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Archives for May 2009

Reports from NCDD 2008: The Five Challenges    

For the 2008 National Conference for Dialogue & Deliberation, our event planning team identified five challenge areas to examine throughout the conference. Below are links to each of the five posts in NCDD’s main section that feature the reports from the event participants who took the lead in seeing these challenges addressed.

Framing Challenge Report

Evaluation Challenge Report

Action & Policy Challenge Report

Inclusion Challenge Report

Systems Challenge Report

A Few More…    

If things go as planned, tomorrow will be the last day of the “brainstorming” phase of the Open Government Dialogue, so please vote asap for the ideas you agree with!  Here are a few more posts submitted by NCDDers…

Update Administrative Law to Authorize and Encourage Public Deliberation (Lisa Blomgren Bingham) -

We need to revise the U.S. Code and Administrative Procedure Act to empower agencies to make greater use of collaborative governance, including dialogue, deliberation, and deliberative democracy, and also to collaborate with all levels of governance (federal, state, regional, and local), private, and nonprofit sectors.

Create an Open Government project directory and knowledge base (Tim Bonnemann) -

The basic idea is to make sure that any important information about past, current or upcoming government projects or programs in the areas of transparency, participation and collaboration is captured and shared in a timely manner and easily accessible to anyone interested in or affected by these projects/programs.

Develop and introduce the USA Public Freedom Act (Alexander Moll) -

Expanding and Improving Domestic and International Collaborative Governance Opportunities for All Americans

Public Participation is a civic duty, a responsibility (Janet Fiero) -

Each year have citizens register of their public participation duty by naming the issue that most interests them. Through a lottery system select a random sample of a few thousand citizens in places across the nation to deliberate a specific issue. Convene the random sample of citizens, place them in tables of ten with diverse people, supply them with neutral educational materials and let them deliberate a variety of options to shape pending policy issue. After small group deliberations among diverse people ask the people to rank order their choices for addressing the issue using audience response system. Make public participation a responsibility for every citizen to take seriously—like jury duty.

Nurture Leadership Capacity (competency and character) (Stephanie Nestlerode) -

Please invest in the success of leaders in the public sector by providing technical assistance for their leadership development. Just like athletes, they need a practice field with coaching to make the organizational system changes required to make public participation a true reality. Many leaders hold the intention to be open, transparent and collaborative, but they do not possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes required. Research shows that clarity on strategic intent and a positive learning culture are essential. Studies also show that these elements are often missing in the public sector. What are the consequences? What do we know about what creates success?

Teaching citizens how to facilitate and experience true dialogue (Lisa Heft) -

Engage facilitators to teach neighborhood and organizational representatives how to facilitate short-form dialogue processes / methods.

Facilitate a We the People conversation that generates shared solutions to our most pressing issues
(DeAnna Martin) -

Our current system is based on the idea that good collective decisions arise from a competition among self-interested parties. But increasingly we face collective problems that require a spirit of cooperation while embracing individual wisdom and expression. Implementing Wisdom Council processes at local, state, and national levels would facilitate a “We the People” conversation where all of us can identify, evolve, and co-create solutions to our most pressing issues in partnership with government.

Training on Facilitative Leadership (Abby Yanow) -

In order to create a program of dynamic public engagement, elected officials and government staff need training in the process and skills required to be successful – and this is a great opportunity to develop such trainings.

And here are three from Greg Keidan…

AmericaSpeaks 21st Century Town Hall Meeting Particpation Technology -

Research and share best practices for targeted outreach to involve more than the usual suspects in public decision making -

Automated Translation of Federal, State, and Local Government Websites -

More Great Posts by NCDDers on Open Gov’t Dialogue    

More great posts by NCDDers!  If you like these ideas, please support them by voting for them on the Open Government Dialogue site

John Spady of the Forum Foundation has a post up on the Open Government Dialogue site titled “A Citizen Councilor Network: scaleable, manageable, measurable” at

John Kelly has also added a post titled “Evoke the Wisdom of Crowds by Co-Creating Compelling Alternative Visions of the Future” at

Also, Stephen Buckley added four posts; I’ll list them with the short descriptions he shared with the NCDD network below…

1. “” -> Customized to What Affects YOU -

The government should be trying to engage YOU (not vice-versa). For example, an email-notice can reach out and engage you, but an obscure website does not. “” would let you fill out a profile, so that you will get email-notices ONLY about those things that affect YOU. (This is how already works.)

2. Make It Safe for Govt. Workers to Innovate to Save Money -

I’m a former federal employee who worked at five different agencies, and I know from experience that the only way for to make it safe for government workers to talk about saving money with innovative ideas (or simply pointing out waste) is to have an online system that allows them to raise the idea BUT hides their true identity. (FYI: The existing Inspector-General system does NOT do this.)

3. Give Citizens a Simple Checklist for Rating “Public Engagement” -

Citizens should have a simple checklist that they can take when they attend a public meeting so that they can rate how “open” the meeting was (i.e., with respect to Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration).  This simple checklist could be the standard tool for citizens to provide feedback to government agencies about the quality of their public engagement activities. In fact, the requirement for federal department and agencies to “solicit public feedback” about their public engagement is mentioned three (3) times in President Obama’s Memorandum on Transparent and Open Government. (BTW: The League of Women Voters has something similar to this.)

4. Let’s Be Clear on the Terminology about “Public Engagement” -

We need to better define the terms that we are using in order to have a better discussion about how we achieve Open Government. For example: If a “town-hall meeting” can be a political speech followed by couple questions, then does that qualify as “public engagement” (or is it just a photo-op)? If we all have different ideas about what is (and is not) “public engagement” or “transparency” or (insert buzzword here), then we will have a very hard time reaching consensus about how to go forward. (This, of course, is one lesson from “The Tower of Babel”).

Stephen also mentioned this for those who might be interested…

PHASE TWO: On June 3rd, the White House will begin Phase Two of the “Open Government Iniatitive” in which there will be an online discussion to “dig deeper on the ideas and challenges identified during the Brainstorm phase.” However, there is an ongoing (unofficial) discussion about the “Open Government Directive” that anyone can join by going to

A Few More Posts by NCDDers at the Open Gov’t Dialogue    

1.  Use Randomly Selected Citizen Deliberative Councils to tap the collective wisdom of We the People (Tom Atlee) -

2.  Community Weaving America (Cheryl Honey) -

3.  American Idol format to vote on appropriate issues (John Anderson) -

NCDD Members’ Contributions to the Open Gov’t Dialogue    

Here are direct links to the NCDD contributions I know of (so far) to the White House’s Open Government Dialogue at Let’s support each other’s ideas by taking care to “vote up” the posts you agree with that have been submitted by members of our community!  I’ll keep adding new links to NCDDers’ posts to the blog, so please email them to me at [email protected].

Ask Federal Agencies to Adopt the Core Principles for Public Engagement (Sandy Heierbacher) -

Utilize the NCDD network for facilitators, consultants and training (Sandy Heierbacher) -

Promise USA - National Network of Citizen Conversation (Christine Whitney Sanchez) -

A national citizens’ assembly to represent the people’s wisdom (Phil Mitchel) -

Practical scholarship and assistance from Universities - the University Network for Collaborative Governance (John Stephens) -

Use Visual recording and mini animations to convey complex ideas (Nancy Margulies) -

Joe Goldman and Susanna Hass Lyons‘ posts…

Note:  These submissions are based on the outcomes of the recent Champions of Democracy meeting of federal agency representatives (and a number of NCDDers!).  I recommend we support all of these ideas.

- Hold Agencies Accountable for Implementing the Open Government Directive -

- Fully fund participation and collaboration activities -

- Require all agencies to submit a plan for open government -

- Encourage State and Local Governments to Become More Open and Inclusive -

- Integrate Participation and Collaboration into All Major Systems of Federal Agencies -

- Convene the American Public in National Discussions of One Million People or More on the Issues of Highest Public Concern -

- Create Incentives and a Recognition Program to Promote Participation, Collaboration and Transparency Among Federal Agencies -

- Address Legal Barriers That Impede Participation and Collaboration -

Notes from May 21st Call with White House Open Gov’t Officials    

Here are my notes from the conference call with White House officials that was held on May 21st, 2009 (the day after the official launch of the Open Government dialogue)…

I received an email from Greg Nelson, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, on May 21st inviting me to a conference call later that day with “senior White House officials… to discuss the launch of the White House open government initiative and the start of online public engagement on the open government recommendations.  Your organization’s participation in the process of crafting these recommendations is very important, so we hope that you are able to join us for the discussion.”

Note:  here’s an important tidbit that’s a bit buried in my notes, as Beth Noveck said this towards the end of the question-and-answer segment:

We’re counting on you; it’s the people you work with and talk to who are deeply committed and knowledgeable about the issues here.  Also, we’re getting the best ideas into the mix early; getting the people with both experience and expertise to share their ideas.

In other words, they really are looking for serious involvement from networks of practitioners and experts! (more…)

Vote for the PEP Principles on the Open Gov’t Dialogue site!    

I’ll post more tomorrow for those not on the NCDD listserv. For now, just wanted to share that I’ve added a post to the new Open Government Dialogue about the Public Engagement Principles NCDD, IAP2 and others worked so hard to create these past months.

Please take a moment to go to and give the post a thumbs up if you’re willing!

Public Input to be Sought on Open Gov’t Policy for Federal Agencies    

Steven Buckley sent a message about this tonight to the NCDD listserv…

According to a notice set to appear in the Federal Register tomorrow, May 21st, the White House is inviting members of the public “to participate in the process of developing recommendations via email or the White House website at offering comments, ideas, and proposals about possible initiatives and about how to increase openness and transparency in government.”

Here is the Federal Register notice to appear on May 21, 2009:

Note: The deadline for comments is June 19, 2009.

New Report for Open Government Directive    

I received this message from Joe Goldman (VP of Citizen Engagement at AmericaSpeaks) today…

This will be up on our web site soon, but wanted to share with you a new report we recently completed. (Download the report here.)

Nineteen senior leaders from 13 federal agencies and departments came together on May 12, 2009, at the headquarters of the Transportation Security Administration to offer ideas to the Open Government Directive. Participants in the three-hour discussion shared their hopes and concerns for the directive, discussed the most important things that the directive should accomplish, and what will be needed for the directive to be successfully implemented. Beth Noveck, the director of the White House task force responsible for creating the directive, participated in the discussions and responded to participant questions and ideas.

The May 12 meeting follows an earlier working session in late March that convened 34 managers and staff from 23 different agencies to develop recommendations for the Open Government Directive. The report from the earlier session may be read at Both meetings were facilitated by AmericaSpeaks, Demos, Everyday Democracy, and Harvard University’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

White House Office of Public Engagement Launched!    

Here is some incredible breaking news for our field…

The White House announced today that the White House Office of Public Liaison is being tasked with an expanded mission, and a new name:  the Office of Public Engagement!  In his video announcement about OPE, President Obama said “This office will seek to engage as many Americans as possible in the difficult work of changing this country, through meetings and conversations with groups and individuals held in Washington and across the country.”

The current leadership will remain to carry out the new mission and includes Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President, Christina M. Tchen, Director of OPE; and Michael Strautmanis, Chief of Staff to the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Engagement. Additional staff and issue areas can be viewed at the OPE website at to learn more (be sure to sign up for email updates from the Office). You can also click “more” for the full press release. (more…)

Allison Fine says Fed’s Office of Social Innovation is Sooooo 1998    

Alison fine added a very interesting, thoughtful post to her blog on Wednesday, titled “Fed’s Office of Social Innovation is Sooooo 1998.” It begins…

Yesterday, Michelle Obama announced the creation of a new White House Office of Social Innovation intended to invest $50 million in innovative nonprofit efforts.

This effort will be spearheaded by Sonal Shah, the former head of global development at Google, Inc. (FYI: I do LOVE the fact that this is being driven largely by these amazing women!)

The First Lady explained the effort this way:  “By focusing on high-impact, results-oriented nonprofits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worhty of the public trust.”

Ugh. It’s almost hard to know where to start in critiquing this, but here I go.

Read the rest of the article (and be sure to check out the comments).

New Article by Pete Peterson in Fox & Hounds Daily    

NCDD member Pete Peterson just wrote a great article for Fox & Hounds Daily, a website designed to discuss and explain the confluence of politics and business in California. Pete is the Executive Director of Common Sense California, and was one of the panelists on our “conservatives panel” at NCDD Austin.

The last paragraph of this article, which I highly recommend reading, sums it up pretty well:

It’s a process I have witnessed many times: as residents learn about the difficult trade off decisions their public leaders have to make, they wonder what they can do to help keep their communities livable and sustainable. These examples, and many others, highlight the new relationship that is developing between local governments and their residents – more collaborative and participatory. It seems that when the vending machine is broken, more and more Californians, instead of kicking it or putting more money in, are joining with others to make their own lunches.

The article, titled When the Vending Machine Breaks, makes the case for participatory budgeting, and provides some great examples you may want to “borrow”!  View the article. (more…)

Save the Date for this Year’s C2D2 Conference    

C2D2 logoWrite this in your calendars, folks!  Our sister organization, the Canadian Community for Dialogue & Deliberation (C2D2), is holding their 2009 conference in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) October 22nd through 25th. This will be the third biennial C2D2 conference, and C2D2 is partnering with Toronto Community Housing this year.

The conference is an opportunity for sharing experiences, ideas, and research on how collaborative action, planning, problem solving, decision-making and conflict resolution can be empowered through constructive group conversations. (more…)

New Book and Media Clearinghouse for Peacebuilders    

Dr. Craig Zelizer asked us to share these two announcements with the network. Zelizer is Associate Director of the Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution program at Georgetown University.

1) THE PEACE MEDIA CLEARINGHOUSE - A NEW Resource for Peacemakers at

- Find documentaries, films, shows, podcasts, songs, video games, and other multimedia about peace and conflict management.
- Use them in your work as educators, trainers, practitioners, policymakers, or students.
- Explore a wide range of topics, such as conflict prevention, nonviolence, post-conflict reconstruction, refugees, child soldiers, rule of law, religion, climate change, terrorism, and much more.
- Search for multimedia by region, country, media type, and issue area.

Send an email to avarghese1(at) if you have any questions, feedback, or comments about the Peace Media Clearinghouse.


Edited by Craig Zelizer and Robert A. Rubinstein

Even though international peacebuilding has rapidly expanded in the last two decades to respond to more multi-faceted and complex conflicts, the field has lagged behind in documenting the impact and success of projects. To help address this gap, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, one of the leading networks in the field, has brought together 13 stories of innovative peacebuilding practices from around the world in Building Peace.

While the projects covered are diverse in nature, together they demonstrate the significant impact of peacebuilding work. Contributors created new institutions to prevent and manage conflicts at the local or national levels, helped restore relationships in conflict-affected communities, and empowered citizens to work for positive change in their societies across ethnic, religious, and political divides.

It’s clear that there is no quick fix for violence but this volume will go a long way in providing inspiration and practical tools for policymakers, academics and practitioners who seek to make significant and valuable contributions towards achieving peace.

Visit for more details about the book.

Austin Training in Collaboration and Conflict Resolution    

Betty Gilmore at the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law asked us to post about an upcoming training in Austin that sounds great. The theme for this summer’s Skills Enrichment Institute is “Innovations in Collaboration and Conflict Resolution,” and it will take place July 29-31, 2009 at the Lakeway Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas.

This dynamic skill building program allows participants to choose among six two-day sessions, all representing the latest advances in the field. Spending two days in one session contributes to a deeper and more focused experience. In addition, the program fosters opportunities for a variety of connections through topical discussion groups that occur during off hours. The selected session topics showcase prominent trainers and fresh contributions to the field. The sessions will help participants integrate innovative techniques into their work. The private, lakeside setting provides a congenial atmosphere for deliberate thought and dialogue among colleagues and recognized leaders in the field. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

The plenary speaker is Susan Collin Marks, Senior Vice President of Search for Common Ground, and the trainings sessions are:

* Creating Value through Negotiation – Melissa Manwaring, J.D., M.Ed.
* The Role of Apology, Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Collaborative Processes – Lee Taft, J.D., M.Div.
* Power and Impasse – Nina Meierding, M.S., J.D.
* Staying with Conflict: Working with Ongoing Disputes – Bernie Mayer, Ph.D.
* The Public Policy Facilitator’s Toolbox: Designing Processes for Multi-Stage Initiatives – Bill Potapchuk, M.A., M.S.
* The Next Generation of ADR: Utilizing Technology to Effectively Resolve Disputes – Colin Rule, M.A.

The standard registration fee including all program materials and meals is $895. Early-bird registrations received prior to June 29, 2009 will be $795. Government and non-profit employees will receive a reduced rate of $695. Rates do not include hotel room costs.

Visit for more details or to register.

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