headlines & inspiration

Don’t forget to register for tomorrow’s NCDD Confab on online engagement    

Lots of people have signed up for tomorrow’s “NCDD Confab” (June 30th, 12 noon to 1:45pm EST), but it’s not too late to register! Our confabs provide members and potential members of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) a chance to network with one another while delving into an important issue in our field.

Register at the following link (once you register, you’ll receive call-in details):

Tomorrow, we’ll be using Maestro conference call software to run a World Cafe on the topic of online engagement. World Cafe is an easy-to-use method for fostering collaborative dialogue, particularly in large groups.

Our host for this Confab is new NCDD member Amy Lenzo of the World Cafe Community. The call is co-sponsored by the World Cafe Community and Maestro Conference. NCDD member Ben Roberts will be co-facilitating, and members Greg Keidan and Lynn Adams helped us design the call.

I’m particularly excited about the Maestro conference call system, which is a new technology that provides hosts with some unique, exciting options that are really appropriate for our community — like breaking people up into small groups in separate virtual rooms (for small group dialogue) and setting up polls that people can participate in just by pressing numbers on their phone (like keypad polling).

Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the technology yet; aside from registering for the call, you just need to call in with the phone number and access code on the 30th like any other conference call (there’s nothing to download and no site to visit during the call). Though unlike typical conference calls and webinars, you can’t get away with much multitasking because you’ll be actively engaged and involved throughout the call.

Note: “NCDD Confabs” are conference calls and webinars for NCDD members where we explore key issues in the dialogue & deliberation community and encourage new connections among members. (Potential NCDD members and members of the World Cafe Community are welcome to join us for this call.)

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…)

Four new regional listservs for D&Ders in DC, Boston, Cascadia and Austin    

People involved in dialogue and deliberation work in the following regions can take advantage of NCDD’s free (of course!) discussion lists:

  • In and around Boston, Massachusetts
  • Cascadia region (Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia)
  • Washington, DC metro area
  • Central Texas (Austin and beyond)
  • Colorado
  • Northern California (Bay Area and beyond)

Four of the listservs are brand new (the Colorado and Northern California lists have been around for a while), and we encourage you to subscribe and send a quick introductory message to the list. NCDD members are always telling us they want more opportunities for regional and local networking, so we’ve gone ahead and subscribed NCDD members in those regions (just email me to opt out).  If you’re not an NCDD member, follow the links below to subscribe.

These are the 6 areas we are planning one-day NCDD gatherings in October and November (Austin, Boston, Portland, DC, Denver and San Francisco), so we’ll definitely use the lists to keep people informed of our Fall events and to encourage regional networking before and after the events!

Note: I’m also looking for official “moderators” for all of the lists, so if you live in one of these regions and want to take on the challenge of initiating conversations on the lists once in a while, please let me know ([email protected]).

(more…)

Save the date: next NCDD Confab on June 30th at noon EST    

Our next “NCDD Confab” is scheduled for Wednesday, June 30th from noon to 1:30 pm Eastern (9am Pacific), and I wanted to encourage you to add it to your calendars now if you’re interested.  The Confab calls are free (you pay your regular long-distance phone charges) and open to all NCDD members.

Our host for this Confab is Amy Lenzo of the World Cafe Community (and a new NCDD member!), and we’ll be using Amy’s Maestro account to organize a virtual World Cafe to further examine a question we’ve been exploring on the NCDD listserv lately:  What constitutes quality online/virtual engagement?

We’ll be using the Maestro conference call system, which is a new technology that provides hosts with some unique, exciting options that are perfect for our community — like breaking people up into small groups in separate virtual rooms (for small group dialogue) and setting up polls that people can participate in just by clicking numbers on their phone (like keypad polling).  The good news:  all YOU need to do is call in to the conference call, like any of the conference calls we’ve done in the past!  Well, you’ll also need to register for the call, but we’ll include all the details you need in future announcements.

Please save the date in your calendars if this Confab interests you!

By the way, our last “Confab” of sorts was our May 14th webinar with PublicDecisions featuring Caroline Lee and Francesca Polletta.  A bunch of you participated, and it was a great webinar.  The presentation and audio recording are available for download at http://www.publicdecisions.com/publicforum_2010May14_recording.html.

Update on Conversation Cafe    

I received a message tonight from Vicki Robin, co-founder with Susan Partnow of Conversation Cafes.  Vicki and Susan are both NCDD members, and Conversation Cafe is a well-known dialogue model that is elegantly simple, if you aren’t familiar with it (learn more here).  Conversation Cafe is going through some big changes, and I wanted to share them with the NCDD community.

In her message, Vicki said…

You haven’t heard from us at Conversation Cafes in quite some time. We’ve been reorganizing and the whole project is moving to a new host: Community Action Dialogues CAD in Richmond Virginia. Jacqueline Pogue and her CAD group have been among the most active and creative CC hosts and they are super enthusiastic about a new CC website that will replace the current one this summer – and hosting annual Conversation Weeks.

Susan Partnow and I did our very best to spread the Conversation Caf̩ method with integrity and fidelity Рand it is now used around the world in cafes, classrooms, conferences and more. We are thrilled that the CAD group with their new energy and vision are here to take the CCs to the next level. They will be glad to hear from you and serve you.

I spoke to Jacqueline Pogue about this switch-over recently (Jacqueline is also an NCDD member – click here for her contact info), and she is very enthusiastic and hopes to collaborate with NCDD on Conversation Weeks and other activities.  Further updates from Jacqueline are forthcoming.

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…)

Last day to register for Friday’s joint PublicDecisions/NCDD webinar    

I wanted to remind everyone that today is the last day to register for Friday’s 1pm EST joint PublicDecisions/NCDD webinar titled “Emerging Opportunities and Challenges in Dialogue & Deliberation: What Are the Implications for Practice?” with guests Caroline Lee and Francesca Polletta.  Over 80 people have registered so far, and it’s quite an amazing group of people.

Here is the registration link:  http://www.publicdecisions.com/publicforum_2010May14.html (don’t worry – the form is super-short!)

Note: you’ll receive an email from PublicDecisions that includes instructions for participating in the webinar.  I suggest looking that over and preparing (doing any downloading required, etc.) the day before the webinar if you can.  We’ll be using Microsoft Live Meeting.

Full details on the webinar can be found in the original blog post at www.thataway.org/?p=2535.

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.

Dialogue group facilitators needed at RCP Conf. in June (Dearborn, MI)    

Here’s a timely message from NCDD member Steve Olweean, Director of the Common Bond Institute

We’re holding the 2nd Annual International Conference on Religion, Conflict, and Peace this June 11-13 at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan, and offering opportunities for experienced individuals interested in facilitating daily dialogue break-out groups.

As with all of our conferences, this conference is designed to be highly dialogic and interactive in nature, and so the program is primarily made up of workshops, topical panels/roundtables, and facilitated dialogue groups. We schedule 3 dedicated time periods each day in which we run only concurrent dialogue group breakout sessions to provide regular opportunities for processing the material offered in prepared presentations, processing the conference experience in general, and networking to form collaborative relationships. (more…)

NCDD-PublicDecisions free May 14th webinar: join us!    

Join us for a free webinar titled “Emerging Opportunities and Challenges in Dialogue & Deliberation: What Are the Implications for Practice?” on Friday, May 14 from 1pm to 2:30 Eastern (10am Pacific) with NCDD members Caroline Lee and Francesca Polletta. The webinar is jointly sponsored by the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) and PublicDecisions.

The field of public dialogue and deliberation (D&D) is growing dramatically—so dramatically, in fact, that no one fully knows what the field looks like: who is doing public dialogue and deliberation work, what forms their work is taking, what common challenges they face. This webinar will use the results of a recent survey of dialogue and deliberation practitioners as a jumping off point for a wide-ranging discussion of current and future issues in the public engagement practitioner community.

We’ll discuss results that shed light on topics such as how people get started in D&D practice, the role of gender in deliberation, and how best to measure and market D&D outcomes. In this interactive program, webinar participants will be invited to identify the emerging challenges they see and to share steps they are taking to chart the course of 21st Century public engagement. Come prepared to engage and be engaged!

Caroline Lee and Francesca Polletta, the sociologists who conducted the survey, will join hosts Sandy Heierbacher of NCDD and Beth Offenbacker of PublicDecisions in a highly interactive, dynamic discussion that will delve into tough issues and exciting possibilities.

Register by the end of the day on Wednesday, May 12th at http://www.publicdecisions.com/publicforum_2010May14.html . This webinar uses Microsoft Live Meeting, an online meeting platform. You will click on a unique weblink we send you to view the slides, etc., and you can either plug in a computer headset or call a U.S. telephone line (long distance charges apply, but you can always use Skype) to hear/speak.

I encourage you also to check out the survey results before the webinar at http://sites.lafayette.edu/ddps/. (more…)

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.

Conversations that matter…make us feel better?    

This blog post is by David J. Weinstein, Education and Communications Maven for Idealogue, Inc.

In the post “Talk Deeply, Be Happy?” in The New York Times “Well” blog (3/17/10), Roni Caryn Rabin reports on a study of college students suggesting that people who have deeper conversations more often are happier than those who do not.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject.

“We found this so interesting, because it could have gone the other way — it could have been, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ — as long as you surf on the shallow level of life you’re happy, and if you go into the existential depths you’ll be unhappy,” Dr. Mehl said.

There are important caveats to bear in mind, including the standard reminder that “correlation does not imply causation.” (For a more humorous exploration of that point)

And the definition of a “deeper conversation” might vary.

But the idea is powerful. One might assume that people who “keep it light” and thus do not engage with challenging or distressing topics, and who do not engage in conflicts when in conversation, would be happier. No one gets hurt. No one has to think about sad or depressing things.

Yet maybe there is something hardwired into us as humans – a craving for meaningful connection, perhaps – a need that must be fulfilled for us to be…fulfilled.

For many of us striving to promote and improve dialogues on challenging issues in challenging contexts, our intuitive sense is that this work is important. And there are situations that arise among people, among nations, within businesses, in schools and elsewhere in which we believe smoothing over or ignoring challenging topics and decisions is not an option.

It is interesting to consider that beyond the practical needs to address problems and resolve dilemmas, there is a deep human need to get real and go deep, and ensuing benefit to our well-being. So this study may be another helpful reference when working with individuals and groups that are reluctant to engage in dialogue. Substantive conversations – even, we might extrapolate, on difficult matters – bring happiness!

Might this perspective encourage people to engage in conversations they would otherwise have avoided because they feared discomfort and unhappiness?

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