NCDD Member with Tips to Expand Your Information Bubble

The engagement field knows the value of folks being able to reach outside of their usual information bubble in order to understand other perspectives, build empathy, and expand your mind. Which is why we wanted to share this piece by Annie Pottorff of The Jefferson Center – an NCDD member organization, which shared some excellent tips for bursting your info bubble. We encourage you to share your additional ideas in the comments section below. You can read the article below and find the original on The Jefferson Center’s site here.


How to Burst Your Information Bubble

If you’re reading this, we’d bet that you care about the future of democracy, the forces that damage it, and the work that strengthens it. If you do, then chances are also good that you’ve heard the phrases “information bubble” and/or “filter bubble” as topics of concern. To provide a (very) brief overview: as humans in the digital age, we tend to seek out people and publications with similar opinions to ours, which is a pretty good way to avoid conflict. When we can get our news feed tailored exactly to our tastes, providing only information we’ll appreciate and relate to, why would we want anything else?

These bubbles can also be dangerous: when we remain inside, we don’t interact with those who disagree with us or with the information they consume. That may sound great on the surface, but this makes it easier for us to dismiss opposing opinions as being in the minority (even though that may not be the case), since we aren’t seeing them on a daily basis. Making things worse, actually escaping the bubble is pretty difficult. Our social media algorithms have been programmed specifically to show us stories we’ll generally like and agree with. Plus, we’ve all seen (or maybe even gotten involved with), political Facebook fights with distant relatives, or stumbled down the rabbit hole of our local newspaper comments section. Seeing these extreme views from people on the internet can make it difficult to even want to listen to anyone who may have different thoughts than us.

But at the Jefferson Center, we’ve found that when people have their beliefs challenged, it can be a good thing. We host Citizens Juries–deliberative events where a group of randomly-selected citizens are given the knowledge, resources, and time they need to create solutions to community issues. People often find themselves sitting across from complete strangers, and quickly realize that not everyone from “the other side” is as extreme as the pundits we see on TV and the trolls in the comment section. Instead, many people have a spectrum of beliefs, shaped by their own experiences, and aren’t easily labelled. Especially when it comes to local issues, participants find that partisan politics disappear when it comes to things like improving city government communication. As one citizen said “It’s really refreshing to sit down with a bunch of community members and realize you share the same core values and are united.”

If we choose to burst our information bubbles and listen to each other, we will let in not only new information, but new people, ideas, and experiences. Here are a few easy ways you can start:

1. Visit websites that present different takes

On allsides.com, you’ll find today’s biggest headlines and coverage from the left, center, and right. They also provide media bias ratings and a “balanced dictionary”, because certain news terms have come to mean different things to different people.

If you’re a reddit user, you can also submit and post in r/change my view. It’s pretty much what it sounds like–you submit an opinion, and ask people to present other viewpoints. The page is focused on having respectful, engaged discourse, rather than fighting.

2. Sign up for a well-rounded news digest

The Echo Chamber Club newsletter delivers a variety of viewpoints and contrary opinions on relevant news. Their goal is to offer an alternative to the personalized articles we see via social media algorithms, and instead showcase the nuances in today’s tough issues.

3. Curate a well-rounded list of reputable news sources

Here’s a great starter list of well-regarded news sites across the political spectrum, curated by Patrick Kulp at Mashable:

Conservative-leaning prestige media:

  • The National Review
  • The Weekly Standard
  • The American Conservative

Conservative-leaning new media:

  • Independent Journal Review
  • Heat Street
  • The Daily Caller

Liberal-leaning prestige media:

  • The New Yorker
  • The Nation
  • Mother Jones

Liberal-leaning new media:

  • Salon
  • AlterNet
  • Talking Points Memo

International Perspective:

  • Al Jazeera
  • The Economist
  • Der Spiegel

4. Analyze your social media and browsing settings

Did you know you can adjust your news feed preferences on Facebook? Just click on the drop down arrow in the upper right corner of your homepage, select “news feed preferences”, and choose a variety of news sources to appear at the top of your feed.

There are also browser extensions you can download that pop your information bubble for you! Escape Your Bubble, available on Chrome, automatically inserts articles and issues that may challenge your current political views into your feed, after taking time to learn your personal news consumption habits and preferences.

5. Read your local newspaper, including the editorials!

Checking out your local op-ed section will give you good insight into what your neighbors are thinking about local and national issues. Plus, if you disagree, you can shake things up and provide a few counterpoints in the next edition.

6. Be critical

Learn how to identify fake news sites and bots before you share, like, or comment. Sometimes these fake articles can travel around Facebook or Twitter for days, because people don’t investigate beyond the headline. Here are a few ways to root them out:

  • Fake articles usually use all caps, and are hyperbolic. Most legitimate news sites don’t write headlines like this.
  • Actually click the article–if the page doesn’t exist or is unavailable, it’s probably fake.
  • Double check the URL. Fake news sites thrive off of having almost legitimate names, like cnn-news.com.co
  • Skim the article. If it seems unprofessional, is riddled with errors, or presents information on a topic completely different from what the headline promised, you should move on.
  • It’s also important to be critical of your favorite news sources. Recognize when your go-to sites use clickbait tactics or present their partisan opinions as fact.

7. Attend community meetings

Because of TV shows like Parks & Rec, we’re inclined to picture community meetings as full of impassioned people yelling about pretty mundane issues.
But what if more and more people began to show up? We’d probably have a more diverse approach to many community issues and understand our neighbors a little better.

8. Have a few uncomfortable conversations

On Mismatch.org, you answer a few questions about yourself and your views, and they automatically match you with someone across the country with different views for a guided video conversation.

Living Room Conversations provides a local model for respectful discourse: you find someone to act as your co-host that has a different perspective than you on a given topic. Both of you find two other people to join. Then you meet for a guided conversation in a living room, church, school, or other community meeting place.

Did you notice anything missing from this list? Let us know so we can add it!

You can find the original version of this article on The Jefferson Center’s site at www.jefferson-center.org/how-to-burst-your-information-bubble/.

Announcing NCDD June Confab Call with Undivided Nation!

NCDD is excited to announce our June Confab Call featuring Undivided Nation! This FREE call will take place Thursday, June 28th from 2-3pm Eastern/11am-Noon Pacific. Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

David and Erin Leaverton are the founders of Undivided Nation, which aims to serve as a catalyst for reconciliation and unity in America. David, following a career in partisan politics, felt a calling to work to repair the divides in our nation, and to connect with people who he has seen as an opponent, or as a stereotype. David and Erin decided to sell their house, quit their jobs, and spend 2018 traveling the country with their three children, spending a week in each state and learning more about those they once recognized as “other,” as well as exploring what divides us, and what can bring us together.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out their road trip blog and their Facebook page for updates on their journey and reflections on the experience and the people they’ve met so far. David also wrote a piece for NCDD’s blog, which we highly recommend. You can also check out the video of their story below!

David and Erin will join us to discuss their journey, and what they have been learning along the way. They are two wonderful people and they have some powerful stories to tell, so this is sure to be a great call to learn more about their journey and connect with them! You may even have some ideas for them about folks to connect with when they come to your state!

Don’t miss out – register for our call today!

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’s Confab Calls are opportunities for members (and potential members) of NCDD to talk with and hear from innovators in our field about the work they’re doing and to connect with fellow members around shared interests. Membership in NCDD is encouraged but not required for participation. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

NCDD Member Creates Racial Dialogues White Ally Toolkit

We are thrilled to share this excellent write-up by the Richmond-Times Dispatch on long-time NCDD member David Campt and his most recent racial dialogue work. Campt travels across the U.S. holding racial dialogue trainings using his White Ally Toolkit Workbook, which offers strategies for engaging in these conversations (learn more about the toolkit and purchase here). He speaks on the importance of white people having these conversations with fellow white people and emphasizes the need to communicate in a way that doesn’t attack but instead genuinely seeks to engage with each other. We encourage you to read the full article below or find the original version on the Richmond-Times Dispatch site here.


Williams: Racial dialogue is his specialty. His book details how white people should talk to each other about racism.

This post was shared with the permission of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Written by Michael Paul Williams

Coming of age in a polarized Detroit as black and white communities disengaged, David Campt became engrossed in the nature of conversation.

His hometown’s 1970s power struggle fueled his interest in terms of engagement as the outspoken Coleman Young, Detroit’s first black mayor, presided over a riot-torn city experiencing massive white flight to the suburbs. But his curiosity was also nurtured by a white teacher named Nathan Fine, who taught his students that people are far more alike than different.

“What he was trying to do is to get us to not replicate the kind of conflicts that we were watching on the news as fourth-graders,” Campt recalled. “The city’s in a certain amount of turmoil. And he’s trying to have a different kind of message, trying to get us to see the common humanity.”

Helping people find common humanity through dialogue would become a vocation for Campt, 56, a civic engagement specialist affiliated with the Richmond-based nonprofit Hope in the Cities. He put his tools to work last week moderating a meeting of Mayor Levar Stoney’s Monument Avenue Commission.

Issues don’t get much more contentious than the question of what to do with our Confederate statues.

“I have always thought about the monuments the same way I think about reparations, which is, what’s really important is the conversation about it,” Campt said during an interview Friday. “Where that lands has some significance, but what’s really important is how do institutions put the public in the position to engage each other. That’s what’s really important in these kind of big, divisive things.

“People are very focused on, ‘What’s the outcome?’ But my focus is, ‘What is the process? … What’s the engagement that you’re trying to foster?”

The tranquil commission meeting last week bore no resemblance to the verbal Molotov cocktails hurled about during a town hall-style meeting of the panel last August at the Virginia Historical Society, now called the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

“He did a superb job helping focus the meeting while providing ample opportunities for those attending to engage in a variety of ways,” said Christy Coleman, the commission’s co-chair and CEO of the American Civil War Museum.

On Thursday, Campt — a faculty member with Hope in the Cities’ Community Trustbuilding Fellowship — will read from his new book, ”The White Ally Toolkit Workbook: Using Active Listening, Empathy, and Personal Storytelling to Promote Racial Equity,” at the Downtown YMCA.

Campt, a gregarious and towering presence at 6 feet 5 inches tall, promises that the event will be interactive and entertaining with a minimum of white guilt.

“A lot of people who do this kind of race work, they think that it is important that white people feel bad about themselves and bad about the history. I’m not sure that that’s the best strategy for having people learn.”

The toolkit seeks to dismantle the notion that “racial dialogue” in America involves a conversation between white people and people of color. It argues that some progress on race relations is best achieved when white people talk to one another.

This is imperative for several reasons. Campt cites 2017 public opinion polls in which 55 percent of white respondents said they face discrimination.

If we’re going to advance the conversation, “part of our arsenal has to be white folks talking to each other about race when there are no people of color in the room.”

There’s another reason whites must more effectively engage race matters: People of color have grown increasingly weary of the task.

Campt’s book states that it would be “neither fair nor feasible” for people of color to carry the burden of these conversations. Their ranks are too few and they “are increasingly fatigued by educating white people; they are already dealing with the additional burden of actually coping with racism.”

He said Friday that white allies of people of color have several built-in advantages in talking to fellow whites about race: racially biased whites might be more receptive and can’t legitimately accuse the “allies” of arguing their point out of self-interest.

But all of this will require a sharpening of their engagement tools.

“Part of what has happened is that allies have come to think that the way to talk to skeptics is to berate them, to call them names, to inundate them with facts — to basically use strategies that are not effective, that we know from science are not effective,” he said.

These inappropriate tactics have helped fuel a backlash. “We have given our allies bad advice about how to engage people.”

Campt said we must learn to talk across our divisions. As residents of the former capital of the Confederacy should know all too well, “different groups have had very different histories and senses of the history. And part of what the monuments represent is contention over what’s going to be our collective history.

“Well, our histories are very divergent,” Campt said. “Every group thinks its version of history is the right version. If we’re going to create a democracy that works, then what’s important is we try to come up with a collective history.”

The history that landed Campt in his role as a dialogue leader was circuitous.

He studied computer science on a scholarship at Princeton, but hated it. At age 20, with a degree at hand, he edited a magazine in New York and grappled with racism in all its contradictions.

“I’m afraid on the subway and people are afraid of me,” he recalled.

He moved to the West Coast to attend graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. During his second year, he began working as a dialogue facilitator.

“I think I was a natural at that because of my obsession with how people talk to each other,” he said.

After earning a Ph.D. in city planning, he was chosen for the staff of President Bill Clinton’s Initiative on Race.

“It was a fantastic opportunity and a horrible experience,” Campt recalled.

Whatever ambitions Clinton had about racially progressive public policy weren’t shared by some of his staff members, who were more intent on campaign-style messaging than on fostering engagement, Campt said.

Then the Monica Lewinsky scandal exploded in 1998, with the race initiative as collateral damage.

“The extent to which he had any moral authority was diminished,” Campt said.

It’s difficult to imagine, but 20 years later, we’re even more divided. On many fronts, we have lost the capacity to engage each other.

If his book’s tools can encourage productive dialogue on race, “the toughest issue in American engagement, maybe we can talk to each other across ideological lines on other issues,” Campt said.

Our current breach is not only corrosive to democracy, it’s also eroding families.

“People don’t want to go home for Thanksgiving because they don’t want to be with their relatives, or they don’t want to have those encounters. That’s ridiculous.”

Too often, when white individuals hear something racist from a family member or friend, they stare at their shoes. That’s an understandable response, Campt says.

“You don’t want to damage that relationship. So you’re stuck in a quandary. You don’t know what to do. You don’t want to attack the person so you don’t do anything.”

He’s seeking to empower people to respond with practical conversation strategies.

“This is about a third choice,” he said. “Don’t attack. Don’t avoid. Engage. This is about how you engage.”

– Michael Paul Williams, mwilliams@timesdispatch.com, published May 14, 2018

This post was shared with the permission of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. You can find the original version of this article on the Richmond Times-Dispatch site at www.richmond.com/news/plus/williams-racial-dialogue-is-his-specialty-his-book-details-how/article_7d086bdd-4b7f-5c7d-9947-8f66af2bf287.html.

Civvy Award Nominations are Now Open Until July 11th

Today opens the nomination period for the second annual American Civic Collaboration Awards, aka The Civvys! Presented by NCDD member org, The Bridge Alliance and Big Tent Nation, these awards celebrate those doing civic collaboration work that rises above political ideology. Submit your nominations by July 11th and the winner will be announced at the National Conference on Citizenship this October. You can read the details on The Civvys below and read the original version here.


The 2018 Civvys: The American Civic Collaboration Awards

Celebrating Partnerships that Strengthen America

Nominations are open June 11 – July 11, 2018.

In its second year, the American Civic Collaboration Awards will continue to highlight outstanding efforts of civic collaboration making impacts in local, national and youth communities. Awardees and finalists will be celebrated at the National Conference on Citizenship in October 2018.

Nominate individuals or organizations by July 11, 2018 using this form.

Award Categories and Criteria

The Civvys celebrate best practices in civic collaboration that put community and nation before party, ideology and narrow interests.

In its inaugural year, the Civvys highlighted outstanding efforts of civic collaboration making impacts in National, Local and Youth communities. Since this is an election year, the 2018 Civvys will include a new category, “Political,” focusing on campaigns and leaders that make collaboration and civility a core part of their message and operations.

Award Categories

National: These projects are nationwide in scope and audience.
Local: These projects are designed to serve a local, state or regional community.
Youth: These projects have a focus on children, teenagers or young adults.
Political: These are campaigns, cases of collaborative leadership or election races.

Criteria

We are looking for a range of projects, programs and people that use civic collaboration best practices to achieve real results in facilitating dialogue, enabling cross-partisan action, or putting civility and community above ideology. Here are some of the criteria the awards committee will consider:

Collaborative practices. To what extent does this work use civic collaboration best practices to achieve results?

Impact. Who has this work had an impact on, and in what ways?

Scalability. Is this work something that can easily be expanded to have a greater impact? Is it something that can appeal across geographic regions, or be used to effect change in other civics topics or challenges?

In addition, the Civvys celebrates programs and people that:

  • Engages a representative and diverse set of stakeholders
  • Cultivates civility and mutual respect
  • Creates meaningful shared goals for those involved, using the process of co-creation
  • Provides effective facilitation and support throughout the process
  • Develops or utilizes metrics to measure outcomes

Meet the winners and finalists of the inaugural year of the Civvys.

Thank you to all those who submitted nominations and helped take part in recognizing organizations doing great collaborative work. We look forward to receiving the 2018 nominations!

You can find the original version of the Bridge Alliance and Big Tent Nation announcement at www.civvys.org/.

Ben Franklin Circle Reflections on Moderation in Politics

As part of our partnership with NCDD member org, Ben Franklin Circles (BFC), we are continuing to share stories coming from the Circles. In this most recent BFC post, Micah Towery lifts up reflections from the discussion that took place in the Circle he runs when they explored moderation; and how this virtue can play a role in our political lives. You can read the post below and find the original post on BFC’s site here.


Moderation as a Political Virtue

“Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”

Didn’t we already cover this idea with temperance? That was my first thought as I prepared to lead our Circle on the topic of moderation.

I read it again. Resentment? Injuries? That sounded pretty different from “Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.” Clearly, Franklin thought of this term differently than I was used to, but as a leader, I struggled to understand the difference between moderation and temperance.

Thankfully, facilitating a Ben Franklin Circle doesn’t mean having all the answers, and my own Circle helped me realize that Franklin is talking about this term as a particularly political virtue.

Here are some things I discovered about this virtue from our discussions.

1. Avoid extremes

Does being moderate mean being wishy-washy? Does it mean always taking the political middle ground? Certainly not. Some in our group brought up the great social reformers, especially those who used non-violence as a tactic. The Civil Rights movement was certainly not in the political ‘middle,’ and many people died for that cause. Clearly, there were strong convictions at work, but the Civil Rights movement still embodies Franklin’s virtue of moderation.

Another example of moderation that our Circle discussed were Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. These examples demonstrate the power of checking resentment without watering down conviction or pretending “I’m OK, you’re OK.”

2. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve

In contemporary society, we’re often taught that strong feelings guide the way to our inner convictions. Indeed, a deep passion to set things right is a positive thing. It energizes us and can embolden us to make sacrifices or speak up when we are afraid. But what if strong feelings aren’t always a reliable guide? What if instead, they are passions that could turn destructive and blind us to self-examination?

I think Franklin’s virtue of moderation also requires us to examine our own positions soberly. What’s the line between resentment for personal slights and a deep passion to set things right?

It’s not always easy to see. As the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has argued, our feelings often come first and rationalization comes later. Haidt says we’re caught in a kind of “moral matrix” and there is a deep and pleasurable tendency to join “teams” with similar matrices (cheering for your favorite sports team is a great example of this). In this sense, our deepest feelings, even those we share with others who we admire, could be blinding us from open dialogue across values systems.

We will always have disagreements with others, sometimes irreconcilable ones. Yet we must live together and confront mutual problems, as well.

Moderation is about honoring the general norm that civic engagement–necessary for our life together–cannot continue without our ability to check and examine our own strong feelings. Cultivating this virtue, then, means listening to others better and seeing ourselves more truly.

3. Practical civility

Going through Franklin’s 13 virtues, I have come to realize that these civic virtues are not puritanical rules. They are norms we must apply practically, but not obsessively enforce. They are habits of mind and body we should try to cultivate in ourselves and encourage in others.

If you visited Micah Towery in South Bend, you’d probably find him hanging out with neighbors or engaged in a side hustle. He formed and lead the first Ben Franklin Circle in South Bend. He teaches occasionally at Notre Dame and Goshen College. He has a book of poetry called Whale of Desire.

You can find the original version of this post on Ben Franklin Circles’ site at https://benfranklincircles.org/moderation/moderation-as-a-political-virtue.

Hidden Common Ground Initiative Findings on Health Care

The second report of the Hidden Common Ground Initiative has been recently released by NCDD member org, Public Agenda, in collaboration with fellow NCDDer the Kettering Foundation. This report focuses on how people in the US feel towards health care; and it shows that while people seemed to be divided over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there was much common ground to be found over health care, in general. Explore the public’s view on this issue by checking out the full report here. You can read the announcement from Public Agenda below and find more information on the Hidden Common Ground Initiative here.


Where Americans See Eye to Eye on Health Care

This report from the Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on hidden or otherwise underappreciated common ground in health care. How do people talk across party lines about the problems facing our health care system? What do people think should be done to make progress?

Finding Common Ground on Health Care

Health care has long been controversial and is certainly among the more partisan problems in American politics today—at least among political leaders. In 2017 alone, the American public witnessed endless debate among leaders over whether and how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and also witnessed Republicans’ inability to devise and pass new health care legislation—all part of leaders’ age-old ideological disagreements about how health care should work in this country.

Despite such a bleak picture, does the intense partisan division over health care among elected officials and pundits actually reflect partisan divisions among the public at large? Survey research does indicate continuing partisan divisions among the public on the favorability of the ACA. But despite these and other divisions along party lines on the direction we should go to improve health care in the United States, Public Agenda’s research and engagement experience over the past 40 years indicates that even seemingly divided groups may share or be able to find significant common ground.

When people from different walks of life sit down and talk about health care, how do they process the problem and think about solutions? Our approach to exploring the public’s views on the topic began with a review of existing survey data and proceeded to three focus groups in diverse locations with ordinary Americans, with roughly equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and Independents in each group. This report concludes with implications and reflections on the solutions that are most and least likely to garner public support and with ideas for productively engaging the public on the topic of health care.

About the Hidden Common Ground Initiative

It’s taken decades for our national politics to become as ideologically polarized and gridlocked as they are today, but it’s only recently that pundits and pollsters have started to converge on a narrative that blames the general public, instead of a flawed political system and culture, for this state of affairs. Especially since the 2016 election, a storyline has taken hold that portrays our dysfunctional national politics as a reflection of our profound divisions as a people. In this account, we’re an alienated society with no ability to understand one another, let alone find common ground or work together toward common ends.

For example, a 2016 series published by the Associated Press, Divided America, argued:

It’s no longer just Republican vs. Democrat, or liberal vs. conservative. It’s the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent, rural vs. urban, white men against the world. Climate doubters clash with believers. Bathrooms have become battlefields, borders are battle lines. Sex and race, faith and ethnicity…the melting pot seems to be boiling over.

Such rhetoric about divisions among the public has proliferated, and surely it captures something important about the contemporary United States. We are fragmented in many ways, with consequential differences, divides and disagreements that are important to acknowledge and address. But our divisions are hardly the whole story, and this rhetoric can be dangerously self-reinforcing, exacerbating the divisions it chronicles, stunting our political imagination and playing into the hands of those who would manipulate and intensify our differences to their own advantage.

The Hidden Common Ground Initiative explores a different hypothesis and possibility— namely, that as far as the broader public is concerned, there is often enough common ground to at least begin forging progress on many of the problems we face. Moreover, with some nurturing quite a bit more common ground can emerge. The initiative is concerned with locating the common ground that exists on tough issues and giving it greater voice and currency in public conversations and policy debates. And it is concerned with generating insight into how more democratically meaningful common ground can be achieved.

We believe that dispelling the myth that we are inescapably divided on practically everything can not only help fuel progress on a host of issues, but also help us better navigate our real, enduring divisions, from differing philosophies of governance to racial tensions. Hidden Common Ground aspires to tell the story of what unites us by way of concrete, actionable solutions that can make a difference in people’s lives and the fate of their communities—and eventually, perhaps, in our national politics as well.

You can read more about the Hidden Common Ground Initiative on Public Agenda’s site at www.publicagenda.org/pages/hidden-common-ground-where-americans-see-eye-to-eye-on-health-care.

Listen to the Tech Tuesday Recording Featuring Mismatch

In case you missed it, we had another excellent Tech Tuesday last week featuring Mismatch, a creation of Allsides! Over 50 participants joined the call to learn more about this engaging platform that seeks to match people of diverse perspectives through video conferencing. This was a great opportunity to learn how this platform has been utilized in schools and the ways in which it has already transformed peoples’ lives. We strongly encourage you to check out the recording of the call to learn more about it!

On the call, John Gable and Jaymee Copenhaver of Allsides started off the conversation by sharing how polarization has shifted here in the US and that our country has never been as polarized as it is now. They pointed out the dangerous combination of the 24 hr news cycle, massive polarization, and increasing tendency for people to live in bubbles has people more extreme in their beliefs and significantly less tolerant.

Mismatch helps to address this because it connects classrooms across the country via video conferencing and allows students to hear from someone different from themselves. And they had some phenomenal results! Many of the students who participated found their nervousness was dramatically reduced afterward and 92% said they better understood the other person better. John and Jaymee shared the future goals for the platform; while it is currently being utilized in schools, they hope to expand its reach to libraries, orgs in the D&D field, and ultimately the broader world.

Some of our favorite quotes during the Tech Tuesday:

  • “We generally only see one POV, at Allsides they seek to empower the reader and show different points of view, so people can make their own decisions.”
  • “After talking with their match, students asked if they had been matched with someone “different” (Yes, they had) and found that they had more in common than they previously thought they would.”
  • “If we can have people meet each other, coming from diverse perspectives, and actually talk with each other – this is when we can change the course of history.”
  • “When you look at the tipping point, you really need about 5% to participate, have these transformative experiences, to really change things.”

We recorded the whole presentation if you were unable to join us, which you can access on the archives page here. We had several insightful contributions to the chat, which you can find the transcript of here. Access to the archives is a benefit of being an NCDD member, so make sure your membership is up-to-date (or click here to join).

Tech_Tuesday_Badge

Big thank you to John, Jaymee, and everyone who joined us on this informative call! We encourage you to check out the TechTues recording and learn more about Mismatch at www.mismatch.org/. To learn more about NCDD’s Tech Tuesday series and hear recordings of past calls, please visit www.ncdd.org/tech-tuesdays.

Finally, we love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Confab Calls and Tech Tuesdays. It is through your generous contributions to NCDD that we can keep doing this work! That’s why we want to encourage you to support NCDD by making a donation or becoming an NCDD member today (you can also renew your membership by clicking here). Thank you!

Tuning in and Shifting Strategy with Ben Franklin Circles

As part of our partnership with NCDD member org, Ben Franklin Circles, we have been sharing stories from those participating in the circles and some of the key learning that has taken place during the process. Read the remarkable change that happened in Victoria Fann’s BF Circle when she decided to step back from facilitating and have the circle members take the rein. You can read the post below and find the original post on BFC’s site here.


The Spirit of Community

My Ben Franklin Circle in Weaverville, NC has been meeting since November 2017. Since I have been facilitating groups of various kinds since 1989, stepping into the role of facilitator for this group was easy for me. We met for the first four months with me asking most of the questions, reading the quotes and gently steering the conversation if we strayed away from the topic.

This seemed to work well, but something was missing. I had a gnawing feeling that there was a better way to structure our little group. Based on some words from his autobiography, I knew that Ben Franklin would heartily agree. For example, he writes, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Involvement was precisely what we needed!

The first small step in this direction took place at our February meeting. Instead of discussing the virtues in the order listed on the Ben Franklin Circle website, I decided to write each one of the remaining virtues on small slips of paper and fold them up. I brought those papers to the meeting and placed them in a hat. At the end or our discussion, I asked a member to draw out one of the slips of paper, saying that we would discuss whatever virtue was chosen.

This felt good—so good, in fact, that at the March meeting, I decided to take this idea a step further. Prior to the meeting, I wrote out that month’s virtue questions and quotes provided by the Ben Franklin Circle website onto small slips of paper, folded them and placed them into a bowl at our host’s house. I then invited members to draw one out and read it aloud to the group to prompt our discussion. I also encouraged members to add their own questions.

Franklin’s very own group, on which the BF Circles are based, encouraged a similar involvement from the members of the group as he writes here: “I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding year, I had form’d most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the JUNTO; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased. Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory; and, to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.”

What we discovered during that meeting was that having the members chose the questions at random and read them to the group led to a much deeper level of conversation. I suspect this was because the playing field had been leveled and everyone felt more engaged and involved than when I was the one asking most of the questions. My leadership role softened as I yielded to this more community-based approach. Our trust of each other and our willingness to explore the outer edges of the virtue increased exponentially. Plus, there was almost a palpable feeling of relief among all of us once we shifted into this more egalitarian way of relating to each other. It was clear we’d been seeking it all along.

The lesson for me was a reminder of how important it is to tune into the specific needs of a situation without assumptions, agendas or formulas, but rather an open mind and a willingness to learn.

Though initially my “expertise” proved to be a hindrance, the group process itself became the catalyst that allowed the solution to emerge effortlessly.

Thank you, Ben Franklin.

Victoria Fann is a writer, transformational coach, group facilitator and workshop leader. Her Ben Franklin Circle meets in Weaverville, NC.

You can find the original version of this post on Ben Franklin Circles’ site at https://benfranklincircles.org/ben-franklin-circle-hosts/the-spirit-of-community.

Reminder to Join Tomorrow’s Tech Tues Feat Mismatch

In case you missed our announcement last week, the next NCDD Tech Tues is tomorrow Tuesday, May 22nd, featuring Mismatch! This FREE call will be from 3 – 4pm Eastern/Noon-1pm Pacific. Don’t miss out – register today to secure your spot!

Mismatch.org connects classrooms across the country via video conferencing and allows students to hear from someone different from themselves. It works like a dating service: teachers fill out some information about their school and area, and they are sent their perfect Mismatch. Students then use a conversation guide to talk one-on-one with students in another classroom. Through these conversations, students learn about how to talk civilly with someone who is different than them as well as important digital literacy skills. Recently, Mismatch was opened up to anyone who wanted to participate during the National Week of Conversation and offered conversations on a variety of different topics.

On this webinar, we will be joined by John Gable and Jaymee Copenhaver from Allsides, who have developed the Mismatch platform. They will introduce us to Mismatch and walk us through how it works, and how it has been used in schools and beyond.

About our presenters:
John Gable is CEO and co-founder of AllSides.com and AllSidesForSchools.org. John has 25 years of technology experience where he was the product manager, team or division lead for a number of iconic products including Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Office, and Checkpoint ZoneAlarm. He co-founded Kavi Corp (web-based collaboration, later sold to High Logic) and previously was a professional political campaigner and executive director in the 1980s working for Bush ’41, Mitch McConnell and the Republican National Committee.

Jaymee Copenhaver is the Partner Director and a writer for AllSides.com. She recently completed a year-long Media and Journalism fellowship with the Charles Koch Institute in Arlington, VA and is a December 2016 graduate of the University of Virginia where she studied Government and American Politics.

This will be a great chance to learn more about this engaging platform. Don’t miss out – register today!

Tech Tuesdays are a series of learning events from NCDD focused on technology for engagement. These 1-hour events are designed to help dialogue and deliberation practitioners get a better sense of the online engagement landscape and how they can take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to them. You do not have to be a member of NCDD to participate in our Tech Tuesday learning events.

Register for the 2018 Summer Peacebuilding Institute

In case you missed it, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) is happening now! This phenomenal program offered by NCDD member org, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University is an opportunity to learn from leaders in the D&D field about conflict transformation and restorative justice. Courses can be taken to improve your skills or for academic credit (and they now offer an M.A. in Restorative Justice program).  Session 1 has already begun, but the remaining sessions are going until the end of June – so check it out ASAP (or prep for next year!). Below are the list of courses offered for 2018, and you can read more about the courses and SPI here


Summer Peacebuilding Institute 2018

The Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) provides useful and intellectually stimulating opportunities to learn more about yourself, others and the world around you. Courses are designed for people interested in integrating conflict transformation, peacebuilding, restorative justice, and related fields into their own work and personal life.

SPI 2018 Course Offerings
Session I – May 14 – 22, 2018 (7-day, 3-credit)
Session II – May 24 – June 1, 2018 (7-day, 3-credit)
Session III – June 4 – 8, 2018 (5-day, 2-credit)
Session IV – June 11 – 15, 2018 (5-day, 2-credit)
Session V – June 18 -20, 2018 (3-day, non-credit workshops)

Only one course may be taken per session. All courses can be taken for training and skills enhancement or academic credit. Session 1 and 2 courses may be taken for three academic credits. Session 3 and 4 courses may be taken for two academic credits.  Courses with PAX/PTI can be taken for academic credit or training. Courses with PTI can only be taken for training. Contact SPI for more information.

If you have questions about a particular course that are not answered in the information below, please feel free to contact the SPI office at spi[at]emu[dot]edu.

SESSION I: May 14 – 22, 2018
Analysis: Understanding Conflict – PAX/PTI 533, Gloria Rhodes
Explore the nature, dynamics, and complex causes of conflict and violence. Discuss how relationships, motivations, culture, and worldviews increase or decrease violent conflict. Learn ways to understand and change multifaceted systems that perpetuate conflict.

Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), Level II – PAX/PTI 640, Katie Mansfield and Lisa Collins
Review and deepen the concepts from STAR Level 1. Work with trainers and other participants to plan your application and contextualization of STAR frameworks, models, concepts, and activities.

Transformative Leadership for Organizational Development – PAX/PTI 684, David Brubaker and Elizabeth Girvan
Focus on the role of leaders in leading organizational and social change and managing structures, personnel, finances, and external networks and partnerships.

Forgiveness & Reconciliation – PAX/PTI 563, Hizkias Assefa
Explore the concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation from multidisciplinary perspectives and understand how they can be used to generate durable solutions and healing at many levels of conflict from the interpersonal to the international.

Modern Slavery and the Prison-Industrial Complex – PAX/PTI 685, Monti Narayan Datta
Critically assess what human rights are, explore how and why it is still possible for human beings to be bought and sold around the world today, and investigate inequality in the American prison system.

SESSION II: May 24 – June 1, 2018
Formation for Peacebuilding Practice – PAX/PTI 532, Gloria Rhodes
Explore various competencies needed by those who feel compelled to work for peace and social justice. Strengthen your abilities to listen and communicate, create and maintain healthy boundaries, recognize and promote diversity, lead from your vision and values, and engage people in dialogue and decision-making.

Restorative Justice: Principles, Theories & Applications– PAX/PTI 571, Carl Stauffer
Deepen your understanding of justice. Explore a justice framework that focuses on healing, accountability, and community, not blame, punishment, and isolation.

Adaptive Action: Nonviolent Resistance in the 21st Century – PAX/PTI 645, Glenda Eoyang, John N. Murray and Mary Nations
Transform oppression into opportunity. Learn to effectively engage in a chaotic and uncertain political and social world. Analyze the dynamics that drive complex change in human systems and find practical ways to respond to forces that oppress.

Sexual Harms: Changing the Narrative – PAX/PTI 692, Carolyn Stauffer
Join the wave of leaders committed to creating environments free from sexual harm. Gain tools to respond to sexual violence and learn about preventative best practices. Design restorative interventions that build safety and resilience.

Circle Processes PAX/PTI 672, Kay Pranis
Gain skills to lead a process that brings together victims, offenders, family, community members, and others to have difficult conversations and respond to acts of violence or crime. Explore the foundational values and key structural elements of the circle process and learn to design and conduct circles.

Biblical Foundations of Justice and Peacemaking – BVG 541, Andrew Suderman
More than a study of a few select texts that deal with peacemaking, this course will explore and examine the various dimensions of peace in the Bible, with special attention to how the Bible as a whole, functions as a foundation for peacemaking. This course is being offered through Eastern Mennonite Seminary. To register as a non-seminary student use this part-time application.

SESSION III: June 4-8, 2018
Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), Level 1 –PAX 540/PTI 041, Donna Minter and Ram Bhagat
Explore processes and tools for addressing trauma, breaking cycles of violence, and building resilience. Increase awareness of the impact of trauma on the body, mind, beliefs, and behavior of individuals, communities, and societies.

Truth-telling, Racial Healing and Restorative Justice – PAX/PTI 671, Fania Davis, Jodie Geddes and Lenore Bajare-Dukes
Explore linkages between truth, justice, and healing at personal and collective levels in the wake of violence. Discuss informal and formal approaches to truth-telling, restorative justice and reconciliation from around the world. Consider future applications of truth-telling amidst ongoing police violence against communities of color in the US.

Christian Spirituality for Social Action – PAX/PTI 688, Jennifer Lee and Johonna Turner
Explore Christian spiritual formation practices to nurture and sustain a life of community leadership, engaged ministry, and social activism. Expand awareness of spiritual disciplines as well as biblical and theological resources to support a faith-rooted approach to social action.

SESSION IV: June 11-15, 2018
The Transformative Power of Identity and Dignity – PAX/PTI 551, Barry Hart
Understand the positive and negative roles and transformative power of identity and dignity within complex conflicts, violence, and trauma.

Building Resilience in Body, Mind, and Spirit – PAX/PTI 612, Katie Mansfield and Katia Ornelas
Taking the body-mind connection seriously, peacebuilders, caregivers and change makers need full-bodied, creative engagement in activities for self-care and well-being. Explore strategies, tools, and exercises for individual participants and communities/organizations to cultivate safety, healthy uses of power, and a deeper sense of connection. Discuss cultural contexts, taboos, stereotypes, and biases that keep us from integrating creative, embodied practice into work for social change and peace.

Peace Education – PAX/PTI 546, Ed Brantmeier
Discuss the education that is needed for the elimination of direct and indirect forms of violence. Explore strategies to reduce violence such as bullying, implicit bias, ethnocentrism, physical fights, or institutional discrimination in schools, the workplace, and the community.

Designing Facilitated Processes that Work – PAX/PTI 689, Catherine Barnes
Do you ever think you need to go beyond basic meeting facilitation to design processes that will help groups address challenging situations, deal with differences and envision a better future? This class is intended for people with some experience of facilitation who want to take their skills to the next level through using context analysis, process design principles, and more conducive process methods.

Story-gathering: Participatory theatre for facilitation and empowerment – PAX/PTI 691, Heidi Winters Vogel and Roger Foster
Develop fluency in participatory theatre techniques for use in mediation, intervention and group facilitation to promote participant-generated change.

SESSION V: June 18-20, 2018
Restorative Justice in Higher Education – PTI 080 E, Jon Swartz and Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz
How is the restorative justice approach being used in the context of education settings for accountability, repair, and healing?

Resisting the White Savior Complex in Social Justice Organizing – PTI 081 E, Amanda Gross and Cole Parke
What do well-intentioned white people need to understand about the harm, violence, and insidiousness of racism? Exploration of a theological basis for anti-racism work.

Crime Victims, Survivors, and Restorative Justice – PTI 082 E, Matthew Hartman
Explore the intersection between trauma, recovery, victim assistance, and restorative justice. Develop programming strategies that orient toward the needs of crime victims and survivors.

Developing Integrated Conflict Management Systems – PTI 083 E, Brian Bloch
Learn to create a system and culture that collaborative addresses conflict and the practical steps an organization can use to put this system in place.

Performance Arts: Developing Sustainable Resources for Community Learning & Action – PTI 084 E, Heidi Winters Vogel and Roger Foster
Learn to assess and evaluate performance-based community engagement programs to strengthen them and make them more attractive to funders.

Singing to the Lions: Helping Children Respond Effectively to Violence and Abuse – PTI 085 E, Lucy Steinitz and Naoko Kamiok
Training of trainers to learn the use of games, drama, dance, and art to help trauma-affected children and young adults overcome fear and violence in their lives.

You can find more information on these courses and the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at www.emu.edu/cjp/spi/.