All About NCDD
The mission of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) is to bring together and support people, organizations, and resources in ways that expand the power of discussion to benefit society.
NCDD envisions a future in which all people--regardless of income, position, background or education--are able to engage regularly in lively, thoughtful, and challenging conversations about what really matters to them, in ways that have a positive impact on their lives and their world. We envision a society in which systems and structures support and advance inclusive, constructive dialogue and deliberation.
Below is our contact info, followed by an overview of NCDD's purpose, programs and membership. Please also explore...
- The NCDD Team (including contact info)
- NCDD's phenomenal Board of Directors and Steering Committee
- Our Story (Or, How NCDD Came to Be)
- Why "Thataway"?
- About Sandy Heierbacher, NCDD's Director
Feel free to contact NCDD if you would like to get involved, learn more, tell us about your work, suggest something we should add to the site, or for any other semi-legitimate reason. We'd love to hear from you!
Mailing address: 114 W. Springville Road, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
(please make correspondence c/o Sandy Heierbacher, Director).
Email: ncdd @ www.thataway.org
NCDD: Uniting and Growing a Community of Practice
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) brings together people and groups who actively practice, promote and study inclusive, high quality conversations. Collectively, we seek to nurture justice, innovation and democracy throughout society through the widespread use of transformational communication methods such as dialogue and deliberation. We believe that elevating the quality of thinking and communication in organizations and among citizens is key to solving humanity's most pressing problems.
Dialogue and deliberation are powerful group processes that help people bridge gaps, make better decisions, take collective action, resolve conflict and become more active citizens. NCDD provides resources, networking opportunities and programs for a growing community of practice dedicated to solving group and societal problems through honest talk, quality thinking and collaborative action.
Why Did the Coalition Form?
Although they are by no means new processes, dialogue and deliberation have enjoyed a tremendous growth in popularity in recent years. This growth has been so grassroots that numerous streams of practice (deliberative democracy, conflict transformation, intergroup dialogue, etc.) developed without much awareness of one other. The result of this was the emergence of an important but disjointed field whose practitioners are versed in completely different terminology, techniques and resources, and emphasize different outcomes ? despite the similarity of their basic values and principles.
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) emerged from the Hewlett-funded 2002 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, which sought to address this disconnect. The planning process for the 2002 conference exemplifies NCDD?s collaborative, inclusive way of working. A group of 60 people ? from graduate students in conflict resolution to directors of leading dialogue organizations ? came together to plan a highly participatory, high-energy conference which would bring together 240 scholars and practitioners of dialogue and deliberation across all streams of practice for the very first time.
The conference was a success, causing many participants to feel that they are part of an important, growing field of practice; introducing practitioners and scholars to the vast array of models, tools and techniques that are being used by their colleagues; surfacing key issues facing the dialogue and deliberation community; and developing a blueprint for action for strengthening this emerging field.
The organizations and individuals who collaborated to make the conference happen decided to continue and expand upon their work by establishing the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation.
Who Makes Up NCDD?
In just a few short years since the first conference, the Coalition?s membership has grown to include nearly 600 organizations and individuals who, collectively, regularly engage and mobilize millions of people around today's most critical issues.
NCDD?s members include organizations as varied as the Open Space Institute, the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Project, AmericaSpeaks, Search for Common Ground, The Public Conversations Project, the Center for Nonviolent Communication, Web Lab, Campus Compact and the Study Circles Resource Center. NCDD?s individual members include public officials, students, artists, practitioners, scholars and others.
What Does the Coalition Do?
The Coalition?s activities in its first two years of existence began the work of developing a common knowledge base in the dialogue and deliberation community. The 2002 conference was a vital and successful first step in the effort to create a shared language, a sense of mutual respect and an openness to collaboration among the various streams of practice that center around the processes of dialogue and deliberation, and our work since that conference has continued to build knowledge and a sense of unity in the field.
In 2003 and 2004, NCDD?s activities focused on providing practitioners and scholars with important resources, information, news and tools; initiating and running collaborative projects with other dialogue and deliberation programs to build knowledge in the field; and providing members of the dialogue and deliberation community with the means to collaborate on projects.
The NCDD website is a popular hub for practitioners and scholars in this emerging field, and houses by far the most comprehensive and up-to-date collection of resources, news, events and opportunities related to dialogue and deliberation. NCDD?s website is known for the quality and thoughtful organization of its resources and features, and the site includes hundreds of pages of resources, news and user-generated content. The resources at www.thataway.org range from a section that categorizes and describes high-tech tools, products and programs that can enhance online and face-to-face dialogue and deliberation programs to a glossary defining over 100 key terms used throughout the field.
NCDD also dedicated much of its time in 2003 and 2004 to helping to develop and strengthen major dialogue and deliberation efforts that address the extreme political polarization in our country ? efforts like Let?s Talk America, The September Project and the Both/And Project. NCDD keeps in touch monthly with nearly 7,000 people who are involved in dialogue and deliberation, and our communication and networking efforts have helped to spread the word about and increase the effectiveness of many dozens of innovative programs.
And in 2004, much of our energy was focused on planning the second National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, which took place in Denver, Colorado in October of last year. Attended by 305 leaders and newcomers in this nascent field, the 2004 conference was planned as collaboratively as the first conference, with nearly 60 people working together on the planning team to design a unique, worthwhile event. Through the conference and other activities, NCDD strives to help scholars and practitioners jointly address some of the key issues facing the field.
New Directions for NCDD
NCDD is now moving in some exciting new directions. The young people who attended our 2004 conference are spearheading a network for new practitioners and a mentorship program. They also hope to develop an internship clearinghouse which will help match new practitioners to established organizations and practitioners who can use their help.
Many who attended the 2004 conference are also interested in seeing NCDD develop regional networks of dialogue and deliberation leaders. Practitioners want to be able to access peers in their area for support, knowledge-sharing and encouragement, and they want to be able to easily connect with others near them on collaborative projects. NCDD is working with other networking organizations such as the Victim Offender Mediation Association (VOMA) and PeaceWeb to launch a prototype network in a region where all of us have members.
Since we have been very successful in our initial efforts to strengthen and unite the growing dialogue and deliberation community, we have decided to start reaching out to those who are new to these processes. In order to introduce more people to the myriad processes that can help them address contentious issues in their communities, NCDD plans to develop a user-friendly Beginner?s Toolkit to Dialogue & Deliberation. And through our Dialogue Bureau project, we hope to connect journalists and other members of the media to leaders of dialogue groups who are willing to be interviewed about the key findings and concerns of their groups.
We are also proud to have helped an independent group in Canada plan the first Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation, which took place in Ottawa in October 2005, and was modeled after NCDD?s conferences. And of course, we are now in the midst of planning our 2006 national conference, which will take place in San Francisco this August.
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