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Public Conversations Project

The Public Conversations Project helps people with fundamental disagreements over divisive issues develop the mutual understanding and trust essential for strong communities and positive action. Their dialogue model is characterized by a careful preparatory phase in which all stakeholders/sides are interviewed and prepared for the dialogue process. Read our summary of PCP's approach or learn more at

Here are the 15 resources from Public Conversations Project.

A Model for an Introductory Dialogue on Abortion Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Public Conversations Project.

The model described here was developed for the single session introductory dialogues on abortion that Public Conversations Project conducted in 1990-1992 (eighteen sessions) and 1995-1998 (ten sessions). Most of these dialogues took place on weekday evenings between 6:00 and 9:30 and involved four to eight participants who did not know one another ahead of time. Several participants were activists but few were highly visible leaders. All groups were evenly balanced with people who described themselves as “prochoice” or “prolife.”

Boston Prochoice and Prolife Leaders Dialogue Highly Recommended

The Public Conversations Project.

Read about PCP's groundbreaking 7-year abortion dialogue involving pro-choice and pro-life leaders in the Boston area. PCP has been doing dialogue work with Prochoice and Prolife activists and others since 1989.

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Constructive Conversations for Challenging Times: A Guide for Home and Community Dialogue

Watertown, MA: Public Conversations Project, 2001.

A 38-page guide to convening and facilitating constructive conversations about the events of September 11 and all that has happened since. The guide draws on over a decade of experience conducting dialogues about divisive public issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and how to use natural resources. It contains instructions for a two-hour structured dialogue and suggestions for briefer or less formal conversations that have the spirit of dialogue. For step-by-step support in hosting your own dialogue in person or online, download a free copy of PCP's Guide for Home and Community Dialogue.

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D&D; Success Stories Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Compiled by the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), 2005.

Below are dozens of links to dialogue and deliberation success stories and case studies that are available online. Approaches covered include Deliberative Polling, Citizens Juries, Future Search, National Issues Forums, Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue, AmericaSpeaks, Study Circles, the Public Conversations Project, and Wisdom Councils. NCDD has been compiling these resources for the D&D; community for several years, but we could really use your help keeping this page updated. Email us at [email protected] with your additions and changes.

Fostering Dialogue Across Divides: A Nuts and Bolts Guide from the Public Conversations Project Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Maggie Herzig and Laura Chasin, Public Conversations Project.

For years, the Public Conversations Project has set the standard for facilitation materials and training in the dialogue and deliberation field. This Guide--chock-full of PCP's road-tested techniques for effectively engaging people across differences--is an invaluable resource for both established dialogue facilitators and newcomers to this work.

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From Diatribe to Dialogue on Divisive Public Issues: Approaches Drawn from Family Therapy Highly Recommended

Richard Chasin, Margaret Herzig, Sallyann Roth, Laura Chasin, and Robert R. Stains Jr.. Mediation Quarterly, Volume 13, 4, 323-344, 1996.

A comprehensive overview of the Public Conversation Project's general approach, this article draws case examples from four different subprojects and it makes explicit the connections between PCP's principles and practices and ideas and methods drawn from family therapy.

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From Stuck Debate to New Conversation on Controversial Issues: A Report from the Public Conversations Project Highly Recommended

Carol Becker, Laura Chasin, Richard Chasin, Margaret Herzig and Sallyann Roth. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 7 (1-2), 143-163, 1995.

This article presents the four guiding objectives of PCP's work and describes practices that support each of those objectives, drawing case examples from their introductory dialogues on abortion.

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Internews Interactive (InterAct) Highly Recommended

The widespread use of digital communication devices has created a nation not only clamoring for 15 minutes of fame on national television, but capable of connecting to it. InterAct's mission is to help Americans gain a place among the pundits and politicians who create public policy, using the most powerful medium on earth, broadcast television. The Public Conversations Project partnered with InterAct on RedBlue - an Internet project that gives Americans, whether “red,” “blue” or “purple,” a way to connect, explore differences, and find out what we have in common.

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Public Conversations Project Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

In addition to their groundbreaking grassroots dialogue work, PCP provides trainings, presentations, and workshops on such things as the power of dialogue, inquiry as intervention, and the architecture of dialogue. PCP's website offers a variety of great tools and downloadable resources to help you organize and facilitate a dialogue.

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Public Conversations Project - various workshops Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

The Public Conversations Project offers workshops to help participants experience and understand the values, principles and premises that guide their work and practices. These workshops invite practitioners to develop a 'reflective dialogic mindset' in which alignment is sought between belief, intention and action. Two of PCP's popular workshops are The Power of Dialogue and Inquiry as Intervention.

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Public Conversations Project Updates List

The Public Conversations Project promotes constructive conversations and relationships among people who have differing values, world views, and perspectives about divisive public issues. Their monthly email updates announce PCP's upcoming trainings, events and new resources.

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Public Conversations Project's Approach Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

PCP's mission is to foster a more inclusive, empathic and collaborative society by promoting constructive conversations and relationships among those who have differing values, world views, and positions about divisive public issues. Since 1990, PCP has convened, designed, and facilitated numerous dialogues on a variety of controversial public issues, including abortion, the environment, population and development, sexual orientation and religion, and economic difference.

Talking With The Enemy Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Anne Fowler, Nicki Nichols Gamble, Frances X. Hogan, Melissa Kogut, Madeline McCommish, and Barbara Thorp. The Boston Globe, January 28, 2001.

For six years, Boston leaders on both sides of the abortion debate met in secret in an attempt to better understand each other through dialogue facilitated by the Public Conversations Project. This Boston Globe article enabled the group, which met together privately for over 150 hours, to publicly disclose their meetings and the impact those meetings had on them for the first time.

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The Meaning of Wilderness

Sandy Schuman.

The debate in New York's Adirondack Mountains region had become increasingly polarized; interpersonal and interorganizational relationships had deteriorated. The Public Conversations Project convened a group of about 20 environmentalists, developers, forest industry people, sportsmen, and others with diverse views. The aim of the dialogue was to have individuals, however polarized their viewpoints, come together for two days as people, rather than as parties or positions, and understand each other....

The Uncertain Path to Dialogue: A Meditation

Sallyann Roth. In Relational Responsibility: Resources for Sustainable Dialogue, S. McNamee and K. Gergen, eds. Chapter 8, 93-97. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1999.

This piece, which embodies many of the ideas developed in the Public Conversations Project, begins with... "I invite you to join me in a meditation. The questions below are not requests for information; they are invitations to experience the sense of human connectedness and shared responsibility that comes from allowing ourselves to wonder, to not understand, to participate in the re-personalization of the generalized and objectified, to open up space for the future, now-being-realized world, the world that we create together. Perhaps, too, the questions are answers in themselves, pointing beyond themselves."

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