Janette’s Write-Up on Australia’s First Citizens’ Parliament    

Australian dynamo and long-time NCDD member Janette Hartz-Karp, who played a huge part in making this month’s Australian Citizens Parliament happen, sent me a write-up last night for the NCDD blog. The Citizens Parliament was the first of its kind in Australia and is a model for us all.

Here’s a preview (click “more” for the full story if it doesn’t appear below)…

For me, as the key designer of the 4 day deliberation and its co-lead facilitator, it felt like a being on stage in a TV drama where unscripted onstage and offstage dramas had a life of their own, and where the participants stepped up to become extraordinary. If anyone needed convincing that ‘ordinary’ people can create extraordinary outcomes, deliberating wisely and co-intelligently, then this Citizens’ Parliament was exemplary.

Lyn Carson also sent me links to two great articles on the Citizens Parliament:

And you can also download a two-page summary Carson sent me, which goes into a little more detail about the process and the specific outcomes. (more…)

Carson’s Take on Australian Citizens Parliament    

Citzens Parliament logoLyn Carson (“Carson”) sent me the following text last night for the NCDD blog. Carson is the University of Sydney’s Chief Investigator on the Citizens’ Parliament Project, and it’s great to have an insider’s view…

I have just returned from Australia’s first Citizens’ Parliament ( which really was an extraordinary event, focused on how to strengthen Australia’s political system to serve us better. It seemed like a curious counterweight to this bushfire tragedy which raged as 150 randomly-selected citizens collaborated (some of the CP folks were affected by it—homes, friends and family—but remained at Old Parliament House with us). The fires were ghastly, really ghastly. The CP was uplifting and empowering. It was a strangely beautiful juxtaposition which participants will never forget, any more than those so cruelly affected by those fires will ever forget.

Held over four days, it was a terrific combination of small group work in the Members’ Dining Room with networked computers that beamed back their collective ideas, along with some plenary sessions in the former House of Representatives chamber. Fred Chaney and Lowitja O’Donoghue chaired the formal proceedings and introduced and closed each day’s proceedings. Academics and politicians came along as resource people to share their expertise. Twenty three capable facilitators kept the 23 small groups to task with a massive agenda that was determined by the participants themselves. The 150 Citizen Parliamentarians were supported by these facilitators as well as two Lead Facilitators, Janette Hartz-Karp and Max Hardy.

By the final day, many members of this citizen body had shifted dramatically and they spoke passionately about that change—from the youngest member (18 years old) to the oldest member (93 years old). The youngest member went from being a timid young woman to suggesting she might aspire to be Prime Minister. Citizen Parliamentarians wanted an extra copy of the final report (which was handed to them on departure) to lobby their local Member of Parliament. Senator John Faulkner opened the event and promised to take the recommended seriously. Parliamentary Secretary Anthony Byrne closed the event and reiterated that promise. More information is available from or contact Lyn Carson at [email protected].

Australian Citizens Parliament Starts Today!    

Australian Citizens Parliament logo Australia’s first Citizens’ Parliament began today, demonstrating the Australian federal government’s commitment to community consultation and the core principles of openness, debate and deliberation. The four-day parliament, which involves 150 citizens from around the country, gives ordinary Australians the chance to deliberate on how Australia’s political system might be strengthened to better serve its citizens. Each day the Citizens’ Parliament will produce a report on the day’s ideas, debate and dialogue leading to a final report on Monday which the Federal government welcomes.

Participants in the Citizens’ Parliament, one from each of the 150 Federal electorates, were selected at random to ensure a truly representative sample of ‘everyday’ Australians from all walks of life.

The Citizens’ Parliament is funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant in conjunction with The new Democracy Foundation.

Learn more about this important event at You can also follow the live blog of the Citizens Parliament here. NCDD members Janette Hartz-Karp, Lyn Carson, and Brian Sullivan were all involved in the design process.

And for those of you in the U.S. who would like to participate in something with a similar spirit, it’s not too late to register for this month’s American Citizens Summit!

Using the Arts to Generate Dialogue    

I just read about this cool project in Animating Democracy’s latest e-newsletter…

In 2003, community artists Jean-Marie Mauclet and Gwylene Gallimard sent 56 handmade three-legged stools as gifts to artists around the world, as a proposal to use the arts to generate conversation about globalization and social justice issues. Artists, artisans, and arts collaboratives who agreed to participate were challenged to create an object, installation, performance, or other project in response to the worldwide issues. Thus, artist residencies, workshops, gift exchanges, and other events took place in England, France, India, South Africa, and the United States.

Beginning September 12, the stools and resulting projects will come to Charleston, SC, to be presented as a means to create community dialogue in The Future is on the Table. A multitude of special events—including multidisciplinary performances and dialogue—are planned through September and October.

Learn more at

New Book on Peacebuilding by Amb. John McDonald    

McDonald book coverI’m proud to announce that NCDD Board member Ambassador John McDonald just published a new book called “The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacebuilding: Stories and Lessons.”

The book brings together the remembrances of Ambassador McDonald, a veteran diplomat whose life serves as a model to those people of vision and action who wish to make a difference in a world that is desperate for the end of conflict. Beginning his career in international diplomacy in post-WWII Berlin under the Marshall Plan, Ambassador McDonald’s 40 years of working with the U.S. government and the United Nations—as well as with various academic institutions and NGOs—offer the reader both inspiration and hope for the future of international peace and cooperation. This international civil servant of extraordinary vision and courage has devoted his life to the successful resolution of conflict through communication.

The Shifting Grounds of Conflict and Peacemaking contains the professional life lessons of Ambassador McDonald and offers his insight into international issues, providing frank and informed discussion on the environment, women’s rights, the global water crisis, sustainable resources, international development, and, above all, peace. Those looking to be inspired into action should read this book to receive guidance about how one person can make all the difference toward building a lasting peace.

Ambassador John W. McDonald is a lawyer, diplomat, former international civil servant, development expert, peacebuilder, and the co-founder and chairman of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy. Order the 360-page hardcover book now from Lexington Books for $80.

“Engaging the Other” Conference Coming up in San Mateo, CA    

Engaging the Other bannerThe 3rd Annual International Conference on “ENGAGING THE OTHER:” The Power of Compassion will take place September 4-7, 2008 in San Francisco (San Mateo), California, USA. This international, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary conference examines concepts of “The OTHER” from a universal, cross-cultural perspective to promote wider public dialogue about concepts of “Us and Them.”

NCDD is an official endorsing organization of this important conference.

This extraordinary conference will address the roots of fear-based belief systems and stereotypes, prejudice, polarization, enemy images, and artificial barriers of misunderstanding and distrust that divide us. Join an international list of over 60 presenters and visionaries, and hundreds of concerned individuals, to engage in 3 1/2 days of workshops, roundtables, and focused, facilitated dialogue bridging the divide and cultivating our capacity for reconciliation, appreciation of diversity, and peace.

Registration is open to professionals as well as the general public, and continuing educational credits are available. The conference is sponsored by the Common Bond Institute and is Co-Sponsored by the International Humanistic Psychology Association, Institute of Imaginal Studies and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. It is also supported by a growing international list of over 90 organizations and universities. (more…)

Connecting with Canadians Policy Research and Dialogue Program    

from the Canadian Policy Research Networks ( press release…

Connecting with Canadians, a new five-year public policy research and dialogue program that will engage Canadians to address key issues such as citizenship, diversity and skills barriers, has been launched by Canadian Policy Research Networks. A unique feature of Connecting with Canadians is its commitment to greater engagement of young Canadians in policy issues, says Manson Singer. Young people will participate in the research and dialogue. “We want to leave our young leaders with a legacy of skills and interest in Canada’s public affairs.”

Connecting with Canadians draws on a framework of expectations and obligations: what Canadians say they expect from government, business and community organizations and what they believe, as citizens, we should give back to society. Together, this set of expectations and obligations represents a vision of the Canada that Canadians want. CPRN identified from its deliberative dialogues and research five challenges to address in public policy research that are critical to achieving this vision: citizenship; diversity; productivity and skills; health and our aging population; and the environment. Connecting with Canadians will address these challenges to find innovative policy ideas to move Canada forward.

The policy challenges were discussed with leaders from across Canada and reviewed at CPRN’s Leadership Summit 2008 in Ottawa in February. Summit participants, community, business, government and young leaders confirmed their importance and identified key barriers and opportunities to address them.

You can read Connecting with Canadians, Shaping Our Future on the CPRN website, where you can also find more information about the Connecting with Canadians research and dialogue program.

Citizen Engagement Conference Coming Up May 1-2 in Vancouver, BC    

I’ve been busy these past few months working at the new Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. So I’m very happy to announce what we’ve been working on: the upcoming conference “When Citizens Decide: The Challenges of Large Scale Public Engagement,” to be held Thursday May 1 and Friday May 2, 2008 in Vancouver, BC.

The conference will bring together outstanding researchers and practitioners from North America and Europe to explore the challenges of large scale public engagement in policy making. Panel topics include how large scale citizen engagement exercises can connect with the general public, how they might be used in a range of different policy areas, and how they can be connected to the institutions of representative democracy. The conference will also feature new comparative research on the Dutch, Ontario and BC Citizens’ Assemblies on Electoral Reform, a round table on leadership with the distinguished chairs of each Citizens’ Assembly, and a launch reception for Mark E. Warren and Hilary Pearse’s Designing Deliberative Democracy, the first comprehensive book on the BC Citizens’ Assembly, published this spring by Cambridge University Press.

The Conference poster, preliminary program and registration form are available on at under the link “Conferences and Workshops.” Please direct any questions to Rebecca Monnerat-McPartlin, CSDI Project Manager at [email protected] or 604-827-4390. Space is limited; we’re urging people to register early to reserve a place in what we anticipate will be a highly informative and stimulating event.

SFCG and the Generation Grands Lacs (GGL)    

The following is a wonderful story about one of the Search for Common Ground’s programs in Africa. The photo is of Laurent Kissindi, Congolese journalist and project coordinator, during radio broadcast. We took this story verbatim from the SFGC Newsletter…

SFCG Gets Youth Talking Across the Frontlines of the Conflict In the Great Lakes Region in Africa

While the bullets are flying in eastern DR Congo, and the region’s diplomats struggle to reach an agreement on the peace accords, youth from the Great lakes region are talking together via radio about conflict, about peace, and about building a new generation.

Great Lakes Generation (Generation Grands Lacs (GGL) in French) is a weekly radio program that is broadcast through an innovative use of internet, telephone and FM technology. This 60-minute live phone-in talk show for youth is simulcast on five radio stations in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo every Saturday afternoon, providing young people an unprecedented opportunity to talk, listen, and learn about the issues and challenges facing their region.

Each week GGL addresses a different theme such as identity, manipulation by leaders, gender, violence, youth participation in political life, issues of ethnicity and nationality, etc. Last week’s broadcast explored the subject of prejudice; how prejudice and stereotypes effect attitudes and behaviors. A recent program dealt with the difficult things “we don’t talk about,” cultural taboos and things that are uncomfortable to discuss in public.

More after the break. (more…)

International Day for Sharing Life Stories    

The Museu da Pessoa ( and the Center for Digital Storytelling ( have recently launched a new website ( devoted to their campaign, the International Day for Sharing Life Stories. Dedicated to bringing people together to share stories on May 16th 2008, this event will be an opportunity for people around the world to gather in community halls, classrooms, public parks, theaters, auditoriums, as well websites, email exchanges, and virtual environments to hear each other’s stories. Detailed information can be found on the project’s website.

More about the host organizations after the break. (more…)

International Development Prize Nominations Close Feb. 1    

Since 1980, the King Baudouin International Development Prize has awarded €150.000 biennially to an individual or organization for sustainable achievements in improving the lives of people in the developing world. For more information on how to submit a candidacy, please visit For specific questions, call +32 2 549 0273 or send an e-mail to [email protected]. Deadline for receipt of application files is February 1st, 2008. The prize will be awarded in early 2009 at the Royal Palace in Brussels.

Dialogue Explores Frontline Healthcare Challenges for Canada    

Last year, the Canadian Policy Research Networks ( convened a group of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, policy-makers, nonprofit leaders and academics in Ottawa for the first of a series of dialogues to discuss the issues and challenges in delivering frontline healthcare in Canada. This groundbreaking national roundtable asked the question: What will it take to make Canada the best in the world at meeting the healthcare needs of unserved and underserved populations? Their reports from this dialogue are now available online.

Their discussion was informed by the 2006 CPRN research report, “Frontline Health Care in Canada: Innovations in Delivering Services to Vulnerable Populations.” Key themes emerging from the dialogue included: consider population diversity when developing research, policy work and service delivery models; use a common definition of terms, issues and opportunities to build collaboration and awareness and bring together practitioners; and establish a community of frontline
practitioners to share ideas, innovations and opportunities. “The Frontline Health Dialogues, Report from the Ottawa Roundtable,” co-authored by Nathalie Pierre, CPRN Acting Assistant Director, and Helen Seibel, Senior Consultant with GrantStream Inc., details the roundtable’s proceedings and key conclusions. To download or read the Ottawa roundtable report, go to

CPRN Seeks Project Manager    

The Canadian Policy Research Networks ( is seeking a bilingual (English and French) Project Manager. The two Project Managers at CPRN share responsibility for the coordination and administration of research projects from the initial planning to closure. They are assigned projects by the Vice-President, Research. The Project Managers assist with the preparation of detailed budgets, are responsible for monitoring contracts and project deliverables which includes preparation of detailed monthly reports through to final publication of research reports. The position also entails the preparation and overall administration of the budget for the set of projects for which the Project Manager is responsible, in consultation with the Research team. The Project Managers are responsible for ensuring the distribution of relevant information about
each project, both within CPRN and externally. The Project Managers co-supervise the Event Planner/Administrative Assistant and collaborate with other staff members to ensure the effective and efficient functioning of CPRN. Applications are due January 14, 2008. For more information on desired qualifications and experience, see the full job announcement:

CPRN Reports Highlight Contributions of Citizens to Fiscal Balance Policy    

Despite recent funding cuts, the Canadian Policy Research Networks ( continues to produce important research on the impact that citizen engagement can have on public policy processes. In the presentation “Complexity, Politics, Policy and People,” former CPRN Civic Engagement Director Mary Pat MacKinnon offers insights on how a process of deliberative dialogue was used by the Canadian Advisory Panel on Fiscal Imbalance as part of its consultative process on how to better share funds between governments. I saw Mary Pat present this very interesting work at the C2D2 Conference in November. Her presentation describes the dialogue process and the resulting roadmap citizens provided to decision-makers in working through how to address this politicized issue of sharing funds. It shows how engagement can be effective in identifying citizen solutions on an issue that most policy makers consider to be beyond citizen understanding or interest. To access or download her presentation, go to (more…)

New Report: Citizenship as Wealth    

NCDD member Cynthia Gibson sent us a link to a new online study that argues we should think of a country’s wealth in terms of social capital and citizenship practices. The study called “Where is the Wealth of Nations? Measuring Capital in the 21st Century” reports that the true wealth of a nation is not its natural resources or its built capital but instead is its intangible capital: trust among people, an efficient judicial system, clear property rights, and effective government. For developed countries, 80% of a nation’s wealth is intangible capital. Visit to download a copy.

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