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CoalitionThe NCDD Online CommunityResourcesNews & Events2002 NCDD Conference

How can I join NCDD?

Please complete our short online form at www.thataway.org/ncdd/coalition/start.htm. You may also email Sandy Heierbacher, NCDD’s Convener, with the information asked for in the form ([email protected]).

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Can organizations or individuals from outside of the U.S. join NCDD?

People who are based outside of the U.S. are encouraged to join the Coalition. We will consider you to be “international partners” of the Coalition, and your membership will be no different from the U.S.-based members of NCDD.

Some people have expressed concern that we are limiting ourselves - and leaving out important practitioners, organizations, scholars and activists - by calling ourselves a “national” coalition. We share this concern, but feel that it is important for us to establish ourselves within the U.S. first, before striving to be - or claiming to be - an international organization.

We value and welcome international partners, and hope that we will change our name and our scope in the future.

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Can NCDD help me organize networks and events for practitioners in my region?

NCDD is very interested in fostering the development of regional networks of practitioners and scholars, so that people can more easily and more frequently gain the direct support, encouragement and assistance they need from others in the field.

NCDD’s database currently includes 2500 listings of dialogue and deliberation practitioners, scholars and organizations. We are happy to sort our database by state or city and share our contacts in specific regions with people in the field who are interested in starting regional networks or planning regional gatherings of their colleagues.

As we continue to expand our database of colleagues and to grow in membership, we hope to consciously connect people by region, fostering regional meetings, trainings and conferences, helping to identify regional leadership, and working with these emerging networks to get the word out about the opportunities they provide.

If you would like to help us in our efforts to foster regional networks of practitioners, we encourage you to share your contacts with us as well.

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What can I do to help develop NCDD?

NCDD is a new entity which is still in the development stages, and we certainly could use your help. If you are a practitioner or scholar of dialogic and/or deliberative processes, we encourage you to become a member of NCDD if you haven’t already. Whether or not you join NCDD, however, there are many ways you can help us to strengthen and unite our growing field.

1. Financial contributions are of course needed and welcome. A small annual donation to NCDD would be most appreciated. Large donations are also appreciated! You can also help us save money by hosting conference calls for NCDD, sending out NCDD mailings, etc., and help us obtain funding by connecting us with your contacts at foundations.

2. Ongoing administrative support (even just a few hours a week) is extremely welcome. If you or someone at your organization has some time to spare to help with administrative tasks (answering email, entering data into a database, etc.), please let us know.

3. Help in getting the word out about NCDD. Informing your networks about what NCDD is doing and how D&D practitioners and scholars can join our efforts is a wonderful help. Placing a link to NCDD on your website is also very helpful (click here for the NCDD logo and instructions).

4. Advanced web design skills and assistance in creating online communities is extremely helpful. Are you - or is someone who works with you - skilled in stimulating online discussion or designing dynamic online databases?

5. Assistance in developing NCDD as an organization. Do you have special skills or knowledge that can help a newly-forming organization get off its feet? Are you experienced at developing strategic plans, work plans or vision statements?

6. Active involvement in NCDD and its action groups is needed. Can you or someone on your staff serve actively on one or more of the Action Groups? Are you interested in starting a new discussion on the NCDD Online Community in an attempt to tackle an important issue or problem in our field?

7. Resources for the NCDD website are always helpful. Can you provide material for the NCDD site (for the Resources section or the Dialogue Community pages)? Do you know of upcoming events that D&D practitioners might be interested in attending? Does your organization have a new resource that people in the field should know about? Do you have best practices, lessons learned, or research results that you would like to share with other D&D practitioners and scholars?

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Why is NCDD important for the dialogue & deliberation community?

People are leading dialogues across the country in schools, in churches, in workplaces, and in virtually every other venue imaginable. They are encouraging people to engage in deliberative dialogue about issues ranging from race relations in their communities and violence in their schools to how to handle the buildup of nuclear waste or the rapid rate of development in their region. People are organizing dialogues in order to resolve conflicts, to increase citizen input in policy decisions, to increase people’s knowledge about important issues and realities, to help people build self-awareness, to improve communication skills, to strengthen teams or build coalitions, to stimulate innovation and to foster effective community change.

Deliberative approaches to dialogue are being applied with increasing frequency in communities, across regions, online and at the national level. Some of these approaches are designed to bring citizens and government decision-makers together as joint problem solvers; some aim to provide decision-makers and voters with the informed citizen perspective on an issue; and others aim to equip a group of citizens with the knowledge and will to take action on an issue themselves. Techniques range from intimate, small-group dialogues to large forums involving hundreds or even thousands of participants.

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 communities of practice have developed without much awareness of each other. The result is the emergence of an important field whose practitioners use different terminology, networks and resources and emphasize different outcomes.

The October 2002 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation was a vital first step in the effort to build cohesion and foster collaboration among the various communities of practice that center around the processes of dialogue and deliberation. Practitioners and scholars were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to experience one another’s models, to explore similarities and differences in philosophies and tools, and to begin thinking about how we can become a collective force which ultimately could empower citizens to solve many of society’s most pressing problems.

NCDD will continue to address the problem of the disconnect and isolation of practitioners, scholars and organizations in our growing field. In order to unite and strengthen this growing field, we need to establish ongoing ways to connect with one another, share tools, build understanding and work together across the entire spectrum of practice. Means of sharing strategies, asking questions and getting the right people to answer them, getting the word out about events and training opportunities, evaluating programs and developing professional standards - the development of all of these things is essential to the growth of the field and the future of the dialogue and deliberation processes.

Conference organizers and participants (and others who have since joined us) are committed to working together to unite the field. Many now view the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation as the foundation of a new infrastructure in the field - one that will welcome and value the expertise and contribution of practitioners and theorists regardless of their program’s size, purpose or scope. The individuals and organizations which have become members of NCDD are not only interested in helping to achieve some of the tasks laid out by the action groups that formed at the conference, but are interested in continuing to explore ways in which we should be working together, sharing information and building knowledge in our emerging field.

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What is the difference between dialogue and deliberation?

Dialogue is a small-group communication process which enables people from all walks of life to talk deeply and personally about some of the major issues and realities that divide them. Dialogues are powerful, transformational experiences that often lead to both personal and collaborative action. Dialogue helps citizens to build mutual understanding, develop trusting relationships and identify and explore connections between personal and public concerns.

Dialogue usually leads to deliberation, a process which involves the weighing of various options and the consideration of different viewpoints for the purpose of reaching agreement on action steps or policy decisions. But deliberation is not nearly as effective if it occurs without dialogue. Engaging in dialogue before moving to deliberation helps ensure that members of a group will be open to others’ opinions and perspectives, even when they conflict with their own. This leads to a more open and thorough examination of all possible outcomes, which means better decision-making.

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How do I use NCDD’s Online Community?

NCDD’s Online Community is a service provided by EdGateway. The service enables people who register for the Online Community to join ongoing discussions of interest to practitioners and scholars of dialogue and deliberation. People who register may also create new discussions by contacting Sandy Heierbacher ([email protected]), who will set them up as list managers. People may also view the contact information and profiles of anyone who is subscribed to any of the NCDD discussions.

Although the discussions are not ‘listservs’ technically, subscribers may receive and send messages to the groups they are subscribed to via email, like a listserv. If they choose not to receive messages in their inbox, subscribers may view the messages online instead, like a bulletin board.

As of January 15, 2003, there are 6 discussions in the Online Community, 5 of which were established to help various action groups that formed at the conference to continue communicating with one another and working together. One of the discussions, called the “NCDD Discussion” is the main discussion group for the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation. Almost everyone who participated in the 2002 conference is on this list. D&D practitioners who were not at the event but are interested in working with their colleagues to strengthen and unite our growing field are welcome and encouraged to join this discussion. And, of course, new NCDD members are encouraged to subscribe to this discussion.

To get to the NCDD Online Community, click on the “Online Community” link at the top of this page, or use this link: www.edgateway.net/ncdd.

If you attended the conference, you are already registered for the Online Community, and have already been informed of your password and login. If you did not attend the conference, you will need to click on “register” and complete the short form.

Once you have registered, or have logged in, you can click on “My Profile” add/change your contact information and bio. Please do complete your profile so that others in the NCDD Online Community can contact you easily. Anyone who registers for the NCDD Online Community will be able to access your profile by clicking on your name. Your name will appear on the list of members for whichever lists you subscribe to, and by the subject line of any email message you send. (Via the website only; not via email messages.)

If you have an additional email address from which you would like to be able to send messages to your discussions (but not receive the emails), such as a web-based email list that you use while traveling, you can add this second email address on this profile page as well.

To join a discussion, click on “Discussions” after you log in. Click on the name of the discussion that interests you, then follow the instructions to subscribe.

After you subscribe to a discussion, you can choose how you will receive or view your messages. Click on “My Profile,” then click “Email Discussion Preferences.” For each discussion group you join, you can receive messages in your inbox, receive a daily digest (all postings included in one email message) in your inbox, or just view the postings on the website at your convenience.

We suggest that you subscribe to all of the discussions, but select “no emails” for those that you don’t plan to be actively involved in. That way, you can check out via the website what’s going on in the groups you aren’t a part of without having to receive all of that group’s correspondence in your inbox. And you can still send them a message if you have a suggestion or idea for that group.

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Last Updated:  January 27, 2003.