Join us in #WeavingCommunity during crisis

NCDD is partnering once again with numerous organizations in our field to encourage a national conversation – this time around the importance of weaving community during times of crisis. We hope you can take part!

The National Conversation Project is a coalition of partner organizations inviting Americans into online conversations and mutual support to weave a stronger community even now–especially now. Together, we’re promoting conversations and community amidst fear and isolation. We seek to serve our neighbors and nation in a moment of acute social crisis.

This pandemic can drive us apart or it can drive us together. Americans often rise to common challenges like this with kindness, love, mutual support, and shared responsibility to endure together. We need community now more than ever. Although our nation’s social fabric is badly frayed by distance and division, together we can weave a strong social fabric and emerge healthy and united.

Though we may avoid gathering in person, we can support each other in many ways online, via phone, and through acts of kindness for neighbors. By #WeavingCommunity now, we will be a stronger, more genuinely connected society on the other side of the pandemic.

We invite you to…

  1. Check out the Weaving2020 website now.
  2. Use the hashtag #WeavingCommunity whenever you invite people to your own online conversations or talk about your work.
  3. Host a video or phone conversation, spark a social media or text conversation, or do an act of kindness for a neighbor.
  4. Become a partner by contacting

Check back at, where we’ll soon be adding lots of resources for online dialogue, dialogues you and others can participate in, and more.

NCDD issues statement in response to Election Day

NCDD is issuing a press release in light of our recent national conference being followed quickly by our country’s divisive election. We are sharing this press release with our media contacts, and we ask NCDD members and NCDD 2018 attendees to share this with your networks.

It’s a brief statement about the conference, its 450+ attendees, and the fact that there are thousands of people and groups across the country who are bringing people together across divides, even during this volatile election period.


Nov. 13, 2018

CONTACT: Courtney Breese, 707-241-7640,

Re: National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation issues statement in response to Election Day

Hope for our Democracy

With so many Americans worried about the state of our democracy and with hate crimes on the rise, we want to convey the hope that over 450 dialogue and deliberation practitioners just experienced coming together in Denver for their biennial conference.

Dialogue and deliberation are powerful communication tools that help people who disagree on political and social issues to build understanding of each other’s perspectives, discover shared values, and move forward on issues like immigration, violence in our communities, and education reform.

With dialogue and deliberation happening across every political and religious sector throughout our 50 states, and with 35,000+ practitioners and supporters across the country, we have the tools to enhance our democracy, to deepen conversations, to include voices often not heard, and to connect across differences often leading to new solutions to intractable problems. We work in government, higher education, the private and non-profit sectors, faith communities, public schools and more. We have the tools to come together as a country.

Members of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation who met in Denver just before our divisive election are doing amazing work across the country…

  • The Village Square has brought thousands of people together every year – in the hometowns where we live and across the deepest divisions in our society – for more than a dozen years.
  • Over 1,000 Civic Dinners have happened across the world, bringing diverse voices together for conversations that matter and influencing policy change in cities from Atlanta to Auckland.
  • The Interactivity Foundation is convening hundreds of Chicago residents to discuss voter concerns and contribute to a voters’ guide to candidates in partnership with Ballotpedia in advance of the February 2019 Chicago municipal elections.
  • Through Libraries Transforming Communities, the American Library Association has trained over 1,000 library workers on how to lead dialogues in the diverse communities they serve, strengthening their role as core community leaders and change-agents.
  • Make America Dinner Again brings together people of contrasting political perspectives to build understanding. Through guided activities and respectful conversation, citizens with differing viewpoints aim not to change one another, but to grow by sharing their stories and learning from one another.

Many more stories and examples of our work can be found at If you wish to learn more about doing this type of work in your community or spreading stories about this work, contact us at  And for more details about the conference, check out our conference overview post at

About the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation

The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) is a network of innovators who bring people together across divides to discuss, decide, and take action together effectively on today’s toughest issues. NCDD serves as a gathering place, a resource center, a news source, and a facilitative leader for this vital community of practice. is a clearinghouse for thousands of resources and best practices, and our highly participatory national and regional conferences have brought together more than 3,000 practitioners, community leaders, public administrators, researchers, activists, teachers and students since 2002.

Join Us at the Boston Public Library for April 24th Dialogues

For those of you in and around Boston, consider joining us next Tuesday (April 24th) for seven dialogue events at the Boston Public Library as part of the National Week of Conversation.

NCDD has been working with the Boston Public Library and Big Tent Nation to offer these dialogues supported by highly skilled facilitators, and we encourage you to attend or to just help spread the word!

All dialogues will take place in BPL’s beautiful Central Library in Copley Square at 700 Boylston Street in Boston.

Here’s the rundown for next Tuesday…

3:00 – 4:30 pm

a Conversation Cafe facilitated by Paul Weisman and Michele Simos of SMART Conversations (Register here)

Bridging Divides
a World Cafe facilitated by Kirsten Olson of Old Sow Coaching and Consulting (Register here)

Sexual Assault & Power Relationships
a Conversation Cafe facilitated by Heang Ly, Director of Consulting and Training at (Register here)

5:00 – 6:30 pm

Race and Ethnicity
a Living Room Conversation facilitated by Vicky Peterson of CollabAction (Register here)

Guns and Responsibility
a Living Room Conversation led by professional facilitator Hilary Marcus (Register here)

7:00 – 8:30 pm

Safety and Justice
a National Issues Forum led by Mette Kreutzmann and Sara Cohen of the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC) (Register here)

Bridging Divides
a Living Room Conversation led by professional facilitator Claudia Lach (Register here)

Get Involved in the National Week of Conversation

We’re excited announce the upcoming National Week of Conversation (NWOC), which is taking place this April 20-28.

The National Week of Conversation is designed to:

  • Turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division
  • Begin mending the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides
  • Bring people together again–from ‘us vs. them’ to ‘me and you’
  • Build relationships by listening first to understand the other

NCDD took part in the initial planning meeting for this project last October, which was convened by the Bridge Alliance and sponsored by the Chicago Community Trust, and we’re excited to continue supporting it and hopefully mobilize many in our community to get involved!

Organizations coast to coast can host an event or activity, share NWOC with their members, build public awareness through press and social media, recruit others and more. You do not want to miss out on this landmark event, for America and for the growth of this movement — so please complete the Partner Sign-up Form today!

Here are a few things that are ALREADY in the works for NWOC:

  • April 20: The Village Square will be hosting Jefferson Dinners in Charlottesville, VA at which diverse groups will enjoy enriching conversation on topics of their choice.
  • April 21: Listen First Project will be hosting Listen First in Charlottesville to support the progress of healing and reconciliation in Charlottesville with a number of local and national influencers.
  • April 20-22: bridgeUSA and Future 500 will be co-hosting the Bridge Summit in Dallas, Texas that will bring together groups and people to advance a national movement.
  • Throughout the week, large libraries such as the Boston Public Library and Kansas City Public Library as well as small public libraries and schools will bring conversation programs to people across the country.

NCDD will work with our members offer in-person facilitation at some libraries.
Mismatch will assist online conversations between people with different backgrounds.
There will be “take-home” options such as Living Room Conversations and Civic Dinners from the library events.
– AllSides for Schools will help teachers and classrooms participate.

Email NWOC@BridgeAlliance.US with any questions you may have.

Pocket Guide to Hosting Zine

Story Artist Mary Alice Arthur and graphic facilitator Viola Clark collaborated in 2016 to create the first in their Zine series – a POCKET GUIDE TO HOSTING. One side features the Art of Hosting practices, the other side features the AoH methods.  Here is a little snapshot of a couple of pages of the zine. (A zine is a self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier.)

Art of Hosting will be using the Zine in the upcoming trainings in Innsbruck, Austria and Denmark.

Next in the series will be Harvesting.

Mary Alice advises: “It is set up as an A4 (if you are not on the A4 system, shrink to fit the space) — follow the instructions for folding (and unleash your inner creative geek!).”

Resource Link:

Rich Discussion on NCDD Listserv about Charlottesville

We’ve been having a rich, active conversation on the main NCDD Discussion list since the tragedy in Charlottesville took place a few weeks ago.  One of our members, Lucas Cioffi, a resident of Charlottesville, queried listserve subscribers about what next steps might be possible for the city, and the conversation expanded and deepened from there.

Archives of the NCDD Discussion list (going all the way back to 2006!) are available online, and we encourage you to check them out and subscribe to the list to be part of future such discussions.

One message I wanted to lift up in particular was sent in by Joseph McIntyre, Principle Facilitator of Ag Innovations and Founding Member of the Academy for Systemic Change. In it, he uses a disaster metaphor to outline four steps communities can take to heal from traumatic events, and how dialogue and deliberation fit into those steps.

Dear Lucas and my Fellow NCDD’rs—

One of the things I love about NCDD is how we as a community can rally to offer friendship and experience at key moments like this. Already some wonderful suggestions have come forward.

It might be helpful to use a disaster metaphor when thinking about how a community responds and heals from a traumatic event such as what happened in Charlottesville. In that metaphor—

1) Step one: triage. This is about providing support and succor to those most impacted by the events. The families of those who lost their lives, people close to the front line of the violence, anyone who feels emotionally scarred from the experience. The goal of triage is individual healing. Since we work in communal space, the focus of our offerings are about honoring the experiences of those who are impacted. We construct venues where we can listen to each other deeply, experience the pain of the moment, and begin to put ourselves back together. This is definitely not about finding solutions and it is not a moment to do conflict resolution, mediation, or bringing opposing views together.

2) Step two: understanding. This is about developing a much more sophisticated understanding of the events—what drives extremists, what drives counter-protests. What the context is. This is what Scharmer et al describe as descending the U. There are a number of methods to do this and I think each of us uses those methods we are most comfortable with. What matters more is our intention. Here the intention is clearly on understanding what happened from a systems, historical, social, political, racial (and on…) perspective. Here we construct venues where the community can think together…

3) Step three: bridging. This is about exploring where there may be opportunities to build bridges between those willing to see from the whole. One of the most painful lessons I have learned as a facilitator is that one can find middle ground only between those willing to move from their entrenched positions. The challenge of our time is that we are being encouraged to dig in and not move. This renders many of our best tools impotent because they are premised on an inherent drive to wholeness. Some of the best work in the world around building these bridges, particularly when the parties have a history of violence and animosity is from Adam Kahane—his latest book Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust is very helpful. Still we can do bridging and here we construct venues where the community can aspire together.

4) Step four: building. This is about making decisions together about how we want to act and be together. It is the last step (although we all too often want to skip ahead and make it the first). It comes after we have healed, have created shared understanding, attempted to build bridges, and is entirely about tapping community wisdom and values. The venues we construct here are about the future we are trying to create. This is Future Search, vision quests, wisdom circles, and deep dialogue.

I am of the belief that we have a historic opportunity to put hate back in its proper box. Democracy can not run on hate. Dialogue can not run on hate. But again as Adam Kahane writes in Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change, we have to create venues where we as a community can learn to balance the impulse to love and to power. Neither alone is sufficient.


Field Trip Option for NCDD 2016 – Youth PB Idea Collection

As if there wasn’t already enough to be excited about for this week’s NCDD 2016 conference, we wanted to make sure everyone knows about a great opportunity to take an experiential field trip during the gathering!

Field Trip: Participate in Boston’s Youth Lead the Change PB Process

NCDD participants will have an opportunity to not only learn about participatory budgeting (PB) but to participate in the historic Boston youth PB process. In 2014, Boston became the first city in the country to implement a citywide PB process focused on youth. The Youth Lead the Change program allows young people to directly decide how $1 million dollars of the city’s capital budget is spent every year.

Participants in this field trip will have the rare opportunity to join one of the official idea collection sessions in the Youth Lead the Change PB process – an event where youth PB participants get together to start formulating the ideas that will eventually become proposals to be voted on for how to spend this year’s $1M in PB funds. You can learn more about what the Boston youth PB experience is like for the young people in this write up from a youth participant.

By joining this field trip, you’ll have a chance to get an overview of PB, suggest ideas to make Boston better, and see one of the best PB process in the country live and in action. It’s an incredible opportunity! Then after the idea collection event is over, we’ll take some time to debrief and reflect together over dinner and drinks downtown.

The field trip will be co-hosted by Francesco Tena, the Manager of Boston’s Mayor’s Youth Council, and Shari Davis, Boston’s former Department of Youth Engagement and Employment Executive Director. Francesco and Shari have been involved in Boston’s youth PB process for years, and will be your expert guides and hosts for this unique experience.

We have space for 30 people in the bus, but the trip is filling up, so reserve your spot soon! Email our Logistics Manager Rob Laurent at to claim your spot, and plan to bring a check for $35 or cash with you to cover your portion of the bus costs. The bus will leave at 4pm return to the conference hotel at around 10pm.

Haven’t registered for the 2016 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation? It’s not too late, but you have to register ASAP!

NCDD’s Leadership is Evolving!

Hi, everyone! With our national conference in Boston just days away, I am excited to announce some important changes that are happening within NCDD.

Our conference is taking place just weeks before one of the most polarizing elections our country has ever experienced, and our intention is to lift up the many untold and under-told stories about how members of this community have bridged the divides that seem insurmountable to so many right now. No matter the outcome of the election, our community will be needed more than ever — and NCDD will be here to help keep this community connected, informed, and equipped.


Courtney Breese (left) and Sandy Heierbacher

In order to best serve our members and our own needs, and to meet these emerging opportunities and challenges, we are shifting to a new leadership model. Program Director Courtney Breese is stepping up to Managing Director, and will be taking over our day-to-day operations. I will become Founding Director which will free me up to focus more on what I truly love — supporting and nurturing our network.

This shift in NCDD’s leadership is part of a broader evolution that the organization is experiencing. Four of our current Board members — Barbara Simonetti, Marla Crockett, John Backman and Diane Miller — are nearing the end of their terms, and we are about to welcome some wonderful new Board members into the fold: Jacob Hess, Betty Knighton, Simone Talma Flowers and Wendy Willis, who will be joining Martin Carcasson and Susan Stuart Clark. In the coming year, we’ll focus more on strategic planning and fundraising in order to enhance our service to you and this wonderful community, which has grown from a group of 50 founding organizations in 2002 to a vibrant network of 2,300 members and 38,000 subscribers in 2016.

On a personal note, Courtney and I have worked closely for years both in her roles as a member of the Board and then as Program Director. I don’t know of a more calm, competent person, and have nothing but faith in Courtney. My own passion lies in creating networks and building supportive, collaborative communities, and after 14 years directing NCDD, I am drawn to new possibilities for how I can help build and strengthen others’ work. You are some of the most creative, intelligent and good-hearted people I’ve ever met, and I look forward to working with you, our wonderful staff, our Board, and other contributors in this new role.

I’m excited about what lies ahead — both for me and the network. Our community has become ever more active and responsive to each other, generously sharing their experiences and know-how over multiple platforms and forming many dozens — if not hundreds — of partnerships over the years. Our website will continue to provide a clearinghouse of thousands of resources and news items.

Courtney, our Board, and I intend to work together to see NCDD continue to grow and thrive so this field can have a greater and greater impact on the world.


Sandy Heierbacher, Founding Director, on behalf of
Courtney Breese, Managing Director and the NCDD Board

Showcase Sessions at the 2016 NCDD Conference

Showcase2014-1We’re excited to share the final list of our featured presenters in this year’s “D&D Showcase” — a highly anticipated, high-energy event held on the first night of the 2016 NCDD conference. The Showcase is a fun way for you to meet some of the movers-and-shakers in our field and learn about their leading-edge projects, programs and tools.

Showcase presenters are asked to prepare a brief spiel to use as a conversation starter during this un-timed session, to provide handouts so you can follow up after the conference, and to prepare an eye-catching poster so people can easily identify their topic. More about how the Showcase works is up at

Assessing Civic Engagement Needs

Susan Jeghelian, Executive Director and Madhawa Palihapitiya, Associate Director, MA Office of Public Collaboration

A recent legislative study by MOPC, the MA state dispute resolution agency, assessed civic engagement needs around destructive public conflict in local communities and provided policy recommendations to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for improved societal results.

Citizen Science

Chris Santos-Lang, Facilitator, Citizen Science Belleville

The most famous use of citizen science may have been to instigate reform of the Flint, Michigan, water supply. As science advances–especially science of the mind, of values, and of the divide–so does the importance of this form of dialog.

Conversation Café

Keiva Hummel, Conversation Café Coordinator, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation

Conversation Cafés are 90-minute hosted conversations, held in a public setting like a café, where anyone is welcome to join. A simple format helps people feel at ease and gives everyone who wants it a chance to speak.

CU Dialogues Program

Pilar Prostko, Program Coordinator/Facilitator, University of Colorado Boulder

The CU Dialogues Program facilitates dialogues that engage diverse members of the University community in honest conversation with one another across differences of all kinds. The Program also offers a 3-credit undergraduate course, “Dialogue Across Difference,” which offers students the opportunity to learn what dialogue entails, practice dialogue, and be trained as dialogue facilitators.

Dialogue Playing Cards

Peter Nixon, Founder, Potential Dialogue

Dialogue Playing Cards are regular playing cards featuring a different dialogue behavior on each card. They are great for stimulating discussion on ways to improve dialogue in teams and organizations as well as teaching and training dialogue to people of all ages, in families, schools, university and business.

Drawing Lines

Lynn Osgood, Principal, GO Collaborative

The Drawing Lines project was an arts-based civic engagement project funded by ArtPlace America, that asked the question – what role can the arts play in the context of historic political change? What emerged was a spectrum on arts-based engagement projects and a LOT of lessons learned on how to administrate such projects.

Harwood Institute

Marla Crockett, Certified Coach, The Harwood Institute

Learn about The Harwood Institute’s Turning Outward approach and how to develop a deep knowledge of your community and use it as a reference point to make better choices and judgments. Find out how you can be trained in this approach and deepen your impact.

Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue

Robin Prest, Program Director, Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue

Know someone who has demonstrated, internationally, excellence in the use of dialogue? Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue is now accepting nominations for the 2017/18 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue, and would love to hear your suggestions.

Journal of Public Deliberation

Laura Black, Associate Professor, Ohio University

JPD is a place for NCDDers to find published research on tools and methods and to potentially publish reflections from their practices. Large System Change Steve Waddell Principal NetworkingAction Large systems change (LSC) is a new field of knowledge and action. It engages many, many people and organizations over significant geographic expanse; it addresses issues in need of transformation and radical change.

Learning to Deliberate

Katy Harriger, Professor and Department Chair, Dept. of Politics and International Affairs

At Wake Forest we have just completed a study of the long term impact of learning to deliberate (to be published by the Kettering Foundation this fall as a monograph). We incorporated deliberative dialogue into our first year experience course for new students and have used it to discuss issues of diversity and inclusion on campus.

Let’s Talk About It

John Ungerleider, Professor, SIT Graduate Institute

“Let’s Talk About It: A Guide to Leading Youth Dialogue” presents dialogue principles, structures, and activities that can help a facilitator of youth dialogue prepare to deepen participants’ positive experience. The short manual presents simple steps of youth dialogue planning and design, communication training for participants, and effective facilitation–with explanations of rationale behind approaches, and examples that have been tested in years of multicultural youth empowerment programs at the School for International Training.

Liberals Guide to Conservatives

J. Scott Wagner, Founder, Reach the Right

Working with the world’s leading academic experts on ideology, J. Scott Wagner has written an informal, inspirational, story-filled guide that wends its way through neurology, personality, and biases to help us understand and work well with each other.


MJ Kaplan, Lead for US Growth, Loomio

Loomio is open source software that enables inclusive, collaborative decisions for groups in 110 countries globally – in and across communities, universities, governments, businesses and networks. Loomio is a social enterprise and a worker owned cooperative. Loomio’s innovative, flat structure is a leading model of emerging workplaces that are more creative, engaging and productive.

NarraFirma: Story Project Software

Cynthia Kurtz, Independent Consultant and Researcher

NarraFirma is open source companion software to the textbook “Working with Stories in Your Community or Organization“. NarraFirma helps your group collaboratively plan a story project, collect stories, ask questions about them, look for patterns in what you’ve collected, plan workshops, and reflect on what you’ve learned.

National Dialogue Network

John Spady, Founder, National Dialogue Network

NDN is the recipient of the 2012 Catalyst Award from NCDD. Come and learn about the $20,000 available in grants to all NCDD members. NDN seeks to coordinate collaborative local conversations into mindful national dialogue.


Pat Scully, Managing Director, Participedia

The Participedia Project is an open-source, global research partnership whose primary goals are to map and make sense of the growing universe of new channels of citizen involvement in government and other forms of public problem solving. Anyone can join the Participedia community and help crowdsource, catalogue, and compare participatory political processes around the world. In addition to our Showcase, we will also make available a brief online survey for conference participants who would like to share their ideas about how the information we are gathering can best inform and support the work of practitioners in the field of dialogue and deliberation.

The Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation

Virginia Swain, Founder and Director, Institute for Global Leadership

PPR is an approach and practice that is uniquely inclusive, visionary, reflective and restorative–healing the cycle of violence through inner governance, re-envisioning the common humanity of perpetrators and victims, socially responsible action that transcends self-interest, and mobilizing the will of the people for common issues.


Colleen Hardwick, Founder and CEO, PlaceSpeak

How do you consult with people online within specific geographical boundaries… and prove it? The answer is PlaceSpeak, a pioneering location-based smart city civic engagement platform. Currently, online citizen engagement is anonymous and not tied to place. This has led to the proliferation of trolls, sock puppets, astroturfing and other forms of online dysfunction designed to skew and distort public opinion. PlaceSpeak’s vision is to improve the quality and legitimacy of decision-making and public policy development by modernizing authentication of digital identity, protecting privacy by design and ‘making it real’.


Joshua Brooks, e-Government Fellow, and Brian Post, Lead Technologist, CeRI (Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative), Cornell Law School

SmartParticipation, developed by Cornell University, is an innovative and adaptable platform for informed, inclusive and insightful online discussion. Now open source.

The Civility Scorecard

Russ Charvonia, President, National Civility Center

The Civility Center has developed this Scorecard to aid in evaluating the degree of civility in speeches. Just in time for the US Presidential Election!

Transpartisan Review

Jim Turner, Attorney/Partner, Swankin and Turner

Launching alongside the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, The Transpartisan Review will be an online journal promoting new ideas in political engagement and exploring ways to bring people together who are now in conflict to solve problems that otherwise seem insoluble. Learn more at

Trusted Sharing

Ruth Backstrom, Director of Marketing & Outreach, Trusted Sharing

Trusted Sharing is a set of online tools and spaces for hosting deeper conversations using specific facilitation methods.