Heartland’s Art of Convening Trainings: In-Residence Certification and Virtual TeleTraining

Convening is a leadership capacity that has the power to integrate and magnify the individual and collective, or group, team, whole organization, to enhance business and organizational performance, or individual relationships. How we gather, communicate and deliver the desired outcomes through our meetings is critical to the long-term vitality and success of our organizations and communities and the people within.

Using The Convening Wheel, Heartland‘s The Art of Convening Training is a practical map that anyone can navigate and activate as a core leadership competency. We travel the inner and outer path of the reflective leader, from getting to “The Heart of the Matter” to a “Commitment to Action” and all the territory in between.

Core TeleTraining Format – 30% off for NCDD members

Each Core TeleTraining Series of 7 two-hour sessions combines guided teaching of session themes with collaborative learning. The format, based on Heartland Inc.’s work with the Transformational Leaders Circles and various convening designs, utilizes ancient forms as well as modern systems for group effectiveness. All sessions are a blend of virtual group interaction and engagement. Between sessions participants continue learning via experiential exercises, individual reading and reflection, developing a Case Study and are supported by a custom online learning platform. Participants will receive ICF CCEUs – 15.75 hours.

Certification Training Format  – 30% off for NCDD members

The Certification Training combines a 3-1/2 day in-residency Retreat with a series of 5 guided cohort calls based on Heartland Inc.’s work with the Transformational Leaders Circles and various convening designs. The Training utilizes ancient forms as well as modern systems for group effectiveness. All calls are a blend of virtual group interaction and engagement. Between sessions participants continue learning via experiential exercises, individual reading and reflection, developing a Case Study presentation and are supported by a custom online learning platform. Once training is complete, participants will be certified in The Art of Convening and receive ICF CCEUs – 36.0 hours.

You will learn new practices and processes including:

  • Utilizing the Convening Wheel
  • Coaching Council Process
  • Stringing the Beads
  • Design Elements Checklist
  • Working with Transitions
  • Working with the Principles of Convening

Learn more at http://heartlandcircle.com/aoc-main.htm. Heartland offers a permanent 30% off discount for any Art of Convening Training to all NCDD Members. To receive this discount, use this code when registering: DSC-NCDD-30%

defending free speech in public schools

Frank LoMonte is Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center. His talk at this year’s National Conference on Citizenship really drew my attention to the lack of First Amendment rights in our schools.

Students should exercise freedom of speech, assembly, and the press* because: 1) that is how they can learn to use those rights in our democratic system; 2) they are human beings with intrinsic rights to express themselves; 3) the school represents the state and should behave like a limited government that respects rights; and 4) student journalists are well placed to uncover and discuss serious issues that society must understand. Especially considering that teachers have very limited rights of expression–and most professional education reporters have been laid off–student journalists represent essential sources of information pertinent to school reform.

Alas, under the Supreme Court’s Hazelwood decision (1988), students have limited rights to free speech in officially sanctioned student media. No one has unlimited rights: adults cannot threaten, libel, or harass. But student journalists have much more constrained constitutional rights—or so says the Supreme Court. Their work can be subject to prior censorship, and administrators have wide latitude to block it for educational reasons. This means that some students have what I regard as highly legitimate complaints about censorship that do not prevail in court.

That said, Hazelwood did not exile the First Amendment from schools. Administrators may censor, but they may not censor viewpoints. If, for instance, a high school newspaper takes an editorial position against a controversial school policy, that is protected—contrary to popular belief.

Hazelwood should be overturned, in my opinion. Failing that, LaMonte offers alternative strategies.

One is legislative. Hazelwood sets an inadequate minimum level of free speech in the nation’s schools. But states can set higher bars, declaring by statute or regulation that students have rights against prior censorship. Nine states have done so.

A second strategy involves changing administrators’ priorities. Apparently, many prospective assistant principals, principals, and superintendents take courses and training sessions that merely address the disadvantages of student expression. They are given examples of speech that caused headaches and are reminded that they have the right to censor it. Virtually no time is spent talking about the benefits of student expression. Even if some free speech is offensive or stupid, a climate of free expression is valuable for schools, just as it is for democracies writ large. See John Stewart Mill for arguments.

Finally, LoMonte has advice for student journalists. They play an important social role, and their rights are tenuous. Under those circumstances, they should steer away from frivolous and needlessly controversial speech. As LoMonte writes, “If you must do humor – and with only one newspaper a month, why waste that precious space? – then do outlandish humor that obviously mocks national celebrities, not cruel jokes about the appearance or character flaws of classmates or administrators.” In principle, I would defend the right of students to use their media for dumb purposes (and perhaps learn from the consequences). But they don’t really have that right under current US law. And regardless of their legal standing, the best advice is to keep their journalism serious, tough, and focused on issues. Then, if they end up in a battle with the superintendent over their expression, at least it is a battle worth winning.

*They should also exercise the remaining rights in the First Amendment–free exercise of religion and free worship–but those require somewhat different arguments.

The post defending free speech in public schools appeared first on Peter Levine.

New NIF Issue Guide: Who Protects Our Privacy?

Privacy_cover_blueOur partners at the National Issues Forum Institute have developed a new issue guide, this time in partnership with American Library Association, that we encourage you to find out more about.  The guide is called “Who Do I Trust to Protect My Privacy?”, and it is designed to help guide conversations about how our personal information should be protected and by whom.  In our digitized and tech-integrated world, we have to find a way to strike the right balance between information accessibility and personal privacy – this guide can help you engage participants in quality discussions on how we actually get there.

This excerpt from the introduction gets to the heart of what this newest guide is about:

In an era of social networks, online databases, and cloud computing, more and more individuals’ personal information is available online and elsewhere. The ease of communicating information in the digital age has changed the way we live, learn, work, and govern. But such instant access to information also presents new challenges to our personal privacy. We depend more and more on evolving technologies and social norms that encourage the disclosure of personal information. What are our expectations for privacy in the digital realm? Is it reasonable to expect that information by and about us remain private? Who do I trust to protect my privacy?

As with other NIF guides, three options for moving forward are laid out for further deliberation.  The guide challenges participants to deliberate and decide on which of the following entities should have the final responsibility for protecting our privacy:

  • Option 1: The Marketplace
  • Option 2: The Government
  • Option 3: Myself

For a deeper look at how we might weigh these options, check out the NIF’s full blog post about the guide by clicking here.

You can also find more issue materials, including moderator guides and questionnaires at this link.

Enjoy the guide, good luck as you move forward with deliberations on how to better protect our privacy!

The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings

Art Of Convening coverIn their book, The Art of Convening, authors Craig and Patricia Neal explore their “Art of Convening” engagement model and how it goes “beyond facilitating”. According to their book, convening creates an environment in which all voices are heard, profound exchanges take place, and transformative action results. The heart of this book is the Convening Wheel — a series of nine steps, or Aspects, that bring the practices and principles needed for authentic engagement together as a whole. The book provides exercises, stories, and questions to help you master both the inner and outer dimensions of this work — because, in convening, the state of the Convener is equally as important as the physical preparations. The book…

  • Details a powerful set of principles and practices for making any gathering productive, meaningful, and transformative
  • Draws on the authors’ decades of experience convening meetings in all kinds of settings
  • Offers practical wisdom on both the inner and outer aspects of convening

Convening works in any setting and can be adapted to virtually any group process. With this book you have all the tools you need to develop this essential life and leadership skill, one that will lead to improved outcomes in your organization, community, family, and relationships.

Some “back of the book” quotes…

“In this wise and thoughtful book, Craig and Patricia Neal help readers understand what’s needed to create the kind of authentic ‘meeting’ where true collective wisdom can emerge in group settings. They remind us that convening is an ancient art, one that can be critical to our capacity to survive and thrive in today’s challenged world.”
- Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, Co-Originators, The World Café

“Few people have refined the process of bringing people together as gracefully and elegantly as Craig and Patricia Neal. How we convene is much more than simple technique or facilitation; it is an expression of who we are and what kind of world we want to create. If their thinking and methodology were to become common practice, there would be more peace and connectedness and good will all around.”
- Peter Block, Author & Troublemaker

“These days we spend so much time working together in groups, doesn’t it make sense to learn how to do it better, smarter, deeper, and more authentically? If your answer, like mine, is “yes,” then like me you’ll love this book! It is both wise and worthwhile, profound and practical.”
- Alan M. Webber, co-founder, Fast Company magazine

As co-founders of Heartland Inc., Craig and Patricia Neal have led over 170 “Thought Leader Gatherings” with leaders from over 800 diverse organizations. Their new book shares their Art of Convening model — developed in these gatherings and refined over six years of intensive trainings.

Resource Link: www.heartlandcircle.com/aocbook.htm

This resource was submitted by Patricia Neal, co-founder of Heartland Inc., via the Add-a-Resource form.

Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogues (Featured D&D Story)

Today we’d like to feature another great example of dialogue and deliberation in action, the Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue project. This mini case study was submitted by Libby and Len Traubman via NCDD’s new Dialogue Storytelling Tool, which we recently launched to collect stories from our members about their work.

We know that there are plenty of other stories from our NCDD members out there that can teach key insights about working in dialogue, deliberation, and engagement. We want to hear them! Please add YOUR dialogue story today, and let us learn from you!

Title of Project: D&D stories logo Face-to-Face Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue: crossing oceans to help others engage

Since 1992 and during 254 meetings, our local handful of women and men — Muslims, Jews, and Christians — continue learning to listen and learn from one another while initiating hundreds of outreach activities across the nation and overseas to help other “adversaries” to successfully communicate and experience that “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.”

Initial incentive came from coexistence models of the 1980s in the Middle East and Africa. Neve Shalom ~ Wahat as-Salam (Oasis of Peace) is a village where Jewish and Palestinian Israeli families live and learn together. Koinonia, Southern Africa, founded by Reverend Nico Smith during apartheid years, gathered thousands of brave Blacks and White to share meals and stories, sometimes in public at risk to their lives. Both initiatives were honored together during the San Francisco 1989 Beyond War Award Ceremony. The word Koinonia means “belonging together” or “communion by intimate participation”.

From 2003-2007, the Dialogue group partnered with Camp Tawonga over five years to bring hundreds of adults and youth from 50 different towns in Palestine and Israel to successfully live and communicate together at the Palestinian-Jewish Family Peacemakers Camp — Oseh Shalom – Sanea al-Salam.

Since 2007, six how-to documentary films have been created. The most useful has been the 2012 Dialogue in Nigeria: Muslims & Christians Creating Their Future. The films all stream freely online, and over 13,000 DVDs have been requested from from all continents and every U.S. state including citizens from 2,594 institutions, 2,601 cities, in 82 nations.

Which dialogue and deliberation approaches did you use or borrow heavily from?

  • Sustained Dialogue
  • Compassionate Listening
  • Bohm Dialogue

What was your role in the project?
We co-founded and hosted the first 1992 gatherings in our home. With monthly 2-1/2 hour meetings now rotating among different participants’ homes, we continue to shepherd both the original San Mateo group (254 meetings) and the San Francisco gatherings (172 meetings).

What issues did the project primarily address?

  • Interfaith conflict
  • Race and racism
  • Education
  • Human rights

Lessons Learned
1. Time, Dedication, and Patience are required for successful Sustained Dialogue, trust, learning to listen, relationship-healing, and collective cooperation and creativity.

2. Beginning a Dialogue — finding paticipants and convening the first meeting — requires inordinate totality, time, and persistence.

3. Sustaining an ongoing group also requires a person or core team with a vision and “religious” dedication to the people.

Where to learn more about the project:
FILM — 20 Years of Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue (1992-2012)

Several hundred outreach activities

Six of the Dialogue’s how-to documentary films


e-Deliberation™ is a web-based platform used by teams and communities to collaboratively deliberate to resolve a focus, which can be a complex problems or a goal. The teams include a rich variety of stakeholder perspectives (between 15 and 80 participants) who all contribute to define a consent-based, strategy to address the said focus. The strategy develops as several complementary vectors which are integrated and harmonized as part of the process. e-Deliberation™ can be used for face to face summits as well as entirely web-based collaborations. e-Deliberation is based on Stafford Beer’s Team Syntegrity process.

e-Deliberation events or summits have defined start and finish dates/times, and follow the e-Deliberation process. All this is facilitated by a full-featured web-based user interface that supports each phase of the process. This interface can be used to support a conference where people are present in person, or it can be the virtual town hall meeting place for an entirely online event.

The e-Deliberation process starts with a named focus such as “What would it take to….” (resolve a difficult issue, achieve a goal, or manifest a vision). The proponent provides an initial Focus and description and lists stakeholder groups who ought to be concerned with or affected by the focus. The event can be private (participants are invited) or public (participants can also sign-up). A project manager/facilitator ensures all stakeholder groups are represented and sets a schedule for the phases of the e-Deliberation process based on how many hours per day participants can commit to the process (ranges from full-time to 1 hours/day). Signed up participants can offer suggestions to improve the wording of the Focus and the event description, as well as upload briefing documents and presentations.

The first phase of the e-Deliberation process is called Perspectives. In this phase, the participants do an unrestricted brainstorm of ideas that have to do with the e‑Deliberation Focus question or issue as seen through the lens of each participant. These ideas will reflect the various perspectives of the participating stakeholders, creating a universe of ideas from which the next step will draw inspiration.

The next phase is called Topic Jostle. Here, participants are asked to submit topic proposals for further deliberation. These topics are proposals that would inform or resolve the e-Deliberation Focus question or issue. Here we encourage “outside the box” thinking and provocative, creative thinking, so new avenues of thought and possibility are explored.

Once a topic is endorsed by at least 5 participants, it is included in the potential agenda of the e-Deliberation. Topics that are ill-conceived tend not to get endorsed or be replaced by better idea; this is a normal part of the creative process. Similar topics may get consolidated. The Perspectives brainstorm (previous step) is used to inspire these topics, as well as to validate that we have topics that talk to or advance the essential parts of that universe of ideas.

Participants are then individually polled to rate each of the topics that got 5+ endorsements based on how important they see that topic is with regard to resolving the event Focus. The topics that aggregate the highest importance score are conserved – how many depends on the number of participants (12 topics for 30 participants, 8 for 20, etc.) The participants are then polled to indicate on which of the conserved topics they would like to personally work on. This drives the assignment of the participants to teams formed around each topic. Each participant is a deliberative member of 2 of these teams, and a facilitator/guardian of up to 2 others. The formation of the team membership ensures that each team has direct access to all the other teams via the co-memberships of it’s team members.

The next phase are the Waves of Deliberation. Each Topic Team is tasked to deliver a document, called an Outcome Resolve, which puts forward proposals to the rest of the event participants on how the Team’s Topic can be put forward in support of Focus statement.

The mandate of each Topic Team is to ensure that their Outcome Resolve is consistent with the Outcome Resolves of the other Topic Teams, and that it has the support of all the participants of the e-Deliberation event. This means that while each participant is accountable to him/herself to speak their mind and be true to their values, they are also accountable to the deliberative community as a whole to help it deliver a wholesome and fully consented resolution to the Focus issue.

To achieve this integrated result, the process includes up to three Waves. In each wave, each team deliberates and drafts an Outcome Resolve document for their Topic. The deliberation is supported by a number of tools such as interactive team mind maps, threaded discussion forums, conference calls, Skype, even meeting face to face is an option if all the members of the Topic Team are collocated. The Outcome Resolve is edited online and is version controlled.

At the end of the first wave, each participant reviews the Outcome Resolves drafted by the various Topic Teams. The participant is asked to consent to the Outcome Resolve, or to object to it by providing an argued objection. Each Topic Team therefore gets feedback from all the Participants to understand gaps, blind spots and where others are coming from, as input to the next wave of deliberation.

This feedback also gives the Team guidance on how well their Outcome Resolve “fits” in the big picture and they also understand where the other teams are going with regard to their own respective Outcome Resolves.

This feedback, quantitative and qualitative, becomes an input to each Topic Team as it enters the second wave, which then proceeds the same way as the first wave, with a second draft of the Outcome Resolve and a feedback poll. A third wave follows the second, especially is during the second wave, several participants still had objections.

The goal ultimately is that the Outcome Resolve will win the consent of the whole e-Deliberation team and that it also dovetails with the Outcome Resolves of the other teams.

The last Outcome Resolve from each team is again polled to validate that it meets the approval of the whole team, and to allow a final round of adjustments to obtain the consent of everyone on the final version. An Executive Summary report is compiled which included all the deliverables from each of the process phases.

Not all the phases of the process are needed for every situation. Sub-sets of the process, called Variants, can be used for simpler situations.

The entire process is facilitated by a dynamic user interface that self-adjusts given the then current phase of the process. The website includes a number of automated workflows that simplify the job of facilitating the process: process phase changes execute according to the event schedule, and participants get emails to wrap up their work on the current phase as the next one is introduced. Summary as well as detailed “how to” instructions are provided for each phase so each participant always knows what is expected of him or her.

The e-Deliberation platform is entirely encrypted and hosted in a high security Canadian data center.

Resource Link: www.e-deliberation.com

This resource was submitted by Jean-Daniel Cusin, Managing Director of e-Deliberation Inc., via the Add-a-Resource form.

A Welcome Focus on Latin American Commons

The Journal of Latin American Geography has dedicated an entire issue (vol. 12, no. 1) to surveying the state of commons on that continent. The special issue (in English) consists of nine essays, the first of which provides a helpful overview of the state of Latin American commons and commons research. (A listing of abstracts here.)  This academic treatment gives some welcome visibility and depth to the study of the commons in that vast region of the world, much of which is besieged by aggressive neoliberal policies that seek to extract vast natural resources in the name of "development." 

The Journal focuses on a range of commons-related themes in various countries, including the effect of rural out-migration from Mexico on commons there; new efforts in Costa Rica to treat biodiversity as a commons; the struggle of indigenous peoples in Brazil to secure tenure rights to their communal resources; and use of commons by marginalized people in Argentina to manage wild guanacos, a large, llama-like ungulate valued for their meat, skins and fibers.

The overview essay on current trends in Latin American commons research, by James Robson and Gabriela Lichtenstein, shines a light on the development agenda of oil and mining industries while noting the many legal and political changes that have reinstated communal property regimes.  Many countries, such as Brazil, Honduras, Venezuela and Nicaragua, have formally recognized the communal rights of indigenous communities to their traditional territories.  Overall, there is a “upturn in communal land tenure over time,” write Robson and Lichtenstein. 

read more

Poverty & Wealth in America: the National Dialogue Network begins coordinated conversations

This post was submitted by John Spady of the National Dialogue Network via our Submit-to-Blog Form. Do you have field news you want to share with the rest of us? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!

NDN logoNCDD member John Spady, who received our 2012 Catalyst Award for Civic Infrastructure, has announced that the National Dialogue Network achieved a major milestone on September 18 when it released its public Conversation Kit on the topic of Poverty & Wealth in America for voluntary and coordinated national conversations. To remember why NDN decided on this issue, check out their their May update here.

Groups and individuals are now invited to join the effort.  Click the “Get Involved” button on the NDN home page and take an action on the topic. An important first action is to simply download the Conversation Kit, then ask your friends, family, neighbors, or community to join in and inform the national dialogue.

The National Dialogue Network coordinates distinct individual and community conversations — giving everyone a “sense of place” and voice within the larger national dialogue. NDN’s dedicated volunteer’s seek to revitalize and promote civic infrastructures within communities where all who choose to participate will impact the national conversation by:

  • Focusing intently on an issue over time with others;
  • Listening to the opinions and ideas being discussed in your community and across the United States; and
  • Speaking up about your own opinions and ideas in conversations with your family, friends & community.

Jim Wallis, President and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners Magazine, appeared prescient about the NDN topic when he wrote in the March-April 1999 issue:

“The growing economic inequality of American life presents the most crucial moral issue for the health of democracy, according to historian James MacGregor Burns. It’s an issue that affects almost every other issue, from campaign finance to corporate welfare to the daily priorities of the U.S. Congress. The widening gap between the top and bottom of American society is now the 900-pound gorilla lurking in the background of every political discussion. It’s just sitting there, but nobody is talking about it. It’s time we started talking about it. Our moral integrity demands it.  And the common good requires it.”

The NDN is appealing to participants and the general public to raise at least another $10,000 for 2014 so they can continue to develop processes and content for another year of national dialogue. Any amounts raised over $15,000 will be used to develop more professional content, coordination, and promotional grants. Donations can be made online at www.GoFundMe.com/NatDialogue.

Finally, the NDN is grateful to the people who volunteered their hearts and hands to make this project happen. Their collaborations are exactly what NCDD intended when it promoted the Catalyst Awards and NDN acknowledges and memorializes their contributions below:

2013 NDN Conversation Guide Volunteers:
Mary Dumas, John Spady, John Perkins, Dyck Dewid, Colin Gallagher, Craig Paterson, and Fedor Ovchinnikov.

2013 NDN Working Group Members:
John Spady, Mary Dumas, Colin Gallagher, Ben Roberts, Craig Paterson, Roshan Bliss, Vanessa Roebuck, John Perkins, Dyck Dewid, Fedor Ovchinnikov, Mark Frischmuth, and Michael Briand.

2013 NDN Advisory Group Members:
Linda Blong, Stephen Buckley, Daniel Clark, Lisa Heft, Peggy Holman, Don LaCombe, Stephanie Nestlerode, Steve Strachan, Sarah Thomson, Faith Trimble, and Rosa Zubizarreta.

will the creepy anti-Obamacare ads work?

(Morven Park, VA) Generation Opportunity is running ads in which an evil clown-like figure dressed as Uncle Sam pops up in the gynecologist’s office and other intimate places. This is part of their campaign to persuade young people not to sign up for Obamacare. NPR’s Don Gonyea asked me whether these  ads would be persuasive. My response found its way into his All Things Considered segment: “One analyst says humorous ads, creepy or not, tend to work only on people who already agree with the message.” I was anonymous on the air, but Gonyea’s blog post names me and provides a bit more detail. I answered on the basis of our randomized experiment using Flackcheck’s humorous videos and other research summarized here. Humor captures attention and provokes strong emotions, but political polarization limits its persuasiveness. In this case, people who hate Obamacare will find the Generation Opportunity ads funny. People who like Obamacare will be deeply offended. And people who are not following the debate will be mystified–not amused and not moved toward any particular conclusion.

The post will the creepy anti-Obamacare ads work? appeared first on Peter Levine.