What We’re All About
The “dialogue and deliberation community” is a loose-knit community of practitioners, researchers, activists, artists, students, and others who are committed to giving people a voice and making sure that voice counts. NCDD provides the infrastructure needed in this community so we can work together to increase both our individual and our collective impact.
NCDD has nearly 700 members, and we have held three biennial national conferences that brought together nearly 1,000 leaders and up-and-comers in the dialogue and deliberation community – in Alexandria, VA in 2002; Denver in 2004; and San Francisco in 2006. Our monthly email updates go out to over 10,000 people who work in dialogue and deliberation, and our website receives well over 1,000 page views daily.
Below is our contact info, followed by an overview of NCDD’s purpose, programs and membership. If you’re interested, you can also read the story of NCDD’s beginnings or find out why in the world our web address is www.thataway.org. You are also invited to look over NCDD’s 3-year strategic plan (January 2007 through January 2010).
Mailing address: 114 W. Springville Road, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
(please make correspondence c/o Sandy Heierbacher, Director or Andy Fluke, Creative Director)
Email: ncdd @ www.thataway.org
NCDD’s Mission and Vision
NCDD’s mission is to bring together and support people, organizations, and resources in ways that expand the power of discussion to benefit society.
NCDD envisions a future in which all people–regardless of income, position, background or education–are able to engage regularly in lively, thoughtful, and challenging conversations about what really matters to them, in ways that have a positive impact on their lives and their world. We envision a society in which systems and structures support and advance inclusive, constructive dialogue and deliberation.
NCDD: Uniting and Growing a Community of Practice
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) brings together people and groups who actively practice, promote and study inclusive, high quality conversations. Collectively, we seek to nurture justice, innovation and democracy throughout society through the widespread use of transformational communication methods such as dialogue and deliberation. We believe that elevating the quality of thinking and communication in organizations and among citizens is key to solving humanity’s most pressing problems.
Dialogue and deliberation are powerful group processes that help people bridge gaps, make better decisions, take collective action, resolve conflict and become more active citizens. NCDD provides resources, networking opportunities and programs for a growing community of practice dedicated to solving group and societal problems through honest talk, quality thinking and collaborative action.
Why Did the Coalition Form?
Although they are by no means new processes, dialogue and deliberation have enjoyed a tremendous growth in popularity in recent years. This growth has been so grassroots that numerous streams of practice (deliberative democracy, conflict transformation, intergroup dialogue, etc.) developed without much awareness of one other. The result of this was the emergence of an important but disjointed field whose practitioners are versed in completely different terminology, techniques and resources, and emphasize different outcomes – despite the similarity of their basic values and principles.
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) emerged from the Hewlett-funded 2002 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, which sought to address this disconnect. The planning process for the 2002 conference exemplifies NCDD’s collaborative, inclusive way of working. A group of 60 people – from graduate students in conflict resolution to directors of leading dialogue organizations – came together to plan a highly participatory, high-energy conference which would bring together 240 scholars and practitioners of dialogue and deliberation across all streams of practice for the very first time.
The conference was a success, causing many participants to feel that they are part of an important, growing field of practice; introducing practitioners and scholars to the vast array of models, tools and techniques that are being used by their colleagues; surfacing key issues facing the dialogue and deliberation community; and developing a blueprint for action for strengthening this emerging field.
The organizations and individuals who collaborated to make the conference happen decided to continue and expand upon their work by establishing the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
Who Makes Up NCDD?
In just a few short years since the first conference, the Coalition’s membership has grown to include nearly 700 organizations and individuals who, collectively, regularly engage and mobilize hundreds of thousands of people around today’s most critical issues.
NCDD’s members include organizations as varied as the Open Space Institute, the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Project, AmericaSpeaks, Search for Common Ground, The Public Conversations Project, the Center for Nonviolent Communication, Web Lab, Campus Compact and the Study Circles Resource Center. NCDD’s individual members include public officials, students, artists, practitioners, scholars and others.
What Does the Coalition Do?
The Coalition’s activities in its first two years of existence began the work of developing a common knowledge base in the dialogue and deliberation community. The 2002 conference was a vital and successful first step in the effort to create a shared language, a sense of mutual respect and an openness to collaboration among the various streams of practice that center around the processes of dialogue and deliberation, and our work since that conference has continued to build knowledge and foster connections and a sense of unity in the field.
In 2003 and 2004, NCDD’s activities focused on providing practitioners and scholars with important resources, information, news and tools; initiating and running collaborative projects with other dialogue and deliberation programs to build knowledge in the field; and providing members of the dialogue and deliberation community with the means to collaborate on projects.
The NCDD website is a popular hub for practitioners and scholars in this emerging field, and houses by far the most comprehensive and up-to-date collection of resources, news, events and opportunities related to dialogue and deliberation. NCDD’s website is known for the quality and thoughtful organization of its resources and features, and the site includes hundreds of pages of resources, news and user-generated content. The resources at www.thataway.org range from a feature that categorizes and describes high-tech tools, products and programs that can enhance online and face-to-face dialogue and deliberation programs to a glossary defining over 100 key terms used throughout the field.
NCDD also dedicated much of its time in 2003 and 2004 to helping to develop and strengthen major dialogue and deliberation efforts that address the extreme political polarization in our country – efforts like Let’s Talk America, The September Project and the Both/And Project. NCDD keeps in touch monthly with over 10,000 people who are involved in dialogue and deliberation, and our communication and networking efforts have helped to spread the word about and increase the effectiveness of many dozens of innovative programs.
In 2004, much of our energy was focused on planning the second National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, which took place in Denver, Colorado in October. Our second conference, which was attended by 305 leaders and newcomers in this nascent field, brought our attention to the facts that (1) new people who are entering this field are in need of more guidance than seems to be available to them, and (2) that many practitioners want desperately to connect with people who do this work in their areas - but just don’t know how to connect with them. Much of our energy since the conference has been dedicated to help meet these needs, and our mentorship program began in January 2007. Look over our report from the 2004 conference to get a sense of ALL of the things we learned from that groundbreaking gathering.
In 2006, we held our third National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation in San Francisco, California, and it was by far our best conference yet. 375 people came together to network, learn about new methods and new research, and jointly address some of the key issues facing the field. Click here to see over 550 pictures taken by conference participants and posted to Flickr! You can also peruse the conference guidebook or look over what was participants posted to the very cool conference blog about their experiences.
The 2004 and 2006 conferences were planned as collaboratively as the first conference, with nearly dozens of people working together on both planning teams to design unique, worthwhile events.
Since we feel we have been very successful in our initial efforts to strengthen and unite the growing dialogue and deliberation community, we have decided to start reaching out to those who are new to these processes. In order to introduce more people to the myriad processes that can help them address contentious issues in their communities, NCDD is developing a user-friendly Beginner’s Toolkit to Dialogue & Deliberation. And through our Dialogue Bureau project, we hope to connect journalists and other members of the media to leaders of dialogue groups who are willing to be interviewed about the key findings and concerns of their groups.
We are also proud to have helped an independent group in Canada plan the first Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, which took place in Ottawa in October 2005, and was modeled after NCDD’s conferences (their next conference is planned for November 2007!).
We welcome you to look over our Three-Year Strategic Plan to get a sense of our plans and goals from 2007 through 2009.