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Archives for March 2009

Congratulations, Harris and Svetlana!    

NCDD member Harris Sussman, of Somerville, Massachusetts, recently won an award with his wife Svetlana.  Harris and Svetlana won the Bay State Council of the Blind Outstanding Service Award “in recognition of their determination and dedication to providing materials and opportunities for people who are blind in Russia through their establishment of the M.N. Adamov Memorial Fund and their personal commitment to independence for people who are blind.” Congratulations, you two! (more…)

AmericaSpeaks Seeks a “Director of Citizen Engagement”    

Steve Brigham of AmericaSpeaks just dropped me an email asking that we pass the following job announcement on to our members and friends…

AmericaSpeaks is a world leader in the field of citizen engagement and public deliberation. The organization is currently recruiting for a Director of Citizen Engagement who will play a critical leadership role for the organization and in its major citizen engagement initiatives. The Director will be responsible for representing AmericaSpeaks with its clients and directing large project teams to develop, plan and carry out initiatives to engage the public in the policy making process. The Director will also attract new projects and design new citizen engagement initiatives for the organization, while exhibiting leadership in the field of democracy reform and public deliberation through public speaking, networking, writing, presentations, and other efforts.

AmericaSpeaks is also looking for an Online Communications Director to lead and manage its online and mobile communications efforts. You can find the full job descriptions for both positions at

Write-Up from Patricia Wilson on the American Citizens Summit    

UT professor and NCDD member Patricia Wilson sent me a brief write-up on the Transpartisan Alliance’s American Citizens Summit.  NCDD was one of the official co-sponsors of the Summit, but I wasn’t able to make it to the event.  If you were there, feel free to send us your take on the Summit as well for the blog! (email it to [email protected])

As a reminder, the American Citizens’ Summit, which took place February 11-15 in Denver, was a unique “town hall meeting” aimed at bringing together a mix of voices from all political parties and social movements to focus on three key questions:  (1) What is Transpartisanship? (2) What are the issues that unite and divide us? and (3) What are the strategies to confront these issues?

Thanks, Patricia, for sharing these tidbits with us!

- Sandy

From Patricia Wilson…

Gosh, the American Citizens’ Summit was intense.  I hadn’t been in dialogue with Libertarians, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, etc, etc, like I was during those four days. It was small – 82 people - and  over half were liberals. Only 6% Republicans. Lots of open space style break-outs. Interactive plenaries, lots of relationship-building methods. Creative use of key pads in plenaries to identify minority issues, build consensus, prioritize, evaluate, etc. Much of that is up on the website ( Upshot was building a base, small as it was, for a transpartisan movement and  building consensus around transpartisan values (dialogue across difference, transparency in governance, etc).

Interesting tidbits:

- Joseph McCormick (the main organizer, a former Republican congressman) said that many of his conservative colleagues had turned against him for ‘consorting with evil’ (i.e. liberals), as one of them had said, and refused to come to the event.

- And one Green Party member said he had been facing much resistance to introducing non-violent communication and dialogue skills into his party to reduce the fractious debates, and came to this event as an individual because his party wouldn’t endorse the event.

The most touching thing:
- One of the conspiracy theorists said at the end that she recognized through the keypad voting that she was one of the last two people to keep staunchly prioritizing her one issue, that others had let go and begun to think about the needs and concerns of the whole. She realized that not everyone wanted to talk about the shadow side of things all the time. So she decided it was time for her to soften as well, and she vowed to use some of the interactive communication skills she had learned during the event.

Janette Hartz-Karp looking for info on youth engagement in climate change    

NCDD member Janette Hartz-Karp asked me to share this with the network…

I’ve been asked to write a chapter for the UN World Youth Report 2009 on youth engagement with climate change. It needs to be completed in a month so I’m trying to get any help I can.

The chapter is to include a) Positioning youth for adaptation and mitigation - the role of civil society (identifying best practices in youth participation in activities to address climate change, and examining the potential contribution of youth-led organizations to advancing action on climate change). And b) Moving Forward - placing youth at the centre of the response to climate change (A policy section which will highlight the key messages and address the question: - “Who does what?”)

In addition, I was asked to add any specific ideas/information relating to policies on youth and climate change, particularly in the context of developing countries.

Susanna Haas Lyons from AmericaSpeaks has pointed out some US web sites:


If you have any additional information on ‘best practice’ youth engagement initiatives on climate change and/or policies you know about/suggest, particularly in developing countries, but also world-wide, please let me know ASAP.

Janette Hartz-Karp
Professor at Australia’s Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute and Director of 21st Century Dialogue

[email protected]

Summary of Listening Session with Obama’s Open Government Initiative    

I was invited by Beth Noveck, the director of Obama’s open government initiative, to attend a meeting last Wednesday (March 11) at the White House Conference Center.  The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was the official convener of this “informal listening session on the implementation of the President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.”  According to the email inviting me to attend, the session would focus “on the process of crafting the recommendations called for in the Memorandum.   Specifically, we invite you to talk about how your organizations can contribute to fostering civic engagement in connection with crafting the recommendations and to supporting the goals of transparency, participation, and collaboration.”

There were only about 12 organizations represented at this meeting, so it was quite the honor to be there.  Demos, the Personal Democracy Forum, the Cato Institute, AmericaSpeaks, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, IAP2, the Partnership for Public Service, Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), the National Civic League, the League of Women Voters and the National Academy of Public Administration all had representatives there. (more…)

New ILG Publication on Civic Participation in California    

I organized an NCDD networking dinner in San Francisco earlier this month, and one of the attendees, Terry Amsler (Director of the League of California Cities’ Institute for Local Governance) gave me a copy of a wonderful new publication called “Civic Participation in California: How Local Agencies are Involving the Public, Building Trust and Making Better Decisions.”

It’s a compendium of articles originally published last year as a series in Western City, the monthly magazine of the League of California Cities. The League is an association of California’s city officials who work together to enhance their knowledge and skills, exchange information and combine resources so they may positively influence policy decisions that affect cities.

The staff of Terry’s Collaborative Governance Initiative coordinated the Civic Participation series, contributing articles and working with local officials and experts to develop content. The series is designed to provide information, stimulate discussion and build on existing efforts to connect with residents and increase public trust in local government.

Download the full PDF document at, or visit the Institute for Local Government website.

New Zealand Gov’t Seeks YOUR Feedback    

Crispin Butteriss posted this to NCDD’s FaceBook group a couple of weeks ago:

The New Zealand government (Office for the Community & Voluntary Sector) is looking for feedback from community engagement professionals on the its discussion paper, “It’s More than Talk.” An online forum can be found at

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