Initiatives and Collaborative Projects

NCDD is working on a number of great projects right now, and we could use your help with many of them. To get involved, learn more, or initiate a new project yourself, contact Sandy Heierbacher, NCDD's Convenor (, 802-254-7341), or go to the NCDD Team page for contact info for other NCDD staff.

Conferences & Networking Initiatives

2006 NCDD Conference
Snapshot from the 2002 conference.

A snapshot from the meeting of Jewish-Palestinian dialogue leaders held in conjunction with our 2002 conference.

It's not too early to let us know that you'd like to be on the Planning Team for the third National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. As with our 2002 and 2004 conferences, we will plan the 2006 event as collaboratively and creatively as possible, and your input and involvement are welcome. Read about NCDD's conferences.

Establishing Regional D&D Networks

At NCDD's 2004 conference, it was clear that dialogue & deliberation practitioners, scholars, students and activists have a strong interest in seeing NCDD develop regional networks. 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 has been exploring with other networking organizations including the Victim Offender Mediation Association (VOMA) and PeaceWeb the possibility of launching a prototype network in a region where all of us have a significant number of members.

With NCDD's assistance, members of NCDD have launched regional networks in Northern California and Colorado. Let us know if you are interested in taking a leadership role in establishing a D&D network in your region!

NCDD Peer Network

This initiative is exploring whether and how to create a one-on-one peer network within NCDD. This would be similar to a voluntary (not mandatory) mentor program, but the basis for selecting matches would vary depending on members? interests and needs. Some members may want to develop a peer relationship with someone outside of the U.S., others might want to partner with an artist or a scholar, or with someone from a specific organization or someone with more experience than them.

The young people who attended NCDD's 2004 conference have been spearheading a network for new practitioners and a mentorship program among NCDD members. Let us know if you would like to help with this project, or join the New Practitioners discussion list at

Evan Thomas Paul, student at the University of Missouri, and Priya Parker, Program Director of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, are leading these efforts.

Furthering the Field

The National Dialogue Bureau

There is a startling deficit of the informed views of ordinary Americans in mainstream news coverage of current events. Instead, the nation is fed a constant stream of ?expert? views, which often have little to do with how Americans experience issues in our day-to-day lives. To address this weakness in news gathering and reporting, NCDD members are developing a ?National Dialogue Bureau.?

This service will supply journalists with a ?one stop? destination for the collection of views held by ordinary Americans who are engaged in regular dialogue about current affairs. The Dialogue Bureau will be a network of leaders of dialogue and deliberation groups who are willing to speak with the media about the key findings and concerns of their group. The Dialogue Bureau would deepen media coverage of an issue while providing D&D leaders ? and D&D in general ? with increased publicity.

Lars Torres, Researcher for AmericaSpeaks, is the Manager of the Dialogue Bureau project, and Karla Andreu is the Project Coordinator.

Learning Exchange: Building Collective Knowledge in and of our Field

The Learning Exchange will be a dynamic space on NCDD?s website that will house a rich variety of resources and works focused on dialogue and deliberation. In addition to incorporating the large number of resources already featured in Resources Section, the Learning Exchange will be a repository for scholarly resources (research results, articles, summaries of dissertations) as well as practitioner-oriented resources such as case studies, reports on best practices, summaries of projects, etc.

In an email to NCDD?s Convenor about a document he would like to post on the Learning Exchange, NCDD member Michael Briand, a research associate for the Kettering Foundation, noted that ?few scholars know much about the work of practitioners, and few of the latter know much about the work of the former. This ?gap? serves neither group well, and as a result the entire field loses.? By enabling NCDD members and others to easily share their research and writings with one another, The Learning Exchange will provide an ongoing means for practitioners to become and remain informed about the latest theory, and for researchers to keep updated on what practitioners are learning and experiencing in the field.

NCDD's Creative Director, Andy Fluke, is spearheading this project.

Dialogue & the Arts Project

In partnership with Americans for the Arts? Animating Democracy Initiative, NCDD is developing a web feature that will help members of the dialogue & deliberation community strengthen their work by linking it to the arts. The feature will include descriptions of successful arts-based civic dialogue projects and links to artists who can work with D&D practitioners to bring the arts into their projects. This project has its roots in the Connecting to the Arts group that formed at NCDD's 2002 conference.

Leah Lamb, Artistic Director of The Performance Initiative (, is the Dialogue & the Arts Project Manager.

Developing a Visionary Mission for the Field
Photo of Tom Atlee.

Tom Atlee

With a group of NCDD members, NCDD Steering Committee member Tom Atlee, Founder of the Co-Intelligence Institute, has been spearheading a collaborative process that enables people from throughout the field to work together to create one or more statements about the visionary mission of dialogue and deliberation and its practitioners. This process create coherent statements of the visionary role of D&D in our society's effectiveness, survival and evolution.

Current Partnerships and Collaborative Projects

Many D&D-related projects and programs approach NCDD to help publicize their efforts to members of the dialogue & deliberation community. Our Community Happenings blog makes it easy for us to oblige, and we're happy to.

For some programs, such as the Fielding Graduate Institute's Certificate Program in Dialogue, Deliberation & Public Engagement and the Shambhala Institute's Summer Leadership Institute, we do some extra legwork to make sure our colleagues are aware of these rich opportunities. For programs like this, we send a special message out to the main NCDD discussion list and to our members' announcement list, and we might also include an announcement in our monthly email updates that go out to 7,000 people.

For the projects below, our involvement generally goes beyond PR. A member or our staff or another NCDD representative may serve as an advisor to the project; we may pledge to help the project locate facilitators in regions they are planning to hold events; or we may get a group of NCDD members together to benefit the project in some way.

The Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation

At the conclusion of the 2002 conference, representatives of the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) and other Canadian participants set their minds to undertaking a similar initiative in Canada. The first-ever Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation (C2D2) will take place in Ottawa, Ontario, October 27-30, 2005 at the Ottawa Congress Centre!

The event will be modeled after the first National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. This three-day, interactive learning conference designed to begin building a D&D community in Canada will be a highly participatory event, bringing together decision-makers, dialogue practitioners, academics and researchers in Canada and beyond for a unique learning, networking and planning experience. NCDD is helping CPRN and its partners in every way possible to make this exciting conference a success.

The September Project

On Saturday, September 11, 2004, thousands of people across the country came together at public places like local libraries to discuss ideas that matter. Through dialogues, discussions, roundtables, and performances, people shared ideas about democracy, citizenship, and patriotism. Libraries are perfect places for such events: they are free, they are open to the public, and they are distributed nationally. There are over 16,000 public libraries in the U.S. and this does not include university, research, K-12, and places of worship libraries.

The September Project is a collection of people, groups, and organizations devoted to making this happen annually and internationally. Hundreds of libraries participated in the 2004 September Project, and NCDD plans to make a real splash in the 2005 September Project. We hope to ensure that public libraries have access to the facilitators and the resources they need if they decide that quality public dialogue should be part of their September Project programs, and we will encourage as many of our colleagues as possible to approach their public libraries about the September Project - and about dialogue and deliberation.

This is a great opportunity for D&D activists, organizers and facilitators to build ongoing relationships with their local public libraries in order to introduce more people in their area to dialogue and deliberation. Email if you are interested in joining this effort! Read more about the project or go to

Let?s Talk America: a National Conversation During the 2004 Election
Let?s Talk America Logo.

Let?s Talk America (LTA) is a national dialogue initiative that is bringing Americans from all points on the political spectrum together in cafes, bookstores, churches and living rooms for lively, open-hearted dialogue to consider questions essential to the future of our democracy. LTA is reconnecting people with the ?town hall? meeting spirit that is the lifeblood of our democracy. LTA is where everyone can talk about America?s promise, about what freedom, democracy, unity and equality mean to us -- to "we the people."

NCDD is partnering with the Utne Institute and Conversation Caf? on this initiative in an effort to change the tone of political discourse in this country from the polarized, divisive, either/or rhetoric we hear from the politicians and pundits, to an inclusive dialogue that welcomes all voices to the table and recognizes that we all hold a piece of the truth. Read more or go to

The Cairns Project - an Interactive Democracy Inventory project of the Democracy Design Workshop

In May 2004, NCDD co-convened a small gathering of 15-20 D&D leaders (including Tom Atlee, Frances Moore Lappe, Pat Scully, and others) to ensure that our community has a voice in the development of this exciting new online tool that will benefit us all: an interactive open-source inventory of democratic and participatory practices. This now well-funded ?Cairns Project? is being developed Beth Noveck and the Democracy Design Workshop, and NCDD has been advising the project designers informally for some time. We are committed to doing what we can to make this a popular, effective and inviting shared resource. In addition, may incorporate the tool visually on the NCDD website.

Preview Forum

NCDD is a National Partner of Preview Forum, a national media and dialogue initiative of Roundtable, Inc. that brings together news professionals and the public in local forums to discuss social issues relevant to the community. Each Preview Forum brings together community members, local leaders, journalists from all media, and newsroom managers to view excerpts of new films and television programs and to share observations about what they see on the screen and how the local press covers this issue. These structured discussions are designed to open new lines of communication between local news organizations and the communities they cover and to foster news coverage that reflects deeper connections and fresh perspectives.

In the Spring of 2004, Preview Forum?s efforts focused on the sweeping changes of globalization and what those changes mean at the local level. NCDD invited dialogue & deliberation organizations of all sizes to become local partners and host forums in their communities. Preview Forum provided free resources (including videos, planning guides, and publicity materials) to the first 100 organizations that signed on as partners. For more information about this and other Preview Forum campaigns, contact or 781-893-3336 x24. Visit the Preview Forum website at


BothAnd (initially called Calling the Question) is a joint initiative of the Mainstream Media Project and the Harvard Global Negotiation Project. The BothAnd initiative is a multi-year initiative to shift the national conversation from partisanship to problem-solving by engaging a broad spectrum of the public in calling in to talk radio, querying candidates in media and live appearances, and reframing policy debates by asking open, breakthrough, ?third side? questions that blame no one but encourage us to think in practical terms about what we can do together to resolve the challenges that confront us all. The aim of this initiative is to reach across the divide between thoughtful progressives and thoughtful conservatives to catalyze ?convergence conversations? that could contribute to a broader de-polarization of an increasingly divided electorate and society.

NCDD members contributed to the development of BothAnd's telephone training, and some a number of them were actively involved as callers. Read More

Search for Common Ground's Common Ground Partnership

NCDD is working with this new and ambitious initiative of Search for Common Ground which seeks to transform the way individuals, organizations and governments deal with conflict. We plan to help them with their Conversations about Conflict by encouraging facilitators to organize these dialogues, identifying facilitators in particular areas, letting the D&D community know about their efforts, etc.

6-Campus Research Study of Intergroup Dialogue Programs

NCDD is keeping in contact to Pat Gurin (Director of Research at the University of Michigan?s Intergroup Relations program) who is spearheading this collaborative research project. This research has the potential to be of great benefit to our field, and NCDD has offered to help the project disseminate its progress and eventual findings via its website and other means.

Global Facilitator Service Corps

NCDD has agreed to assist this new project, which emerged from the International Association of Facilitators. The GFSC seeks to develop a network of facilitators who can provide pro-bono facilitation service as needed to help communities solve problems. Go to to learn more about this project.

Past Partnerships and Collaborative Projects

Deliberative Democracy Consortium - Evaluation Tool Project

Tonya Gonzales, Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, talks with AmericaSpeaks' Joe Goldman.

NCDD and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium have been collaborating to ensure that a Consortium/Hewlett-funded research project is as informed as possible about existing evaluation tools that are being used in the field. NCDD utilized its network and website to gather a wealth of resources (50 assessment tools, articles and reports) that have or are informing dialogue and deliberation efforts. NCDD member Linda Mather, President of the Forums Institute for Public Policy in Princeton, New Jersey, collected and categorized the resources we received.

All of the tools that we received electronic versions of were sent to a discussion list we created in order to share the tools with all of those who expressed interest in the project. You can access the tools by logging in to NCDD's Discussion Lists at and clicking on the "Evaluating Dialogue & Deliberation" list. We will also be adding a handful of these tools to the Resources Section of the NCDD website.

The Kettering Foundation - Survey for Public Deliberation Practitioners
Alt text here.

NCDD was contracted by the Kettering Foundation to administer a survey for public deliberation practitioners who are familiar with National Issues Forums. Among other things, the survey asked about respondents? experience with NIF issue books, moderator guides and training programs, their connections with other NIF practitioners, and what challenges they face in their public deliberation work. For visitors to the website who were not familiar with NIF, we posted a special feature page to introduce people to this important deliberative model and nationwide network.

PBS Deliberation Day

On October 16, 2004, just weeks before the Presidential election, thousands of Americans met in communities around the nation for simultaneous Citizen Deliberations where they reflected, discussed and deliberated on key issues facing the nation. This democratic dialogue focused on what, not who, was at stake. A national PBS broadcast complemented the distinctly local Citizen Deliberations that were linked together under the banner ?PBS Deliberation Day.?

The concept of Deliberation Day, a proposed national holiday that would take place two weeks before election day, is being spearheaded by Jim Fishkin and Bruce Ackerman, who recently published a book on the subject. Jim Fishkin, creator of the Deliberative Poll, collaborated with McNeil/Lehrer Productions? By the People project, which has been fostering deliberative dialogue on America?s Role in the World for the past few years. NCDD helped Deliberation Day's convenors find trained facilitators in their area. Read More or go to

The Animating Democracy Initiative - National Exchange on Art & Civic Dialogue
Photo from ADI?s National Exchange.

A snapshot from ADI?s 2003 National Exchange.

NCDD helped Americans for the Arts? Animating Democracy Initiative to publicize its October 9-12, 2003 National Exchange on Art and Civic Dialogue, which was held Flint, Michigan. NCDD is also working with ADI to help introduce more people throughout the D&D community to the myriad ways that the arts can and are fostering civic dialogue.

The Society for Values in Higher Education - Three-D Teaching and Learning

NCDD worked with the Society for Values in Higher Education to help ensure the success and impact of its April 2003 working conference ?Discussion, Dialogue, and Deliberation: Three-D Teaching and Learning.?


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