2006 Conference

These great posts were generated by numerous conference participants and planning team leaders at the 2006 NCDD conference in San Francisco.

Notable Milestones from the Dialogue & Deliberation Movement…    

…as recorded by the participants of the 2006 conference.

On the first morning of our 2006 conference, we presented a plenary session devoted to “reflecting on our past,” where we examined our personal stories and the recent history of the dialogue and deliberation movement. Run by Kenoli Oleari and Marc Tognotti, co-directors of the San Francisco Neighborhood Assemblies Network, the program offered a first-hand experience in a large-group engagement process.

The main exercise presented during this plenary had conference participants posting personal reflections, meaningful events and milestones they felt significantly impacted their lives, the dialogue and deliberation community, and the world on giant timelines attached to the walls of our main meeting room. Below is a transcription of the timelines that were created during this well-received plenary session. It presents a snapshot of the history of D&D from the perspective of our 350+ practitioners who took part in this plenary session.

Special thanks goes out to Tamaray Starling, a UC Davis student, who, with the encouragement of Len Traubman, took on the challenge of transcribing the timelines.


Global Events that Influenced or Furthered Quality Discourse

Before 1960


World War II: Japanese Americans Interned and Returned to my school. Started questioning government actions.

Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1944

In newspapers’ job ads: male and female jobs listed

USA Segregation

South Africa

Cold War: Threat of the Bomb — Duck and Cover

Civil Rights Movement

Restricted access to housing for Jews, Catholics & Blacks.

Eisenhower’s warning about Military-Industrial Coalition.



Individuals Asserting themselves


Cold War conflicts

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Active Civil and Human Rights Work


Freedom schools — Highlander SNCC

Vatican II Opens


“The Feminine Mystique”


Students’ Free Speech Movement

JFK Assassination

Malcolm X Assassination


Paleminterris Opens

Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace Corps

Vatican Council II


Civil Rights

Model Cities



Vietnam War and Antiwar

Civil Rights

Sgt. Pepper

Draft Resisters League


Chicano Movement

National Student Association

CIA Controversy

Marches Protesting War


Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination

French Students Strike

Silent Spring — Rachel Carson

RF Kennedy Assassination

Kent State Shootings


Schools, University shut down by demonstrators


USA landed and walked on the moon

Vietnam Moratorium


Personal Experiences that Influenced Work in Dialogue & Deliberation

Before 1960

Born Jewish

1948 Birth

Child of single parent who taught me to respect all people — wanted fairness for all people

Mother disappears

Youngest in family: debates at dinner — how to have a voice??

Korea UVA

Debating in high school

1951-1955: warned what not to do in relationships

Deep conversations on the monkey bars

1949 birth

Birth/Creation of Israel — 1948


First experience of Robts Rules. Wow. I want to organize.

Met Martin Luther King Jr.

Heard Bob Dylan


Honors Program Seminars

Began decade in Germany in International community

Father was born



I was born dialoguing and grew up deliberating…D/D is an instinctively human, especially female habit.

California Fair Housing Initiative Debate


College admin not listening to students: need to be heard.

JFK inspires me “Ask not what your country can do for you — but what you can do for your country.”


Joined community and anti-war group that was full of exemplary participation by all

I was born — Kay Toronto

Michael McDevitt Born

“FSM” Free Speech Movement — Berkeley

Challenged by Bob Dylan to think for myself


8 years old: marching listening to dialogue in my home: parents involved in civil rights movement.

36 year-old priest started to listen to his kids

Born — Lindsay Ottarip, Canada

Father was born

Married and pregnant


Peoples’ park getting gassed


U. Michigan delegate to NSA

Became aware of new possibilities of how we talked about community

Studies in lit-polit-soc movements in college

Got fired for anti-war activity

Got divorced

Did report on Gandhi which opened my eyes to the capacity of clarity of purpose and commit to change society


Got married

Participated in “encounter groups”

Facilitated civil rights/business owners dialogue /prevent race riots

Found myself in Atlanta on the day of MLK funeral

Worked in RFK campaign and found new vision in America. Birth of my commitment to Civic Life at age of 18.

Joined the Start of Inner (Democratic) College Movement

Learned from work in South Bronx about “2 languages and 2 cultures”

Bob Dylan — voice of protest


Got married: moved from being single to dialogue

Got married

Worked with Larry Halprin on “Citiwalks” workshops

Impending Draft


Started Small Group Discussion at College

Sitting in community circles with Natives in Amazon River Basin Left USA for 30 years.

High school student strike peace commencement


Milestones in Dialogue & Deliberation

Before 1960

Homo sapiens discover circle!!

Plate writes dialogues

Personal dialogue with friends

Martin Buber’s mother disappears — the start of his philosophy of dialogue

Kurt Lewin

League of Women Voters techniques in nonpartisan communication

Teach In’s Debate Club: Hootinannies



Interracial Dialogues


Carl Rogers’ Transpersonal Psychology (and Maslow)


Dialogue and Deliberation: yes, Carl Rogers


SDS: Student power

Free school movement

Roger, Maslow, Perls: Human Potential Movement

Kuhn’s structure of scientific revolutions


Community Dev. Corps Dialogue


Group Dynamics courses at Harvard University


Beyond war

Community Discussions about war

1st amendment/ Freedom of Speech Issues



Feminist consciousness raising groups

Civil Rights Movement

Race relations dialogues in college

College found students wanted “a voice”

Gestalt with Fritz Perls


Hippie Movement

Withdrawal of support becomes a realistic change strategy — sit-ins


NEPA passed — requiring public participation in environmental decisions

Encounter groups — T-groups

Vietnam moratorium

Underground churches emerge in Detroit


Global Events that Influenced or Furthered Quality Discourse


Mandatory bussing to integrate US public schools.

Cambodia Invasion

Students Strike


BF Schumacher: small is beautiful

Human potential!!

Participatory Management — corporate

Participated in helping manage black out and war with Pakistan


Change Washington

Est. in San Francisco


Watergate and War

Yom Kippur War

Coup in Chile

Gays and Lesbians more open


June: AHP meeting: humanistic psychology conference

Vietnam War

Environmental Issues


Hope from the 1960’s

Rock ‘n’ Roll Music

War Demonstrations, Riot


“Philosophy for Children Movement” recognizing the need for empowerment of children as fully persons, thinkers and actors in the world — reasoning.

UN Conference on Women

Women’s Movement with Ecology — lots of Systems thinking related to people and movements

Boston — Desegregation Order –

New York — parent-control, multi-racial in the schools — became very solid across the extreme racial divides of that time.

Melting away of the peace movement


Women Movement: Consciousness-Raising Groups

End of Vietnam War — Peace Debate — DC


War over??

Hostage Crisis (Iran — US)

Raging debates about English only in CA (Senator Hyakawa)

Prop 13 in California: the Tax Revolt that starved school and other government agencies


Citizens Party — Barry Commoner/Winona La Duke presidential campaign.

Anti-nuclear movement/ pro-solar/alternatives

Cold War


Iranian Revolution


Personal Experiences that Influenced Work in Dialogue & Deliberation


Teaching psych of men and women


Teaching psychology of the family (systems thinking)

Consumer activist

Organized Vietnam study groups in Stanford dorms (earlier high school strike)

Kent State — campus student strike

Joined League of Women Voters

Back from Vietnam: figuring out how to do discussions better

Had a child — conversations around philosophy and existentialism

Teaching Interdisciplinary Seminars

Started participating in church youth group — basically became an ongoing communication skill, group encounter workshop

Protested Vietnam War, end of draft, dodged draft


Wife and I worked in group process to discover ourselves, each other, Earth, God

Transcendent and radical conversation with Tony Hodgson at 1 ACE — sitting on a floor

1st women’s group

Conversations around different cultures

Bangladesh war and Independence — my first consciousness of violent conflict and the beginning of consciousness of how pre-judgments shape the possibility of that kind of violence.

Second son born


9-5-72: born!!

Started practicing “D & D” in a version of the day — basically, engaging employees in matters and decisions that affected them.

Conversations with teachers for change

Issue organizing — Alinksky approach — became frustrated

Participated in governing board meetings as elected student representative — was a very frustrating experience.

Born 8-25-72

Teaching group dynamics

Decided to go to law school in 6/75


Working on prayer and retreats

5th grade student started circle work for a full year in class — talking about anything and everything.

Met Daniel Berrigan at the U of M, Winnipeg — opened up world of theology, social protest and poetry

First Arab/Jewish Dialogue groups in Israel.

“Watergate” is my bedtime story

Born 6-11-73

Anti-war activity on national scale.

Awareness trainings

Farm Workers: Si se puede

AMI: American Indian Movement


Teenage rebellion—no one listens

Vista Volunteer — working with Native Americans — eyes opened

Worked with Quakers cleaning wilderness campsites

Published on social construction of knowledge

Seeing workplace democracy in action

Met my wife — lived in intentional community for 3 years and learn and live the importance of dialogue values fully


Spiritual exploration

Study of developing consensus process with AUSTIN community project.


Developed business curriculum for University of Phoenix

Took 1st “enlightenment intensive” 3 days of paired dialogues with meditation process and realized “listening” was about being present to the other and also listening to myself in a deeper way.

Worked on organizing employees into a union drive — started sharing perspectives

Developed as a management consultant — exposure to applied behavioral sciences

Started attending Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, a seminar-based program



Married — chose to live in dialogue-heavy small town

I was born into a family active in dialogue and civic actions

Phil Yoly meeting: Discernment

Asked my boss if we could have better meetings

Took labor law course — became fascinated by workplace democracy and ways of resolving conflict

Participative management project at a major bank; at end everyone in group was proud of “their idea”

Experienced community profoundly


Started work with San Francisco County Mediation Program. It’s all about “Voice, Recognition, and Empowerment”

Graduated with degree in Environment Science; thesis on urban community gardening


Saw “The Naked Civil Servant” in Calcutta

Formed San Diego Center for Appropriate Technology

Formed the Gung-Ho Collective to study collective self-reflection, co-ops and social change

Discovered the Handbook to “Higher Consciousness” — began to answer the Big Question: What’s It All About? Moved to commune to explore

Lived in/Worked in a collective

Economic/Peace Conversion Projects in CA: “Bombers to Buses”

1st daughter born

I listened to myself deeply and my world altered profoundly

Course in miracles groups — depth connecting

Married a creep lawyer


5-19-79: I was born (still counts as a Carter baby)

Started working with local government collective bargaining

Graduated: MSW degree

Graduated law school 6/79


Milestones in Dialogue & Deliberation


First son born

Community organizing — growth

Family therapy

Gestalt Groups

Peoples Law School Collective

Hutchins School of Liberal Studies started seminars


Created diverse groups for cultural understanding


Women’s circle -women’s center


Believing in value of people’s input

Gordon Thomas — group centered leadership

Rogers freedom to Learn

Active listening



Sex Education based on values and communication

Gay-Straight dialogues



Conference on Participative Management

Monster Manual on Group Process.

Movement for a New Society process workshops

Ithaca University — Edu. Justice

Sensitivity training — Bob Tannenbaum (was in one of these)


Malcomn Knowles — The Adult Learner, A Neglected Species

Adult learning — student centered approach — experienced approach

The Clash and the punk rock movement political/social expression through movement


Creative initiative

Adversarial Time

Work with Families and couples as therapist around conflicts and their resolutions

Interactive personal growth process


Institute for Local self-reliance

Env. / Energy / Business / Debate / Discussion

Foundation for Global Community


Global Events that Influenced or Furthered Quality Discourse


Reaganomics begins

My first time voting, ma s a freshwoman in college — Reagan elected. Devastated.


Kwang-Ju massacre in Korea — democracy movement in Korea — anti-American sentiment on the rise


Intro of PCs


Moral Majority



Federal funding for community access video



Cold War — nuclear threat between US-USSR

Reagan — diminishes public service (govt.)



UN Conference on Women in Mexico





Major backlash against feminism in the US


Bush (1) Administration and continuation of federal retrenchment of social policies and citizen outreach

U.S. “culture wars”

Berlin Wall comes down

Rise of Email and voice mail

Lama Prieta Earthquake

Iran-Iraq war winds down — groundwork for Iraq invasion of Kuwait and beginning of permanent US military presence in the Middle East


Personal Experiences that Influenced Work in Dialogue & Deliberation


Worked for Gov. Lamm in Colorado, rethinking how to deal with growth issues, reframing the issue

Documented process by which city councils in Boston area that were grappling with allowing companies to do bioengineering in their communities.

Born with Cleft Pallet. For two years I couldn’t speak and began to understand very quickly how important communication is.

Moved to US from mainland China

M.A. in Education from USC


Participated in “Beyond War” workshop on nuclear weapons at the church I grew up in Colorado. Began noticing anti-nuclear protests at Rocky Flats.

Developed SW PKG for public housing in collective effort with multiple entities sharing their best knowledge — along with ex wife (see 1983)

Moved to Poland. Discovered my new roots. Witnessed solidarity movement. Dialogued with various perspectives.

Began living communal lifestyle — and studying new forms of psychotherapy and holistic healing.

2nd daughter born

Saw the disconnect between peace movements and arms builders — became knowledgeable of Harvard Negotiation Project



Graduation from Cal—Conservation of Natural Resources

Graduated Harvard — decided to enter field of OD — moved to graduate program in SF, CA

Worked with Natalie Rogers and learned person-centered approach

Quit MIT to work in Peace Movement.

Read “I and Thou”

Went to social movement meeting in Mexico that did not live up to its democratic claims

Completed bilingual (Spanish) teaching credentials


The Bridge Called My Back — Andre Lorde, Adrienne Rich: woke up to power and politics via feminism.

3rd daughter born

Sold SW PKG for public housing around us. Finished project-recognized drift

Began working in the conflict resolution field after practicing law for 10 years


Facilitated youth leadership conference — 400 high school students

Working with Interaction associates in SF

As an organizational change agent — realized wisdom lies with ordinary people and started to facilitate rather than advise


Entered the field of mediation and discovered the importance of talking through conflict.

Started working Superfund Community Involvement — making it up as we went

Teaching in Schools — recognizing the need for dialogical pedagogy

Went to Soviet Union with IPPNW and met with the “enemy” face-to-face. Active in Beyond War Movement

Ryan was born

Promoted to corporate world where collaboration not valued

“unity” experience interconnected everyone with larger universe.


Discovered synectics and other creative problem-solving workshops and techniques for collaboration and innovation

Father’s death 10-19-85

Mediation training — began mediation practice

Came out as a dyke.

Living in Japan living as a “minority”

Married in San Diego — moved to Miami


Left teaching and started working at TCHC

Grad school — opened my eyes to the world

First daughter born

Divorced to emerge from cocoon

Took mediation training in LA

Great Peace March across US — self-organized, leaderless/leaderfull, 400 people in mobile community, changed my life and beliefs about what was/is possible

Graduated from law school — environmental focus, work with citizen groups


Shared governance in Nursing

Got Elected

Teaching participatory approaches to international and community development

Experienced community of healing

A Holocaust survivor came to speak to my English class — opened me to the world beyond my family’s / tribe’s suffering

Graduated high school — began canvassing in L.I. for funding for environmental issues

Broyhill Leadership Conference over summer before freshman year in college — possibility despite uncertainty!


ICA Facilitation Training initiated by conversation while Cajun dancing

I turned 8 years old in 1988 — cool, right?? (Me Too!!)

Eracism started in N.O.


Questioned Professors’ skepticism about participatory democracy and social divisions, and was questioned right back.

Holotropic Breathwork: Power of silence

Began working with poverty issues and seeing the structural issues which kept individuals from rising out of circumstances of poverty.

Began working in large scale change in my org. (state of CA)

Participated in quasi-group therapy “self-discovery” process — learned a kind of intimate dialogue


1989 earthquake — lost everything — realization to do healing work in the world

Attend high school with experiential learning model

Work in Public Art as a “forum” for community engagement and dialogue

Started working with the new Study Circle Resource Center

Mediation conference

Left public sector labor law practice to teach at Indiana University and become mediator


Second daughter born

Mediation training

Junior in UC Berkeley Peace and Conflict Studies. Took first community mediation training. Came out of shell — very transformed. Met my future wife.


Milestones in Dialogue & Deliberation


Jewish Korean Dialogue

MG Taylor Corp. forms to “reinvent the way we work” through integration of environments, tools and processes. MGTAYLOR.COM

Dialogue about nuclear / solar / alternative energies and military connections / alternatives.


Kettering Foundation starts deliberative politics work — precursor to National Issues Forum

Reagan Arms Buildup. Renewal of Cold War after 1970’s detente

Jane Vella founds “Jubilee Popular Education Center” (later becomes Global Learning Partners) teaching “dialogue education” approach for adult training / development

Publication of Ben Barber’s “Strong Democracy”


Spent year in Consensus Class talking through all issues.

National Storytelling Association??


Hewlett Foundation established a grant-making program in conflict resolution to support the theory and practice f dealing more effectively with differences

Taught communication skills


Superfund requiring public involvement — mostly traditional public meeting formats

Founding of Touchstone’s Discussion Project, FKA CZM Press


David Bohm was leading D. Group in London and also conversing deeply with Krishnamurti about the process.


NIF 5th anniversary


Tried to open legislative process to include more public



NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) publishes book on public art and community engagement practice

The Public Conversation’s Project launched!!


Global Events that Influenced or Furthered Quality Discourse


Iron curtain crumbling — end communism


Gulf War started and ended

Peace Accord — end of war in El Salvador

Balkan Wars


Ross Perot, third party attempt, alters election laws

El Salvador Peace Accords

Creation of ICPIC (International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children)

LA uprising

UN Earth Summit ends in disappointment due in part to lack of US involvement

Clinton first elected

Oslo Accords


Clinton fails to follow through on campaign promises (e.g. health care)

Operation Rescue takes over San Jose clinic in summer

Beijing International Conference on Women’s rights

Rwanda genocide

Christian Coalition


Contract with America

Peace Dividend?

Rabin Assassinated

Boston Women’s Health Clinic killings by John Salvi: 2 killed, others wounded

South Africa: End of apartheid — transition to ANC


UN Conference on Women in Beijing

Dayton Peace Agreement


Newt’s Contract with America

Stock Market Crash


G-8 occurred in Denver

Clinton re-elected

TANF Passed — changed “welfare as we know it”

Guatemalan Peace Accords

Clinton Race Initiative

Monica Lewinsky

Moveon.com established


Zapatista Uprising

Explosion of the Internet — global community / organizing

Social enterprise emerging in CBO Sector

WIA passed — the opportunity for community…


Kyoto Treaty??

First election in post-conflict Bosnia

Clinton impeachment effort


Trend to work at home

New “tech language”

Politics is very polarized

High-tech — global connections

Corporations who were cutting edge brought in “personal / professional development”

Social responsibility gained momentum (e.g. World Business Academy conferences such as that in India ‘96)

Protests shut down WTO summit in Seattle

Millennium predictions


Dot com burst

Age of internet

Global economy

Millennium anxiety


Personal Experiences that Influenced Work in Dialogue & Deliberation


Went through 1.5 years of chemo for Hodgkins and realized that my past 10 years of working in Washington, DC were meaningless in being able to engage the affected public in policy decisions. Left for Oregon

Attended a prejudice-reduction conference at my high school — Lamden, Connecticut

Completed Masters I International Development Education

Graduated high school


First attended socialist summer camp: community, alternate education, leadership skills for next 12 years

Fell in love with my opposite

Multi party democracy in Nepal

Participated in Communmity-Building workshop in San Mateo County


Husband died

Found national issues forums

Lived in rural Paraguay; no electricity, running water, nothing to do but talk and listen.


Breakthrough crisis ? power of self-help, circles of peers, Implem. Future search in org.

Worked at Compusetre on Forum development bringing people together in topic based dialogue

Created series of town hall meetings for NV Secretary of State to drive election reform

Discovered Green Circle NCCJ Program — diversity training

Parents’ divorce and formation of two very different families

Alan died of AIDs

Met amazing professors (Titus Bender) and students at Eastern Mennonite College. Joined social work field

Became a teen hotline counselor — learned active listening skills

Attended Ecology Summer School

Daughter born


Read “What Color is your Parachute” and decided to explore conflict resolution and urban diversity cross-sections as field of work

Woke up to the human and process dimensions of the economic justice and local systems change issues I was working on. — via Sam Kaner, Community at work and Group facilitation skills

Founding of the TAOS Institute

Lots of Money — Intense consumerism

Public policy—democracy — doctoral dissertation ? people/public

Began working with Dr. Nawel El Sandami (Egyptian activist)

Participated in a race dialogue in a large mega church in Texas -changed my life


Small group wilderness experience

Leadership grant — Bill Isaacs reports and work. Moved to Battle Creek from Ohio

Volunteering in Nepal (NGO)

Got my first email account

Co-Chaired elementary school PTA group to bring parents into the school with their kids for “parent ed” and ended up facilitating exciting programs.

Co-facilitated and co-designed for second Bretton Woods Learning Organization Conference with Peter Senge

Went back to University at age 40

Heard conference presentation that connected policy and public participation

Worked on Prop186 campaign in California. — single payer Health insurance

Participated in pro-UFEI prop-choice dialogue sponsored by search for common ground — realized I could respect and care for my “enemy”

Joined sustenance strategies, inc.

Involvement in multicultural Center as a student of color on predominantly white campus

Left International Business and began environment education studies and ran up against anti-corporate feeling s from fellow students

Started natural evaluation of USPS workplace mediation program

Gave away furniture and material things to live more simple life helping families/people in need. Moved from home to home — still live that way!! No regrets!!


Came in contact with philosophy of Martin Buber

Global Learning Partners Dialogue Education Course with Dr. Jane Vella

Experienced Dialogue while training as a Spiritual Director

First exposure to people-based development training: awakening of creative and participatory approaches to development

Entered St. John’s College, Annapolis

Began to conduct facilitation and planning sessions with educators

NSEE “All of politics” experienced

Selected to participate Kettering Foundation and Kellogg Leadership program on co-deliberation model

PhD in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding

Helped plan G-8 in Denver

Worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina — saw the worst outcome of failures to do constructive communication

Facilitated for the first time


Worked in China, realized and practiced dialogue across cultures

Introduced to conflict resolution by high school teacher and mediated conflict between peers.

Participated in my first community-building workshop (M. Scott Peek) in England

Left corporate America and returned to academia

Workshops in dorms about homophobia

Started Indiana Conflict Resolution Institute — got Hewlett funding to do field and applied research

Got tired of all my friends calling each other “wack” because of political disagreements

Grad school (SIT) course on conflict transformation

Public conversations project: (Time Abortion Dialogues and PCP “Leaders” Abortion Dialogues)

Joined MG Taylor and learned their collaborative approach to transition management

Discovered Appreciative Inquiry

Joined the World LADE

Began work in corporate culture change field

Came out as bisexual — engaging with fluidity of sexual identity

Started working in community radio

Dialogued with Palestinian young men in Beirut Sa’char Israel

Discovered open space and tasked with designing a tech computer lab learning environment using it!!

Took mediation training/ conflict resolution

Working in Ecuadors’ Amazon — Sustainable micro-business development — connect locals with corps.


Would the League of Women Voters Like to take on community conversations about education??

Joined Pioneers of Change network which introduced me to dialogue and living systems theory of dialogue

Completed spiritual direction practicum

Participated in Reconciliation Walk in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey — Western Christians apologizing for Crusaders to Muslims, Eastern Christians, Jews. Dialogue and understanding developed at reconciliation. Impacted me greatly

Tech vs. communications D&D


Made a digital story about violence in my family and realized the power of this process for individual and collective and social transformation

Made the decision to seek ways to address organizational toxicity — accessed training in the field — this began my quest to become established in the field of mediation

Found St. Johns College. Read great books and began asking and discerning fundamental questions

Working for Kettering Foundation

Participated in HH the Dalai Lamias Synthesis Dialogues in Dharamsala

Got my MSW in Community Organizations

Discovered Deliberate Democracy

I was hired to work for PCRC in San Mateo County CA.

Moved to Austin Texas and found kindred spirits in D&D community


Milestones in Dialogue & Deliberation


Experiential learning and service learning blooming

Humanitarian Interventions:

  • South Africa Truth and Reconciliation

  • Peace Accords

  • UN/OAS develop units for dialogue

  • Trials for war crimes

  • End of wars in Latin America


Daniel Yankelovich coming to public judgment

Scott Peck’s book Different Drum stimulated community-building efforts

Founding of National Community Building Network — national network of people/communities addressing poverty, racism, disenfranchisement through “community building”


Went to my first Open Space Conference with H. Owen


Nearly died and learned of the New Science of Biology that re-directed my life—discovered Bruce Lipton, PhD.

May 9th, 1993: “Wisdom Council” concept conceived

First TAOS Institutional Conference in New Mexico


International Association of Facilitators Founded

Bretton Woods Learning Org. Conference


Carolyn Lukenmeyer founds “America Speaks”


NIF 15th anniversary

PCP Abortion Work

Focus of anti-poverty work shifts — at least in concept — to neighborhood change and resident “empowerment”


Learned about work of Tom Atlee

Bunker and Alban publish “Large Scale Interventions”

Clinton’s Init. on Race

Started Forums Institute for Public Policy and developed Informed Contemplative Dialogue


Took Socrates Café Training


NIF is about 20 years old

Gutmann and Thompson — Democracy of Disagreement

Hal Saunders writes “Public Peach Process”

Took Future Search Training

Took Framing Issues workshop with Harris Sokolor in 2000 something

California first 5 Commission (formerly Children and Families 1st commissions) mandated public participation for allocation of $$ toward community needs


Global Events that Influenced or Furthered Quality Discourse


October 2000: start of second Intifada

2000 US election

Conflict: election results in turmoil: Supreme Court decides winner

Global Assertion


September 11, 2001

US invasion of Afghanistan

GW Bush takes office


GOP Requires both Houses

Committee rules changed to limit discussion

Enron Meltdown

It is increasingly understood and felt that we are amidst a profound ecological/environmental crisis. This is shifting the spaces that people feel called to within themselves to open up to dialogue and deliberation. (as well as to how they show up)


Invaded Iraq

“Mass extinction” of species phenomenon is increasingly recognized: 6th in Earth’s history — but 1st time caused by another species (humans)


Major questions about integrity of election system

Conflict: Another close election (presidential) and Re-election of Bush

EU expansion


Hurricane Ivan

Many get “turned off” by the animosities and polarized positions of the political atmosphere

With major traumatic events — 9/11, contested election of GW Bush, invasion of Iraq, polarized media, natural disasters, fear of terrorist, re-election of GW Bush, moves against environment — the climate of fear results in reduction of dialogue across our culture. At the same time, fear-based behavior on the part of leaders means the need for dialogue is seen and increases.


1st Canadian Dialogue Conference

Earthquake in Pakistane

Hurricane Katrina

First woman president in Liberia, Africa!!


NCDD San Francisco

Israel/Lebanon war

US Midterm (November) elections


Personal Experiences that Influenced Work in Dialogue & Deliberation


Took dynamic facilitation class — started meeting with Tom Atlee and others twice a month about dialogue and deliberation, facilitation, etc.

Attended a compassionate listening session in my synagogue (October 2000)

Foundation for Global Community meetings on important directions led me to dialogue and conversation café

Traveled throughout Latin America for most of year realizing and learning about different cultures and beliefs

Maoist war intensified in Nepal—personally affected by events in profession and social field.

Traveled to/ worked in post-Soviet Central Asians as Peace Corps volunteer

Met Tom Atlee

International Association Facilitators Conference

Met Michael McDevitt

Attended a workshop of dialogue practitioners from Latin America — very moved and wanted to help their work

Came to PCRC and met my mentor, Patricia Brown


September 11, 2001

UVA — started sustained dialogue frustrated by race relations

Graduated with MSW (Masters of Social Work): trained in Group therapy and many other organization learning / group dialogue tools. Also got new job at Kellogg Foundation

Discovered extreme programming and the Bay Area XP group

Changed jobs from McKinsey to IFDK (consulting firm specializing in DRD)

Begin graduate school in a “liberal” environment (coming from Brighton University)


I attended St. John’s college — seminar style great, books college learning through conversation

Intern with OAS and came to the realization that there “had to be a better way” — I quickly learned that D&D was that “better way”

Dissertation research on a fractured community where dialogue rarely occurred

Introduced to NVC

Learned through community organizing that bringing people together to talk was more effective in making change than confrontational tactics

Founded Jewish Dialogue Group in Philadelphia

Began Gateway to Conscious Evolution based on work of Barbara Marx Hubbard on to be a Guide and Mentor

Mediation Training

Brown and Williamson and RJ Reynolds tobacco Company begin dialogue

Learned about consensus in practice in Denmark

Get laid off from my corporate job

Got involved in “Phlia Dialogue on Citizenship” in Vancouver

Introduced to Appreciative Inquiry at graduate school (School for International Training, US)


Got involved in a rights conference in a remote area of Nepal

Started SSU OD Program

Joined a sustained dialogue group at UVA where I was frustrated by race relations, despite my college’s efforts to “embrace diversity”

Feb 2003: Thought of Orange Band

Began dissertation on interethnic dialogue

Referendum A in Colorado

Tapping into dialogue through jobs! (New Institutions forming)

Joined dialogue makers network at Simon Fraser University

Attended NCOD Conference

Began working with an indigenous peace-building department NGO in Afghanistan on community reconciliation

Discovered that dialogue process works better than conflict


6/04: Began exploring “embodied mediation” with open-ended community dialogue that followed

11/04: hired by People’s Place / CCJ restorative justice program

NEEDED the dialogue director job for a living; now I am LOVING the job as a living!!

Facilitated dialogue on health care in Alaskan Village so they could share their wisdom with others

01/04: started researching impact of drastic deliberation

9/04: enrolled in Dialogue class for requirement in conflict mediation certification

1st heard of AI

Joined a study circle made up of teachers, parents, and students.

Joined institution on common good

Read Isaacs Dialogue

Founded Spirit in the Arts

Did my Honors’ thesis on community participation and bridging communication gaps.

“came out of the closet” as a conservative in a liberal graduate program — wonderful! Discovered there is a real alternative to the culture wars

Exposed to the NVC

Peacemaker training

Learned how to “facilitate”

Joined dialogue network


3/05: NVC study : I talked to enemies our hearts opened

4/05: Learned of Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues initiative -applied for Clark University to participate

12/05: Received Ford Foundation Grant

2/05: joined Orange Band

7/05: Became Director f the Dialogue Project with Community Mediation and Interfaith Cooperative Ministries

Decided to Study CAR

Took my first mediation course at community boards

Girl Scout National Convention “Open space for 700″ I was trained and worked at Open Space

Participated In diversity dialogues

Lead 1st Open S[pace in my tech community

10/7/05: Launched brain jams

Got involved in Jewish-Muslim dialogue

Discovered Value of “Hallway” Conversations

Took Masters Course in Facilitation

Presented at C2D2 Conference

Presence workshop with Otto Schamar


2/06: took power of Dialogue workshop with Public conversations project

Took first formal facilitation intensive workshop

Met Leah Lamb

3/06: took 3 day facilitation workshop and started really learning about the field…I’m not alone!!

Spring 2006: worked to create “culture of dialogue” on campus through dialogues, meetings with community

Jan: First community organize job — Voices and Choices

May: Camp Well Stone

Organization al learning meet Earthcare Discover NCDD

Found Mentor!!

Political Awareness Intern!!

Completed Master’s thesis in Dialogue Models

Finished Dissertation!! Started teaching again

Involved in Forum Theatre Dialogue.

Met my cutie!!

Bought my first home

I fell in love for the first time at age 52

First NCDD conference

Attended first NCDD conference

Attended first Canadian conference in Ottawa

Heard about D&D from Carolyn at America Speaks

May: took over as executive director of city forum

Get train to be a facilitator!!

Younger people getting involved in D&D with lots of energy and hope!!


Designing, aggregating, organizing the Youth Dialogue Project—a 9 month dialogue for 18-25 year olds from New Zealand, US, Cyprus, Denmark and South Africa.

Facilitator my first student only circle in Sherwood


Graduation from High School ?

Moving the D&D field from the implicit to the explicit


Graduation from High School

Graduation from PhD

Graduate from UC Berkeley


Milestones in Dialogue & Deliberation


Trained as a facilitator by Beverly Daniel Tatum in Study Circles Methods and processes

Participated in congregations building community housing issues public meeting — Fort Collins, CO.

11/2000: using PICO Network organizing model (www.piconetwork.org)

AMERICASPEAKS.ORG and others at National Civic League 1000 Conference in Washington DC (11/8/00)


September 11, 2001

Too much hostile polarization in the world

Trained in learning partners/ Human Dynamics and Systems Thinking Tools

Training Ageles Arner

Facilitating Consensus Circles

CAAG Futures Alliances

A Hopeful Sign: Rotary International (32,000 clubs in 168 countries with 1.2 million members) established a two-year Fellowship Program supporting g 60-70 Fellows from around the world each year to study Peace and Conflict Resolution

Hewlett funds some D&D work through 2004


D&D First Contemplative Dialogue: 4-days, Intensive. Burlingame, CA

Went to Future Search workshop — began to adopt model for Congregations

VVH: severe violence dialogue program launched

Founded nonprofit

Facilitated a “deepening circle” which involved practices of deep listening

Founded global facilitators service corps

1st NCDD Conference

Formal efforts towards Mormon-Evangelical Dialogue begins? 1. Robert Millet and Gregory Johnson (Baptist) travel across the nation

2. Stephen Robinson and Bloomberg publish a book


Terry AMsler, Hewlett Foundation advocates systematic evaluation of D&D by Hewlett ADP Theory Centers

March—launched Orange Band

Trained as an anti-racism facilitator

Met Sam Kanerat an ASTD meeting — sparked interest in working with people (citizens)


Evangelical Leader Ravi Zacharias invited by President Gordon B. Hinckley to preach in the tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ in Salt Lake City to a packed crowd

Heard Tom Altee speak in San Francisco

AI in Miami

Learned about eh Institute on the Common Good and their contributions to the field and 2004 NCDD Conference at Regis University

FGDs with illiterate women in remote rural areas of Nepal

Indiana University starts research on America Speaks

2004 NCDD Conference — Denver


9/2005: Delaware First Restorative Justice Conference

11/05: Took Non-violent communication workshop with Marshall Rosenberg

C2D2 Conference in Ottawa (October)

4/05: Ford Foundation launches Difficult Dialogue initiative

truthmapping.com released (online deliberation too!)


George Lacoff verbage on politics and environment.

Took 2nd Non-violent communications workshop

25 anniversary of Kettering Foundation PPS — NIF

Will graduate from University of B’ham, England (with a PhD)

Colorado State Unversity center for public deliberation founded

March 2006: Fist “Liberal Conservative” Intergroup Dialogue Course started (at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) unsure about other universities (Dr. Joycelyn Landrum Brown Supervisor)

Speciesalliance.org is founded to help address Mass Extinction phenomena

First pan-European Citizen Deliberation with randomly selected citizen from all 25 Member states


World Forum — Justice, religion and conflict resolution 2/1-2/4 2007 in San Francisco

Student only study circles in Sherwood High School



Repealing Prop 209

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Blog Posts from the 2006 NCDD Conference    

Originally posted by Andy Fluke for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

From early July 2006 through the conference in August, NCDD — with the wonderful assistance of Loretta Donovan, Beth Kanter and Chris Heuer – ran a blog to share information about our event. It was an experiment — our first attempt at using web technology to interact with participants of one of our events — and I was very happy with the results.  The blog posts that follow this one are the best and most relevant snapshots from our 2006 events and a great way to get a sense of what the conference was like from the perspective of the participant.  I would like to point out that, since these posts are over a year old some of the links may not work.  Enjoy!

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NCDD Hallway Interview – Educational Perspective    

Originally posted by Chris Heuer for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

After the Saturday morning session, I interviewed a few of our friends from the educational world speaking with one another in the hallway. This is just a short 3.5 minute interview about what is going on with our educational institutions around dialogue, and what participants are noticing about the conference.

Download as MP3 (1.6MB)
or listen right here

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Open Space – An Outstanding Place    

Originally posted by Loretta Donovan at the 2006 NCDD Conference…

some Open Space topicsWhat do you say as you end an hour and a half of wonderful, engaging conversation on dozens of compelling topics? A few comments from those who came to the Open Space:

  • As new people came in, to what degree do you bring them up to date?
  • Open Space is the juiciest part of every conference.
  • Would NCDD allow a full day of OS instead of some of the workshops?
  • Be Prepared to Be Surprised – I had a fantastic conversation unrelated to the posted topics.
  • Folks had been suggesting I meet several people. When I entered the space I chose, there they were!
  • The Law of Two Feet kept me from my own conversation.
  • I thought no one would be interested in my topic . . . and 14 people came up to discuss race relations.
  • I am digging Open Space!
  • What would it be like to empower the facilitators of dialogue to take on speaking for themselves, and to invite our peers to reframe their comments in more open and inclusive language?
  • I feel like a have a whole group of friends I didn’t have before.
  • I am local. Don’t go to Fisherman’s Wharf – the food sucks.
  • Setting the rooms up with extra chairs that are available for people to come and go would be inviting.
  • I became so engrossed in a first round session I entered, that I didn’t go to the second session where I had an agenda and issue to pursue.
  • I got a lot more than I needed and expected in a session on spirituality.
  • I love that Open Space, Quaker Meetings and Wikis . . . communicate that we trust you. That turns out to be a barrier since so many of our systems are designed for the least of us, as a means to protect us and prevent us from doing bad things.
  • People have been really nice.

And when it’s over it’s over.

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New Orleans Resilience and SynCon    

Originally posted by Chris Heuer for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

Friday afternoon’s session was very reassuring for me personally as I am very concerned about the future of this great American City – now I have a much greater sense of hope after meeting Julianna Padgett, Patricia A. Wilson, and John Zwerver. (Download Julianna’s presentation here) Given the current complexity of the situation there and the need for bringing together all the different voices, it seems the SynCon process (link to book by Barbara Marx Hubbard) is one that will go a long way towards enabling everyone to come together in an open dialogue around what matters most to each individual. What is most important about this process from my perspective is the bias towards action and the accomodation of conflict resolution as part of the process.

3 months ago during JazzFest we held a BrainJams event in New Orleans to connect small businesses with an understanding of Web 2.0 technology. It was a small but powerful event, and our work down there continues thanks to the support of great locals like Chris Schultz, Blake Killian and Jeff Harris. Together we have adopted the Sclafani Cooking School as a pro-bono ‘client’ for the purpose of updating their Web site and modernizing their Web communications strategy. If you have any interest in volunteering some time to help other small businesses and non-profits down in New Orleans,please reach out and say hello.

As is the case with the BrainJams events I organize, SynCon encourages ad-hoc collaboration. They are very eloquent in explaining their deeply considered methodology and I think this is a very powerful process that I hope to learn more about over the weeks ahead. We hope that BrainJams may be able to help them leverage social media and Web 2.0 technology to further amplify their conversations and enable broader participation from the dispersed members of the New Orleans community.

If you also share a love for everything that is New Orleans, I encourage you to not only get down there and visit soon, but to reach out to the Global Facilitators Service Corps and get involved in their very worthwhile efforts.

PS – You can download the MindMap of notes I took during the discussion in PDF formatPPS – The photo is one of several I took while visiting the LakeView district in early May of 2006, 8.5 months after Katrina. This house was right across the street from the 17th Street Canal Breach. Most of the tourist areas are much closer to being back to ‘normal’ but many neighborhoods like this one have barely begun to recover.

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A Snippet of Spoken Word from NCDD Reflective Panel on Saturday    

Originally posted by Beth Kanter for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

View the video here!

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Saturday Morning Reflective Panel    

Originally posted by Beth Kanter for the 2006 NCDD Conference…


An opportunity to hear from five leaders in the dialogue and deliberation community, and to see them engage in dialogue with one another around trends in the field and trends in the world that are or will impact the field.

Spoken word is an artform that allows different poets to come together around do poetry around social justice.Drew Dellinger and Danielle Drake-Burnette from Poets for Global Justice.

(I captured some video and audio clips and will create the link as soon as processed)

Theme Teams:

The peformers culled and captured themes out of yesterday’s workshops. Many people wrote on post-it notes and they sat around last night to deliver the themes to this session in the form of a script. It was performed on stage and a mindmap was created by Nancy M.

The Reflective Panel

Lelani Henry gave us some techniques for listening:

1. Scanning for sound bytes.2. Thinking caps - rub your ears demonstrated by Juanita Brown3. Energy yawn - rub your jaws demonstrated by John Gastil4. Lazy 8 – rub a lazy eight over your closed eyes and activates listening and your heart

Each panelist gave an introduction of their unique lens:

Chris Gates: Mix of perspectives from government and nonprofits and giving.

Leanne Nurse: Giving voice to the voices for people who may not feel safe and for system change. She is a budhist grandmother and emerging artist.

John Gastil: Share some of the literature and how it connects to theme

Juanita Brown: A child of the sixties. Grew up in an activist household. The world cafe was born in her living room and a spiritual journey. I have a deep belief that people can participate deeply in the questions that matter to them without training.

Question: What are the trends you see impacting the field?

The mindmap is here.


Positive Trend: Local government has gotten the message that the old 60’s models don’t work around dialogue. (Town meeting when everyone get 70 seconds to speak and mic is turned on at midnight). They are trying to figure out better models for dialogue.

Negative Trend: Despite community progress, Washington ethic still embodies everything that doesn’t work around democracy. Too easy to conclude that democracy doesn’t work. Difficult to crack the politice culture of DC.

Caution: Not that long ago that people in philthanropy understood that they were the vc of progressive social change movement. Success was never a guaranteed part of that equation. Two things: get lucky and solve problem on first try or that you learn something. When a community brags about a success, the question: Which try was it? We need to rethink success?


From her lens of environment.

1st Trend: Relationship between government agency and ordinary citizens. We’re the government and here to help you. The citizens say this is good or not. It is changing. A reorientation and that we are co-creating outcomes that we all need to survive and thrive.

2nd Trend: System change. What’s going on inside of government agencies to allow dialogue to open up. Creating the beginning of an inter-agency network of people who practice dialogue. (Cooperative Conservation effort)

3rd Trend: Using technology – expanded use. New ways to meet face to face


Academic literature is growing rapidly.

A lot of are involved in formal structure for dialogue that fit into a larger society. The literature is brushing the picture of D&D with broader strokes.

Important to think of how it fits into larger process

Media and Elections: Mediated deliberation. For most people on most issues, the media is the medium they might engage. It is a rigorous processing. The experience of how the media works and how it presents. AirAmerica (new radio network) – we’re better off having both. Substantive clash. Mentions Daily Show and how important it is. It is a media education program. Citizen Journalism.

Deliberation within legal bodies, juries, courts: It isn’t what we do for the most part – congress is a metaphor. It is one of the true models of public discourse, but not to be emulated. We need to think about it and be concerned it. We should shake our heads at legislative karoki. The jury is a governmental body and provides for many people a more satisfying experience for D&D.

Communities and Conversation: What is a deliberative community? Try to think about interlocking organizations and institutions. Think strategically about connecting with schools, established members of the community, established media. Who is talking to who? More likely to exposed to contrary points of view watching the media than talking to other people.


I want to be funny, but I don’t know how.

Global Level: We’re at critical fork in the road – environmental disasters, oppression – it’s getting worse and worse – faster and faster. At the same time, we’re seeing new social innovation. Those are incredible signs that things are getting better and better faster and faster. Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solenet — a book about this trend.

Ask the question: Where do we want to stand when we don’t know the outcomes?

Grassroots efforts are that we are remembering our power. We co-create the work through our dialogue networks. There is something happening in the collective remembering.

Technology: The possibilities for a Global Conversation on the Internet are an important trend for our field.

Compassionate Activism: It’s process activism. Co-intellligent solutions from a multi-perspectives.

Weak Signal: There are more people in the room over 50. A movement towards inter-generational collaboration.

They asked for soundbytes heard from the audience:

  • Need to co-create solutions
  • Legislative karoke
  • Possibilities
  • Constant Learning
  • Social Venture Capitals
  • Hope in the dark
  • Compassionate Non-adversial
  • More shouting could be better
  • Advocacy with an eye for long haul
  • Deliberation within
  • Deep species remembering
  • Substantive clash
  • How many are over 50?
  • Institutions are changing
  • Things are getting better and better
  • Cracked political culture
  • collective intelligence on the Internet
  • Dialogue without posters
  • Simult. decline and emergence
  • Community success doesn’t happen on the first try
  • First-person authentcity
  • Bringing everyone to table
  • Intergenerational collaboration for the common good
  • Innovation occurs on the edge of chaos far from the equalibrium
  • Good ideas take more than one try
  • Global Conversaton
  • Where do we want to stand when we do this work
  • Ordinary entering discussion about issues that matters to them most

The panelists offered their reflections. (The mindmap is here)

CG:The culture of disbelief – no one tells the truth. That’s the problem.

LN:The tension between the civil service corp and very steep decline of younger people coming into civil service. We need recognize the tension. Younger people need to consider the value of public service as a calling. This allows change from the inside to take place. We fool ourselves if our technical tools and data are the answer.

JG:Let’s be careful about saying “Them” when talking about government. Every organization – not matter how much it was rooted in dialogue. I wish that every group had a campaign manager as part of their board of directors to help think about the political implications. It recognizing that it is part of the system. Embrace the connections to other institutions no matter how much you want to get rid of them. Be honest about the negative aspects – stay as optimistic while being realistic. Realistic optimism.

JB: Aspects of system change. I’ve spent a lot of time with “them.” My hope around system change – there are great people working in all these enemy institutions. My questions – how can they come to know each other and know that they are not alone. How can we support that possibility in the institutional connections. How can we help these pioneers inside of these tough institutions to keep courage.

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Where We Are Now – Exploring Current Trends    

Originally posted by Loretta Donavan for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

After a thoroughly engaging opening on Saturday morning, participants move into their right brains in discovering “Where we are now.” Leilani Henry is the moderator for the session. Clear your tables . . . is her first instruciton to the ballroom of participants. She tells the group that it is important to include the nonverbal. Start in silence . . . what are the trends you are hearing . . . visually capture them in 7 minutes. Nancy Marguiles gives a brief demo of how it is done. At my table, Charles Knickerbocker and Diane Miller plunge right in.

 The next task is to share images with others.  A pleasant rise in conversation occurs as folks mill about and enthusiastically explain their drawings.  Invited back to the tables, the opportunities and challenges that come to mind from the trends images discussed in small groups.  Coming back together for reflection on what has surfaced in conversation and where NCDD might go in the future, participants rise to share reflections to the questions:

What makes it challenging? What are the opportunities?

  • We hate to think and need to be better in languaging (as are the conservatives)
  • The world is getting increasingly charged with fear which causes polarization which inhibits innovation
  • Children need to be given a voice in an environment that causes them strife
  • Culture is reinforcing individualism and separatism . . . need a shift to a “doing it together” mindset that encourages dialogue
  • We have a lot of things that are positive here . . . a better question would be what’s possible
  • We have a lot of things going on that are good and beneficial which need to be recognized and celebrated
  • Reframing the definition of “world” – creating boundarylessness
  • The discussion between having a common base of knowledge and the skills to have the conversation are going out of balance
  • Let your walls down enough and give the other person credit
  • The techology of the world is conspiring to make my world wonderful . . . for true believers, the possibility is there for my ideas to impact more than those in the room and be heard globally
  • Can we say we are truly operating from a place of love?  We need to be constantly reminding people of who they are, who I am.
  • The talk needs to include the indigenous nations, culture, governments.  We are borrowing from them in our methods.  Lessons can be learned from their experiences and history in a united world.
  • There is an area of our nature that is beyond our bodies, mind and is real. Acknowledging the soul dimension, the spirit, there is a louder we to connect to.
  • Find language that is inclusive of all perspectives.  We need to respect all human beings especially those with opposing viewpoints.  Comedy can be used with love from the other side of the room.
  • We need to reframe the way we think about ourselves.  We need to think of ourselves as patriots and as Americans. 
  • Think of yourself as agents of change.  People change when they are first accepted.  Language can free and can define. 
  • Safe space for the emotional content and to be free to express the real stuff is still needed.
  • We need to overcome the stereotype of what an American is.  We have the power and opportunities to dialogue in our lives with the broader population and let them know who we really are.

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The Zen of NCDD Events    

Originally posted by Andy Fluke for the 2006 NCDD Conference…

Running a conference is easier than it looks. There, I just gave away our biggest secret. ‘Course, it does help to have such a great team to work with in the first place, but at the heart of this revelation is a simple truth: you fill up a room with good people and good things are going to happen. That’s our secret. What’s left is simply making sure there’s enough chairs to make them comfortable (and to the credit of our participants, many can just as easily sit in a circle on the floor and still engage and inspire, and create great conversations).

But let me back off just a little and make sure I don’t diminish the amazing work our team is doing. Of the three national events NCDD has hosted, this is by far the best organized, and this is directly because of the amazing work of Polly Riddims and Katie Howard, without whom this conference would probably be a shambles. If you’re here at the conference, find both of them and give each a big hug and a thank you. If you’ve had a great time, in so many ways its because of their investment and hard work.

As I wandered around the conference yesterday, watching all the pieces our tireless planning team crafted fall together into this amazing flow, I was struck by the same things I so enjoyed watching at the last two conferences — the introductions. Those moments when two people meet for the first time, shake hands or hug, and offer a a quick introduction of themselves. Sometimes it ends quickly with a “it was so nice to meet you”, but more often than not what follows is the first steps towards collaboration, the exchange of email addresses or phone numbers, the immediate sharing of ideas — the continued growth and connection that strengthens the network that we are working so hard to build. It is a very exciting thing to watch.

And it happens all day long — everyday of the conference.

It’s why we do this stuff.

I have a unique position, a very fortunate position to be able to come to this event having been so much a part of its inception yet having the freedom to go where I want, do what I want and explore the machinations of the conference to my heart’s content. I see Oz from behind the curtain as well as sharing the awe of standing with the crowd and watching the spectacle unfold. Our guests know they can come to me (though again I’m extraordinarily lucky to have Katie and Poly to send them to) if they need help and I do my best where I can. I have been approached by so many wonderful people, each sharing their first impressions with me and I have been amazed at the complete lack of criticism. Sure there are little problems popping up here and there, but nothing that can’t be overcome (again, we have Katie and Polly). But in past events, participants were never hesitant to share their criticisms along with their praise.

Kenoli and Marc’s opening session garnered the most praise, following the “if you didn’t get your morning coffee, it no longer matters” drumming performance, which, by the way garnered, more than enough complaints from other hotel guests — they needed to get up anyway. Although there was a little confusion about how to get from one Showcase to another, the workshops went smooth and, from the accounts I heard, were very well received. I unfortunately missed most of the reception and even more unfortunately missed out on the food, so I’m hoping that Beth will blog about the hors d’oeuvres.

But the one thing that really blew me away (and it shouldn’t have knowing the talent of the people involved) was how smoothly — and how much fun — incorporating technology into this conference has worked out. Loretta and Beth have done a fabulous job of putting the conference online. I have learned so much from each. But beyond that, I have had some very rewarding conversations about technology with many participants — too many to list here.

Thanks, everbody!

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Friday AM First Plenary Session: Reflecting on Our Past    

Originally posted by Dale Ironson for the 2006 NCDD Conference… 

Discovering the Collective Story that Brought Us Here Today

In this plenary session we explored our personal stories and the evolution of the field of D & D, amidst the background of world events, to provide a common ground of experience and insight. By having a sense of how we came to this work personally, and what events shaped the development of this field, we gained both a personal grounding and an evolutionary perspective on how things grow and evolve over time. We also deepened our connections with others through the personal sharing and got a sense of the key events of each decade shaping the world and the emerging field of dialogue and deliberation.

There was much excitement and richness in these discussions. It was amazing how the exercises and future search methodology was able to so quickly and powerfully capture the essence of the evolutionary journey and provide us all with a solid common ground of experience and history upon which to build on during the conference. It was both a deepening and a broadening of our individual and collective perspectives as well as a wonderful opportunity to experience using the tools of the Future Search approach in brining large groups together quickly and effectively.

The Future Search approach is a large-group, whole-system planning method, which makes it possible for a complex and diverse group of stakeholders to discover common ground and decide how to act on it. This approach was an ideal way to get a large and diverse group, such as NCDD, into an awareness of both our unique and common journeys and highlight both the rich diversity and deep commonalities of this group.

This session was facilitated by Marc Togonotti and Kenoli Oleari, who are Co-Directors of the San Francisco Neighborhood Assemblies Network (NAN) and who regularly employ large-group, whole-systems approaches in their work with organizations and communities.

When we came into the room we were surrounded by large paper covered walls divided in sections for each decade from the 60’s through 2010. There were three levels upon which we were asked to contribute our thoughts one – The first level was our personal experience that led us to become involved with this field. A second level was what was going on in the world at the time – in society at the national and global levels, and the third level was what was going on in the developing field of dialogue and deliberation during that time.

Marc stared out by asking us to pick a partner, someone who we didn’t know, and setting up a two person interview which is an approach used in Appreciative Inquiry. We were asked to share with our partners a story about the time we first knew we were interested in dialogue and deliberation.

What year did it happen?What influenced it?We were asked to try to cite a specific experience or time.We had 5 min. to tell our story and then we switched.

We then paired up with another group – so there were four in the new group, and then introduced our partner’s story to the new pair.

We were then asked to map our experiences on the wall charts, which were segmented by decades with each decade having a 10 year timeline, by writing our comments on one of the three streams –

1. Our personal timeline, – the significant events in our personal lives, including the ones hat affected your relationship to D & D.

2. The global picture – important events going on in the society/the world at the time.

3. What was happening in The Dialogue and Deliberation field during this time. We were asked to cite important events affecting public dialogue, and developments in the dialogue and deliberation field, etc.

After each person wrote their input on the wall we were asked to select a decade that represented our entry into the field of D & D work and to form small groups of 6 – 8 to

1. Discuss what we saw on the three timelines for our decade and

2. Create a shared story about your decade.

Report Outs from the Decade Groups

One group from each decade was then asked to report out their reflections on what key themes they had identified. There were several groups for each decade and unfortunately there was only time for one group from each decade to report out. The lists presented below are only from the groups who reported out to the large group. The total wall chart data was collected and might be available at some point in time. (I don’t know if you have plans to do this or not, so you need to make this statement accordingly).

From the 60’s groupWe still look pretty good (a comment on the age of the members in this group i.e. you have to be older to have been there in the 60s).Nov 22, 1963 – the day JFK was shot, represented the “End of Camelot”The influence of the GI Bill – getting educatedPolitical development, The sexual revolution & The PillDrugs and the Impact of Music – The battles defining changeBeginning of Dialogues – around civil rights, the war in VietnamProsperity level in the US was highAssassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and Robert KennedyHuge community movement

From the 70’s groupWar, Sex, the Environment, the Civil and Human rights movements, Inner and Outer selfDemocracy in the workplaceInterdisciplinary move in educationSpiritualityCommunal livingD & D Sensitivity trainingPsychology (Esalen)Training for D & DThink Globally, Act Locally

From the 80’s groupAnti-ReganismArms buildupAIDSAnti Apartheid MovementPersonal Growth and HealingSocial PoliticsMediation training as pivotalest training & Beyond War groupsFreeing of Women – reclaiming their lives from the imposed maternal only roleEfforts to create change – mediation modelEnd of cold war in 89Conflict resolution

From the 90’s groupGlobal conflictsDayton Peace AgreementIRAQ / Kuwait WarsNational use of mediation skills, etc., in their workD & D level – organizations taking rootPolitics – new polarizations – not a lot of bridge building going onHigh Tech and Y2K

From the 2000 groupEntry points on a personal level (i.e. comment about people’s entry into the field of D & D was from direct personal experience of D & D approaches at conferences, workshops, classes, etc.On a global level it was more externalNeed to focus on philanthropy & academic sector to get into the work now.

Reflections & Observations Post Wall Chart exercise and small group discussions and table report outs.

What comes up for you? What insights, and reflections do you have about these perspectives and data points about our past and how we come to be here, and the changes in the field of D&D over these decades till now?

All comments are numbered – and captured as best I could. They are not word for word quotes. I tried to get the gist of the comment.

1. How seeds planted grow. We lose sight of this big picture.The Beyond War Movement said – Think Globally Act Locally many years ago. It’s interesting to see this statement evolve into a cultural icon over the years.

2. We’ve lived through all this! A view of how things evolve.We’re between two worlds – an old way which is dying and a new world which is being conceived and is emerging but is not quite here yet.This conference is part of birthing the Gazelle.

3. I was there in the 60’s, Participatory Democracy & the War on Poverty

4. Viral Spread – It all started with me going to a dialogue group.

5. In the 50’s & 60’s it was thought that adults could not learn. The 70’s questioned this assumption.

6. The crystallization of the role of dialogue – The Path of the Social Progressives – The Discourse around Value – reframe the conversations that need to happen to move us forward.

7. The 80’s and Ronald Regan. I was thinking of How much energy we have put into defense (in terms of spending etc.), and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now we can free it up.We can move Energy from Defense to more constructive uses. It’s somewhat disheartening that we’re not doing this, i.e. using our resources in a more productive way.

8. The Labor Movement and the influence of the Media and affluence. Advertising messages – and our identities as informed by the media, i.e. consumerisms, the NRA, influence,. We take our collective identity from the media – in the public sector, and this influences us greatly in terms of who we think we are and our public policies, etc.

9. Impatience and a sense of urgency. We need to think about a strategy for communication with the world.

10. Feeling a sense of hope – This awareness and consciousness of there being hope.

11. We are post colonial – We are learning a new democracy Our forefathers, the founders of this country, put their lives on the line. The newest (us) and oldest (our founding fathers) are coming together.

12. The end of the draft in the 60’s (was a monumental event).

13. The effect of 9/11.People’s desire to connect as opposed to the mentality of you’re either for us or against us (fear driven). The task of making meaning of 9/11 – i.e. What does it mean? How do we choose to see it and respond to it? Defining our relationship to this event and how we respond to it – from a place of fear and defense, or from a place of vision and larger perspective that can lead to more positive outcomes and responses for all of humanity.

14. In the 80’s –refusal to look at the scientific research (I believe this refers to the data on global warming). But the world wasn’t quite ready at the time.

15. In the 70s –surging and waning – Carter – working with Presidents – who are open and progressive – in these windows of opportunity.Relationship of citizen groups & government – i.e. under RooseveltForm a dialogue to move things forward.

16. Listening for patterns –Emerging patterns for D & D -In the 60’s – Adversary basedIn the 70″s – Internal Inner and personal developmentIn the 80s – MediationIn the 90’s – Corporations and Love of technology with Networks (the internet)2000 – Building on this – the whole system in the room

17. Bowling Alone (the name of a book) – rates of inclusion (or isolation/ alienation)

18. The trauma of all the assignations in the 60’s. But there’s still chance for hope.

19. Places of Hope in this decade –Speaking truth to power in the 2000’s. In Latin America – the uprising of people power, in the US immigration rights.

20. The 80’s – The browning of America. Emerging Multiplicity of Voices.

21. The role of religion – the Moral Majority, The Christian Coalition in Public discourse.

22. Human migration

23. Low intensity warfare going on around the world – the number of armed conflicts

24. Drive for connectedness in the 60s.The need for connectedness – After Katrina – chat rooms, awareness that we couldn’t depend on the government. But after Katrina – we’ve moved on – we’ve forgotten about it.

25. Grass roots dialogue groups sprung up all over the place (i.e. Palestine – Israel) but Arafat put a stop to it.

26. Motivation – What motivated each of us to make changes –My anger & dissatisfaction in the 60’s over women’s rights issues, nowin the 90’s & 2000, young people seem to be coming from a place of more caring and compassion for humanity.

The consciousness of peace itself. From spiritual awareness I connect with the peace within myself and from this we can bring peace into the world. We need to be the peace we want in the world.

From being anti – institutions -> To asking how can we institutionalize what we’ve been about?

27. Life growing up in the 60’s – getting lost in TV screens.

We have lost the art of having face to face conversations especially with people who disagree with us. We live in a world of polarization and competition. There is a new generation of “screen heads” and the “blog generation”.

28. Over the last 40 – 50 years things have gotten a lot tighter (economically).

This clamps down on the energy of the 60’s. The issue is one of who gets to use the skills we have in this room? Servants of power – Who has access to these skills? i.e. using the skills in this room for the benefit of the larger environment and to celebrate ourselves.

The session then closed and people adjourned for lunch.

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