We Are All Catalysts: Part One – How We Can Amplify and Broaden Dialogue and Deliberation Work

“After all, the ordinary hero hiding in each of us is often the most powerful catalyst for change.” ~ Tate Taylor

We all have a spark within and we choose every day how we will or will not use our spark. In our NCDD community, we spark conversations–dialogues that change hearts and minds and steadily change the world. Our sparks can be small or big, but we must work intentionally to ensure that the sparks catch fire. What do I mean by this? I mean that it is up to us, as those working firsthand in the creations of spaces for dialogue and deliberation, that we do not work in isolation. Like the catalysts in science, we must interact with others to create the chemistry worth having in our world.

The upcoming 2018 NCDD conference in Denver seeks to “catalyze the catalysts” by asking how we can work together to broaden the use and amplify the impacts of dialogue and deliberation efforts locally and globally. We live in an interconnected world, but it is very easy in our everyday lives to cling to the familiar and agreeable. This includes the media we consume, company we keep, and in our own work. It is up to us to share our work in ways that amplify the benefits and accessibility of both dialogue and deliberation. This means we need to intentionally step up our efforts and in doing so, step out of our comfort zones to facilitate the connections we need most–such as those across ideological divides poisoning our discourse. As Jonathan Haidt shares in his book The Righteous Mind, “When I was a teenager I wished for world peace, but now I yearn for a world in which competing ideologies are kept in balance.”

We see incredible work by D&D innovators every day that are answering this call to bring together our communities in innovative ways that heal and strengthen our relationships. Here are just a few examples (among many) from some of our conference presenters…

Libraries Transforming Communities is a joint effort by the American Libraries Association and NCDD. The initiative is founded on the strengths of the library as a trusted public community space and a place ideal for D&D work and is intended for use by libraries around the world to facilitate healing and idea generation via D&D.

The Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University has the mission of enhancing the local civic culture through increased participation and know-how of how deliberation works. Through elevating conversation via civics education, the center celebrates how crowds conversing (rather than arguing) can create better ideas for the whole community. They also recently won a Civvys Award for Local Winner!

The David Mathews Center for Civic Life based in Alabama believes in public forums and have locals define the issues and come together to solve them. The center provides education, services in moderation, and setting up community engagement events.

Make America Dinner Again empowers everyone to act locally with dinners of 8 and 2 moderators that discuss tough issues with an emphasis on respectful conversation and delicious food.

We hope these examples evoke excitement for the D&D community (and for the upcoming conference)! In true NCDD form, we want to engage this community of innovators in discussing how we build capacity for D&D in more communities and design action steps to make this happen moving forward. How have you succeeded in building capacity for engagement in the communities you serve? What do you think the next innovations might look like for dialogue, deliberation, and engagement? What do we need to discuss and think about together as a field, in order to succeed in broadening the use of D&D?

We hope readers will share below their own stories of successes, ideas for new innovations, and even the challenges that we need to tackle collectively in order to achieve this goal of bringing dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement to more communities. Share your thoughts below and engage with others’ responses. NCDD’s staff will be sharing your input at the conference to help us jumpstart further conversations and collaborations we hope will help us all take our work to the next level. You can still join us at #NCDD2018 – get your tickets today!

Stay tuned for the follow-up post, “We Are All Catalysts: Part 2”, where we will shift from examples to best practices to help everyone begin or continue to strengthen and amplify their dialogue and deliberation initiatives!

Oh the Places You’ll Go & People You’ll Meet at NCDD2018!

A Quick Guide to Networking at the NCDD Conference that will set you on a course for successful partnerships.

What happens when you bring together a few hundred innovators in dialogue and deliberation and give them dedicated spaces to spark conversations and partnerships? MAGIC.

Every two years, NCDD does just that. This November, our three-day conference will convene at the Sheraton Denver Downtown and include 400+ attendees from around the globe. Fellow humans passionate about public engagement ready to connect and create friendships and partnerships that will last years into the future.

NCDD’s planning team has been hard at work to ensure an environment that facilitates idea generation and times and places to find your D&D tribe.

Here’s what you need to know:

Start early! Be sure to download and use the interactive conference guide brought to us by Konveio. This will allow you to browse the events, learn more about the networking opportunities, and many of the great attendees presenting and speaking at the conference.  To learn more about how to use the guide attend the Tech Tuesday on October 23rd!

Want to get a jump start on meeting fellow NCDD attendees and don’t want to wait until Friday morning? Then make sure you check out the six pre-conference sessions being offered on Thursday, November 1st! We have limited space for available for each of the sessions, so register ASAP to reserve your seat.

Dinner Time!  Saturday night is “on your own” but what we really mean is “with new NCDD friends”. First, meet up at the hotel bar (Mix16 Lounge) and then pick a place to wander to and get into the full conference spirit by connecting over food and drink at any one of Denver’s delicious eateries.

Use the On-Site Networking Board! Those returning will fondly remember our extra-large NCDD bulletin board made to suit all of your conference networking needs. We’ll have those great networking cards that will help you post your interests and propose opportunities to connect with others.

Do not miss the plenaries! Our opening plenary will feature “lightning talks” by civic innovators to spark inspiration and will include a networking activity to assist every attendee with identifying goals for the conference and beyond. On Saturday and Sunday, we will be focusing the plenaries almost exclusively on connecting, by using Open Space and Pro Action Cafe, respectively, for folks to propose the topics and ideas they most want to connect with others about!

Places for YOU! For when you want to meet outside of our scheduled sessions, there are four rooms and a foyer available on a first-come basis. Just look for Plaza Court rooms #2, #3, #4 and #5 for more privacy and swing around to the Plaza Exhibit Foyer for more casual seating space for discussions.

We also thought it might be helpful to create a space to connect before the conference. Please use the comment section below to start finding who you want to connect with in Denver this November! Propose a meet-up over lunch, dinner, or in between, and start finding folks to join you! We’ll keep sharing and pointing people to this post up until the conference kick-off.

We hope you are as revved up as we are about NCDD 2018!