About The Dialogue to Action Initiative
Dialogue is a powerful process which allows people to share their experiences and perspectives on controversial issues such as race and racism. Thousands of Americans from all walks of life have engaged in dialogue in the last few years alone. The growing dialogue movement has effected the lives of these people in many important ways. Long-term friendships have been formed, intergroup understanding has been built, many people's understanding and acceptance of themselves has increased, and so on.
But dialogue does more than improve the lives of the people who engage in it. Dialogue leads people to take action in their communities. Dialogue can be - and has been - the impetus communities need to begin solving deep-seated problems and breaking down long-standing barriers.
The Dialogue to Action Initiative was developed in 1998 to help enable more people to experience the dialogue process and to help dialogue groups integrate talk with action more effectively.
The Organizing a Dialogue section of this website is one of the products of a fellowship position I held in 1998 and 1999 for the Corporation for National Service. It provides leaders in AmeriCorps, VISTA, and other national service programs with the information they need to organize meaningful dialogues among their participants. (The info can easily be used by other groups as well!)
The fellowship, as well as research consultancies I held with the Center for Living Democracy and the Village Foundation's Race and Cultural Relations Institute led me to want to answer the question "How can dialogue groups be more effective at taking action in their communities?" I decided to explore this important question for my Master?s thesis for the School for International Training.
For my thesis, I interviewed leaders of dialogue programs, examined materials in the related fields of conflict resolution, community building, and social change, and conducted an in-depth study of existing dialogue materials and resources. I found there to be nine strategies that are useful in organizing dialogues which have a greater capacity for inciting community change. Recognizing that a formal thesis is not a web-friendly document, I condensed and sectionalized my thesis so it can be used readily by practitioners in the dialogue field. My October 2000 thesis has become the Integrating Talk With Action section.
As you may imagine, I discovered a lot of great resources while doing all of this research. The Resources & Perspectives section provides a well-organized collection of excellent videos, books, articles, and links which I hope you will find useful.
The newest addition to the Dialogue to Action Initiative website is the Community page. This page was developed to provide current news, resources, articles, and information to the dialogue field, and will be updated on a monthly basis.
And one more thing: the brand new Dialogue Leaders Listserv welcomes all dialogue organizers and facilitators who are interested in joining an ongoing on-line discussion. The purpose of the listserv is to provide a forum for sharing information of interest to the dialogue field (events, strategies, resources, etc) and networking with people who are doing similar work in different communities. It is my hope that the listserv will be practical and informative (this is not an attempt at on-line dialogue) and all-inclusive (not exclusive to a particular model or philosophy of dialogue).
Feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance to you in any way, or if you have suggestions of things to include on the Community page. If you utilize the information on these pages, I'd love to hear about your efforts.
Coordinator, Dialogue to Action Initiative
P.O. Box 402
Brattleboro, VT 05302