D&D Streams of Practice

NCDD’s four “streams of practice” outline the four main purposes practitioners, communities, public leaders and others use dialogue and deliberation.

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…)

Article on Deliberative Polling published in The Economist    

NCDD member Jim Fishkin was just featured in an article in The Economist print edition. If you aren’t familiar with Jim yet, he’s Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford and creator of the Deliberative Poll.

The article, titled “Ancient Athens online: Democracy is about discussion, not just voting” can be viewed in full at this link. It begins with a bit of history about the use of random selection for public deliberation…

REFLECTION and representation are not an easy fit. For an individual voter, being well-informed about every twist of public policy is an irrational use of time. But leaving a self-selecting elite of wonks and careerists in charge of policy-making is unappealing. In ancient Athens, which invented both democracy and the dilemma, a machine called a kleroterion picked a random 500 people to make policy from the 50,000-odd polity. The jury excluded women and slaves and the decisions it reached were sometimes dodgy (condemning Socrates was probably a mistake). But the approach is returning in a modern guise, under the label of “deliberative democracy”.

It also included some helpful stats about the impact of deliberative polls in participants’ opinions…

Discussions and briefing often lead to a shift away from populist viewpoints. In a recent poll in Britain support for making party manifesto promises legally binding plunged from 41% to 18%. In recession-hit Michigan a discussion raised support for bigger taxes (from 27% to 45% for income tax, for example). By contrast, support for cuts in corporate taxes rocketed 27 points to 67%: the more people thought about the issue, the more they wanted a better business environment and a lower deficit. But some results are discomfiting (at least for those with this newspaper’s views). A pan-European poll in October 2007 found that support for European Union membership for Turkey and Ukraine fell by a fifth as the discussion progressed. Deliberation counts for something, with a statistically significant shift in opinion on three out of four questions, and the biggest changes coming from those whose gains in knowledge are the greatest.

50-page lit review on citizen participation    

Now HERE’S a resource for you… the 50-page Understanding Participation: A Literature Review covers a wide range of participatory activities that are often viewed in isolation. Download it here.

The review brings together different bodies of literature on participation, including literature on community development, volunteering, public participation, social movements, everyday politics and ethical consumption. It looks at the historical and current drivers of participation, the activities and actors of participation and different theoretical approaches that contribute to a better understanding of participation. It closes with our emerging ‘participation framework’ that we aim to further develop and refine in the subsequent stages of the project.

This literature review forms part of a major national research project called “Pathways through Participation: What creates and sustains active citizenship?” led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) and Involve. All three UK-based organizations have a history of researching the different forms of participation that will be explored in the project.

(A shout-out to NCDD members Steven Clift and Taylor Willingham, both of whom reached my inbox today with this announcement.)

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…)

New Report on Creating Spaces for Change    

Matt Leighninger, Executive Director of The Deliberative Democracy Consortium (an NCDD organizational member), recently announced the release of his report Creating Spaces for Change: Working Toward a “Story of Now” in Civic Engagement. Creating Spaces for Change draws heavily on the views and experiences of the people who participated in the Kellogg Foundation’s Civic Engagement Learning Year and the conference convened by DDC and The Democracy Imperative called “No Better Time: Promising Opportunities in Deliberative Democracy for Educators and Practitioners.”

Matt encourages those who see opportunities to use the report in ways that will catalyze future discussions and action to improve civic engagement to contact him (click on his name above for contact details).  Here is Matt’s announcement… (more…)

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…)

Nominations sought for Bertelsmann Prize in “Vitalizing Democracy”    

I heard about this through NCDD member Hans Peter-Meister the other day, and then was reminded of it in the DDC’s newsletter…

The search for next Bertelsmann Prize has begun! As one of Europe’s largest charitable foundations, the German Bertelsmann Foundation awards a significant monetary prize every year.  In 2011, the prize will celebrate and recognize governmental institutions (departments, administrations, towns, etc.) that have shown innovative democratic leadership by making a strong and lasting contribution to “Vitalizing Democracy through Participation.”

Any participation project begun in the last five years is eligible for the prize. The strongest candidates will be projects that have made a demonstrable impact on a public problem, influenced policy-makers, and succeeded in engaging previously marginalized and disadvantaged members of the community.

Please take this opportunity to nominate a project, and help the Bertelsmann Foundation highlight the responsibility and capacity of governments to support democratic innovation. The nomination form is brief; contact Christina Hanley ([email protected]) for nomination information.

New Blog by Miki Kashtan    

As Einstein famously asserted, today’s toughest issues cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.  Since 1996, NCDD member Miki Kashtan has dedicated her formidable experience, skill, insight and passion into honing and sharing the use of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as a guiding compass to be able to fully live and look at life through a different lens than the one which created our world as it is. A different thinking, consciousness, paradigm to think about and reflect on our inner life, relationships, and the larger issues of our society and the world at large.

Now you can have access to Miki’s unique wisdom on her new blog, The Fearless Heart. On the blog, Miki is already sharing her inspiring thinking, astute self-inquiry, and real life examples of applying a consciousness of collaboration and dialogue based on compassion for our shared humanity. Miki hopes that reading it will richly contribute to a sense of meaning, purpose, and power in your own lives, and provide inspiration for bringing this consciousness to projects for social change. Visit Miki’s blog at http://baynvc.blogspot.com/. (more…)

Federal Agencies and Depts Release Open Gov Plans    

I wanted to share an important press release I received today from Chelsea Kammerer of the White House Office of Public Engagement.  Many U.S. departments and agencies released their Open Government Plans today.  Here’s how Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, describes this milestone on the White House blog:

For too many years, Washington has resisted the oversight of the American public, resulting in difficulties in finding information, taxpayer dollars disappearing without a trace, and lobbyists wielding undue influence.  For Americans, business as usual in Washington has reinforced the belief that the government benefits the special interests and the well connected at the expense of the American people.

No more. Since coming to office, the President has launched a series of initiatives to let the sunshine in, including posting White House visitor records, disclosing lobbyist contacts regarding stimulus funds, and launching data.gov and recovery.gov. That’s why independent groups recently gave the Administration an A grade for transparency.

Please help spread the word about this development on your blogs, websites, facebook groups, etc. This is big news for our country, but since this story doesn’t “bleed” it may not get the press coverage it deserves!

Here is the press release… (more…)

Four job openings at Kearns & West firm (Portland and D.C.)    

NCDD organizational member Kearns & West, a strategic collaboration and communications firm specializing in water, energy, natural resources and environmental facilitation/mediation, collaboration and public involvement, seeks additional facilitators, mediators, and public involvement specialists in their Portland, Oregon and Washington, DC offices. They may also be looking to hire in their San Francisco office in the near term. Resumes from interested senior mediators and public involvement specialists should be submitted to [email protected] (no faxes or phone calls please). Resumes will be accepted until the positions are filled.

The four positions are:

  1. Project Coordinator Opportunity in Washington DC
  2. Public Involvement Specialist Opportunity in Portland, Oregon
  3. Senior Associate/Facilitator Opportunity in Washington DC
  4. Senior Mediator/Facilitator Opportunity in Portland, Oregon

(more…)

Three Great OpenGov/Participation Events in DC    

As federal agencies near the April 7th deadline to release their implementation plans, there’s no shortage of energy surrounding the Open Government Directive.

There are two great events in DC that you won’t want to miss if you’re within driving distance: ParticipationCamp on April 17th and 18, and the half-day April Open Government Directive Workshop on April 28th.  Both events are using the Open Space method.  You’ll also see information below about a significant discount to the Politics Online Conference on April 19-20th.

(more…)

Previewing Agencies’ Open Government Plans (by Lucas Cioffi)    

In accordance with the White House’s Open Government Directive, top-level agencies will post their open government plans on April 7th.  Several agencies gave a public preview of their plans on Monday at the White House Conference Center, and I had the opportunity to represent NCDD at this meeting.

The bottom line is that I was highly impressed with how much effort has been put into these plans behind the scenes; there is a tremendous amount of buy-in from senior officials at these agencies.  The biggest challenge- and a significant concern of mine- is that agencies will have to find ways to implement their plans without additional funding or resources.  It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

(more…)

Featured Member: John Spady and the Countywide Community Forums    

Today is our first in a series of NCDD “Featured Member Days.” All day, we will be using our social media tools (our blog, our listservs, our facebook group, our twitter feed, our linkedin group, etc.) to introduce as many people as possible to an extraordinary NCDD member.  Today we’re featuring John Spady and the Countywide Community Forums.

Feel free to add a comment here or respond to a post you see on the listserv or in our social media groups!  John will be responding to any questions or comments you ask him today.

John is the Executive Vice-President and Director of Research for the Forum Foundation in Seattle, and he’s been an active and supportive member of NCDD since the beginning. John’s story intersects considerably with that of his father’s. John’s father, Dick Spady, is the owner of 5 iconic Dick’s Drive-In restaurants in Seattle, and he has been a strong proponent of quality dialogue and citizen engagement for decades.

Last year, at the age of 83, John’s father submitted Initiative 24 — not to the voters of the State of Washington, but instead to King County, home to the largest city in the state: Seattle. After over 80,000 valid signatures were collected, King County (Seattle area) Councilmembers decided to directly enact Initiative 24, which created the Citizen Councilor Network. The Citizen Councilor Network’s first project is called the Countywide Community Forums, which are designed “to enhance citizen participation, civic engagement, and citizenship education in government through a network of periodic public forums….”

With the backing of his family, Dick Spady pledged that his private business, Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants, would underwrite the cost for the first two years of the Countywide Community Forums. This included the cost of the county employee in the Auditor’s Office, and all the costs associated with production, distribution, and website creation: a stated commitment of $350,000. Now in its third year, Dick’s Drive-In has recommitted itself through the end of 2010. This was critically important for the project, as King County Councilmembers stipulated that no tax dollars would be used to establish and maintain the new Citizen Councilor Network.

Our featured member, John Spady, is one of three coordinators appointed by the King County Auditor. His official title is “Deputy Citizen Councilor Coordinator.” (more…)

Audio from NCDD Confab with Guest Martin Carcasson    

Here is the audio recording from last Thursday’s (March 18) NCDD Confab call with Martin Carcasson, director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University. We talked to Martin about his must-read Public Agenda occasional paper titled Beginning with the End in Mind: A Call for Goal-Driven Deliberative Practice (Summer 2009).  We had a great group of leaders on the call, and Martin was asked some quite challenging questions.

Martin’s article, which can be downloaded for free from www.publicagenda.org/cape, outlines three broad categories of goals for deliberation. The essay explores how a clearer understanding of the goals and purposes we are trying to achieve through public engagement can sharpen our methods and increase our impacts. It offers a practical framework to help practitioners systematically consider both their short-term and long-term goals and the strategies that will set them up for success. Please also check out the July NCDD blog post titled New Framework for Understanding the Goals of Public Engagement, which reflects on Martin’s article and introduces a graphic I created that expands on the article’s three orders of goals slightly.

Press the play button or download the mp3 file to listen to the audio.

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 – March 18, 2010: Goals of Deliberation (~50 MB)

Note: “NCDD Confabs” are 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 encourage new connections among members.

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