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…)

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…)

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…)

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?

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.

Welcoming March’s new NCDD members    

13 fabulous new members joined NCDD last month (4 organizational members and 9 individual members), and 11 of our dues-paying members renewed their memberships (2 orgs and 9 individuals). 

We post these monthly summaries not only to welcome our new members and to thank those who re-upped, but also to help members connect with one another. Click on anyone’s name below to learn more about them and connect with them.

Our 4 new organizational members are:

  1. E-Democracy.org (Contact: Steven Clift)
  2. Harrison Associates (Roger Harrison)
  3. University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension (Stephan Gilchrist)
  4. California State University at Chico (Michael Briand)

Our 6 new dues-paying individual members are:

  1. Paul LeVasseur, Professor at the SIT Graduate Institute
  2. Steven Kull, Director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland
  3. Anne Dosher, Board Chair at The World Cafe Community Foundation
  4. Bonnie Beard, Founder and Executive Trustee of BRAC
 (Building Relationships Across Cultures)
  5. Amanda Roman, Executive Director of the Citizens in Charge Foundation
  6. Vanessa Stevens of Massachusetts

Our 3 new individual NCDD members (non-dues) are:

  1. John Cavanaugh at the Cross Cultural Communications, LLC
  2. Ben Simon at the University of Maryland
  3. Susan Schmidt of the Dallas Peace Center and The Global Peace Project

Last month, 9 NCDDers renewed their memberships – two organizations and 9 individuals.

The 2 organizational members who renewed are:

  1. Amherst College Center for Community Engagement (Molly Mead)
  2. Center for Voter Deliberation of Northern Virginia (Bill Corbett, Beth Offenbacker and Cindy Brookshire)

And 9 people renewed as dues-paying individual members:

  1. Philip Thomas at the Generative Change Community
  2. Noam Shore at Idealogue, Inc.
  3. Gilda Povolo at Grand Valley State University
  4. Julianna Padgett at Southern University’s New Orleans School of Social Work
  5. Douglas Crocker of California
  6. James Dubinsky at Virginia Tech
  7. Wendy Foxmyn, Consultant
  8. Linda Mather at Beacon Consulting Associates
9
  9. Phil Neisser at the SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Politics

To learn about other NCDD members (there are over 1,240 of us now!), find members in your state or city, etc., visit the NCDD members network at www.thataway.org/ncddnet/.

And to see if your membership is in good standing, search for yourself in the members network and look at what’s in the Member Type field in your profile. If it says “lapsed” or “non-dues-paying,” please consider becoming a current dues-paying member (see payment details here). You can also email office manager Joy Garman at [email protected] if you have questions about your status, need payment instructions, or want to change the info on your profile page.

Bridging Cultures: An NEH grant opportunity    

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently launched a new grant initiative called Bridging Cultures.  The initiative encourages projects that explore the ways in which cultures from around the globe, as well as the myriad subcultures within America’s borders, have influenced American society. With the aim of revitalizing intellectual and civic life through the humanities, NEH welcomes projects that expand both scholarly and public discussion of diverse countries, peoples, and cultural and intellectual traditions worldwide.

As part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, NEH welcomes proposals to plan and implement a program consisting of a forum and a workshop on one of two humanities themes: “Civility and Democracy” or “The Muslim World and the Humanities.”

Proposals are due June 1, 2010, and projects begin in August 2010. Each successful applicant for a Bridging Cultures Forum and Workshop program will be awarded a grant ranging from $100,000 to $250,000 in outright or matching funds, depending on the applicant’s preference and the availability of NEH funds. The grant period may last as long as eighteen months.

Following completion of the forums and workshops, NEH plans to offer implementation grants, through a subsequent competition, to produce regional or nationwide public programs on Bridging Cultures themes.  NEH anticipates funding one or more of these implementation grants for sums commensurate with the needs of a regional or national project.  Awardees in the current competition, as well as other 501(c)(3) organizations or state and local governmental agencies will be eligible to enter the subsequent competition for implementation support.

More details can be found at www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/BridgingCultures.html.

NCDD’s 2010 Events…    

As many of you know, since 2002 NCDD has been holding biennial national conferences on the even years. We wanted to formally announce that in 2010, rather than holding a single National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, we are in the process of mobilizing our members to organize a number of smaller one-day NCDD events.

We are looking into holding events in fall 2010 in the locations we feel best equipped to mobilize our members: Austin, San Francisco, Washington DC and Denver, where we’ve held past NCDD conferences, as well as cities like Boston and Portland where dialogue and deliberation are thriving.

We feel that holding regional, largely self-organized events in 2010 has the potential to move NCDD and the field forward in vital ways.  We hope the events will position members of the D&D community to successfully navigate new opportunities that are emerging in open government and online engagement so they can make a greater impact in their communities. (Learn more about our concept for the 2010 events.)

At this point, we are looking for dedicated people to help move things forward in most of the locations mentioned above. Our first priorities are (1) to find and secure affordable venues so we can set the dates and (2) to start identifying partners and co-sponsors who share our goals.  Please contact me (Sandy Heierbacher, NCDD’s Director) at [email protected] if you are interested in getting involved.

Identifying experts in keypad technology    

On Friday, I emailed NCDD’s main listserv to see who in the community has expertise in keypad technology.  Keypads are audience response devices that look like little calculators (learn more here), and once in a while I get requests from people looking for keypad facilitators or trainers.  David Campt and Chris Bui are two skilled keypad experts I know personally, but I wanted to have a longer list at the ready.

I received a variety of great responses and recommendations for experts in keypad technology – and in using cell phones as an alternative to keypads.  I thought I’d share the responses here so we all have access to this list for future reference. (more…)

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…)

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