National Week of Conversation Happening April 5th-13th

The next National Week of Conversation (NWOC) is April 5th – 13th! For the second year in a row, NWOC will be a week of intentional conversation, where folks around the country will be hosting or joining conversations, in hopes to better address the intense divisions in our society through dialogue, deepening understanding, and building relationships. We have a special Confab call happening this Weds where you can learn more about NWOC, how to join a conversation already going on and/or start your own. This free call will be on Wednesday, March 13th from 3-4 pm Eastern, 12-1 pm Pacific and we encourage you to register ASAP to save your spot on the call. (Spoiler: we will also be sharing about a paid opportunity to host discussions around the new national debt issue guide, so you won’t want to miss out!) You can read more about NWOC in the post below and on the NCP site here.

National Week of Conversation: April 5th – 13th

Today, seemingly more than ever before, it is important that we as American citizens of all stripes, take a step back followed by a step forward. Step back from our comfort zone and routine, step away from our smartphone screens and social media scrolling and step forward towards someone new, engaging and connecting with genuine curiosity. This is how we grow both as individuals and as a society. This is how we better understand the hurt we might actually be able to help heal. This is how we understand American struggles beyond simply those we experience within invisible border walls of our own communities or those we learn about in the echo chambers of our like-minded social media connections. This is the only way we understand our best way forward, together.

These uncommon steps are far from easy. So an entire movement has formed where we, hand-in-hand, walk each other into greater connection and understanding. Republicans and Democrats. Jews and Muslims. Majority and minority. In the middle of the chaos, we enter into difficult yet rewarding conversations where we #ListenFirst to understand each other. And somewhere within that, we see behind the angry social media posts and opposing votes and comments taken out of context and realize we are all human. We realize we all have stories worth open ears and struggles worth another helping hand.

This year, April 5th – 13th, this #ListenFirst movement is joining together during National Week of Conversation to rally Americans to take these steps together.

National Week of Conversation is a bold annual occasion when people with diverse perspectives #ListenFirst to understand. Through in-person and virtual conversations exploring any topic of interest, people of all stripes intentionally convene with the goal of mending our frayed social fabric and revitalizing America together. We are encouraging everyone and anyone to reach out to neighbors, family and friends, and form your own conversations.

To connect with this sweeping cross country movement, you can host or join a conversation during NWOC 2019, April 5-13. Use the #ListenFirst hashtag to invite others!

One week. One week to step back from routine work schedules and routine interactions. One week to step away from excuses and prioritize your concerns about our future. One week when we can step forward – towards each other, with each other and for each other. What is your excuse for standing back or standing still? Please join us for National Week of Conversation and practice what it means to #ListenFirst.

You can learn more about the National Week of Conversation at

Announcing a Blockbuster March Confab!

We are pleased to announce an exciting March Confab call happening next week in coordination with Net Impact, National Issues Forums Institute, and the National Conversation Project! On the call, we will learn more about Net Impact’s youth engagement work, their collaboration with NIFI on a new National Debt issue guide, a paid opportunity to host forums with the guide, and how this all plays into the upcoming National Week of Conversation (NWOC). Join us for this dynamic call on Wednesday, March 13th from 3-4 pm Eastern, 12-1 pm Pacific.

This free one-hour webinar will be a great opportunity for anyone passionate about cultivating the next generation of leaders, those interested in learning how to apply for the microgrant, and/or hosting a conversation during NWOC. You won’t want to miss out on this discussion – register today!


On this call, we will be joined by Net Impact’s Program Manager Christy Stanker who will share about Net Impact’s work to nurture youth into emerging leaders, their stand-out program Up to Us, and how to apply for the microgrant to host forums on the national debt.

The issue guide, A Nation in Debt: How Can We Pay the Bills? was published by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) in partnership with Up to UsUp to Us, an initiative of Net Impact and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, is a rapidly growing, nonpartisan movement of young people who recognize that when it comes to securing their economic and fiscal future, they have no better advocates than themselves.

Amid high-profile debates over jobs and the economy, social mobility, healthcare, and tax reform, Up to Us is the only nationwide, campus-based campaign focused on building a sustainable economic and fiscal future for America’s next generation. Net Impact’s programs help new leaders broaden their thinking, build their networks, and scale their impact beyond just individual actions.

Net Impact is excited to offer a microgrant of $150 to moderators* who host a forum using the newly updated A Nation in Debt issue guide and NIFI’s Chief Administrative Officer Darla Minnich will join the call to share details on the offer. *Moderators must be affiliated with an accredited US-based college or university to be considered eligible for the microgrant.

This microgrant opportunity also coincides with the upcoming National Week of Conversation, happening April 5-13. Our co-hosts at the National Conversation Project, Jaclyn Inglis, Partnerships Director, and Pearce Godwin, Executive Director, will share more about this upcoming initiative to get people engaged in conversations and how you can get involved. We hope many of you will consider combining the microgrant opportunity and contributing to the National Week of Conversation!

Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

About Our Confab Co-Hosts

Net Impact is a nonprofit that inspires and equips emerging leaders to build a more just and sustainable world. Net Impact’s programs help new leaders broaden their thinking, build their networks, and scale their impact beyond just individual actions.

National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that serves to promote public deliberation about difficult public issues. Its activities include publishing the issue guides and other materials used by local forum groups, encouraging collaboration among forum sponsors, and sharing information about current activities in the network.

National Conversation Project is an overarching, collaborative platform that aggregates, aligns, and amplifies the efforts of more than 175 partners to mainstream conversations in which we #ListenFirst to understand. NCP promotes National Weeks of Conversation, #ListenFirst Fridays, and any conversation inviting people of all stripes to revitalize America together.

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!

Special Offer Available on “A House Divided” NIFI Guide

In case you missed it, National Issues Forums Institute in partnership with the Kettering Foundation – both NCDD member organizations, have a special offer available for their new Issue Guide, A House Divided: What Would We Have to Give Up to Get the Political System We Want. They are offering folks interested in convening forums around this issue guide with complimentary digital versions and hard copies of the guide, and request for coveners and moderators to provide NIFI with report back on the experience. You can read the announcement in the post below and you can find the original on NIFI’s site here.

Special Offer on Newly Released Issue Guide for 2019 – Join the Conversation about “A House Divided: What Would We Have to Give Up to Get the Political System We Want?”

In partnership with the Kettering FoundationNational Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) is offering the following to forum conveners:

Digital Versions
The digital version of A House Divided Issue Guide and A House Divided Issue Advisory is available for complimentary download. The Issue Advisory is a shorter version of the Issue Guide and offers the same options and trade-offs for deliberation. Both the issue advisory and the issue guide versions are available here.

Hard Copies
Prefer hard copies for forum participants? NIFI is offering a set of 20 Issue Advisories and 2 Issue Guides for free.

Starter Video
The 5-minute companion video is a valuable tool since some participants may not have read the issue guide before the forum. The starter video is available for unlimited streaming and downloads.

  • You will need to create a Vimeo account to access the video.
  • Use promo code AHD2019 for free unlimited streaming and downloads.

What NIFI Requests From Conveners and Moderators:

How to Request Hard Copies
To request hard copies, please complete this form.
The advisories will be shipped to you from NIFI’s fulfillment house.

Deliberative Facilitator Cheat Sheet

-Editable cheat sheet for moderators to use during a forum
Questions that Can Support Deliberation
-A series of questions that can help spur deliberation in any forum, sourced from hundreds of pages of training materials from a variety of centers for public life
Fostering Deeper Deliberation
-A brief handout that discusses some of Kettering Foundation’s basic research findings on how to foster deeper deliberation
Nine Key Elements of Deliberative Forums
-A short course in NIF moderating

Download the entire kit in a single PDF here.

Download editable, individual elements of the kit here.

Watch a Webinar about Moderating “A House Divided” presented by Kara Dillard. Kara discusses the three options in depth, outlines questions to ask in the personal stake section as well as in the options sections, and ways to help your participants reflect on this topic. Click here to watch the webinar.

NIFI Event Calendar
Please let us know about your forum and we’ll include it on the NIFI web site in the events section. Please log in at to submit an event or send your forum details (contact name, email address, date, time, location, city, state, zip code) to

How will NIFI and the Kettering Foundation use the responses to the post-forum questionnaires and moderator reports?
The Kettering Foundation and their research partners will analyze insights from the forums held nationwide throughout 2019 and prepare a cumulative report. The report will be shared during briefings with elected officials and other policymakers in Washington DC and nationwide, along with highlighting the NIF network’s activities to promote deliberation and dialogue on a variety of issues. The report will be available on the NIFI and Kettering Foundation web site in early 2020.

Questions About the Special Offer?
Please contact Darla Minnich at or 937.439.9834 or

You can find the original version of this announcement on the National Issues Forums Institute’s site at

Explore D&D Future in New Cosmopolis2045 Website

Imagine a world in which communication practices are centered in social interactions and the way society operates, where the whole community lives dialogue and deliberation practices every day?

This is the vision for the exciting new website that just officially launched – Cosmopolis2045, which offers a vision of a future communication-centric society in the year 2045. This project has been an on-going, multi-year collaborative effort between scholars, practitioners, and community members; you may remember we announced this endeavor several years back on the blog and it’s wonderful to see this come to fruition. Thanks to NCDD member Kim Pearce for sharing this update with us! We encourage you to read more in the post below and especially to explore the future vision of the Cosmopolis2045 website here.

Cosmopolis2045: Imagining a better social world in which communicating matters

What if a whole community treated relationships with other people as if they really mattered? What if a whole community took dialogue and deliberation seriously? And what if that community tried with all their hearts to bring about a better social world in all the myriad of ways we engage in communication with others in our world?

These were the questions asked by a group of scholars and practitioners sponsored by the CMM Institute, a NCDD member organization. The Cosmopolis2045 website is their answer, visit

The Cosmopolis2045 website depicts an imagined community set in the future (circa 2045) in which residents and leaders of the community have adopted a communication-centric view of how their own and other social worlds function. This website offers an intriguing look at a possible near future in which dialogue and deliberation are an integral part of everyday community events and are at the heart of city functioning. The website is also an information-rich resource for teaching classes on communication, especially cosmopolitan communication and for exploring the implications of a communication-centric view for a range of educational, legal, governance, and associated community practices.

Behind the scenes

How might we, as scholars, practitioners, citizens and all those concerned with the quality of our social life, respond to such an invitation?

What might it take to act wisely, if only for the moment, in our response?

What resources, stories and other experiences do we have to draw on to respond?

What can we share with others that might enhance all our capacities to act wisely in the making of better social worlds?

Those are the questions we asked ourselves as we set about imagining a community where a new social fabric could emerge out of treating communicating seriously.

In this section, we give you behind-the-scenes information which addresses the above questions. Our starting vision and guiding theory are described in Inspiration for the Cosmopolis2045 project. Here we also outline the futurist research we drew upon; elaborate at greater length on our “non-utopian” attempts at being visionaries; and describe what we mean by cosmopolitan communication.

The Cosmopolis2045 project is a collaborative thought experiment that has involved an international group of scholars and sponsors. These people and organisations are described in Collaborators and sponsors.

If any particular topic or underlying theory attracts your attention please go to Want to know more? Here we offer introductory background material on the Coordinated Management of Meaning, our guiding theory. We also include references and websites to a range of supporting material from futurist research to pedagogy, to sustainable food practices and procedural justice, and more. You can also find links to like-minded websites, scholars and practitioners. All these references and links show the breadth and depth of social change going on now and how much our vision for the near future is possible and not far removed from reality.

Inspiration for Cosmopolis2045

The Cosmopolis2045 project has been a collaborative thought experiment involving many people and taking place over a number of years. It is, in fact, still on-going.

The website depicting our vision of Cosmopolis is one, but not all, manifestation of our response to the challenge of how do you envision better social worlds, knowing that there is no “best” goal outside of the very process of communicating itself.

Here we offer some of the behind-the-scenes material that, hopefully, explains how we responded to the challenge we set ourselves. We lay this out under three themes:

What we are trying to achieve

 Our goal with this website is to create and maintain a virtual depiction of a community set in the future (circa 2045) in which residents and leaders of the community have adopted a communication-centric view of how their own and other social worlds function. It is our belief, and one that can be substantiated, that this communication-centric view is what we need for the evolution of better social worlds.

However, we have found, as scholars, practitioners and involved citizens, that this communication-centric view is not one commonly shared. Mainstream communication theories, both formal and implicit, narrowly focus on the content and quality of messages, along with an implicit assumption that successful communication is the receipt of an unsullied message or the creation of shared understanding.

Our primary challenge, then, in creating the imaginary world of Cosmopolis2045, has been to depict ways of living in communicating that many have not imagined and others only in part. On the other hand, we also know from our collective experiences that there are many social change initiatives happening around the world that point the ways to meet this challenge.

In our imagination we have drawn together many of the social change initiatives and woven them within a communication perspective“loom”. And in doing this, we have created new imaginings of what can happen if we treat communicating seriously.

The stories, the new social institutions and the dialogic practices of the citizens and leaders in our imagined community have been developed to point to new ways and new possibilities for personal and social evolution. Given the local and global challenges we all face in the 21stcentury, we hope our new imaginings offer some hope and some new directions to explore.

Our guiding theory

The Theory of the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) is the primary impetus behind the Cosmopolis 2045 Project. Barnett Pearce and Vernon Cronen at the University of Massachusetts developed CMM theory in the late 1970s. The seminal expressions of the theory can be found in Pearce and Cronen’s Communication, Action and Meaning: The Creation of Social Realities (Praeger, 1980), Pearce’s Communication and the Human Condition (Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), Pearce and Littlejohn’s Moral Conflict: When Social Worlds Collide (Sage, 1997), and Pearce’s Making Social Worlds: A Communication Perspective (Blackwell, 2009).

A more comprehensive account and further references on CMM can be found in Want to know more?

CMM is premised on the belief that the social worlds we inhabit are constructed in the many diverse forms of everyday communication we engage in. Put simply, we live in communication. CMM, which can perhaps best be described as a “practical theory,” provides heuristic tools for understanding the ways in which we do this living-in-communication. The same tools and broader communication perspective can also guide mindful practice in communicating.

We believe that the communication perspective offered by CMM has greater potential to meet the challenges of the contemporary global environment than narrower, instrumental beliefs in which the process of communication is taken to be immaterial or insignificant. The latter views of communication are, in particular, unable to address the many challenges arising from distinct, if not colliding, cultural values and patterns of behavior that abound in our contemporary world. From our CMM perspective, these cultural challenges need to be coordinated and navigated rather than subjected to efforts at persuasion or clarity of meaning (i.e., as reflected in the dominant Western paradigm for theorizing about communication).

CMM proposes that creating and sustaining a cosmopolitan form of cultural communication is a better model for communicating with diverse others than extant models such as monocultural, ethnocentric, or modernistic forms of communication (see Want to know more?). The Cosmopolis 2045 website is designed to render one expression of what cosmopolitan cultural patterns might look like in the everyday life of a community.

By definition, cosmopolitan cultural patterns bring about an environment in which humans thrive, both in terms of personal and social evolution. This culture is characterized by one in which the members:

  • hold a communication-centric view of social worlds, recognizing that their social worlds (i.e., relationships, selves, groups, episodes, and culture itself) are “made” and “remade” in everyday communication patterns
  • value their own cultural traditions, beliefs and values yet recognize that, except for the accident of birth, they would likely hold some other set of beliefs and values (thus are profoundly open to the value of other traditions)
  • treat “others” (strangers, non-members of their community) with engaged curiosity, seeing them simultaneously as “different from us” (in that may they have different values or social practices), and yet “like us” (in that both of our beliefs and practices are socially made). In this way, each of our “ways of being” are treated as partial expressions of what it means to be human
  • understand that they live in multiple social worlds and are able to draw resources from several social worlds in constructing new ones
  • are able to make conscious choices about what forms of life they wish to enact in given situations
  • work collectively as citizens to make their social worlds better places to live—they see designing their public life together as an indication of “conscious evolution”
  • believe that patterns of life that are not productive or helpful can be altered through conscious collective effort.
  • have developed skills for “making better social worlds,” including: framing and reframing; identifying and choosing wisely how to act into (as well as out of) contexts; sensing the flow and rhythms of “logical forces” (deontic logic of should/ought); identifying/creating “bifurcation points” and acting wisely into them.

Projecting futures and making better social worlds

Cosmopolis 2045 is a collaborative thought-experiment, a partnership in imagining a plausible version of a future social world(s), particularly if we act wisely in dealing with the trends and counter-trends already happening around us.

“Futurists” have been projecting worlds of tomorrow for ages. In developing Cosmopolis, we consulted many sources on future trends in technology, medicine, work and economics, politics, education, and many other aspects of social life. In our Research the Future topic in Want to know more? we share some of that research, identify books you can read, or connect you to websites that summarize future trends.

In using this research, we wanted to make sure that how we depict a fictional future in 2045 is plausible, according to the best research and projections. Among other things, that research suggested that dialogic communication—that found in cosmopolitan cultures—could be an important driver of change; where the change is to what one future scenario group called a “transformed world”. For a fascinating review of this research, see Barnett Pearce’s essay “Reflections on the role of dialogic communication in transforming the world”.

In this “transformed world” there is a vision of shared power in which grassroots organisations co-operate effectively and in which sustainable development, socially, economically and environmentally, is a collective goal.  And while we have drawn on the ideas projected for such a transformed world we have also consciously tried to avoid making Cosmopolis an unrealistic or impossibly utopian vision.

You can find the original version of this information on the Cosmopolis2045 site at

Insights on Co-Creating Collaboration That Fosters Participation and Equity

NCDD member Beth Tener recently posted the article, Collaboration That Fosters Equity, Participation, and Co-Creation, on the New Directions Collaborative website. In the article, she shares several powerful insights from a co-hosted learning exchange, which offer important reminders on co-creating collaborative spaces that are equitable and liberating. We encourage folks to check out the upcoming workshop, Working in Collaborative Ways, happening next Wednesday March 6th, which will offer skills and methods for collaborating more equitably. You can read the article in the post below and find the original on the NDC’s site here.

Collaboration That Fosters Equity, Participation, and Co-Creation

In the last couple of years in the US, we have witnessed many examples of white supremacy – how the patterns of power, domination, oppression, and separation play out. These patterns are hundreds of years old. What does it take to work and live from patterns and behaviors that embody mutual respect, dignity, equity, belonging, and being more together? I gratefully had the experience of teaming with four other facilitators* to host a learning exchange with people working on collaboration and equity, primarily in New Hampshire. The invitation was to build our collective understanding of how to create collaborative spaces centering on equity and liberation. We offered a spacious series of conversations for these experienced practitioners to share knowledge and experiences.

Here are some key ideas that surfaced from the conversations and insights from the day:

Where Do You Come From?

At the start of a meeting or gathering, it is traditional to go around and introduce ourselves with our organization and role. This gathering began instead with an invitation to reflect on where you come from, from several dimensions, and then share where you now work. People’s sharing was poetic and moving. We heard of the ancestry, places, challenges, traumas, resilience, people, and ideas that shaped them. Some people in the room I primarily knew through a work context. When I heard their stories, it made me realize how limited the lenses I had seen them through were.

This reminded me something Melinda Weekes-Laidlow said in a class I took with her on racial equity. She spoke of the importance of “locating ourselves” within the history and systems around us, saying: “the past is present in people, things, and systems of oppression. Because our histories, upbringing and socialization create the lenses by which we see the world and make sense of it, as leaders, we must become aware of the lenses by which we understand the world and the biases those lenses bring with them.” 

The metaphor of location in a system/community is helpful as that implies a vantage point, where I see and experience things in ways that differ from others in a different location.

Vision: What Does Equity Look, Feel, and Sound Like?

In these times, so much attention and focus is on what we don’t want, resisting, criticizing, and galvanizing action. In equity conversations, there is a great need to name and illuminate the patterns and statistics of inequity and the deliberately hidden histories of those oppressed. Yet, we also need to imagine a different future. adrienne marie brown, in her book Emergent Strategy, writes “How do we cultivate the muscle of radical imagination needed to dream together beyond fear? Showing Black and white people sitting at a lunch counter together was science fiction.” Using the process of 1-2-4-All, we explored the questions of What vision, or elements thereof, guide you in your work? What does equity and liberation look, feel, and sound like? What are we working toward?  We can see that it is not only some distant goal, but we can glimpse what is possible in microcosms in the present. We recognized that this looks different to different people. Here are some of the themes that were shared:

  • The experience of being oneself without being judged. Being seen and respected as a person – not needing to act or play a role.
  • In all settings (family, work, school, etc.), people experience authentic relationships where others genuinely see them and care about their well-being and growth.
  • Education institutions are about helping individuals to thrive and become fully themselves.
  • Now the level of fear in relationships, community, and society is higher than the level of love and trust. When the level of love rises higher than fear, it changes everything.
  • There is an emphasis on truth telling and seeing the world as it is, feeling what is happening, and being empathetic. We excavate and acknowledge the problematic histories that shape the present situation.
  • When those who see power in an “either/or” way experience sharing it, they see that there are other kinds of power in collaborations that are not as hierarchical. It is possible to move beyond that one lens of power.
  • Those who have a dominant identity, e.g., whites, take leadership and active roles in dismantling the racist patterns and systems.
  • We relate across identities with solidarity in many forms: accomplices, mutual lines of support, thinking partners, networks of friendship and sharing resources.
  • “Hurt people hurt people. Healed people heal people. Healed people create systems for healing.” A vision of the future is a large and varied investment of time, energy, and ways to bring about healing and restoration individually and collectively, and with the earth.

Moving from Transactional to Relational

We shared stories of what we find most challenging and most promising in our work for equity and liberation. A common dynamic is that leaders and those in positions of power may say they value equity, yet, their urgency to get action on narrowly defined outcomes can override the raising of concerns or conflict, allowing the patterns of injustice to perpetuate. It takes time to fully understand the dynamics and history that underlie inequitable situations. It takes time to build authentic relationships that are trusting enough to support fundamental change. Truly valuing equity means prioritizing the relational aspects of the work, seeing the health of that as critical beyond the success of one transaction.

*Thanks to my co-facilitators Jennifer NearCurtis Ogden, and Karen A. Spiller…and Michele Holt-Shannon for hosting. Great working with you to co-host this rich learning exchange.

On March 6th, I will be offering an on-line workshop called Working in Collaborative Ways that will offer practical methods for designing meetings and collaborative work that foster equity and participation.

NCDD Listserv Recap on Bridging People Across Divides

Bringing people together across divides is likely to be a challenge that our world will continue to face for a while, and it will be an area our field can offer some unique insight or at least a space to explore this challenge. Adrian Segar posted a thorough recap of an engaging discussion held on the NCDD Main Discussion listserv, which he shared a couple weeks back on the Conferences That Work website. Shout out to Chris Santos-Lang who initially reposted the recap! While this listserv conversation was held almost two years ago now, we still find its commentary and content to be useful. You can read the recap of this listserv discussion below and find the original version of Adrian’s post here.

Bringing People Together Across Divides

by Adrian Segar
originally posted Monday, February 4th, 2019

Note about article: A HT to Chris Santos-Lang who reposted this conversation recently and sparked me to reproduce it here.

How can we bring people together across divides?

In April 2017, I posted the following to the NCDD-DISCUSSION list. (The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation [NCDD] is “a network of innovators who bring people together across divides to discuss, decide, and take action together effectively on today’s toughest issues”.)

The resulting conversation was fascinating and instructive. So I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing it here, and have added links when possible to the participants. I hope you find it a valuable dialog on the important issue of bringing people together across divides.

Adrian Segar: It’s an advertisement and carefully staged, but I wonder if there are lessons for NCDD folks in the largely positive response to this recent Heineken ad. –

Deb Blakeslee: I loved seeing two people get to know each other quickly before tackling a subject. I don’t see any of the presented issues being discussed during the participant’s time together, so see neither “left” nor “right” changed views. The issue they worked on was constructing a bar and participating in a get-to-know-you exercise.

“Right” viewers may have changed their willingness to discuss their viewpoint with someone on the “other” side, but we can’t assume they were any less willing to discuss differences before being invited to participate in this filming.

After their joint beer, the opponents may keep their original beliefs, although now appreciate someone with an opposing belief.

Maybe our differences continue because no one invites us to discuss issues and we don’t have public places to discuss and work on them outside of establishments selling products. –

Chris Santos-Lang: Ouch! Yes, there is a lesson in the largely positive response to this advertisement. The general public is not offended by the suggestion that bridging the divide is simple.

For those of us who actually try to address the divide, this can feel like discovering that the Matrix is real–there are few allies to be found because so many people are lost in fantasy.

But that lesson can be misleading. Fantasy can’t last forever. When the world actually collapses, the public response to this advertisement will change. At that point, people will see Heineken as an intoxicant. Cigarette ads used to get positive responses too, but don’t anymore.

Today I enjoyed the pleasure of playing with a three-year-old. Fantasy. Fantasy. There is no point at which people fully escape the instinct to fantasize or the instinct to honor the fantasies of those we love. Reality does force itself upon us from time to time–but not typically at times when we are likely to formulate a response to a Heineken ad. –

John Backman: I’m not seeing this as fantasy. It includes echoes of interactions I’ve had or seen myself. I would say that it doesn’t represent the full range of possible outcomes for such conversations: no one walked out on their bar-building partner, for instance, and there were no heated words. Of course, it wouldn’t include those things: at bottom it’s an ad. Perhaps its value is to get people thinking about the possibility of dialogue—people who’ve never even considered it before. –

Linda Ellinor: I was disturbed that there was no dialogue. Before the beer and the bar segment, there were only statements of belief and projections onto the ‘other’. Very sad that they used beer and a bar to seduce us into thinking that the divide could be crossed in that way. If there was anything positive about this ad it was that they were able to portray well several real divides (naming it publicly is a first step towards moving into it and past it) and that people had the capacity and willingness to form relationships even though the divides still exist. We can hope that in their willingness to form relationships that might last, that they could eventually dialogue about their differences.

It will take more than beer, however!! –

Cynthia Kurtz: Be careful about discounting fantasy. It’s one of the ways children and adults deal with reality. Yes, fantasy can be used to deny reality, but it can equally well be used to cope with reality by playing with its elements and making sense of it. When you see a child playing with fantasies, you are quite often seeing a child dealing with stark frightening reality in an oblique but much needed way.

The key to using fantasy to face rather than avoid reality is multiplicity, which is why children will tell the same story dozens of times, with slight variations, to explore a very real danger or concern. For narrative sensemaking to work, there can never be only one story. We’ve forgotten this function of fantasy because Disney and other cultural appropriators have unified and sanitized some of the deep and dangerous stories with which we used to make sense of reality. But fantasy is still a useful mechanism for coping with reality, and there are ways to help people use fantasy to face difficult problems, get new ideas, come together, and thrive. –

Peggy Holman: To build on what Cynthia is saying, fantasy, or dreaming, is also how we envision a desirable future. In fact, it’s essential for imagining what we aspire to.

The social science behind Appreciative Inquiry points to the role that aspirations play in moving towards what we can imagine. In fact, it can be a matter of live and death. Social scientist Fred Polak, author The Image of the Future (1973), found that cultures die when they cease to have a positive image of their own future: “As long as a society’s image is positive and flourishing, the flower of culture is in full bloom. Once the image begins to decay and lose its vitality, however, the culture does not long survive.”

More recently, Gervase Bushe’s research on generative images found transformative change involves embracing generative images, like “sustainable development”.

Generative discourse matters. So kudos to activities that help us imagine a better world. –

Chris Santos-Lang: I agree with Cynthia and Peggy that fantasy is a tricky topic. To be anti-fantasy is to be anti-human. And yet, to be anti-reality is also to be anti-human. If we believe fantasy should have non-trivial limits, then we need to do the work of specifying those limits.

I also agree with John that it is kind-of-encouraging to see that Pepsi and Heineken bother to address the divide at all. What makes me say “Ouch!” is the uncritical public response to it.

To me, the good situation would be that the ad starts a conversation which makes a constructive difference. I assume that was what Adrian had in mind (and I do appreciate his raising the issue, even if I say “Ouch!”). Unfortunately, the following more public response (which does call-out the fantasy) seems too angry to be constructive.

Honestly, I find it difficult to be surprised that fantasy did not inspire a constructive conversation. The only experiences we share are those of reality, so reality must be the basis of our common language. In public deliberation to solve communal problems, I think we should privilege science (when available) over fantasy. I hope no one interprets that as discrimination, because I do think there are other contexts in which science should not be privileged (e.g. generative, instead of comparative).

There is a problem when people drag the communal conversation into fantasy because they can’t (or don’t want to) learn the science. Three-year-olds who do this face something at least as violent as being forced to go to bed. We expect the conflict to be different among adults. In modern democracies, we even insist that adults who don’t do the science nonetheless have a duty to vote…

Mere voting or empathy will not satisfy me when I bring scientific evidence to a disagreement. I cannot be convinced that truth changes just because I love you, or because you outnumber me. Call me stubborn and unfeeling, if you must, but I don’t think I am alone in this, so I don’t think it would be helpful to dismiss this view. –

Ken Homer: We should probably not attempt too deep of an examination of a beer advertisement lest we discover that its motives are at root, capitalistic – surprise!

On the other hand the message – as I interpret it – demonstrates a valuable lesson. An important prerequisite to exploring differences of opinions/ideologies, is making sure that we have humanized and legitimized every person holding those opinions. In this ad, I see a brilliant (if truncated) example – for those of you who know him – of Humberto Matujrana’s definition of love; which is granting legitimacy to the other.

True, we did not see where the conversations went after the beer was opened. I don’t think we need to, that, for me at least, is beside the point. What struck me was how the set up of:

  • needing to collaborate while building something concrete
  • getting to know the other person in their own words (the 5 adjectives)
  • appreciation by the other person for positive qualities they see in me

– were all vital building blocks. Once that foundation of connection between two people was in place, it allowed for a different kind of conversation to emerge even though the participants have opposing ideological stances.

The Heineken ad, along with this one from TV2 in Denmark on All That We Share, show that when we humanize the people we have been conditioned to think of as “other”, we are in a much better place to enlarge our collective options, than if we keep thinking of people as fixed sets of characteristics or as believers in this or that system that we personally find abhorrent. They also show a vastly different approach between European and American commercials! [quote continues after video]

We are all of us, far more complex, nuanced, mysterious and extraordinary than any model or theory. From where I stand, it seems pretty clear that there are very few thoughts that are easily and quickly shared with others that produce an immediate resonance. On the other hand, people very easily and quickly share emotions. It is instinctual (unless life has conditioned it out of us) to feel joy when we see it being expressed by those around us – even if it comes from another species – think the joy we get when our pets are excited to see us. Likewise with sorrow or fear.

My experience as a facilitator is that when we focus on creating the conditions to feel empathy and kindness and friendship towards people, we get a lot farther in opening people to work with diverse and even conflicting viewpoints than we will if we are focusing solely on changing minds. In the Heineken ad, this seems quite clearly shown. The people who stayed for a beer were not sitting down with someone who represented a threat to their ideological position. They were sitting down with someone they had come to respect as worth listening to. And that is something that in my book, is worth paying attention to.

I am aware that what I am pointing to regarding creating the conditions for engagement is anecdotal and does not rise to the level of peer-reviewed science. I invite anyone who doubts that this approach is effective to engage in experiments to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Perhaps working together, we can create a science of collaboration through conversation? –

Tom Atlee: Here’s a bit of how and why Heineken made the ad, from Fast Company magazine.

Chris Santos-Lang: Thanks, Tom! That’s another “Ouch!” because the ad is based on the techniques of conflict resolution experts. That’s right, instead of telling people that disputes which can be resolved through scientific test ought to be resolved through scientific test, conflict resolution experts are telling Heineken (and the world) that these disputes should be resolved through empathy. I’m not suggesting that empathy is not part of the solution, but it’ the easy part–not the actual bottleneck.

I think this is a case of “When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” and so-called conflict resolution experts having little more than empathy in their toolbox. –

Rosa Zubizaretta: Ken, thank you for a thought-provoking post… indeed, “we are all of us, far more complex, nuanced, mysterious and extraordinary than any model or theory.” your evocative words strongly remind me of one of my teachers… while he may not be so well-known in this community, many of us in the Focusing world are mourning the passing of Dr. Eugene Gendlin, philosopher, psychologist, and extraordinary listener…

As to the connection with this topic… Chris, I’m curious about what you mean, when you say “science”… do you mean mainly the “hard sciences”, such as physics and chemistry?

reason I’m asking, is that it seems that there is a lot of research recently in the social sciences and the human sciences, about such things as confirmation bias — what are the conditions under which people are willing to even consider information that differs from their current belief systems. And so I’m curious as to whether you would consider such research as “science”…

There’s also been a tremendous amount of scientific research in the last 10 years especially, on the subject of empathy, including its role in cognition… so I am not understanding the contrast between “empathy” and “science” as two non-overlapping entities.


But back to some points of agreement… yes, I see the exploration of “reality” (as in, what are our current conditions) as important as the exploration of “fantasy” (what do we want to create). Holding both is key to creative tension, a concept originally formulated by Robert Fritz and later popularized by Peter Senge.

Some eminent scientist have maintained that creativity is also involved in science, though that’s not how we are usually taught to think of as science… and, maybe more to the point here, creativity is key for generating possibilities and new understandings, especially in public policy situations where as much as we might long for it, there is no clear “one right answer” that satisfies everyone’s initial positions.


To come around full circle: the human process of creating new meanings and new understandings was Gendlin’s philosophical interest, which led him to psychology and to Carl Roger’s work at the University of Chicago. Many people are aware of Carl Rogers as the “founder of humanistic psychology”; few are aware that Rogers had a deep and abiding respect for science, and was the first to break the taboo against “intruding on the sacrosanct process of therapy” in order to place tape recorders in the therapy room (with consent from all involved.)

Thus Rogers was able to conduct research by analyzing a huge number of transcripts of therapy sessions; meanwhile Eugen Gendlin had become Carl Roger’s research director. For anyone interested in the kind of listening that supports the creation of new meaning (whether or not you are a therapist), I am including two somewhat technical resources below, along with some more popular resources. –

Carolyn Caywood: I share Chris’ position that facts established though the application of the scientific method to evidence ought not to be evaluated by popularity polls. However, I think there is a role for empathy-building in laying the groundwork for, on the science side learning why a person is resistant to an inconvenient truth, and on the denial side creating trust that the opposing side isn’t manufacturing false facts for an ulterior motive. An uninformed opinion is not equally valuable as an informed judgment, but the people within whose brains those opinions and judgments reside are of equal worth. So helping them communicate makes sense.

I have participated as a book in a Human Library. It was interesting and rather fun. It confirmed for me Harvey Milk’s urging everyone to be out so that people would understand that yes, they did know someone who would be affected by a proposed law. The tricky part is to keep it from becoming a judgment on a different person’s worth as a human being. I’m not sure the ad got that right. I was more impressed that they were building something together. That is not always possible, and it can create new conflicts, but it is also an excellent way to get past bias.

This has been an interesting discussion. I had not seen any of the advertisements before. –

Chris Santos-Lang: Rosa asked what I meant by “science” as a tool of conflict resolution distinct from empathy. Carolyn phrased it well.

When I wrote “disputes which can be resolved through scientific test ought to be resolved through scientific test” I did not mean that we ought to use psychology to figure-out how to make our opponents’ minds more pliable. I meant that experiments can tell us whether cigarettes cause cancer, or whether human activity is causing the climate to change, or whether the only value women bring to a society is to birth children, or whether gender identify necessarily aligns with development of sexual organs.

A conflict resolution expert who doesn’t know how to design and manage such experiments would be missing something very important from his/her toolbox. Disagreements on these issues are resolved if the science-deniers are busy trying to do better science.

Carolyn suggested that the science-supporter can use empathy to discover why the science-denier instead continues to resist, but then what? The bottleneck is not our inability to see the real pain that science-deniers are suffering–the bottleneck is that we cannot allow that pain to sway our beliefs about the science. The real pain will never go away–there will always be pain–so we ultimately have to say, “Too bad for you, but that doesn’t give you any right to deny the science.”

I am not saying that pain should be ignored, but it shouldn’t be attached to science like earmarks to a bill. There are limits to whom gets to be part of any conversation, and unwillingness to preserve the integrity of social epistemic practices puts one on the outside of a natural limit. –

Linda Ellinor: I was amazed that it was unscripted!! That was quite something to hear the back story. Thanks, Tom. –

Miles Fidelman: Isn’t that how it usually works? When forced to work together, and get to know each other, barriers tend to drop – particularly at the end of the day when it’s time for a beer.

Personally, I thought the ad was brilliant. –

Carolyn Caywood: What I’ve learned from moderating National Issues Forum deliberations is to probe for what each person values that underlie their positions because until those are out in the open the conversation cannot move forward. Each individual who denies climate change has his or her own particular concerns.

Some I’ve heard are that it will be used to justify more government intrusion into the individual’s freedom; that it will mean giving up the comforts of modern civilization and returning to a spartan 19th century way of life; that it threatens the person’s job. That allows us to talk about how we might respond to climate change in ways that minimize nanny government or maintain the important aspects of modern life or create new jobs and help workers transition. And the NIF emphasis on acknowledging tradeoffs and recognizing who does not benefit allows us to plan ways to address the pain of change.

I’m not saying that everyone can be brought into a productive conversation this way. But I know from bitter experience that saying “it is a scientific fact” does not get work. I wish it did. –

Bruce Waltuck: Thank you, Ken, for your wonderful comments. It seems all too easy and common these days to vilify and disregard those who hold significantly different values than we do. As we use the instant one-to-many communication of Facebook or Twitter, we amplify difference as much as we do similarity. Beliefs and intentions built on falsehood and fear are reinforced as much as those informed by fact and science.

Since the Brexit vote, we have seen the consequences of our infatuation with the internet, social media, and those posing as legitimate sources of knowledge. We have significant numbers of citizens who seem unwilling or unable to be in respectful dialogue. Unwilling or unable to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

And so. . . what happens when we break the rules of civil discourse? When conversation is no longer able to influence people’s learning, understanding, beliefs, and action?

And if. . . we no longer have a way through communicated language to create common meaning sufficient to coordinate action together, what can catalyze new sense-making, new shared meaning, and coordinated action towards a shared purpose?

Research into the dynamics of complex human systems suggests an answer. We have tumbled from the presumed stability of the status quo, into a time and space of chaos. We know that simply saying “you’re wrong” or “why can’t you see what I see the way I see it?” Isn’t going to work. We’ve seen the power of a dominant new narrative to dramatically change minds and behavior.

And. . . Our narratives come from our experience. Even as we retreat from the space of civil discourse, it is experience that formed our knowledge, understanding, values, and intentions. It is experience that may catalyze new shared meaning, and make possible new dialogue and coordinated action.

My concern is that we will not collectively choose to walk into the room and build an Ikea bar together with those holding views very different from our own. My concern is that we may only change our thinking and behavior in the wake of a catastrophic event we all experience. One, perhaps, in which many may suffer. I hope we will choose to walk into the room with An Other.

I hope we will choose to experience collaboration, catalyze new meaning, and engage in dialogue for new possibility. Yet hope is not probability. –

Terry Steichen: Here’s another perspective (and it seems to make good sense, at least to me). –

Leilani Raashida Henry: Thanks for posting Terry. This makes sense to me as well. Powerful response. –

Millicent Allenby: Yes, Thank you! I agree. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what made the video feel so creepy, even as I liked it! –

Carolyn Caywood: Today’s Pearls before Swine comic strip seems to be a comment on the ad. –

Karen Lest: I appreciate the reality check on the feeling of “See! It is possible to talk across the divide!” I am not quite ready to trash to whole idea though.

Yes, Heineken picked the easiest hot-button issues and people to represent each side in a sensational kind of way. The fact of the matter is that people do exist who have either ill-informed ideas or just plain mean-spirited attitudes toward those who differ from them. We have to find some way to co-exist them too, not just ones who have ideas or attitudes we like. If this simplistic approach gets someone to consider that a trans woman (for example) might be a human being worth getting to know then that is something. The alternative as I see it is to pretend that people with bad (from my point of view) ideas or attitudes don’t exist, which is silly. Or to try to legislate or shame them out of existence, which is scary. I vote for reaching out as many times as it takes. –

Stuart Miles-Mclean: Excellent. Thanks for sharing. –

Chris Santos-Lang: I really appreciate Karen’s perspective here. Even though I think it will never work, I second the motion to reach out as many times as it takes. I am not suggesting that science should never overrule people the way parents overrule a three-year-old. I just think the story shouldn’t end there. Our commitment to each other should go beyond the settling of any particular dispute, and that commitment needs to include a commitment to achieve mutual respect (eventually) no matter how impossible.

Suppose you could ask any test of my commitment to achieve respect for you–not just drinking a Heineken with you–what would it be? –

You can find the original version of this post at

Listen to Confab Recording on All-America City Awards

Last week we held our first co-hosted Confab call of 2019 with The National Civic League, who shared more about the All-America City Awards! We were joined by 35 participants to learn more about this prestigious award and requirements for how a city can be eligible to win. This was a particularly timely call, as applications for the 2019 AAC Awards are being accepted until March 6th. That deadline is approaching quickly so we encourage you to listen to the recording to learn more, share this announcement with your networks, and consider organizing your city to apply!

On the call, we were joined by NCL’s Program Director Rebecca Trout and two representatives, Jordan Moore of Las Vegas, NV and Renae Madison of Decatur, GA -both from previous award-winning All-America Cities. Over 500 cities have been awarded the All-America City Award over the last 70 years. Every year, NCL awards the cities who are leveraging innovative civic engagement practices in order to create change on the local level. The focus of this year’s theme is on, “creating healthy communities through inclusive civic engagement” and the award will be given to the cities with projects that promote more equitable health practices and better overall health in the community. Click here to learn more about the award, resources, and where to apply.

The call was an opportunity to hear directly from past recipients of the award and how it has impacted each of their communities. Both shared the projects their cities highlighted for the award, the preparation required, how their teams coordinated logistics, and the overall deep engagement required with each community throughout the whole experience. Jordan, who works for the City of Las Vegas, shared with us the experience of applying for the AAC award and how this process has led to a greater feeling of pride in the city and increased draw for new residents and businesses. We also heard from Renae who works for the City of Decatur and how the award process was a great time for the community to build deeper relationships with each other and with other cities passionate about engaging their communities. The award and the accompanying conference (where the award is announced) work to elevate the powerful community engagement work going on across the country and celebrate those cities best in service to their communities.

We were live tweeting during the call and here are some of our favorite quotes from the Confab:

  • NCL is looking for the cities with programs that are innovative and working to address the real challenges in their city.
  • One thing that surprised me was how welcoming and open everyone was, they didn’t treat it as a competition… communities were so open to sharing and exchanging what works, what was challenging
  • [The AAC awards] is a time to celebrate and connect with other communities doing similar work and it’s an opportunity to learn from different communities.
  • This award attracts new citizens and new businesses. Because Vegas has a reputation for not being a place to live, this [award] helps show that it is a liveable city.
  • This process [of applying for the AAC Award] is unlike any award I’ve ever seen. The amount of transparency and the engagement needed was a lot, and was so worth it.

Confab bubble image

We want to thank our friends at the National Civic League for co-hosting this call with us! Thank you to Rebecca, Jordan, Renae, and all the Confab participants for contributing to this conversation! We recorded the whole presentation in case you weren’t able to join us, which you can access by clicking here. To learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit

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!

Creating Visuals that Inspire Real-Time Conversation

We are thrilled to share the following piece written by Lydia Hooper on the powerful way that graphic recordings can both capture a conversation in real time, and as folks saw first hand at NCDD2018, can be a motivator of conversation as well. We were fortunate to work with Lydia during the 8th National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation in Downtown Denver this last November (view her work here!) and she helped create and facilitate an interactive graphic recording project over the course of the three days. She describes it more in the post below…

By Lydia Hooper

How many conversations have you had this week about something you saw, on TV or happening in front if you? Vision is the primary way we sense and experience our world, and we are social beings who process information with others. We can easily leverage these tendencies if we want to inspire specific conversations in specific moments.

The conventional way of doing so is using presentation slides or videos to introduce or explain important topics. These visual forms, however, emphasize what is important from the perspective of the presenter. They do not necessarily offer opportunities to capture what a larger group of people thinks or feels.

Visuals that can break this norm are known as graphic recordings. Graphic recordings are visuals that capture conversation as it is happening in real time. By doing so they are able to help us literally see what is being said and thereby process this information in different ways.

There is a third way that can ensure both that many people are able to collectively create a meaningful visual and that the meaning is specifically tied to a clear objective. These visuals, which do not yet have a single term associated with them, are typically templates that evolve as the result of participation. Creating them requires little technology nor aesthetic skills, but it does require use of a thoughtful design process.

I recently had the pleasure of creating a visual of this type for the 2018 National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation conference. Here are the basic stages of design, their main elements, and how I experienced them for this project in particular.

  1. Empathize. There are two sides of this coin, both of which are important for planning appropriately. First, think about the audience or group the visual will engage: What kind of support do they need to think, feel, and/or act in ways that help them reach their individual goals? Now, consider the conveners’ or facilitators’ needs: What would help them reach collective goals, whether those be to build relations or to accomplish tasks? For this example, conference organizers were quickly able to articulate their desire to deepen conversation related to their partnership with the White Privilege Symposium. After some discussion they also identified that attendees may have a need to extend dialogue about related topics beyond individual sessions and contribute ideas perhaps anonymously.
  2. Create. A clear understanding of goals and needs is what informs what the visual will look like and how participants will engage with it. At this stage, collaborators work to develop main themes or questions as well as what specific words would be best to use. The purpose of this stage is to design a template that is incredibly clear and that invites active engagement. Conference organizers used a basic sketch of this template to solicit feedback from key stakeholders, in which is crucial for ensuring these purposes are fulfilled. Then I created the visual on a very large (four by eight foot) piece of paper that we planned to place in a highly visible location.
  3. Engage. During the previous stage decisions were made about how exactly ideas will be shared. These decisions will determine to what extent the visual will or will not require any degree of facilitation. In this case, we’d decided on a mix of both: attendees would be able to mark different options with stickers on their own and I would engage those who visited me during the showcase and capture those conversations on the template as well. I appreciated this approach because it allowed attendees to get a quick “big picture” idea of their fellow attendees perspectives and it also allowed them to learn from the individual insights that were captured. In my experience, this stage, like the previous one, is somewhat experimental, especially since some people will test the limits of any creative license you give them while others will be confused or even paralyzed by such an interruption in group norms.

The key thing to keep in mind for these visuals is that, unlike other visuals perhaps, the product or outcome matters less than the fact that group members are being offered an opportunity to participate in a shared experience and to collectively make meaning. Because they are nontraditional, these visuals also provide space for intentional conversations to occur in unexpected ways.

In the co-creation of this example visual, NCDD conference attendees made it abundantly clear how they feel power and privilege impacts them, their work, and the field. They reflected on familiar ideas, posed new questions, and, if nothing else, were heard.

Lydia Hooper is a creative who collaborates to communicate about complexity and create culture change. She is the creator of the 40 day listening challenge. To learn more and download her free ebook Using Visuals to Support Collaborative Work, please visit

Reminder to Join This Week’s Confab with Nat’l Civic League

Last week, we announced that NCDD has teamed up with the National Civic League to offer the next exciting Confab call, happening later this week! Join us, Wednesday, February 13th at 3-4pm Eastern/12-1pm Pacific, as we discuss the upcoming All-America City Award and share tips for winning this prestigious award. This free call will offer space to learn more about the award, hear from past awardees, and ask questions. The award deadline is March 6th, so make sure you take advantage of this opportunity and register today to secure your spot on the call!

Since 1949, the National Civic League has recognized and celebrated the best in American civic innovation with the All-America City Award. The Award, bestowed yearly on 10 communities (more than 500 in all) recognizes the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses and nonprofit and government leaders. The 2019 All-America City theme is “Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement”. The 2019 All-America City Award is focused on celebrating examples of civic engagement practices that advance health equity in local communities.

Representatives from the award-winning cities, Las Vegas, NV and Decatur, GA will join us on the call to speak about their experiences winning the All-America City Award in 2018. Las Vegas was recognized as an All-America City because they provide residents, stakeholders, staff and elected officials with a collective vision for a future of income equality and economic mobility, building programs and services that remove barriers and address challenges faced by their most vulnerable youth. Decatur, GA was recognized as a 2018 All-America City for its commitment to civic engagement. Through their projects, Decatur showed that it is actively seeking to build an equitable and inclusive experience for its residents and visitors, focusing on racially-just community policing and building diverse and affordable housing.

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!

Opportunity to Test Mismatch Spring 2019 Pilot, Grades 6-12

In case you missed it, NCDD member org Living Room Conversations and AllSides recently announced an opportunity to test out the Spring 2019 Pilot of Mismatch for grades 6-12! Mismatch is a platform that digitally connects classrooms with each other and facilitates structured conversation between students via video conferencing using Living Room Conversation topic guides. Last year, we featured Mismatch during one of our Tech Tuesday events and you can listen to the recording here! Read the details in the post below and find the original information on the LRC newsletter here.

Calling All Parents, Educators, and Students

We are excited to announce the Spring 2019 Pilot of Mismatch! And your (child’s) grade 6-12 classroom is invited to join!

AllSides for Schools is our joint project with the news site AllSides.comMismatch is a platform that pairs students from different schools around the U.S. and facilitates structured online video conversations between these students using Living Room Conversation topic Guides. You can learn more about Mismatch in the video you’ll find here.

Our goal is to make the Mismatch platform available for anyone interested in civil discussions with someone who thinks differently. We are looking forward to this and bet you are too!

How to join the Mismatch pilot? The AllSides for Schools team is currently looking for grade 6-12 educators in government, social studies, history, and related fields who would like to sign up their classrooms for our Spring 2019 Mismatch pilot. Joining the pilot entails these activities:

  • Completing a short pre-survey about your classroom
  • Providing feedback on our matching criteria, conversation guides, and web platform
  • Matching with another classroom and orchestrating realtime, F2F video conversations between students in your two classrooms (with our help)

92% of students surveyed after using Mismatch reported a positive shift in attitude after just one conversation, citing “great appreciation for the other perspective or other person.” 99% of students found the experience somewhat or extremely valuable.

Once the AllSides for Schools team receives your inquiry, you’ll be contacted for a 1:1 exploratory call to answer questions and describe the pilot program in more detail.  (Note: While every request to participate may not be able to be accommodated, due to matching constraints, the AllSides for Schools team will do its very best!)

Sign Up for FREE Here!

P.S. Do you know someone that would enjoy hearing from us? Please forward this email to friends and colleagues and encourage them to join our community.”

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Living Room Conversations newsletter at