Several Orgs Featured for our Wednesday Webinar Roundup

Our wonderful NCDD sponsor org The Courageous Leadership Project has another one of their webinars happening in just a few hours that we encourage you to check out! This week’s list of upcoming D&D webinar events also includes NCDD member orgs Living Room Conversations, National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), and National Civic League, as well as, from the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).

NCDD’s online D&D event roundup is a weekly compilation of the upcoming events happening in the digital world related to dialogue, deliberation, civic tech, engagement work, and more! Do you have a webinar or other digital event coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know in the comments section below or by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!

Upcoming Online D&D Events: The Courageous Leadership Project, National Civic League, Living Room Conversations, IAP2, IAF

The Courageous Leadership Project webinar – Brave, Honest Conversations™

Wednesday, August 21st
9 am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern

Some conversations are hard to have. Fear and discomfort build in your body and you avoid and procrastinate or pretend everything is fine. Sometimes you rush in with urgency, wanting to smooth things over, fix them, and make them better. Sometimes you go to battle stations, positioning the conversation so you have a higher chance of being on the “winning” side. NONE OF THIS WORKS. Instead, it usually makes a hard conversation harder; more divided, polarized, and disconnected from others. The more people involved, the harder the conversation can be. I believe that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems we face in our world – together.

In this webinar, we will cover: What is a Brave, Honest Conversation™? Why have one? What can change because of a brave, honest conversation? How do you have one? What do you need to think about and do? How do you prepare yourself for a brave, honest conversation?


International Association of Facilitators webinar – Global Conversations

Two times available:

    • Wednesday, August 21st at 3 am Pacific, 6 am Eastern
    • Thursday, August 22nd at 11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern

Come and join the conversation and share your experiences with fellow facilitators from around the world. Using an innovative online platform you’ll be able to interact with colleagues and get to know them. Bring your preferred beverage to the conversation!


Living Room Conversations Training (free): The Nuts & Bolts of Living Room Conversations

Thursday, August 22nd
2 pm Pacific, 5 pm Eastern

Join us for 90 minutes online to learn about Living Room Conversations. We’ll cover what a Living Room Conversation is, why we have them, and everything you need to know to get started hosting and/or participating in Living Room Conversations. This training is not required for participating in our conversations – we simply offer it for people who want to learn more about the Living Room Conversations practice.

Space is limited so that we can offer a more interactive experience. Please only RSVP if you are 100% certain that you can attend. This training will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. A link to join the conversation will be sent to participants the day before the training.


International Association of Facilitators webinar – Becoming a CPF with the IAF

Thursday, August 22nd
3 pm Pacific, 6 pm Eastern

Making the decision to seek the IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) accreditation can be hard. Common questions people ask are What’s involved? How much time will it take? Will I meet the requirements? and What if I don’t pass? In response to strong interest from members, we will be exploring these questions at a webinar with hosts that have years of experience as professional facilitators and as IAF Assessors.

Online Living Room Conversation: Homelessness – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Q & A with Hosts!

Thursday, August 22nd
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

Homelessness in America is a problem that reminds us daily of our failure to be our best. How do we explain to children the presence of hungry, cold, neglected and often mentally ill men women and children on our streets in the midst of plenty? If we gather neighbors, business owners, health care workers, police, government officials, homeless people and their families in conversation might we build trust and begin to explore opportunities to do better? Conversations are admittedly only a starting point, but isn’t it time to start? Here is the conversation guide


August CGA Forum Series: How Can We Stop Mass Shootings in Our Communities?

Saturday, August 24th
3 pm Pacific, 6 pm Eastern

Please join us for a Common Ground for Action (CGA) online deliberative forum on Saturday August 24th @ 6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT on How Can We Stop Mass Shootings in Our Communities? We’ll discuss this issue by considering the actions and drawbacks for three options: (1) reduce the threat of mass shootings; (2) equip people to defend themselves; and (3) root out violence in society.


Online Living Room Conversation: Communicating with Care – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Q & A with Hosts!

Monday, August 26th
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

We may want to communicate with others in such a way that we gain knowledge and bridge divides, but those conversations don’t always come naturally. Most of us struggle to self-evaluate our communication skills and we might be unaware of words and actions that shut down healthy dialogue when discussing divisive issues. In this conversation, we will actively share and explore what works and what doesn’t, and we will reflect on ways that we can improve our interactions with others. Here is the conversation guide.


National Civic League AAC Promising Practices Webinar – Improving Health and Fitness through Inclusive Community Challenges

Wednesday, August 28th
11:30 am Pacific, 2:30 pm Eastern

Join the National Civic League to learn how two of our 2019 All-America Cities are using community recreation challenges to improve health & fitness. Battle Creek, MI will tell us about Operation Fit, which is a healthy community initiative of Bronson Battle Creek, the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Regional Health Alliance, and the Battle Creek Family YMCA. The goal of Operation Fit is to decrease childhood obesity in Calhoun County.


International Association of Facilitators webinar – Becoming a CPF with the IAF

Thursday, August 22nd
2:30 pm Pacific, 5:30 pm Eastern

Making the decision to seek the IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) accreditation can be hard. Common questions people ask are What’s involved? How much time will it take? Will I meet the requirements? and What if I don’t pass? In response to strong interest from members, we will be exploring these questions at a webinar with hosts that have years of experience as professional facilitators and as IAF Assessors.


Online Living Room Conversation: Peace Building – 90-Minute Conversation w/ Optional 30-Minute Q & A with Hosts!

Thursday, August 29th
4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern

The US has in many ways always been a divided society, but what is causing fierce political, social and ethnic divides in the United States today? Hate crimes and hate groups are increasingly visible, and political leaders are using ethnic identity, socio-economic identity — and an “us v. them” mentality — to create fear and increase polarization. This increase in tribalism and ethnic protection (including Republican vs. Democrat as core identities), reflect core grievances at the heart of what drives violent conflict in many countries all over the world. How did we get here and what are the peacebuilding solutions for a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? Here is the conversation guide.


Garret Hardin and the extreme right

Garret Hardin’s 1968 Science article entitled “The Tragedy of the Commons” has been cited more than 40,000 times. It is appropriately influential, since the problem he analyzed is pervasive and profound. The example of global warming could kill us all, as could the example with which he began his article: the nuclear arms race.

Hardin saw ubiquitous “tragedies,” situations defined by the “solemnity of the relentless working of things,” “the inevitableness of destiny,” and “the futility of escape” (quoting Alfred North Whitehead). That stance provoked Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues to identify solutions. In place of the tragedy of the commons, Ostrom observed a drama that may end as either a comedy or a tragedy, depending on how we act. I find her response to Hardin extraordinarily important.

Several recent articles have explored Hardin’s apparent connection to radical anti-immigration campaigns. These articles have been prompted by the El Paso murderer’s writings (which have environmentalist echoes) plus the recent death of John Tanton, the founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Tanton was inspired by Hardin, who served on the FAIR board. See, for example, Matto Mildenberger, “The Tragedy of the Tragedy of the Commons (subtitled: “The man who wrote one of environmentalism’s most-cited essays was a racist, eugenicist, nativist and Islamaphobe—plus his argument was wrong”) and Alexander C. Kaufman, “The El Paso Manifesto: Where Racism and Eco-Facism Meet.”

I don’t have extra insights into Hardin and have not directly evaluated the charges in these articles. But I have long wondered about the strange normative claims in the “Tragedy of the Commons” article.

For instance, at one point, Hardin considers whether a system of private property plus legal inheritance is just. He answers that it is not, because “legal possession should be perfectly correlated with biological inheritance–that those who are biologically more fit to be the custodians of property and power should legally inherit more.” Instead, in our system, “an idiot can inherit millions,” which we “must admit” is unjust, although it does help to prevent a tragedy of the commons by protecting property rights (p. 1247).

Hardin says that this conclusion about justice follows from his training as a biologist. But biology cannot demonstrate that the biologically fittest deserve the most property. Biology should not yield normative conclusions at all. From the perspective of science–the study of nature–there is no justice, not even a reason to prefer environmental sustainability over a tragedy of the commons.

One reason that some people try to derive ethics from biology is naturalism: they posit that there can be no truths about right and wrong, only truths about nature that science uncovers. Therefore, we should replace any ethical claims with scientific ones. In my view, this is misguided, but it isn’t necessarily pernicious; plenty of people who hold decent values are naturalists, in this sense of the word.

A different reason is some kind of enthusiasm for Darwinian nature, understood as a realm of power and selection-of-the-fittest, in contrast to our debased societies that coddle the weak. This is not naturalism but evil. Reading “The Tragedy of the Commons” many times, I always assumed that Hardin was a naturalist, but now I wonder if he was at least tinged by evil.

See also: Seeing Like a Citizen: The Contributions of Elinor Ostrom to “Civic Studies”; against inevitability; is all truth scientific truth?; and does naturalism make room for the humanities?.

The National Civic Review is Seeking Article Submissions!

The National Civic Review, an online quarterly published by the NCDD member organization the National Civic League, is looking for articles on community-based examples of civic engagement, public deliberation, co-production, and democratic innovation. Articles run between 1200 and 3000 words. Deadlines for submissions are:

  • Fall 2019 issue                 September 20, 2019.
  • Winter 2020 issue            December 15, 2019
  • Spring 2020 Issue             March 15, 2019

If you are looking to add your article to the Fall issue of NCR, please make sure you submit by the deadline on Friday, September 20th, which is a little over four weeks from now. Submissions should be emailed to the National Civic Review Editor, Mike McGrath, at Please also contact Mike is you have any questions in regard to this.

Some of the country’s leading doers and thinkers have contributed articles to this invaluable resource for elected officials, public managers, nonprofit leaders, grassroots activists, and public administration scholars seeking to make America’s communities more inclusive, participatory, innovative, and successful.

Friendly reminder that NCDD members receive the digital copy of the National Civic Review for free!  If you are an NCDD member, we highly encourage you to check out the most recent summer edition of the NCR on the National Civic League’s site here. Feel welcome to contact me at, if you have any trouble logging in with your special NCDD members’ entry code. If you are not an NCDD member yet and want to receive this prestigious journal for free (in addition to many other benefits!), please click here to learn more about joining the NCDD network, as well as, to sign up!

Attention Florida Civics Teachers: Provide Your Feedback on the Benchmarks and Textbooks!

Florida is, without a doubt, a trendsetter in civics education. Thanks in large part to the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Education Act passed almost a decade ago, civics has been a huge priority in this state, as the #CivXNow/iCivics video below illustrates:

This recent EdWeek piece builds on that:

The Sunshine state is often lauded for its cohesive push for civics education, thanks to a 2010 law bearing the name of the legendary Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The law required a new middle school course and an aligned test to measure civics knowledge that makes up nearly a third of each student’s grade in that subject. It covers four main prongs, including the origins and purposes of law and governments; citizens’ rights and responsibilities, the political process, and the organization and function of government.

The state remains one of the few to emphasize civics at the middle school level. In most states, formal civics education begins at high school. Whatever students get before that is taught within a generic social studies or history class—often in a nuts-and-bolts or overly sentimentalized, patriotic way.

In a sense, Florida’s traditional standards-and-assessment approach to civics owes something to the same reform movement that culminated in the federal No Child Left Behind Act—the test-heavy law that many civics experts now blame for reducing time spent on the subject. But there is some truth to the adage that what’s tested gets taught, and scores on the middle school test have risen on the exam across the state since its introduction in 2013-14, and just over 70 percent of students earn passing scores.

A lesser known factor in Florida’s work is the central role played by the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida. Although not formally part of the state’s K-12 education bureaucracy, the center has become the de facto clearinghouse for materials and teacher training for the course.

Even before the law had been signed, the institute was laying the groundwork. In 2009, it began developing model civics lessons for teachers. In 2010, the state legislature began appropriating funds to support those efforts, and in 2011, the state education department gave the institute a grant to run teacher professional development.

“I will tell you that building the kind of support system we have been for Florida is crucial to success,” said L. Doug Dobson, the Lou Frey Institute’s executive director. “Otherwise you just pass a law and clap your hands and say you’re done, and whatever happens, happens.”

Districts initially struggled to unlearn some of their former practices to cover the much more extensive content requirements: “The pacing was really a hurdle for us,” said Robert Brazofsky, the executive director for social sciences for Miami-Dade county. But now, the district has two staff members devoted to civics who provide in-school supports to teachers, and thanks to the testing data, they’ve been able to target schools with lower passing rates for extra help.

Now that the law is nearly a decade old, some in Florida are trying to get their arms around its impact. The Lou Frey Institute has worked with interested counties to informally survey students at the end of the middle school course on their civic beliefs and attitudes.

In Miami-Dade, Brazofsky said, most students surveyed agree with broad civic notions, like the importance of helping others in need, but there is still work to be done translating knowledge into lifelong behaviors and beliefs. For example, only about half of students surveyed said they thought it was OK for newspapers to publish freely without government approval.

“To really support and improve the civic attitudes of young people in my opinion, a test is a good thing to have, but it doesn’t always lead to the attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions you would want as an engaged citizen,” he said.

Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 807, which mandates a comprehensive review of the textbooks and the benchmarks for civics in the state. This process has now begun, and you are invited, as stakeholders in civic education, to contribute your feedback. This is a dual track process. The benchmarks are being reviewed simultaneously with the curricular materials, but the process uses two separate reviews within the EdCredible for your input. You are invited to review the benchmarks, the texts (provided online), or both. On 22 August, there will be a webinar to learn more about this review process. See the memo from FLDOE below for more details and for how to register for the webinar!

Public input is encouraged through the online EdCredible® platform accessible at EdCredible® provides all stakeholders with open access to participate in the review process. Stakeholders are required to open an account using their valid email address before providing input. The review will close on October 15, 2019.

To offer further insight into this opportunity, the department will offer a public webinar to discuss the review on August 22, 2019, at 4:00 pm EDT. This optional public webinar is
intended to provide background on the Civics instructional materials state adoption process and the history of the Civics EOC Assessment, including stakeholder involvement
in determining its content, development and setting of achievement level expectations.
Neither attending the live webinar nor viewing the recorded webinar are required in order for stakeholders to participate in the public review of the Civics instructional materials and EOC assessment test item specifications.

If you are interested in attending, please register for the webinar at After registering, a
confirmation email will be sent containing information about joining the webinar. A
recording of the webinar, as well as the presentation and a transcript, will be posted to for those who are unable to attend.
We encourage you to share this information with local stakeholders to help maximize the number of Floridians contributing to this critical process.

Contact Information:


I encourage you to join the process and make your voice heard!

Democracy at a Crossroads – Florida Success Story – 09_28_17 – FINAL

CIRCLE’s “growing voters” framework

CIRCLE has released its framework for “growing voters” (as an alternative to mobilizing people just in time to vote one way or the other in an election). This short slide deck is a summary; much more information is here.

New Report Published on Modernizing Congress

NCDDer Lorelei Kelly recently published a new report called, Modernizing Congress: Bringing Democracy into the 21st Century, which was developed in support with the Democracy Fund and the Beeck Center, an experiential hub at Georgetown University.

Here is an excerpt from the summary – “Modernizing Congress lays out a plan to accelerate this institutional progress. It scopes out the challenge of including civic voice in the legislative and deliberative process. It then identifies trusted local information intermediaries who could act as key components of a modern knowledge commons in Congress. You can read more in the post below and find the full report here.

Modernizing Congress: Bringing Democracy into the 21st Century

Congress represents a national cross section of civic voice. It is potentially the most diverse market for ideas in government and should be reaping the benefits of America’s creativity and knowledge. During our transition into the 21st century, this civic information asset — from lived experience to structured data — should fuel the digital infrastructure of a modern representative system. Yet Congress has thus far failed to tap this resource on behalf of its legislative and deliberative functions. 

Today’s Congress can’t compete on digital infrastructure or modern data methods with the executive branch, the media or the private sector. To be sure, information weaponization, antique technology and Congress’ stubborn refusal to fund itself has arrested its development of a digital infrastructure. Congress is knowledge incapacitated, physically disconnected and technologically obsolete. In this condition, it cannot fulfill its First Branch duties as laid out in Article I of the U.S. Constitution. 

Fortunately, changing the direction of Congress is now in sight. Before the end of January 2019, (1) the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act became law, (2) the House created a Select Committee on Modernization, and (3) Congress began to restore its internal science and technology capacity. 

Modernizing Congress lays out a plan to accelerate this institutional progress. It scopes out the challenge of including civic voice in the legislative and deliberative process. It then identifies trusted local information intermediaries who could act as key components of a modern knowledge commons in Congress. With three case studies, the report illustrates how members and staff are finding new ways to build connection and gather useful constituent input at the district level. The report explores an urban, rural and suburban district. It concludes that while individual members are leveraging technology to connect and use new forms of civic voice from constituents, what Congress needs most is a systemwide digital infrastructure and updated institutional standards for data collection.

You can the full Modernizing Congress report here.