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 ([email protected], 802-254-7341).


2004 NCDD Conference
Snapshot from the 2002 conference.

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

The second National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation will be held in Denver, Colorado, October 23rd through the 25th, followed by a day of post conference training on the 26th.

Like our first conference, the 2004 conference is being planned as collaboratively and creatively as possible, and your input and involvement are welcome. To express interest in helping to organize the conference, presenting a session, co-sponsoring the event or becoming involved in any other way, go to the main 2004 conference page.

Networking Initiatives

Establishing Regional D&D Networks

Various individuals are working on establishing local and regional networks of NCDD members and other dialogue and deliberation leaders. Strong networks are currently being developed in California and Colorado.

Establishing NCDD Sections

Some people have shown an interest in initiating internal NCDD networks, or sections, in order to help D&D practitioners and scholars to connect with others in their areas of interest. There seem to be a lot of interest in a Higher Education section and an Arts section, although more help is needed to begin developing these networks effectively.

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.

Furthering the Field

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 “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 Marketing and Media group is spearheading this project. 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.

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, Director of the Co-Intelligence Institute, is 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 will create coherent statements of the visionary role of D&D in our society's effectiveness, survival and evolution. Go to the NcddWiki to view this collaborative work-in-progress.

Connecting to the Arts Group

This group, which formed at the October 2002 conference, is interested in exploring parallels and intersections between the arts and dialogue/civic dialogue spheres; examining how the arts can contribute to various dialogue goals, including action; expanding the reach and value of dialogue through the arts; and fostering increased understanding about artistic forms that are dialogic in nature or embody dialogue and that may enhance dialogue work.

Web-Based Resources & Tools

The following new features are currently being developed:

Thataway Forum

We are currently seeding an online forum, or bulletin board, that will allow website visitors to both ask and answer questions that are important to D&D practitioners. The goal is to have a variety of answers to each question so that practitioners can benefit from different perspectives. Ideally, this will be a great place to find answers to such questions as “How do you define/explain dialogue or deliberation to someone who is brand new to it?”, “How can I attract media attention for my D&D efforts?” and “What strategies can I use to get a good representation of the public/community involved in my program?”

Our Thataway Forum will also be used to post announcements and to connect with others in your geographical or interest area. We welcome you to view and help seed the new Thataway Forum now.

Dialogue & Deliberation Across the Country

D&D Across the Country will be an online mechanism for gathering and displaying info about D&D projects after they occur. Since there is currently no record - online or off - of dialogue and deliberation projects and programs that have been held, we hope to provide a way for facilitators to easily share with their colleagues the what, when, how, who, why, so what and what now of their programs.

Learning Exchange: Building Collective Knowledge in and of our Field

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. We are also considering including a chart outlining current research efforts and interests.

Resources about D&D and the Arts

We hope to develop an arts resource section which includes info about how D&D can be strengthened by the arts - and vice versa (including links to other sites, descriptions of programs, contact info for artists doing this work, etc.).

Developing NCDD

Governance & Mission Group

This working group, led by Paul Alexander of Regis University’s Institute on the Common Good, is exploring and making decisions about NCDD’s governance procedures, mission, vision, values and long-range plan. The group will report to the NCDD Steering Committee, and will seek the input of NCDD members.

Expanding Diversity

This group, which formed at the October 2002 conference, is focused on improving the climate for the coalition and future conferences with regard to diversity and racism, exchanging information and discussing ways to address issues of diversity in dialogue more broadly, and exchanging stories, support and resources that promote personal and professional growth around this work.

Partnerships and Collaborative Projects

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 Café 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.

The September Project

On Saturday, September 11, 2004, people across the country will come together at public places like local libraries to discuss ideas that matter. Through dialogues, discussions, roundtables, and performances, people will share 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. As of July 2, nearly 100 libraries have signed up to participate in this exciting project. NCDD is supporting this project in a number of ways, and NCDD’s Convenor, Sandy Heierbacher, is serving on the September Project’s Advisory Board. Read more about the project or go to

Calling the Question

Calling the Question is a joint initiative of the Mainstream Media Project and the Harvard Global Negotiation Project. The Calling the Question 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 will be contributing to the development of Calling the Question's telephone training, and some will be actively involved as callers. Read More

PBS Deliberation Day

On October 16, up to 3000 Americans will have the opportunity to meet in communities around the nation for simultaneous Citizen Deliberations where they will reflect, discuss and deliberate on key issues facing the nation. This democratic dialogue will focus on what, not who, is at stake. A national PBS broadcast will complement the distinctly local Citizen Deliberations that will be 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, is collaborating with McNeil/Lehrer Productions’ By the People project, which has been fostering deliberative dialogue on America’s Role in the World for the past year or so. NCDD is helping Deliberation Day's convenors find trained facilitators in their area. Read More or go to

The “We the People” National Convention

We need to talk…only through conversation can we overcome division. When we overcome division and speak with one voice we become “We the People.” The Convention is set to take place September 26-29, 2004 in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln once said “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” It will bring together people from all 50 states to "ignite the unified voice of 'We the People'" through dialogue and deliberation.

NCDD's Convenor, Sandy Heierbacher, has been asked to be part of the Design Team for the Convention. The Design Team will meet in late July. Read More or go to

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 [email protected] or 781-893-3336 x24. Visit the Preview Forum website at

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.

A Network of Leaders in Collaborative Problem-Solving

Some of the members of the group that met at the October 2003 ACR Conference.

NCDD is working with a group of leaders in collaboration, mediation and similar fields to explore how we might be able to work together to foster increased and improved collaborative problem-solving in communities. The group initially met at the Association for Conflict Resolution Conference in Orlando, Florida this past October. The core group includes: me (Sandy), Linda Baron of the National Association for Community Mediation, Chris Carlson of the Policy Consensus Institute, Frank Dukes and Christine Gyovai at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation, Tom Dunne of Search for Common Ground, Sandy Hodge at the University of Missouri, Mary Orton at Mary Orton Company LLC, Bill Potapchuk at the Community Building Institute and Bill Schechter at the National Civic League. The group is keeping in touch via an NCDD-hosted discussion list.

The Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation

At the conclusion of the 2002 conference, Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) and other Canadian participants set their minds to undertaking a similar initiative in Canada. A coalition has since been formed to obtain funding for and organize this event, which will be modeled after the 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 dialogue practitioners, academics and researchers in Canada and beyond for a unique learning, networking and planning experience. NCDD will be helping CPRN and its partners in every way possible to make this exciting conference a success. The last we heard, C2D2 may happen in 2005.

MacNeil/Lehrer Productions - By the People: America’s Role in the World

NCDD is helping this project, which is run by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, to identify facilitators in cities where groups such as the Kiwanis and the League of Women Voters are interested in holding forums. NCDD will serve as a resource for those needing skilled facilitators and additional information about dialogue and deliberation.

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.

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.

Global Facilitator Service Corps

NCDD has agreed to help 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.

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.

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

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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