The Coalition of organizations and individuals who worked together to make the first National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation happen in October 2002 is continuing to work together as the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). The conference brought together practitioners and theorists from across the spectrum of D&D practice for the first time, and we are committed to continuing to foster collaboration and build understanding and cohesion in the field.
The National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation was a collaborative effort among practitioners who represent a variety of prominent and up-and-coming dialogue organizations.
The momentum that led up to the event began at MRA?s Connecting Communities conference in June 2001 (MRA is now called Initiatives of Change), when Cricket White of Hope in the Cities began talking to a small group of leaders in the dialogue community about the need for a conference that would allow dialogue practitioners to experience each other?s models, share strategies and get to know their colleagues in the field. Cricket?s enthusiasm was contagious, and the following people began seriously talking about how we could make this idea a reality:
- Sandy Heierbacher of the Dialogue to Action Initiative
Upon returning home, Sandy Heierbacher created a listserv (email discussion list) so that the group could communicate with one another readily, and we wrote to each other excitedly about planning an event which would bring dialogue practitioners together to learn about each other?s dialogue models and strategies and to address the disconnect and lack of infrastructure that exists in the dialogue community.
We also reached out to others in our networks, and were joined by the following people who became actively involved in our planning efforts:
- Reena Bernards of The Dialogue Project
It soon became evident that although everyone on the listserv was committed to organizing a gathering of dialogue leaders, each person had different ideas, needs and a unique vision for the event. In order to create some clarity about what ways dialogue practitioners could really benefit from such an event - and whether or not there was demand for an event like this ? the group decided to design a needs assessment, and invited dialogue facilitators, organizers, researchers, students and participants to complete an online survey.
115 people from throughout the dialogue community completed the survey. The results, which were posted on the Dialogue to Action Initiative?s website and publicized throughout the dialogue community, are both interesting and informative, and confirmed that dialogue practitioners have a strong need ? and many great ideas! ? for a dialogue conference.
A grant proposal was then written and presented to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (thanks to David Schoem mentioning our efforts to Hewlett?s Terry Amsler!). After some rewriting and waiting, we received the good news on Thursday, May 23!
As soon as we heard the news, we moved into high gear. We had already found a great location and had agreed on October 4-6 as the dates for the event, but that left us with little over four months to organize a national conference! Sandy Heierbacher immediately sent out an announcement to about 2500 contacts throughout the dialogue community, hoping to not only encourage people to plan to attend, but also to join our Organizing Team and our Coalition.
We wanted this conference to be welcoming, relevant, informative and inspiring to practitioners and theorists representing the entire spectrum of dialogic practice, and assembling a broad-based Organizing Team was an important step in achieving this goal.
Within a couple of days, we had received over 400 email messages from dialogue leaders who wanted to express their excitement about the event. Many of these leaders accepted our invitation to join the conference organizing team or have their organization become a part of the Coalition for a National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation.
With a large organizing team of 60 incredible people who had faith that we could pull this off in four months ? not to mention six absolutely phenomenal committee chairs ? we were able to put together an event that included 56 top-notch breakout sessions that exposed dialogue practitioners and scholars to a plethora of dialogue methods, models and tools, and three large-group sessions that took conference participants through a dialogic process to help determine what actions we should take as a group to move our field forward.
The fabulous Chairs of our committees were:
- Eric F. Boyd, Executive Director, Los Angeles Days of Dialogue (Reports and Evaluation Committee)
Go to http://www.thataway.org/ncdd/conference/leaders.htm to see a listing of the entire Organizing Team, to find out who was on the conference Steering Committee, and to look over the organizations that made up the Coalition for a National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation.
The event was unforgettable - it was the first time practitioners and scholars of dialogic and deliberative processes were ever brought together en masse across the spectrum of practice. The 240 people who attended the conference were thrilled to have the opportunity to experience one another's models, share and learn from each other's experience, and explore how we might work together to shape the future of our growing field.
The conference was a success, causing participants to feel that they are part of an important, growing field of practice and spawning 12 action groups that are examining ways to address important needs and issues facing the dialogue and deliberation community.
The Coalition of 50 organizations that endorsed the conference decided to continue working together after the conference, changing their name to the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). In November 2002, we opened our doors to other organizations and individuals in the field who are interested in strengthening and uniting the dialogue and deliberation community. As of January 15, 2003, we have 106 organizational and individual members (http://www.thataway.org/ncdd/coalition/members.htm), including some of the most prominent leaders in the field, with new members joining almost every day!
As of January 15, 2003, the following dialogue and deliberation leaders have committed to serve on the Steering Committee for NCDD:
- Tom Atlee, President of the The Co-Intelligence Institute
Last Updated:? January 27, 2003.