums it up pretty well:

It’s a process I have witnessed many times: as residents learn about the difficult trade off decisions their public leaders have to make, they wonder what they can do to help keep their communities livable and sustainable. These examples, and many others, highlight the new relationship that is developing between local governments and their residents – more collaborative and participatory. It seems that when the vending machine is broken, more and more Californians, instead of kicking it or putting more money in, are joining with others to make their own lunches.

The article, titled When the Vending Machine Breaks, makes the case for participatory budgeting, and provides some great examples you may want to “borrow”!  View the article. (more…)

Austin Training in Collaboration and Conflict Resolution    

Betty Gilmore at the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law asked us to post about an upcoming training in Austin that sounds great. The theme for this summer’s Skills Enrichment Institute is “Innovations in Collaboration and Conflict Resolution,” and it will take place July 29-31, 2009 at the Lakeway Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas.

This dynamic skill building program allows participants to choose among six two-day sessions, all representing the latest advances in the field. Spending two days in one session contributes to a deeper and more focused experience. In addition, the program fosters opportunities for a variety of connections through topical discussion groups that occur during off hours. The selected session topics showcase prominent trainers and fresh contributions to the field. The sessions will help participants integrate innovative techniques into their work. The private, lakeside setting provides a congenial atmosphere for deliberate thought and dialogue among colleagues and recognized leaders in the field. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

The plenary speaker is Susan Collin Marks, Senior Vice President of Search for Common Ground, and the trainings sessions are:

* Creating Value through Negotiation – Melissa Manwaring, J.D., M.Ed.
* The Role of Apology, Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Collaborative Processes – Lee Taft, J.D., M.Div.
* Power and Impasse – Nina Meierding, M.S., J.D.
* Staying with Conflict: Working with Ongoing Disputes – Bernie Mayer, Ph.D.
* The Public Policy Facilitator’s Toolbox: Designing Processes for Multi-Stage Initiatives – Bill Potapchuk, M.A., M.S.
* The Next Generation of ADR: Utilizing Technology to Effectively Resolve Disputes – Colin Rule, M.A.

The standard registration fee including all program materials and meals is $895. Early-bird registrations received prior to June 29, 2009 will be $795. Government and non-profit employees will receive a reduced rate of $695. Rates do not include hotel room costs.

Visit www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/cppdr/training/skills_enrichment.php for more details or to register.

Early Bird Rate for No Better Time Conference Ends on 30th    

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in New Hampshire this July for the No Better Time conference!  I wanted to make sure people know that the registration rate increases from $250 to $300 on April 30th.  The student rate is only $200 until April 30th.

Co-hosted by NCDD members The Democracy Imperative and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, the national conference, “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).

The conference will be centered around “Learning Exchanges” – thoughtful discussions about key challenges in deliberative democracy hosted by leading scholars and practitioners (it’s a VERY exciting list, both of topics and presenters; take a look). I’ll be co-hosting a Learning Exchange with Martin Carcasson and Jim Fishkin on choosing, mixing, and adapting deliberation models and methods.

Here’s how the conference is described on the website:

Deliberative democracy has reached a critical point in its development. Over the last fifteen years, shifts in citizen capacities and attitudes have led to a dramatic proliferation of citizen participation and deliberative practices, and in 2008 they helped to produce an historic presidential election. On the heels of these changes, new opportunities for educators and practitioners are emerging in communities, in government, and on campuses. The primary goal of No Better Time is to take stock of these developments and to consider future directions for educators and practitioners in teaching, research, and in citizen-centered initiatives.

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