current issues

Keep track of today’s national town hall on the budget    

As you hopefully know because we’ve posted about this numerous times, today is AmericaSpeaks’ national town hall on “Our Budget, Our Economy.”  NCDD has served as a promotional partner for the event, and many NCDDers are involved in various capacities (I’d be there myself, but tonight is my 20-year high school reunion).

Across the U.S., thousands of people have come together to take part in this national discussion.  I’ve been following the day’s events off and on today, by watching the live feed at http://ht.ly/23CXB (which is showing real small-group discussions happening in different cities; it’s pretty cool and fascinating to watch) and following what people are posting on twitter today with the hash tag #usabudget.  Thought some of you might want to check out these links, too!

Final chance to sign up for national deliberation on Our Budget, Our Economy    

I wanted to remind everyone that on June 26th, thousands of concerned citizens — and a whole bunch of NCDDers — are coming together for an unprecedented national conversation on our budget and economy hosted by NCDD organizational member AmericaSpeaks. (NCDD is a promotional partner for this event.)

Together, we’ll find common ground on the tough choices our nation will have to make in the years ahead in order to ensure that growing debt payments don’t crowd out our national priorities, like education, healthcare, national defense, and transportation infrastructure.  Learn more about Our Budget, Our Economy at http://usabudgetdiscussion.org/.

If you’re not already signed up (or facilitating!), I encourage you to participate in the event nearest you this Saturday (June 26) – and help spread the word by sharing this message with others in your networks.

Can you participate in a meeting near you on June 26?

The event you attend will link you to thousands of other Americans around the country via satellite video, webcasts, and interactive technologies. Experts will brief us on the basic budget challenges we’re facing, and then we’ll work together to identify shared priorities and discuss options we have to reduce the national debt. Most importantly: the results of all the meetings across the US will be compiled into a report that will be submitted to the White House and Congress later this summer.

We are working to have this non-partisan citizen discussion reflect the political, socioeconomic, and ethnic diversity of the United States. So, please invite your friends — and I hope to see you there.

Also- for those interested, the issue guide for Our Budget, Our Economy, titled Federal Budget 101: An Introduction to the Federal Budget and our Fiscal Chalelnges, can now be downloaded here.

OpenGov and the Gulf Coast Restoration Plan (July 16th)    

I just got an invitation from NCDD member Lucas Cioffi for July’s Open Government Community Summit (July 16 from 9-12 EST, location in D.C. TBD).  Previous summits and workshops have been hosted by the Department of Transportation, the General Services Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, and the US Department of Treasury.

Who: This workshop is open to federal, state, and local officials involved in restoring our nation’s Gulf Coast.  Members of the Open Gov Community from the private sector and non-profit organizations are also welcome to participate. RSVP here by July 14th: http://gulf-coast-restoration.eventbrite.com/

What: The summit will focus on the intersection of open government and the Gulf Coast Restoration Plan which President Obama assigned to the Secretary of the Navy on June 15th. (more…)

Facilitators needed on June 26 for national town meeting on the economy    

On June 26, 2010, thousands of Americans across the country will participate in the AmericaSpeaks: Our Budget, Our Economy National Town Meeting, an unprecedented national discussion on finding solutions for the budget and deficit. The National Town Meeting will take place in locations all across the country, connected live via satellite video, webcast and interactive technologies.

The purpose of this national discussion is to find common ground on tough choices about our budget. Throughout the day, Americans across the country will weigh-in on strategies to ensure a sustainable fiscal future and a strong economic recovery. The national discussion will be a chance to demonstrate that the American public can find common ground across demographic, geographic and political divides and that we as a nation can govern ourselves in a new way.

Skilled volunteer table facilitators are crucial to the success of the meeting and the work is varied, challenging, and fun. Facilitators are responsible for drawing out equal participation from their table of ten participants, focusing the group’s conversation, and holding respectful space for differences of opinion and communication styles.

AmericaSpeaks is currently recruiting table facilitators for the following Town Meeting locations: (more…)

Coffee Party Mvmt looking for good videos for training moderators    

Update on this post: We compiled the most relevant suggestions we received from the NCDD community (videos and books) in this PDF document. It may be easier to go through than looking through all the comments added to this post. Thank you to NCDD intern Cait Kershner for compiling everyone’s recommendations!

I’m sure most of you have heard of the Coffee Party Movement (CPM) by now; launched early this year on Facebook by Annabel Park, it quickly gained over 100,000 fans and initiated hundreds of face-to-face “coffee parties” across the country (fans now exceed 212,000!).  A left-leaning alternative to the Tea Party Movement, CPM The Coffee Party Movement is embracing civil discussion and collaboration as a means to impacting public policy.

I had a great conversation with Annabel Park a couple of days ago, and she felt that CPM’s coffee party moderators could really benefit from the expertise in our community of practice.  For starters, she wondered if we could help identify some great videos on group facilitation they could encourage their moderators to watch. (In my opinion, any group that is bringing so many people together for civil political discourse – from any side of the political spectrum – deserves our help with process.)

What training videos would you recommend? Videos/films/clips that are freely available for online viewing – or could be made so – are highly preferred!

Knowing the dialogue & deliberation community, you guys will recommend all kinds of resources that are great for new facilitators, and that’s fine (just please include titles, brief descriptions, and links).  I’ll compile everything here on the NCDD blog as it comes in (I’ll be sending this request to various listservs, LinkedIn groups, facebook groups, etc.).  Let’s show Annabel and other civic pioneers how responsive and generous our community can be!

Learn more about the Coffee Party Movement at www.coffeepartyusa.com or www.facebook.com/coffeeparty?ref=ts if you’re on Facebook. And check out this February post on the CPM site, which talks about how they “want the political process broken down into three steps: 1) open and respectful dialogue, 2) thoughtful and informed deliberation, 3) competent and decisive execution.”

Save the date: national town meeting on the U.S. economy on June 26    

AmericaSpeaks: Our Budget, Our Economy is a national discussion to find common ground on tough choices about our federal budget.  Americans from across the country will come together to weigh in on strategies to ensure a sustainable fiscal future and a strong economic recovery.  As a part of this national discussion, on June 26, 2010, thousands of Americans across the country will participate simultaneously in an unprecedented National Town Meeting.  For those who do not live near the large conversations, the dialogue can occur in Community Conversations.

We encourage U.S.-based members of the NCDD community to consider hosting a Community Conversation in your city or town on June 26th.

What is an AmericaSpeaks: Our Budget, Our Economy Community Conversation?

Community Conversations are volunteer-led events, where participants use materials provided by AmericaSpeaks (an NCDD organizational member) to engage in a discussion about our federal budget. Conversations can take place in businesses, schools, libraries, places of worship, community centers, homes, or anywhere else a group chooses to meet. They may be as small as 8 people or as large as several hundred. AmericaSpeaks will provide you with all the materials and information you need to bring the national discussion on Our Budget, Our Economy to your community.

You can volunteer to host a Community Conversation at a public venue (like a library or office) near you or in your home.  We’ll provide you with all the materials and information you need to bring the national discussion on Our Budget, Our Economy to your neighborhood. You can create a Community Conversation by filling out the form here:

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5874/p/salsa/event/common/public/create.sjs?distributed_event_KEY=127

To find out more about the project, www.usabudgetdiscussion.org.

What D&D programs are addressing the red/blue divide?    

I got an email the other day from Tamra Pearson d’Estrée from the University of Denver’s Conflict Resolution Institute. Tamra is interested in knowing about programs that address the partisan divide in the U.S. through dialogue, deliberation, and conflict resolution.

I sent her info on a couple of great programs, but I’m curious about what others in the NCDD community know about that I may not be aware of. I’d like to compile a list of programs addressing the red/blue divide (past, present, and developing) so we can easily share it with people like Tamra. If you are involved in such a program or are aware of one, please use the comment field to let us know about it. If you can, please include the project name, a contact person (name and email, at a minimum), a URL for more detail, and a short description.

Crossing Arizona documenary on immigration worth checking out    

Here’s an interesting resource from Lindsay Dedo, Director of Educational Programming at The Cinema Guild. Sounds like a good film to lead into a timely dialogue on immigration – in the classroom, in libraries, and elsewhere…

This past weekend, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law the “nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration,” (NY Times, April 23, 2010), which aims to identify and deport illegal immigrants from the state.  Highly controversial, the immigration issue has been a hotly-debated topic in Arizona politics in particular over the past few decades.  Rarely is this debate more thoroughly examined than in the award-winning film, CROSSING ARIZONA, a critical tool in educating students to all sides of this debate.

CROSSING ARIZONA, Directed by Joseph Mathew & Daniel DeVivo A Sundance festival favorite, Crossing Arizona offers a far-reaching and up-to-the-moment look at the hotly debated issue of illegal immigration as captured at America’s current flashpoint – the Arizona border. (more…)

Job opening: Alberta Climate Dialogue project lead    

The newly-funded Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD) project is looking for a great person to serve as Project Lead. NCDD is involved in this project, as are a number of other leading organizations in our community. The position is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The project currently has five years of funding in place, and the Project Lead’s initial term will be for two years. Starting salary of $51,000-$64,000 depending on qualifications, plus a comprehensive benefits package and yearly cost of living and merit increases. Additional details below. (more…)

PCP blog post on the Coffee Party Movement    

NCDD member Cynthia Gibson added an interesting post to the Public Conversations Project’s blog today, titled The Coffee Party: Long Time Brewing.  (PCP is an organizational member of NCDD as well.)  In her post, Cindy writes:

How heartening to see ordinary people coalescing around the notion that the government is theirs and that they have a role to play in ensuring its vitality.  Rather than bash government, the Coffee Party wants to work with it.

What the Coffee Party movement may not know, however, is that there already is a powerful movement rippling across the country that’s doing likewise.  It’s called deliberative democracy, through which people are coming together to identify common concerns and find ways to work together to solve them.

Cindy’s blog post is pretty brief, and I added a comment that may just be longer than her post.  We’ve been discussing the Coffee Party Movement on the main NCDD listserv, and Cindy’s post suggests all those of us interested in democratic governance take advantage of the popularity of the Coffee Party Movement to “join together toward rebuilding a process that’s all but vanished in the halls of our government.”

I included some quotes from listserv subscribers in my comment (anonymously) so people can get a sense of what NCDDers think about how we should get involved in or ride the wave of this progressive response to the Tea Party Movement.  Feel free to add your comments, too, and check out PCP’s other blog posts while you’re at it.

Audio from NCDD Confab on Haiti    

We wanted to share the audio from Thursday’s NCDD Confab call. The call focused on the role of dialogue & deliberation practitioners and organizations in Haiti, and in disaster recovery in general.  Featured guests were BJ Diamond of the Global Facilitator Service Corps (GFSC) and John Engle, co-founder of Haiti Partners. Larry Schooler initiated and facilitated the call.

BJ talked with us about GFSC’s work helping communities deal with crises.  John Engle was kind enough to call in from Haiti,  to tell us about his work fostering participatory leadership and discussion-based education in Haiti before and since the earthquake.  He also talked about his involvement in and knowledge of various relief efforts in Haiti, and helped NCDDers on the call think about what they can do now to help.

You can listen to the audio by clicking below if you’re interested (press the play button or download the mp3 file).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Or download: NCDD Confab – February 25, 2010: Haiti (~50 MB)

The NCDD Confabs are a new series of regular conference calls for NCDD members where we explore dialogue & deliberation’s role in current issues, learn about exciting projects and interesting methods from fellow NCDD members, and just get to know each other a little better. Add a comment here if you have ideas about topics and featured guests for future Confab calls.

Join us for NCDD Confab on Haiti tomorrow at 2pm EST    

Join us tomorrow (Thursday) from 2-3 pm EST (11 am Pacific) for an “NCDD Confab” call on the role of dialogue & deliberation practitioners and organizations in Haiti, and in disaster recovery in general.  Featured guests on the call are BJ Diamond and Marieann Shovlin of the Global Facilitator Service Corps and John Engle, co-founder of Haiti Partners, and Larry Schooler will facilitate.

BJ and Marieann will talk about GFSC’s work helping communities deal with crises.  John Engle will talk with us about his work fostering participatory leadership and discussion-based education in Haiti before and since the hurricane.

We’d greatly appreciate it if you would RSVP for the call ahead of time by emailing Larry at [email protected] or me at [email protected], but here are the call-in details in case you don’t get a chance:

1-605-475-6350 (long distance call to Midwest U.S.)
Access Code:  444839

This is one of a new series of “NCDD Confab Calls” where we’ll be exploring dialogue & deliberation’s role in current issues, learn about exciting projects and interesting methods from fellow NCDD members, and just get to know each other a little better.

Here are some more details about our featured guests and the facilitator/initiator of the call… (more…)

Free Deliberation Materials on “America’s Role in the World”    

The National Issues Forums (NIF) has released new issue book materials titled America’s Role in the World: What Does National Security Mean in the 21st Century? A limited supply of material packets will be available FREE to individuals or groups interested in hosting a deliberative community forum this spring.

Free packets include:

  • 5 copies of the issue book with questionnaires
  • 10 copies of the issue book issue map and
  • 1 DVD starter video

Call AIT at 1.800.600.4060 and ask for the free NIF materials on America’s Role in the World.  You can also contact Deborah Witte if you have questions, at [email protected] or 800.221.3657.

More about National Issues Forums from the NCDD website:

National Issues Forums are characterized by choice work, deliberation, and working toward common ground for action or a shared sense of purpose. In forums, people find places where their values, interests, and goals overlap. By giving citizens a chance to deliberate about public issues, National Issues Forums offer a place at the table where decisions are made that affect their lives. Forums, which are generally two hours long, can engage from a dozen to hundreds of people in one room around small tables. Forums are open to the public, and organizers often publicize widely to ensure that a variety of viewpoints are present. (more…)

$1M grant awarded to engage citizens in Alberta around climate change    

A group of top researchers and practitioners in deliberation we’ve been involved in recently got some great news we wanted to share with everyone…

How can collective deliberation by citizens lead to wise and timely action on climate change, including by municipal and provincial governments? Alberta (Canada) will be a testing ground for this question over the next five years. An international team of scholars, NGOs, businesses, and governments will be addressing it, supported by $1 million in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and over $3 million in contributions from other sources.

The research team includes leading researchers and practitioners of deliberative democracy, environmental organizations, energy companies, municipal governments, and Provincial ministries. The project, called Alberta Climate Dialogue (ABCD), will help to convene groups of citizens within Albertan municipalities to shape policies on greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change, and also build province-wide deliberation and dialogue on climate issues.

Learning alongside citizens, the team will investigate how the design of citizen deliberations — how participants are selected, who participates, how the agenda is set, how often the citizens meet and for how long, whether policy makers are involved, and so on — shapes their social and political influence. The team will also explore the sorts of influence that citizen deliberations can have on climate issues, including informing and directing policy makers and processes, as well as shaping citizens’ knowledge, their sense of environmental citizenship, and their political capacities and networks. Through this work, we will seek to show how citizens can lead effective responses to climate change, and how political leaders and institutions can skillfully engage with citizens to develop policy.

This groundbreaking research project was initiated by NCDD member David Kahane (pictured), a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. I am listed as a “collaborator” in the grant application and on the website, and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) is a Partner of the project.  We plan to be as involved as resources will allow us to be, and to keep the network as informed as possible about project learnings and benchmarks.

The project website is at www.albertaclimatedialogue.ca and email can be sent to [email protected].

NCSL’s The Rise and Fall of Town Meetings    

Check out this 66-minute video of the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) 2009 Fall Forum held on Friday, Dec. 11. “The Rise and Fall of the Town Hall Meeting” video features three legislators talking about the effective use of town hall meetings and deliberation.

One of the legislators featured is NCDD member and Hawaii State Senator Les Ihara. The other speakers included: Representative Sheryl L. Allen (Utah), Representative Ellen Roberts (Colorado), and Katie Ziegler (NCSL).

Senator Ihara’s presentation cites NCDD’s work heavily.  He talks at length about our Upgrading the Way We Do Politics resources, which we created in response to last fall’s town halls on health care reform, and he presents the 7 Core Principles for Public Engagement, explaining that the D&D community worked together to agree on the Core Principles in response to Obama’s memorandum on transparency, collaboration and public participation.  You can view or download Senator Ihara’s powerpoint presentation here.

Here’s the description of the Fall Forum from NCSL:

Town hall meetings have traditionally been a wonderful opportunity for legislators to meet with their constituents, both to hear what is on people’s minds and to tell them about legislative news. However some recent town hall meetings have seen disruptive and uncivil behavior. This session described some recent legislator experiences and examined methods to hold productive and courteous meetings. Presenters provided tips and best practices and also explained how to use a legislator’s “power to convene” to hold collaborative meetings to solve community problems.

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