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January 13, 2004 announcement - Conference & By the Peop

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Joined: 20 Jan 2004
Posts: 30
Location: Brattleboro, VT

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:43 am    Post subject: January 13, 2004 announcement - Conference & By the Peop Reply with quote

I have two important things to draw your attention to:

1. We're starting to work on plans for the fall 2004 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, and we need your help! The 2002 conference was a success because of the collaborative efforts of D&D practitioners and scholars like you (we had 60 people working together to make that event happen!) - and I hope we can garner the same amount of excitement about the 2nd NCDD conference. Plans for the next conference are in the very early stages, so if you want to help make decisions about venue, content, schedule, logistics, location or anything else - now is the time to come on board. Please let me know you're interested, and I'll add you to a listserv for conference organizers.

2. By the People, a project of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, has extended an invitation to NCDD members to join them on Saturday, January 24th to observe one of ten simultaneous Citizen Deliberations on America's role in the world. The deliberation sites are in the following cities:

Kearney, NE
Green Bay, WI
Baton Rouge, LA
Sarasota, FL
Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN
Pittsburgh, PA
Rochester, NY
Seattle, WA
San Diego, CA
Kansas City, MO

This is an exciting opportunity to be present at a large-scale, well-publicized event, and I hope some of you are able to represent NCDD and your own programs at these sites. By the People has limited space for observers, but they'd love to have two representatives from NCDD at each site. Please let me know ASAP (by Thursday if possible) if you are interested, and I'll connect you with the folks at By the People. If more then two NCDD members are interested in attending a particular site, the first people I hear from will be the ones who can go.

A member of the national By the People team will be present at each site to serve as a guide to the proceedings. I will ask NCDD members who attend to (if possible) take some photographs that can be posted on the website, and to write something short up about what they observed.

Below is more info about the project. If either of these items interests you, please let me know as soon as you get the chance. I hope this message finds all of you well!

Warm regards,

Sandy Heierbacher
Convenor, The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)
[email protected]


In January 2003, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions (MLP) held a national dialogue, with 344 randomly selected citizens from across the country, on America's role in the world. (More information on the National Issues Convention is available at The gathering demonstrated the power of informed public deliberation to spur serious reflection on complex policy choices. To extend and sustain this conversation, By the People is organizing follow-up conversations in January 2004 (again, with a cross-section of citizens) in ten communities around the country, in partnership with local public television stations, community foundations, newspapers, universities, and civic organizations. A second phase, scheduled for October 2004, will extend the conversation to thirty communities.

The initial round of conversations will take place on January 24, 2004, at the start of the presidential election year. By the People Citizen Deliberations will bring a total of 1000 citizens together, in their own communities, to explore the foreign policy choices confronting the nation and to articulate the values and beliefs underlying different options. The two topics to be explored are America’s role and interest in global security (in the context of nation-building in Iraq) and global economics (in the context of the debate about free trade). In October 2004, just before the election, the conversation will be expanded to include an additional 20 communities. MLP will produce national broadcasts in January and October.

The goals of the initiative include: to engage a diverse group of citizens (1000 in January, 3000 in October) in informed discussion about the challenges currently facing our country; to develop a sustainable mechanism for and local commitment to regular, ongoing civic problem-solving in 30 communities; and to spark a more reflective and informed national debate about foreign policy (at the beginning and towards the end of the presidential election year) through local and national coverage of these dialogues.

The Citizen Deliberation is a new and distinctive kind of public consultation that seeks to help citizens answer two basic questions: Why should I care? And, who cares what I think? People from all walks of life are able to meet on common ground and talk about the most pressing challenges of the day. Their views will be heard and registered both locally and nationally. The Deliberation gives citizens a chance to participate in the conversation about this country’s future and the future of the world, and to hold leaders accountable to explain their decisions to an informed, engaged, and vocal electorate.

The metropolitan areas that will participate in the January deliberations include Seattle, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Baton Rouge, Kansas City, Green Bay Wisconsin, Sarasota County Florida, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and San Diego. A rural deliberation will be held in the area around Kearney Nebraska. Criteria for selection included the presence of a proactive public television station committed to serving as a catalyst for civic dialogue in its community and local stakeholders who can promote the event and involve the wider community in similar informed and reflective discussions about significant policy questions.

Each local Citizen Deliberation will include: (1) the gathering of a representative sample of citizens from the local station’s community; (2) identical video and print background briefing material used in each local community; (3) small group discussions about America in the World; and (4) an opinion survey questionnaire answered by participants at the conclusion of the event. By the People will provide a template for the discussions, basic background materials and the survey questionnaire, and will organize national coverage of the process. Though the bulk of the survey questions will be the same in each community, PBS stations and/or local newspapers are being invited to add local issues to their particular questionnaire. At the end of the Deliberation, participants will register their views on a survey. The results of the survey – and a comparison with the participants’ pre-deliberation views and with the views of a local control group – will be made available to local and national press.

The Citizen Deliberations will present opportunities to engage not only the participants but also the wider community in dialogue about America’s role in the world. Citizen Deliberations will create a high visibility vehicle that sparks local interest in the issues and in civic dialogue. Community groups will be able to respond to this interest through distribution of the surveys and the background briefing materials to their membership and by sponsoring concurrent, parallel discussions.

National Contacts:

Dan Werner, President, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, 703.998.2847
Cynthia Farrar, Coordinator of the Citizen Deliberations Project, Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies, 203.432.4070
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