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Survey of Eight Dialogue Leaders (2000)

Our respondents experience in the dialogue field ranged from one to ten years, and their experience in intergroup relations from two and a half to 25, with three claiming 25 years experience in the field.

Tommy Lee Woon and Claire Halverson facilitate dialogues on race in a college setting. David Campt organizes race dialogue from a top-level consulting standpoint (he worked for President Clintons Initiative on Race, and now works with Hope in the Cities and other organizations). Bob Stark facilitates a learning-focused race dialogue with older people. Samuel Bryant has conducted numerous workplace dialogues on race and now leads a city-wide healing effort. Danny Martin runs a U.S.-based organization which runs conflict resolution efforts both in the U.S. and abroad. Ron Chappell has years of experience running race discussion groups in the military and now administers study circles. And James Fails helps run a community group which organizes four dialogues a year.

Sandy Heierbacher approached these eight dialogue proponents (all of whom she was acquainted with in some manner, either through her work with the Center for Living Democracy, her Fellowship with the Corporation for National Service, or her graduate work at the School for International Training) in hopes of getting the perspectives of top-level dialogue administrators and small town dialogue organizers; people familiar with popular dialogue methods and people who have developed their own methods; and dialogue leaders who are well-versed on racial issues in the United States as well as leaders who are more knowledgeable about international and other conflicts. Although she did not obtain as many respondents as originally planned, she feels that these respondents met her goals for diversity of experience in the dialogue field.

I asked my respondents to answer the following questions:

  • In your opinion, what are the desired outcomes of a dialogue?
  • If Question #1 was "What are the desired outcomes of the dialogues you are a part of?" would your answer be any different? If so, how?
  • Should dialogue groups be expected or encouraged to move from talk to action? If not, why not?
  • Why do you think many dialogue groups have a hard time making the transition from talk to action? How do you understand some members and some dialogue organizations resistance to action?
  • What kind of action would you consider to be effective action for a dialogue group to have taken? In other words, what are your criteria for effective action (that it changes policy, that it effects a large number of the local population, that it changes one persons perspective, etc.)?
  • What do members of your dialogue groups tend to consider to be effective action? How are disagreements about this handled within the group?
  • What are some specific things that have happened to dialogue groups you have worked with that made action less effective than the group had hoped?
  • Are there specific barriers that your dialogue groups have repeatedly faced when trying to take action? If so, what are they?
  • Do you use any resources or materials to help your dialogue groups transition from talk to action more effectively? If so, what are they?
  • Have you been involved with any dialogue groups/efforts that made the transition to action very effectively? If not, please skip to question 13. If so, please indicate the number of groups youre thinking of.
  • What are some examples of effective action that these groups have taken?
  • What was different about these groups? Why were they more successful in the action phase?
  • Do you provide any particular training (in social change, policy advocacy, etc.) for your dialogue groups which choose to take action in the community? If so, please elaborate.
  • Have you found that certain groups of people tend to drop out of the dialogue process out of frustration at the lack of or ineffectuality of action steps? If so, which groups?
  • Do you have any strategies that you use to keep these participants involved? If so, please describe.
  • If you have other suggestions, strategies, or concerns about moving dialogue groups from talk to action, please use the following space.

[Back to the "What's the Problem? page]

The Dialogue to Action Initiative and www.Thataway.org are ?2001 by Sandy Heierbacher and Andy Fluke. ?
Last changes added on Saturday, December 29, 2001 6:36 PM ?
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