Constitutional Amendment for Campaign Finance Reform?

We are happy to share the announcement below from NCDD organizational member and NCDD Catalyst Award winner John Spady of the National Dialogue Network. John’s announcement came via our great Submit-to-Blog Form. Do you have news you want to share with the NCDD network? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!

Until June 14, 2014, the National Dialogue Network (NDN) is crowdsourcing ideas from as many people as possible about whether or not a constitutional amendment is necessary to either limit or protect current practices of election campaign spending. Please share this announcement and encourage participation using this link:

The Codigital process is the same one recently used by NCDD. Our own experience with Codigital can be reviewed at

The purpose of the NDN project is to solicit statements from all sides, edit and rank them using Codigital, and create a summary of the results for delivery to the Senate Judiciary Committee that meets in June to debate the value of a constitutional amendment to limit (or not) election campaign spending.

After June 14 a follow on phase will repackage these results and create materials for local consideration, public engagement, and national feedback using the tools that the National Dialogue Network gives freely to collaborating individuals and organizations to roll up results from numerous local communities. NDN wants our political representatives to understand the opinions and values of those who care deeply about this issue — from all sides.

John Spady is a long time and sustaining member of NCDD. His vision for a National Dialogue Network received the 2012 Catalyst Award for Civic Infrastructure from NCDD voting members. Details about that award are available at: The website of the NDN is:

If you have any thoughts or encouragements, please add your comments below.

Peace Education Center in MI holds community dialogues on Poverty and Wealth in April

We are pleased to highlight the post below about two great events this week and next week in Michigan, which came from NCDD Sustaining Member and 2012 NCDD Catalyst Award winner John Spady of the National Dialogue Network. Do you have news you want to share with the NCDD network? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!

NDN logoFrom John: Here is an exciting message from Terry Link in Lansing, Michigan, to the National Dialogue Network (NDN) which describes upcoming community events at Michigan State University (on April 4, 2014) and Lansing Community College (on April 9, 2014) that are organized by the Peace Education Center and co-sponsored by big name community supporters.

You can read the message below or visit for the original.

- — -

Hello John,

Just wanted to let you know that we finally have all the pieces aligned to run the NDN program on Poverty and Wealth here in Lansing, MI. We have two sessions organized – the first at MSU for the larger campus community , nearly 60,000 potential participants, although we’ll be happy with any more than 50. The second to be held at the local community college on downtown Lansing. The local Peace Education Center is the organizing force for both (I am a board member) but as you will see from the flyers we’ve solicited co-sponsorship from different entities for each event.

We hope to have the surveys completed and will find volunteers to submit them online back to NDN. We will also be doing an interview in advance of the events on our public radio station’s public affairs show at a date yet to be determined. I will keep you both posted as we move ahead. I will be travelling March 13-27, so you likely won’t hear anything further back from me until I return. Below is the note I sent out to campus sponsors this morning. For more info see the website

All good things,
Terry Link

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The problem of an ever expanding disparity between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” has become the issue of the day.

Please join us in a respectful conversation about a problem that affects us all. We will use a process and materials designed by the National Dialogue Network, funded by a grant from the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation. Seated in small groups, we will listen to each other’s perspectives to further our own understanding of the concerns and possibilities surrounding this important issue.

There will be two sessions, one for the Michigan State University (MSU) community and a second one for the larger Lansing community.

MSU Session, April 4th, 3–5pm, MSU Main Library, North Conference Room, 4th Floor West.

This event co-sponsored College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Social Science, Residential College of Arts and Humanities, Peace and Justice Studies program, Philosophy, and the Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing.

Seating is limited, so to reserve a seat please send your name and email to: hesslin2@msu.eduThe event flyer can be downloaded here.

Greater Lansing Community Session, April 9th, 7-9pm, Lansing Community College, Administration Building Board Room. 

This event is hosted by Lansing Community College and sponsored by the Peace Education Center, Michigan League for Public Policy, Capital Area District Library, Power of We Consortium, Justice & Peace Task Force at Edgewood United Church, League of Women Voters – Lansing Area, Red Cedar Friends Meeting, and Common Cause of Michigan. 

Seating is limited, so to reserve a seat please send your name and email to: The event flyer can be downloaded here.

The National Dialogue Network Begins Its Public Analysis Phase

We are pleased to highlight the post below, which came from NCDD Sustaining Member and 2012 NCDD Catalyst Award winner John Spady of the National Dialogue NetworkDo you have news you want to share with the NCDD network? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!

Hello to all our NCDD friends,

NDN logo

The National Dialogue Network (NDN) — recipient of the 2012 NCDD Catalyst Award in “Civic Infrastructure” — has entered “Cycle 4″ of its original 5-cycle process to design and demonstrate a system for coordinated and collaborative conversations on important national issues. The first issue selected for national conversations was Poverty & Wealth in America.

I am asking readers of this NCDD blog to make a small contribution of time during this brief public analysis phase. Click on both of the links below and just focus on what interests you. Try to understand “what the data is saying.” Then add a comment at the end of this post with any insights you are able to glean from the preliminary report or Excel file. In this current phase, the general public is urged to help interpret the preliminary results received and to submit insights for review and inclusion in the 2013 Summary Report. All assistance will be acknowledged.

If you want a special “cross tab” for analysis, or have any other questions, just let me know — leave a comment below or call our toll free message line: 800-369-2342

Thanks for your help… and now here are the links you’ll need:

Number of self-selected participants who answered the national Opinionnaire® Survey as of Nov. 23, 2013: 105

Preliminary graphic report:

Excel data (XLS) download:

Moving the “Delibertainment” Conversation Forward

Catalyst AwardsWe were pleased as punch to see the Real Dialogues Project, one of the winners of the 2012 NCDD Catalyst Awards, reach an important milestone last week – they hosted their very first Google hangout discussion! We encourage you to check out their post and the short video about the conversation here.

We also wanted to share a related write up on an interesting article from the Journal for Public Deliberation on public engagement in news media. We are inspired to see growing amounts of discourse on this “deliberative television” or “delibertainment” model that Real Dialogues is pioneering. You can read the write up below, or you can find the original post by NCDD organizational member Tim Bonnemann on his Intellitics blog.

Deliberative Television

The latest edition of the Journal for Public Deliberation features an interesting article by Ashley Muddiman and Matthew R. Meier that discusses how using citizen panels might be applied to “refocus news outlets on their fundamentally democratic functions and foster a more engaged and deliberative citizenry”: Deliberative Television: Encouraging Substantive, Citizen-Driven News.


With Americans’ confidence in the news media dwindling, the quality of programming declining, and audiences turning elsewhere, the American news media is at a crossroads. We argue that news outlets should consider a new form of deliberation-based programming for local news coverage as a means of responding to these problems. As a basis for the programming, we build on public journalism (Rosen & Merritt, 1994) and deliberative citizen panels (Knobloch, Gastil, Reedy, & Walsh, 2013). By engaging citizens in the production of news, media outlets not only stand to gain viewers by increasing the quality of their issue coverage, but they also could secure their claim as a public institution providing a valuable public good. We urge media outlets to consider turning to citizen panels to determine which issues are salient and to engage in structured deliberations about those issues, which can be captured and built into content packages for use in news programming. In so doing, news outlets can help activate viewers by positioning them not as passive consumers but as engaged citizens prepared for public deliberation.

The authors note:

We believe that the problems facing local news can be overcome by changing the content of local news programming. In particular, we suggest news content be built on three components: emphasizing state and local issues, engaging citizens in the production process, and maintaining audiences by relying on an alternative format.

They outline the following general process:

  1. Host a so-called priority conference, whereby randomly selected citizens decide what issues to cover
  2. Host a “citizen jury” (using the 2010 Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review pilot project as a guide), whereby participants learn about the issues, deliberate with each other and form a range of opinions.
  3. “Soft news” coverage of steps 1 and 2
  4. Various options for further content implementation:
  • Develop content into a weekly stand-alone program with each episode focusing on a new issue
  • Create regularly occurring segments for broadcast in traditional news programs
  • Substantive web- or app-based interactivity

With regard to interactivity, I would specifically add the many opportunities digital engagement has to offer when it comes to turning viewers into participants. With the right setup, viewers could be brought into the deliberative process and that, in turn, could become part of the programming, thus creating a virtuous cycle of deliberative television!

In related news, a recent report by AmericaSpeaks also talks about new ways in which the news media might support citizen engagement and collaborative governance: Integrating News Media, Citizen Engagement, and Digital Platforms Towards Democratic Ends (PDF)

The article’s section titled “What can news media do?” (page 3) outlines four functions that news media might support to “bring greater citizen engagement and connection to decision-making and governance”. The authors suggest that “news media will need to find ways to heighten the entertainment value of the presentation” and bring up the idea of “a reality-TV show where popular participants work together to understand and react to current news events.” The authors further suggest that “second screen polling technologies can be used in conjunction with [...] the aforementioned reality-TV show” as a way to give citizens the chance to participate in decision-making in order to help them “fully understand the complexities of policy making”.

The report concludes:

Many of us in the world of deliberative democracy and citizen engagement have sought ways to institutionalize stronger links between citizens and decision makers within government. While those efforts should continue, building infrastructure and capacity for more informed, citizen-based decision-making and action within other sectors is needed. The news media and the evolution of digital platforms and engagement tools provide a powerful opportunity for this.

News media and deliberative democracy share an understanding of the importance of strengthening the connections between citizens and government to promote a healthy democracy. Though they have viewed this connection in different ways and employed very different implementation methods, both need to learn from each other, shift their approaches, and create something new together to accomplish the shared goal of engaging ever larger numbers of people, especially from the political center, in governance and strengthening our democracy.

Both the JPD article and the AmericaSpeaks report fit in perfectly with the work we’ve been doing as part of the Real Dialogues project. We’re prototyping on a shoestring budget, of course, but if things go well we should be able to validate a first few key pieces of the bigger delibertainment puzzle.

Stay tuned!

Find Tim’s original post here:

Participate in “Real Dialogues” Hangout Today!

We’re excited to invite you to participate in the most exciting phase yet of the Real Dialogues project, their very first Google+ Hangout discussion! You may remember that the Real Dialogues D&D reality show was one of the winners of NCDD’s Catalyst Awards, and we are proud to see the project entering its production phase! Now you can participate in the project yourself by joining the conversation.

This first dialogue starts Tuesday, October 29th, at 5pm Central so make sure to email immediately to sign up! They are specifically seeking participants from Illinois, so please also tell your IL friends about this great opportunity by having them check out the announcement below or pointing them to the original post on Real Dialogues’ website here.

Real Dialogues Fall Update: Entering Production Phase

After months of design work and preparation, our Catalyst Award project is finally entering its production phase!

We will be using Google+ Hangouts to host three rounds of facilitated small-group dialogues online on the issue of employment and the minimum wage in the greater Chicago, IL area:

  • The first Hangout is for our participants to get to know each other and to explain and hear about their employment situations.
  • The second Hangout will feature interviews with Conservative, Liberal and Alternative experts, who will also drop in to answer questions.
  • The third Hangout aims to tie it all together: what have people learned, have they changed their perspectives, and will this affect their lives?

This first Hangout takes place Tuesday, October 29 at 5pm Central Time (that’s 3pm Pacific, 6pm Eastern).

We are very pleased to welcome Susanna Haas Lyons as our facilitator. Susanna will be facilitating a group of people from the Chicago area to discuss work and the minimum wage. They include employees, employers, minimum wage workers, unemployed job seekers and other people interested in the issue.

Participants wanted

We have a couple of spaces left for Illinois-based people to participate! If you live in Illinois and want to join, email immediately, so we can get you set up.

Audience welcome

Anyone can watch this Hangout and use the new Google+ Q&A feature to ask the participants questions (to ask a question or comment, you will be instructed to join or sign in to Google+).

Invitation to 3rd round of dialogue on Race, Poverty & Wealth in America

Here’s an invitation from Ben Roberts of The Conversation Collaborative to participate in the third (and final) round of the innovative online conversation he’s hosting as part of the National Dialogue Network initiative…

From now through October 31st, please join us on hackpad, on the phone and perhaps in person as well, as we continue to explore the topic of race as it relates to the National Dialogue Network’s topic of Poverty and Wealth in America.

The stories we tell ourselves concerning race, poverty and wealth will be the focus of our Round Three inquiry. You can be a “story teller” and/or a listener/respondent. Thank you to Helen Roberts and Safeer Hopton for agreeing to share their stories to get us started. You can listen to Helen’s recording and then post reflections on our here on the “Story 1” pad, and read or listen to Safeer’s interview here on the “Story 2” pad. You can also…

  • Go to one of our additional pads and share your own story there
  • Pair up with a friend (live or virtually) and interview one another
  • Email me and request that I interview you (this Sunday afternoon or in the morning Eastern during the week is good timing).
  • Join the conversation on our “spin off” pad on “Race and Culture” or “Changes to Voting Laws.”

See the main pad for Round Three to get started on all of the above.

We also have two interactive MaestroConference calls next week. These calls will feature a brief orientation for those who are new to the conversation, plenty of time for dialogue in small and large groups, and two special guest conversation starters.  Stay tuned for more info. Note that if you’re receiving this email from me, you’re already registered. Here are the times for the calls:

  • Tuesday, Oct 29 from 3-5pm Pacific/6-8pm Eastern
  • Thursday, Oct 31 at 11am-1pm Pacific/2-4pm Eastern

Finally, as part of our collaboration with the National Dialogue Network, we request that you take their survey here. This is our way of connecting our thinking together with that of other groups having similar conversations as part of this initiative.

Hope to “see” you soon on the pads and on the phone, and thank you for your interest and participation to date!

Participate in the National Dialogue Network’s inaugural topic!

NDN logoThe National Dialogue Network — winners of the 2012 NCDD Catalyst Award in the civic infrastructure category — launched a few weeks ago with their inaugural topic, ”Poverty & Wealth in America.”

Led by John Spady, the National Dialogue Network (NDN) seeks to coordinate local conversations into mindful national dialogue.

NCDD encourages all of you to get involved so we can learn as much as possible from this project!  Here are two things you can do right now:

  1. Download the “conversation kit” to host/facilitate your own gathering of family, friends, neighbors, or community at; or
  2. Participate on your own by reviewing the background materials and answering their national survey directly at
  3. Show your support of the project by contributing a modest (or not-so-modest) donation at

The NDN network is a nonpartisan, voluntary working group of practitioners, educators and researchers in the fields of public engagement, governance, creative leadership, civic renewal, dialogue, deliberation and participatory decision-making in public issues. They’re building a voluntary civic infrastructure that connects conversations across the U.S. among folks who wish to examine a difficult and complex community issue with others who see the situation or challenges with differing perspectives, disciplines, or ideologies.

The NDN coordinates distinct individual and community conversations giving everyone a “sense of place” and voice within the larger national dialogue. NDN’s dedicated volunteers seek to revitalize and promote civic infrastructures within communities where all who choose to participate will impact the national conversation by:

  • Focusing intently on an issue over time with others;
  • Listening to the opinions and ideas being discussed in your community and across the United States; and
  • Speaking up about your own opinions and ideas in conversations with your family, friends & community.

Good luck to our good friends at the National Dialogue Network as they launch an ambitious project with a modest amount of funds!  We welcome all those who get involved to share here what you’re doing, how you found the materials, and what you think can be learned to inform the next round.

Poverty & Wealth in America: the National Dialogue Network begins coordinated conversations

This post was submitted by John Spady of the National Dialogue Network via our Submit-to-Blog Form. Do you have field news you want to share with the rest of us? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!

NDN logoNCDD member John Spady, who received our 2012 Catalyst Award for Civic Infrastructure, has announced that the National Dialogue Network achieved a major milestone on September 18 when it released its public Conversation Kit on the topic of Poverty & Wealth in America for voluntary and coordinated national conversations. To remember why NDN decided on this issue, check out their their May update here.

Groups and individuals are now invited to join the effort.  Click the “Get Involved” button on the NDN home page and take an action on the topic. An important first action is to simply download the Conversation Kit, then ask your friends, family, neighbors, or community to join in and inform the national dialogue.

The National Dialogue Network coordinates distinct individual and community conversations — giving everyone a “sense of place” and voice within the larger national dialogue. NDN’s dedicated volunteer’s seek to revitalize and promote civic infrastructures within communities where all who choose to participate will impact the national conversation by:

  • Focusing intently on an issue over time with others;
  • Listening to the opinions and ideas being discussed in your community and across the United States; and
  • Speaking up about your own opinions and ideas in conversations with your family, friends & community.

Jim Wallis, President and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners Magazine, appeared prescient about the NDN topic when he wrote in the March-April 1999 issue:

“The growing economic inequality of American life presents the most crucial moral issue for the health of democracy, according to historian James MacGregor Burns. It’s an issue that affects almost every other issue, from campaign finance to corporate welfare to the daily priorities of the U.S. Congress. The widening gap between the top and bottom of American society is now the 900-pound gorilla lurking in the background of every political discussion. It’s just sitting there, but nobody is talking about it. It’s time we started talking about it. Our moral integrity demands it.  And the common good requires it.”

The NDN is appealing to participants and the general public to raise at least another $10,000 for 2014 so they can continue to develop processes and content for another year of national dialogue. Any amounts raised over $15,000 will be used to develop more professional content, coordination, and promotional grants. Donations can be made online at

Finally, the NDN is grateful to the people who volunteered their hearts and hands to make this project happen. Their collaborations are exactly what NCDD intended when it promoted the Catalyst Awards and NDN acknowledges and memorializes their contributions below:

2013 NDN Conversation Guide Volunteers:
Mary Dumas, John Spady, John Perkins, Dyck Dewid, Colin Gallagher, Craig Paterson, and Fedor Ovchinnikov.

2013 NDN Working Group Members:
John Spady, Mary Dumas, Colin Gallagher, Ben Roberts, Craig Paterson, Roshan Bliss, Vanessa Roebuck, John Perkins, Dyck Dewid, Fedor Ovchinnikov, Mark Frischmuth, and Michael Briand.

2013 NDN Advisory Group Members:
Linda Blong, Stephen Buckley, Daniel Clark, Lisa Heft, Peggy Holman, Don LaCombe, Stephanie Nestlerode, Steve Strachan, Sarah Thomson, Faith Trimble, and Rosa Zubizarreta.

Catalyst Awards Update at IAP2 Conference Next Week

Catalyst AwardsAttendees of the IAP2 national conference being held in Salt Lake City, UT next week will have the opportunity to learn more about the progress of both NCDD 2012 Catalyst Award projects.  Project representatives, John Spady (National Dialogue Network) and Tim Bonnemann (Real Dialogues), will be hosting the session “Bridge Building and Other Civic Infrastructures — Status of NCDD Catalyst Award Efforts” on Monday from 1:30pm to 3:00pm. Below is the session summary.

Presenters will describe their independent and collaborative efforts since receiving grants from the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation at the beginning of 2013. Tim Bonnemann will present the “Real Dialogues” project, an experiment in using Google Hangouts to create mass media content for promoting public engagement opportunities to the general public. John Spady will use materials developed for a national audience and lead participants through face to face conversations on the broad topic of “Poverty/Wealth in America.” At the end of the conversations participants will answer the current national survey. If time permits, feedback collected during the session will be analyzed and reported back to the group so they can experience the next phase of the national project: public analysis.

The National Dialogue Network project officially launched this week, sharing news of its program and offering a Conversation Kit for participants. Learn how to get involved here,  Tim Bonnemann will be sharing a Real Dialogues status report at the IAP2 event, and we’ll have additional updates on the NCDD news blog soon.

The IAP2 conference is being held next week, from September 22-24 in Salt Lake City at the Radisson Downtown.  You can learn more at the event’s website,