Journalists Empower Citizens’ View of Role in Democracy

NCDD member org the Kettering Foundation recently shared some takeaways from journalists at the last Deliberative Democracy Exchange (DDEx). The journalists despite being from five different countries shared similar concerns about the growing global polarization and were united in their desire to both inform readers and empower people to engage in working toward solutions. You can read the article below and find the original on Kettering’s site here.


Journalists at DDEx Grapple with Helping Citizens See Themselves in Public Issues

The journalists from five different countries who gathered at the Deliberative Democracy Exchange (DDEx) had many things in common, but most of all, they were worried.

Over the past year, headlines around the world have called out the deepening of divisions, “populist” revolts, and growing polarization. What concerned these journalists was how these divisions were impeding people’s ability to make progress on issues, not just in a single country, but around the globe. And what was more, they suspected that standard journalistic practices were contributing to the deepening divisions and wanted to do something about it, but they weren’t sure how.

The journalists came from Colombia, Israel, Italy, Kenya, and South Africa. They shared experiences and frustrations in trying to encourage citizens to see issues as shared public problems instead of dilemmas to be solved by experts alone.

Each saw polarization, but acknowledged that in each country the fractures emerge in different ways. In the United States, for example, polarization is often defined in political terms, such as Democrats versus Republicans or liberal versus conservative.

Yet in South Africa, class and race emerge as dividing lines.

In Colombia, class, land ownership, and the experiences of decades-long civil war—and the challenges of negotiating a recent, fragile peace—have left citizens polarized.

In Israel, religious differences both between faiths and within them, and the societal power associated with different group identifications, divide people.

In Italy, Kettering Fanning resident Federica Marangio said that politics has become so contentious that people just walk away. They see no clear role for themselves and so become apathetic.

In Kenya, where there are numerous tribes but only a few that typically gain political power, government corruption and tribal identification are both issues that split people and groups.

The journalists at DDEx want to cover the issues, but do so in a way that people see a role for themselves in democracy and in making progress on shared public problems. The journalists all had the same question: How could they help both inform people and encourage them to see their own power?

The answers are a little different for each journalist—and each country.

In South Africa, where three-quarters of fourth graders cannot read for meaning, the answer is not simply to write another story emphasizing the need for parents to use libraries or demand more from schools. Instead, Rod Amner, a former Fanning resident and journalism professor at Rhodes University, is helping to build a network of parents, learners, teachers, NGOs, and government officials to help families become more literate and help others to do the same. Then those who have undergone literacy training will be involved in writing the stories.

In Kenya, three journalists are holding meetings with other journalists in their country about the need to go beyond daily stories of corruption that increase the feelings of apathy among readers and radio listeners. Instead, they want to discuss ways journalists can write stories that help people see what they can do. They hope to hold meetings to discuss the practices of naming and framing issues for journalists for whom those concepts are new.

In Colombia, journalists decided to take a different approach when covering the recent presidential election. They noted that the country has been divided for 50 years, between political parties and between right-wing and left-wing armed militants. Political divisions in peacetime are still prevalent, and they wanted to avoid contributing to those divisions. They tried to cover stories in a way that showed people what they have in common, even if they have different views. They gathered citizens ahead of the race to ask them what questions they wanted candidates to answer and involved officeholders who seemed most interested in a community-oriented approach.

In Israel, journalists wrote about an issue that a Jewish woman spoke about in a way that made both Jewish and Muslim women see what they all shared in common. It involved a husband withholding from his wife a blessing over a meal, done in such a way that made it impossible for her to eat without suffering public shame. Both groups saw that the use of religion to harass or abuse a spouse was not relegated to one religion alone; they coined the term, “spiritual violence” for such acts and have made it a public issue. In such stories, the journalists said, they could show people a problem that very different religions share.

And in Italy, Marangio discovered for herself that how journalists frame stories will make it more or less likely that people will respond and get involved. She first tried to hold a public forum to hear people’s general concerns, but nobody came. Then she wrote a story on increased levels of illness in areas located near factories, and then held a forum, inviting both citizens and politicians. This time, 100 people came because she had written about an issue in a way in which her readers could “see” themselves—and see the issue—as a shared public problem. The way she framed the story mattered.

The steps each journalist took were often small, but important, and contribute to their shared recognition that ordinary citizens have a role in democracy in grappling every day with issues of concern. Journalists who are open to change and who question their professional routines and the way they go about reporting stories may find that they are embarking on interesting and even exciting experiments that change the way they report the news. It might even change how those who read and hear their stories think about, and perhaps even trust, the media.

You can find the original version of this on Kettering’s site at www.kettering.org/blogs/journalists-ddex.

Ben Franklin Skills for Commitments and Virtues

We love gems of wisdom like the ones below on commitments and virtues, shared by Ben Franklin Circles, an NCDD member org and presenter at NCDD2018. Last year NCDD partnered with BFC and we’ve shared many stories about the powerful way that Circles bring people together and inspire change. For those attending NCDD2018, we encourage you to participate in the BFC workshop happening during the first session block from 1-2:30 pm on Friday, November 2nd. You can listen to the webinar below and find the original on BFC’s site here.


BFC Circle Host Forum – Commitments and Virtues

For this Ben Franklin Circle Host Forum, we interviewed BFC Host, Ryan Cooke to discuss the virtues and making commitments.

For review, the basic structure of a Ben Franklin Circle meeting is as follows:

  • Welcome/ review group guidelines
  • Discuss virtue
  • Make commitments

Virtues are aspirational and are not easily defined. We may never fully reach our aspirations towards these virtues which give us something to continuously work on.

After each meeting, Ryan sends a recap of the discussion and the commitments made. Halfway between meetings, he sends a reminder of the commitments to check in with the group as well as a preview of next virtue.

Here are some of the best practices we discussed for making 30-day commitments around the virtues:

  1. Make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relatable, Time-Bound)
  2. Take inspiration from other hosts and the sample commitments provided in the Meeting Guides
  3. Start small by making micro commitments. Check out tinyhabits.com for inspiration.
  4. Track your progress. Use a paper calendar or an app track Streaks, like Jerry Seinfeld’s one joke a day habit
  5. Make the commitment appropriate to your readiness for change (see Stages of Change model)
  6. Work with others who can provide accountability
  7. Consider shared group commitments to work on together

You can find the original version of this article on the Ben Franklin Circles’ site at www.benfranklincircles.org/webinar/bfc-circle-host-forum-commitments-and-virtues.

Submit Application for NCL’s 2019 All-American City Awards

It’s that time again! Applications are now being accepted for the 2019 All-American City Awards until March 5th, 2019. Hosted by the National Civic League, an NCDD partner and conference sponsor, the award will be given to the communities working towards improving health equity through inclusive civic engagement. We encourage you to watch the video from the 2018 awardees with tips on applying and how the award has benefitted their communities. You can read the announcement below and find the original version on NCL’s site here.


Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement

The National Civic League invites you to apply for the All-America City Award – the nation’s most prestigious community award, now in its 70th year.

The AAC Award offers the opportunity for both recognition and reflection. Applications require communities to come together to assess their strengths and challenges. The 2019 All-America City Award is focused on celebrating examples of civic engagement practices that advance health equity in local communities. We are looking for communities that demonstrate inclusive decision-making processes to create better health for all, and particularly for populations currently experiencing poorer health outcomes.

Download the application now and mobilize local groups to work together and display on a national stage the people and projects that make your community a great place to live, work and play.

Details and Dates
Applications on behalf of cities, counties, towns, or tribes are due March 5, 2019. Leaders from local government, schools, nonprofits, community foundations, libraries, chambers of commerce and youth have all led their communities to win the All-America City Award. APPLY NOW!

  • July 2018 – June 2019
    All-America City Promising Practices Webinar Series
  • Nov. 14, 2018
    Letter of Intent due (not required to apply)
  • March 5, 2019
    Application Due
  • April 2019
    Finalists Announced
  • June 21 – 23, 2019
    Awards Competition and Conference

Want to submit a competitive application? Watch the webinar recording below to hear 2018 All-America City winners, Kershaw County, SC and Las Vegas, NV, present on their All-America City journey with tips for applying, the types of projects they submitted and an update on the benefits they have seen from winning the award.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the National Civic League’s site at www.nationalcivicleague.org/creating-healthy-communities-through-inclusive-civic-engagement/.

National Week of Conversation from October 5th – 13th

The next National Week of Conversation (NWOC) is October 5th – 13th! During NWOC, folks around the country will be joining conversations, in hopes to better address the intense divisions in our society through dialogue, deepening understanding, and building relationships. We encourage you to join a conversation already going on and/or start your own here! To help support these conversations, resources like conversations guides and helpful background information are provided on the National Conversation Project (NCP) site here, many from the NCDD coalition! And don’t forget to check out the 3k+ resources on the NCDD Resource Center too! You can read more in the post below and on the NCP site here.


National Week of Conversation: October 5-13

Americans of all stripes are stepping up to address the growing cultural crisis of hyper-polarization and animosity across divides. Together we can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division with widespread conversations in which we #ListenFirst to understand. Supported by 100+ organizations, National Conversation Project promotes monthly conversation opportunities as well as National Weeks of Conversation.

In April of this year, thousands of Americans took part in the first National Week of Conversation (NWOC). More than 130 schools, libraries, faith communities, activist groups and nonprofits hosted conversations coast to coast in 32 states. These conversations were grounded in a pledge to listen first and seek understanding. The official #ListenFirst hashtag reached millions during NWOC and continues to be promoted by celebrities and journalists to millions more. NWOC events gained media attention across the nation including in the New York Times.

Majorities of NWOC participants walked away feeling more tolerant, understanding, appreciative and curious toward people with different perspectives. Two-thirds rated the value of their conversation as a 9 or 10 out of 10. More than three-quarters now feel better equipped and more likely to listen first to understand, as well as more likely to participate in conversations across divides. A survey of all Americans found 75% willing to set a good example by practicing conversations across divides, and 36%—amounting to more than 100 million people—want to see a national campaign promoting such conversations.

The next National Week of Conversation is October 5th – 13th! Join a conversation already going on or start your own here: www.nationalconversationproject.org/how_to_get_involved

TOPIC OF THE MONTH: Bridging Divides

The United States is facing a cultural crisis. Increasingly in America today, we don’t just disagree; we distrust, dislike, even despise those who see the world differently. Animosity for positions is becoming contempt for the people who hold them. Difference and disagreement are deeply personal as we rage against and recoil from those we see as enemies across widening divides—political, racial, religious, economic and more. Most of us see fewer things that bind Americans together today and have few or no friends from the other side. The rate of loneliness has more than doubled to nearly 50%, creating a public health epidemic. We’re withdrawing from conversations—thereby eroding relationships and understanding—which threatens the foundational fabric of America. 75% of Americans say this problem has reached a crisis level, and 56% believe it will only get worse. Our condition is rapidly deteriorating into what’s now being described as a soft civil war.

There’s nothing wrong with passionate beliefs, disagreement, and protest, but it feels like something more dangerous is taking hold. Do you see it? Personally feel it? What’s changed? What can we do about it together? How we can bridge the divides that threaten our future?

Conversation Guides on Bridging Divides

Background Information to support these conversations:

National Conversation Project Calendar – click here

National Week of Conversation – Fall ‘18: October 5-13, 2018
Listen First Friday – Nov: November 2, 2018
Listen First Friday – Dec: December 7, 2018
Listen First Friday – Jan: January 4, 2019
Listen First Friday – Feb: February 1, 2019
Listen First Friday – Mar: March 1, 2019
National Week of Conversation – Spring ‘19: April 5-13, 2019
Listen First Friday – May: May 3, 2019
Listen First Friday – Jun: June 7, 2019
Listen First Friday – Jul: July 5, 2019
Listen First Friday – Aug: August 2, 2019
Listen First Friday – Sep: September 6, 2019
National Week of Conversation – Fall ‘19: October 4-12, 2019
Listen First Friday – Nov: November 1, 2019
Listen First Friday – Dec: December 6, 2019

You can learn more about the National Week of Conversation at www.nationalconversationproject.org/.

Join National Conversation on Civility Live Stream Tonight

In case you missed it, you are invited to join the livestream for a National Conversation on Civility tonight from 7-9 pm Eastern, hosted by NCDD member org National Institute for Civil Discourse and the American Psychological Association. The conversation moderated by Scott Simon of NPR, will feature a panel with Dr. Johnathan Haidt, Sally Kohn, Dr. Arthur Evans, and Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, as they explore the importance of civility in our society and how to repair it moving forward. They will be answering questions via the live stream and for folks in the DC area you can attend the event in person, see the details below.


Revive Civility: Our Democracy Depends on It

From the Brett M. Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearing to people burning their Nike products, as the country approaches the 2018 midterm elections, our national rhetoric is more polarized than ever. Rudeness, name-calling, bullying and insults have become so commonplace that many Americans have tuned out. Can these behaviors be curbed, and can we learn to disagree civilly? To address these and other questions, the American Psychological Association and the National Institute for Civil Discourse have partnered to present “A National Conversation on Civility.”

Please join us for a National Conversation on Civility via live stream on September 26th from 7-9 PM (Eastern) on Civility and our Democracy in the run up to the 2018 elections with Scott Simon, (NPR) moderating a panel that includes authors Jonathan Haidt and Sally Kohn Dr. Arthur C. Evans and Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer .  We’ll be exploring the importance of civility, why it has broken down — and why it’s necessary for solving the major challenges confronting our nation.

You can participate in this event via live stream from your home, coffee house, place of worship, library or community center.  Gather with family, friends, members of your community organization to watch together.  There will be opportunities for you to share questions for the panel via YouTube and to engage with those gathered around you.

REGISTER HERE

For those in the DC area who can join in person:
Jack Morton Auditorium George Washington University 805 21st St., N.W. Washington, DC 20052

Doors open at 6:30. Panel discussion with audience participation from 7-9 p.m., followed by a reception from 9-10 p.m. Haidt and Kohn will be signing copies of their books. Tickets are available for purchase at www.gwutickets.com $18 for the panel discussion only, $28 for the discussion and reception

Together let’s continue to explore how we can build civility and respect into our lives and public discourse.

This information was drawn from Cheryl Graeve, National Community Organizer with the National Institute for Civil Discourse and from a blog post on NICD’s site from the American Psychological Association at www.nicd.arizona.edu/news/cant-we-all-just-get-along-national-conversation-civility-features-psychologists-media.

Dispute Resolution Grant Opportunity, Applications Due 10/5

Our theme for NCDD2018 is about how to bring the D&D field into more widespread practice and a big part of that is funding, so folks can continue doing this work. Which is why we’re thrilled to find this grant opportunity to forward to the NCDD network from the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation. Applications are due Friday, October 5th, and there is an informative call for prospective applicants on Tuesday, September 18th. Several NCDD organizations have been awarded in the past, like Essential Partners, Consensus Building Institute, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Divided Community Project – and we hope another NCDDer will be granted this year! You can read about it in the post below and find more information on AAA-ICDR Foundation’s site here.


Grant Opportunity –  American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation

The AAA-ICDR Foundation is now accepting Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests for its fourth funding cycle. In its review the Foundation will be focusing on innovative and replicable proposals that provide:

  • ADR for vulnerable and underserved populations
  • ADR for community-focused dispute resolution.

The Foundation remains committed to funding high-quality innovative programs in furtherance of its broader mission dedicated to mediation/other non-binding ADR process and arbitration/other binding ADR processes, and beyond.

Interested organizations or individuals should submit an Initial Description of Grant Request no later than October 5, 2018. The Foundation is launching an online application this year. Only applicants submitted via the online system will be considered, please do not email a PDF of the application. See Additional Information below for links to training/instructions for using the new online system.

To Apply: Please click here to register and submit your Initial Description of Grant Request starting September 10, 2018.

The Foundation will be hosting a brief Q&A call on September 18th from 2:00 – 2:30 pm ET regarding the initial description process to answer any questions from potential grantees.

Call-in details are:
Toll-Free Number: 1-888-537-7715
International Number: 1-334-323-9858
Participant Passcode: 15083676 #

Additional Information: 

What We’ve Funded

Grants Awarded in 2018
The AAA-ICDR Foundation funded nineteen grants in its third funding cycle. The Foundation received over ninety Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests. The Foundation, after a careful review of all of the submissions and the presentation of full grant proposals, approved the following nineteen grants totaling over $500,000 in funding:

ABA Fund for Justice and Education: $10,000 to fund ABA’s annual Law Student Division Arbitration Competition.

Arizona State University Foundation: $59,789 to fund empirical study with goal of providing guidance about what needs to be accomplished during opening stages of mediation.

Association for Conflict Resolution Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination: $32,136 to fund training and expansion of elder caring coordination, a form of conflict resolution.

Association for the Organization and Promotion of the Vienna Mediation and Negotiation Competition: $5,000 to fund the Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition Vienna, which is an educational event in the field of international negotiation and mediation.

Community Mediation Services: $15,181 to fund facilitated dialogues by experienced Restorative Practitioner between youth, community and law enforcement in New Orleans Police Department 1st District.

Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County: $40,000 to fund training and direct ADR services in substance abuse centers in Baltimore County, MD.

Consensus Building Institute: $74,950 to fund pilot program in Piermont, NY to train local residents who will spearhead collaborative neighborhood dialogues on resilience planning against rising sea levels and increased flood risks.

CUNY Dispute Resolution Center at John Jay College: $30,000 to fund online access to conflict resolution resources for families worldwide dealing with mental illness.

Environmental Advocates of New York: $10,000 to fund Advocacy Crisis Training for environmental justice communities.

Essential Partners: $24,854 to fund trainings for teaching at-risk youth to lead and participate in more constructive dialogues about conflict and difference.

Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program: $24,921 to fund podcast series intended to help support teaching around dialogue on challenging topics including racial, ethnic and religious conflict.

Institute for Communication and Management of Conflicts – D.U.C.K.S:  $12,000 to fund teach the Prison of Peace (PoP) Peacemaker, Mediator and Train the Trainer Workshops in 2 men’s prisons in Greece.

International Mediation Institute: $25,000 to fund The Global Pound Conference North America Report.

Kennesaw State University, School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development:  $25,000  to fund creating working model in Athens, Greece to promote dialogue and reduce violence from racial, ethnic, and religious conflict.

King County Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution:  $29,850 to fund the Theatre of Mediation where mediators, actors and students present role-play mediations based on real cases involving themes of racial conflict to schools, community groups and in public forums.

Quabbin Mediation:  $20,000 to fund expansion of Training Active Bystanders (TAB) model throughout New England to diverse groups.

The Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice: $50,000 to fund convening of Dispute Resolution Hackathon events with community stakeholders for equitable, unbiased and humane enforcement of the law.

The Mediation Center: $20,500 to fund creation of standardized online mediation and community dialogue training modules that can be accessed without cost across the state of Tennessee.

The Ohio State University Foundation: $40,000 to fund development and conducting national “academy” targeted to strengthening local leadership capacity to use and collaborate with community mediation experts to plan for and address civil unrest.

Grants Awarded in 2017

The AAA-ICDR Foundation funded 11 grants in its second funding cycle. The Foundation received 92 Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests. Led by its Grants Committee, the Foundation, after a careful review of all of the submissions and the presentation of full grant proposals, approved the following 11 grants totaling approximately $410,000 in funding:

New York State Unified Court System Online Dispute Resolution Platform: $125,000 to fund multi-year pilot for court online dispute resolution (ODR) for small claims cases. 

Online Pro Bono Legal Advice: $25,000 to provide low-income citizens access to brief legal advice via an online interactive website, utilizing pro bono attorneys. ABA Fund for Justice and Education: ABA Free Legal Answers.

Conflict De-Escalation Training for Police Officers in Baltimore Schools: $25,040 to fund training for Baltimore City School Police and other school staff. University of Maryland Training in Conflict De-Escalation and Management. 

Training for Mediating Parties with Mental Health Issues: $24,998 to fund scalable mediation training for certified peer specialists to serve an underserved population of peers living with mental health issues. Research Foundation of CUNY on behalf of John Jay
College: The Dispute Resolution in Mental Health Initiative.

Columbia Law School Research of Twilight Issues in International Arbitration: $25,000 to fund analysis and development of best practices for twilight issues that are not clearly substantive or procedural with global presentations and publication.

Addressing Unconscious Bias in International Arbitration: $25,000 to fund educational series and mentorship to promote equality, diversity, access to justice, and leadership opportunities. ArbitralWomen Unconscious Bias Toolkit.

Cultivating Dialogue Between Dominant and Non-Dominant Communities in Minnesota: $45,000 to continue funding a transformative project to produce qualitative change in the type of engagement currently taking place between dominant and nondominant communities in Minnesota. Minnesota State Office for Collaboration and Dispute Resolution and Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law 2017 Talk with Purpose: Using Dispute Resolution to Engage Communities and Foster Relationships for Constructive Change. 

Best Uses of ADR to Respond to and Plan for Community Divides: $40,000 to fund a study that describes local ADR responses and planning initiatives to address controversies that divide communities and development of a Community Preparation Assessment Test tool for community use. Ohio State University Foundation on behalf of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Divided Community Project.  

The Curators of The University of Missouri: Reasoning in International Commercial Arbitration: Comparisons Across the Common Law-Civil Law Divide, the Domestic-International Divide, and the Judicial – Arbitral Divide:  $25,396 to fund research on arbitral reasoning in arbitral awards. 

Promoting Peace and Tolerance Through Leadership and ADR Training for Women in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine: $25,000 to support training scholarships for female community leaders from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine for advanced mediation and leadership training, focused on promoting peace and interfaith/interethnic tolerance. Project Kesher: Training for Women in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

Promoting Peace Through Leadership and ADR Training for Women in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela: $25,500 for training scholarships to enable women community leaders to complete four days of advanced mediation and community leadership training. Mediators Beyond Borders International—Women in Peacebuilding.

Grants Awarded in 2016

In May 2016, the AAA-ICDR Foundation completed its inaugural funding cycle. The Foundation sent out a press release in October 2015 announcing its inaugural round of grant solicitations. In response, the Foundation received 75 Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests. After a careful review of all of the submissions and the presentation of full grant proposals,the Foundation, led by its Grants Committee, approved the following six grants totaling approximately $175,000 in funding:   

Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law—Straus Institute Annual Global Summit on Conflict Management, September 2016: $15,000 to supplement the investment of the Straus Institute in supporting the convening of working groups and planners in advance of a summit that will bring together individuals and organizations from all over the world to discuss common issues and concerns associated with complex dispute resolution processes. 

Prison Inmate Mediation Training: $75,000 to fund a 40-hour mediation workshop for 30-50 inmates. The workshop will be conducted in one cohort to be completed in 7-10 weeks, creating a new cadre of desperately needed inmate mediators at Valley State Prison and to fund train the trainer program at Valley State Prison, aimed at training new mediators as well as developing a cadre of inmate mediation trainers. Prison of Peace 2016 Valley State Prison Mediation Training Program. 

Cultivating Dialogue Between Dominant and Non-Dominant Communities in Minnesota: $24,998 for OCDR/DRI to conduct a transformative project to produce qualitative change in the type of engagement currently taking place between dominant and non-dominant communities in Minnesota. Minnesota State Office for Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law 2016 Talk with Purpose: Using Dispute Resolution to Engage Communities and Foster Relationships for Constructive Change.

Promoting Peace Through Leadership and ADR Training for Women in Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand: $25,500 for training scholarships required to enable women community leaders from Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand to complete four days of advanced mediation and community leadership training in Djakarta, Indonesia. Mediators Beyond Borders International—Women Peacebuilding: Enhancing Skills and Practice Training.  

Consensus Building Institute – Innovative ADR in Groundwater Sustainability to Manage California Drought: $25,000 for CBI to highlight and promote the use and the central role of ADR in connection with the implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The creation of a multi-media report (including mini case studies, video segments, and blogs) that highlights the state’s impressive use of innovative dispute resolution and collaboration to address conflict and create new government structures will help CBI ensure the sustainability of local groundwater basins. This grant proposal is an opportunity to analyze and highlight the unique role that ADR is playing in this public policy issue that truly goes to the heart of water conflict in California. 

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division – Annual Law Student Arbitration Competition: $10,000 to defray operating expenses, making the event more attractive and affordable for law schools participating in the next competition for the 2016-2017 school year, as law schools have increasingly reduced discretionary funds available. The competition format introduces students to arbitration and allows students to learn and practice skills relating to arbitration advocacy, such as crafting opening and closing statements, introducing evidence, creating demonstrative evidence, preparing witnesses, and developing case themes. This will be the 13 year of the competition.

About the Foundation
American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation® (AAA-ICDR Foundation®) was established in 2015 with the purpose to fund critical projects, domestically and internationally. This effort fills important needs in the ADR community by expanding the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), improving the process, increasing access to ADR for those who cannot afford it, and sharing knowledge across different cultures.

The Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization from the AAA and is able to solicit donations and provide grants to fund a range of worthy causes that promote the Foundation’s wide-reaching mission.

The Foundation is not involved in any way in the oversight, administration or decision making of the AAA-ICDR cases or in the maintenance of the AAA-ICDR’s various rosters of arbitrators and mediators.

You can read the original version of this announcement of AAA-ICDR Foundation site at www.aaaicdrfoundation.org/grants.

Democratic Learning Exchanges with NCL and Kettering

NCDD member and partner – the National Civic League has been working with the Kettering Foundation on “learning exchanges” with city managers. The two organizations have a long working history over the last several decades, which has sought to explore how to further democratic practices, particularly within local government. This is the most recent effort in this work to continue to shift deeper government collaboration with the community. You can read the article in the post below or find the original on NCL’s site here.


Learning About Democratic Practices with City Managers

The National Civic League is working with the Charles F. Kettering Foundation to organize “learning exchanges” to explore the ways professional city managers engage with members of the public to foster democratic practices in communities.

These twice-a-year exchanges, which have been held at the foundation’s campus in Dayton, Ohio, have facilitated wide-ranging conversations about civic engagement efforts and examples of complementary public action—everything from an experiment in participatory budgeting in Chicago’s 49th ward to dialogues about community-police relations in a small southern city.

The participants have also explored issues such as assets-based community development, relational organizing, social media and technology and the role of public deliberation in addressing “wicked problems,” that is, persistent problems for which there are no obvious technical solutions.

In many of the exchanges, participants have identified tensions between the job of professional manager and the idea of public engagement and democratic governance. Traditionally, managers have been trained to view themselves as technical problem-solvers who advise elected officials and manage city departments to implement the policies adopted during public meetings.

In effect, local elected and appointed officials made the tough decisions and handled the strategizing, prioritizing and long-range planning efforts that allowed municipalities and counties to flourish.

But managers are in some ways uniquely positioned to foster collective problem-solving efforts and grassroots community initiatives, especially when there is a continuity of effort by public managers over a period of years. Some city governments, in fact, have developed detailed protocols to help staff-members think about how and when to engage the public in decision-making and public deliberation.

The National Civic League’s involvement with the Kettering Foundation goes back many years. In the early 1970s, the two organizations worked together to conduct research on what was then described as “citizen participation.” With support from the foundation, the League developed a series of books and videos, highlighting how winners of the All-America City Awards had come together to address pressing issues.

The Kettering Foundation’s primary research question is, “What does it take to make democracy work as it should?” For Kettering, one aspect of this mission is to look at ways professionals can “align their work” with the work of ordinary members of communities.

The League’s various research agreements with the Kettering Foundation have offered unique opportunities over the years to develop new ideas and new relationships with individuals and organizations, some of which have led to other initiatives and projects.

The city manager exchange, for example, led to the development of the Richard S. Childs Fellowship, a project that offers editorial assistance and guidance to working city managers seeking to write about their experiences with democratic practices in their communities. Some of these writings have already appeared in the National Civic Review as case studies and essays.

The fellowship was named for the political reformer and long-serving member of the National Civic League board of directors who played a leading role in developing the 1915 Model City Charter, the original blueprint for the city council-city manager plan for local government.

These research exchanges have become an important part of the League’s efforts to learn more about community-based efforts and address challenging issues. They also serve as a bridge between the organization’s historic mission of promoting professionalism in local government with its more modern focus on civic engagement, collaborative problem-solving and social equity.

You can find the original version of this on National Civic League’s site at www.nationalcivicleague.org/learning-about-democratic-practices-with-city-managers/.

Our Responsibility to Safeguard Our Democracy

NCDD member org, the Bridge Alliance, recently shared this article on their blog from Dr. Thom Little of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF). In the article, he speaks on the tenets at the core of our democracy and the need for the people and the representatives to protect and uphold these principles if this nation is to be able to continue. You can read the article below and find the original on the Bridge Alliance site here.


Protecting Our Democracy: The Obligation of Leadership

More than two centuries ago, fifty-five men from across thirteen American colonies established a government like none other before, a government where power was bestowed not by birth right or by armed might, but by consent. A democracy. The governed had, by the power of their voice and their vote, the right to determine who would govern them and accordingly, the right to remove them as necessary. Thus began what Alexis de Tocqueville described as “the great experiment” to see if man was truly capable of self government.

With a lot of hard work, good leadership and not a little bit of luck, this government has endured- it has survived some less than competent and noble leaders and irrational decisions made out of fear, racism, sexism, partisanship and just plain ignorance. It has survived wars internal and external. It has, although not without pain, hardship and some serious missteps, integrated peoples of different races, ethnicities, identities and philosophies. The nation has moved forward in fits and starts, but it has moved forward.

And yet, the success of America’s democracy is not preordained, based on destiny or providence. What has been so long maintained can easily be lost if we as a people and our leaders lose sight of the institutions that have allowed it to prosper and served us well for so long: free and fair elections; an independent press; three autonomous branches of government and strong and effective state governments. While not perfect, these four institutions have been the bedrock of democracy and must be maintained if this experiment is to continue.

Free and Fair Elections. A government that derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed can only stand if the governed have faith in the process by which they lend that consent: the elections. That faith has been tested from time to time, especially when no candidate for the US Presidency earned a majority of the electoral votes. Further, electoral reforms such as voter registration, primary elections, campaign finance regulations and limitations and the elimination of numerous obstacles to voting have been implemented to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. In addition, the right to vote has been extended to Americans of all races, genders over the age of seventeen fulfilling the revolutionary vision of the founders that indeed all are created equal.

An Independent and Trusted Press. While the relationship between public officials and the press has always been a tense one, the authors of the United States Constitution understood that for the infant government to thrive, freedom of the press, even the very partisan papers, pamphlets and fliers of the time, would have to be protected. The founders so valued freedom of the press that they codified it in the very first amendment to the new Constitution. Ideologically driven journalism is nothing new, but the rise of electronic media, cable news, talk radio and social media have made it so difficult to determine what sources are to be trusted that faith in the press is being severely tested.

Autonomous Branches of Government. Separation of powers. Checks and balances. Power spread across three independent units of government? Preposterous- at least to most in the eighteenth century when power was given by God or taken by might. Kings or dictators made the laws, administered the laws and interpreted the laws. In America, each of those decisions are to be made by an independent branch (legislative, judicial and executive), with some oversight from each of the others to keep any one branch from getting out of hand. However, for this system to work, each independently elected branch must be strong enough to do their jobs and willing to stand against the others when they step beyond their bounds.

Strong and Capable State Governments. Perhaps the most unique contribution to the American system of the governed is federalism, a system by which power is shared. While the thirteen states were all part of a larger nation, each also retained significant rights by which they would govern themselves and, perhaps more importantly, address important issues when the national government is unwilling or incapable of doing so. Strong, capable state governments, led by informed and independent legislatures are as critical today (maybe even moreso in light of the gridlock and bitterness that has gripped Washington, DC) as it was more than two hundred years ago.

The responsibility to maintain this gift of democracy has, and always will be, in the hands of the people and the representatives they elect to serve and govern them. If we do not protect and honor these institutions, the government that has for so long been a beacon to the world could easily be lost like others before it. So, I challenge you and all of us to work diligently to make sure that the democracy that has served us so well for so long will stand for our children and their children and their children’s children. And SLLF stands ready, willing and able to help in any way we can!

You can find the original version of this article on the Bridge Alliance site at www.bridgealliance.us/protecting_our_democracy_the_obligation_of_leadership.

The Modern Revival of Democracy in Municipalities

While democracy on the national level has gone through some serious upheaval in the last years, it’s inspiring to see many cities across the country come together and nurture localized democracy. NCDD member org, Public Agenda, shared this article on how cities are returning to being spaces of civic engagement for the community and some cities have even adopted deliberative democratic practices. We encourage you to read this piece that elevates the work of several NCDD member organizations in the post below (thanks for mentioning us too!) and find the original on Public Agenda’s site here.


Cities as Centers for Deliberative Democracy

Whether dealing with climate change, immigration or even trade, cities and metropolitan areas have for some time now taken initiatives and formed networks to address pressing social and economic issues.

The New Role for Cities

The late Benjamin Barber, a political theorist, wrote that the dysfunction of democracy that we see at the national, and even state level, has caused us to return to the origins of democracy in metropolitan areas because it is in cities that we can get things done on a manageable scale. Consequently, cities are taking on a role once played by states. Barber’s book, “If Mayors Ruled the World,” has turned out to be prescient, especially in light of our federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord.

Whether dealing with climate change, immigration or even trade, cities and metropolitan areas have for some time now taken initiatives and formed networks to address pressing social and economic issues. In light of the prevailing headwinds democracy itself faces today it is not surprising to look to cities as the place for innovations as well. One example of a city leading innovation in democracy is Pittsburgh, where under the mayor, Bill Peduto, the city has adopted “deliberative democracy.”

Deliberative Democracy

Under the ideals of deliberative democracy, political decisions are the product of fair and reasonable discussions and debate among the public.

In one sense, the principles and practice of deliberative democracy are straightforward: Create conditions for inclusive, informed and well-structured conversations; ensure that the results of these deliberations are taken seriously by stakeholders; and hope that those participating in these conversations leave with a positive attitude and a heightened sense of civic engagement.

In today’s political climate, this may seem Pollyannaish, but it is important to see how this situation came to be. Here, proponents of deliberative democracy are in a good position: its principles can help analyze the problem and its practices can help address the problem.

Today’s Political Climate: How did we get here?

Since the 18th century, the concept of democracy came to embody the ideas of the Enlightenment (basic rights including freedom of speech and thought). These ideals were expressed in our written constitution as amendments to an essentially mechanistic set of procedures that comprise the way our government works. Recently, this model of a “thin, liberal constitution” was seen as sufficient to create democracies abroad. Granted that there was a lot more to be done on the ground (establishing a rule of law, courts, districting for representatives, etc.), but essentially there was a belief that a constitution was like an algorithm – turn it on and democracy happens.

But we need to add the virtues of citizenship to the freedoms granted by our constitution. Such civic virtues include political toleration, a willingness to listen to other points of view, and the ability to give public reasons for one’s own view. A willingness, if you will, to engage in open and informed conversations with those who are different from us and our circle of friends. A society that has failed to instill these civic virtues will easily collapse into warring tribes — as we have seen with the Sunni and Shia groups in the Middle East and the Red and Blue counties of America.

A second problem arises when democracies are seen as “‘vote centric”’ and the game of democracy becomes that of winning the most votes. Getting the most votes has evolved into a science these days and political consultants can use a whole array of strategies that involve framing, agenda setting, and manipulation to do whatever it takes to influence voters. Politics becomes a kind advertising campaign where winner takes all.

Deliberative Democracy Today

One could argue that a Madisonian interpretation of our Constitution envisions a deliberative democracy as its original intent. But contemporary interpretations of deliberative democracy go back to philosopher Jürgen Habermas’s view of democracy in the 1980s. For Habermas, those affected by a policy should participate in a rational conversation of that policy, allowing the force of the better argument to determine the outcome of the deliberative process.

Since the beginning of this Century, the field rapidly expanded as practitioners in mediation and group facilitation connected with theoreticians. As a result, deliberation is now aligned with a set of procedures designed to provide the basic requirements for informed, well-structured conversations linked to outcomes of some sort. Today, organizations like the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation have over 3,000 followers and many universities have programs in the field of deliberative democracy.

In essence, a deliberative democracy is not a society that ‘talks’ but a model of democracy that is instantiated in a set of explicit protocols that I call Deliberative Loops. One can adjust these protocols as the situation requires. Everyday Democracy, for instance, uses multiple learning circles spread out over a period of weeks.

Despite expansion through the integration of theory and practice, the link between this practice and the functioning of government was limited to ad hoc funding opportunities and both large and small scale projects. These activities were not insignificant and many were quite successful in fulfilling the desiderata of deliberative democracy. A great deal of empirical data was also compiled, leading to rigorous assessment studies of actual real-world protocol driven citizen deliberative forums. But the crucial link between the principles and practices of deliberative democracy and the everyday functioning of government had not been established.

Institutionalizing Deliberative Democracy at the Level of Local Government

In 2013 a Civic Health Index sponsored by the National Conference on Citizenship recommended that the City of Pittsburgh become a national center for deliberative democracy. Mayor Peduto endorsed this recommendation and in 2014 the city ran six “Community Deliberative Forums” to assist in the hiring of a new Police Chief. In light of the quality of the feedback and the degree to which the public expressed its appreciation of the process, the city began to develop its own in-house capacity to run these forums. The city chose to do so in areas that meet the regulatory requirements for Public Comment. To

date

there have been three City Budgets (2016, 2017 and 2018) using Community Deliberative Forums as well as special Community Deliberative Forums on topics like affordable housing. The City has even published its own handbook on Community Deliberative Forums and made it available for use by the National League of Cities and other organizations here and abroad (http://hss.cmu.edu/pdd/cities/).

This model of deliberative democracy is working in Pittsburgh and can work in other cities as well. But it is hard to see how it can work its way up to state legislatures and the federal government, given our political climate. Mickey Edwards’ book, “The Parties vs The People,” offers suggestions by which we can “‘move the furniture around”’ in Washington to help those bodies live up to their potential. The subtitle is telling: “How to Turn Democrats and Republicans into Americans.” But it’s a daunting task. Better to see how cities can do it. There’s even a handbook.

Robert Cavalier, PhD is Emeritus Teaching Professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Philosophy Department and Director of the Program for Deliberative Democracy, which won a 2008 Good Government Award from the Pittsburgh League of Women Voters. He is author of Democracy for Beginners (For Beginners LLC, 2009) and Editor of Approaching Deliberative Democracy: Theory and Practice (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011).

You can read the original version of this article on Public Agenda’s site at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/cities-as-centers-for-deliberative-democracy.

Essential Partners Fall Workshops & NCDD Member Disc

If you are looking to strengthen your dialogue skills, make sure you check out the workshops this coming fall from Essential Partners, an NCDD member and a sponsor of NCDD2018. They will be offering: Introduction to Dialogue Across Differences, The Power of Dialogue: Constructive Conversations on Divisive Issues, and The Power of Stories: Moving Beyond “Them” and “Us”. Learn more about the discount available to NCDD members! You can more information about these workshops on Essential Partners’ site here.


Our Workshops

Introduction to Dialogue Across Differences
September 20, 2018

This one-day workshop uses real-world case studies to introduce participants to the theory and practice of EP’s Reflective Structured Dialogue framework. For three decades, our unique approach has transformed conflicts across the country and the world—but the basic principles of EP’s framework are applicable to local community issues, organizational development, congregations, and everyday conversations.

Intentional communication helps individuals, organizations, and communities build trust, enhance resilience, and engage in constructive conversations despite deeply-held differences of value, belief, opinion, or identity. This workshop provides a set of simple tools to achieve those goals.

Learn more and register: www.whatisessential.org/workshop/introduction-dialogue-across-differences

The Power of Dialogue: Constructive Conversations on Divisive Issues**
October 11 – 13, 2018

The Power of Dialogue is our flagship workshop. This is a comprehensive “deep dive” into our time-tested approach for transforming conflicted conversations about divisive issues. It begins with the theory of our framework and solidifies that with immersive experiential learning. Even within the most contentious issues or fraught situations, the right tools enable a community to foster understanding, restore relationships, and move forward.

The Power of Dialogue is a highly interactive workshop that offers a widely applicable skill set for those with a range of experience levels. As a facilitator, you will learn how to create conversations that foster mutual understanding between groups and individuals divided by deep differences. Hundreds of facilitators, peacebuilders, mediators, and other community leaders from the US and 18 other countries have taken this workshop since its inception in 1996 and are implementing its lessons worldwide. **Discount available for NCDD members

Learn more and register: www.whatisessential.org/workshop/power-dialogue-constructive-conversations-divisive-issues

The Power of Stories: Moving Beyond “Them” and “Us”
November 8, 2018

What are the stories we hold most dear about ourselves? What stories do we tell about others, and how do those stories take shape? Research indicates that we make sense of the world through stories. But stories – particularly the ones we tell about other people – can sometimes deepen the rifts that come between us, creating a feared other; a caricatured “Them”.

This workshop offers tools and structures for harnessing the power of stories to move beyond stereotypes and fear, bringing “Us” and “Them” into relationship through understanding.

Learn more and register: www.whatisessential.org/workshop/power-stories-moving-beyond-them-and-us

You can find more information about these workshops and future ones at Essential Partners’ site at www.whatisessential.org/workshops.