Recap on our Tech Tues Feat Iceland’s Citizens Foundation

NCDD hosted another one of our informative and exciting TechTues calls earlier this week! We were joined by around 100 participants from across the world to learn more about Citizens Foundation, their digital democracy solutions, and how they are working to strengthen civic engagement in Iceland and internationally.

We recommend you listen to the recording if you weren’t able to make it because it was a great call!

On the call, Robert Bjarnason of Citizens Foundation walked participants through a brief history of how democracy has evolved throughout the last millennium in Iceland and set the stage for the work they are doing today. Founded in the aftermath of Iceland’s economic collapse in 2008, Citizens Foundation sought to improve public participation in government and policy change, by creating open source tools and implementing more democratic processes. They specialize in participatory budgeting, policy crowdsourcing, and other open source projects spanning several countries in Europe and in Australia.

Some of our favorite quotes from Robert during the Tech Tuesday:

  • “A key factor is to make participation fun. Make it informational and educational, but it can’t be boring. People have too many other options, there’s competition for attention, so make it an enjoyable experience”
  • “Lower the barrier to reach more people and not just the usual suspects”
  • “It’s key to let people know about the effort, they can’t participate if they don’t know about it.”
  • “If you listen to the people, the people will listen to you.”
  • [In response to a question on how do you make participation fun?] “Complicated is how you kill fun, make it simple and use pictures!”

If you were unable to join us on the call, never fear! We recorded the webinar which can be found on the archives page here. Access to the archives is a benefit of being an NCDD member, so make sure your membership is up-to-date (or click here to join).  We had an active chat discussion which raised some really interesting questions and examples, and you can check out the transcript of this chat by clicking here. Robert also shared the slides from his presentation, which you can find by clicking here, in case you wanted to scroll through them.

Tech_Tuesday_BadgeBig thank you to Robert and everyone who participated on the call to make it engaging and informative! We encourage you to check out the TechTues recording and learn more about Citizens Foundation’s ongoing work at https://citizens.is/. To learn more about NCDD’s Tech Tuesday series and hear recordings of past calls, please visit www.ncdd.org/tech-tuesdays.

Finally, we love holding these events and we want to continue to elevate the work of our field with Tech Tuesdays and Confab Calls. 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).

NCDD at Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference

We are thrilled to let folks know that NCDD staff, Courtney Breese and I will be at the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference, which is happening on March 8th – 10th in the Phoenix area. This conference will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about the top innovations in civic engagement and democracy, and to network with leaders in the field doing this powerful work.

We are especially excited to announce we will be presenting a session in collaboration with two fellow NCDD members: Cassandra Hemphill of the IAP2 Federation and adjunct faculty at Missoula College of the University of Montana, as well as, Annie Rappeport of the University of Maryland where she serves as a PhD Student and Research Assistant. In this interactive workshop, we will use art to explore participants’ individual connections to participatory democracy, what led us to our work on improving our democracy, and what each of us offer to the field. We’ll explore how we are connected in our communities and how we might connect with others to strengthen participatory democracy. If you are attending IPD, we hope you will join us for our session during Block 1 on Thursday, March 8th from 3-4:30pm.

While we are in town, we would love to meet up with NCDDers in the area (and those attending the conference)! We are working to identify a location that could accommodate a meetup on Friday night (March 9th) after the IPD events that evening. If you are in town on the 9th and would like to join us, send Courtney an email at courtney[at]ncdd[dot]org and we’ll keep you in the loop as we firm up our plans!

IPD is being hosted by NCDD member organizations – the Participatory Budgeting Project and the Jefferson Center, as well as, the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Katal Center, the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Policy Jury Group. If you’ve never been to a conference hosted by PBP and these fine organizations, you are in for a special treat! Tickets go up February 28th – so make sure you get yours ASAP.

There are several pre-conference trainings planned for Wednesday, March 7th, like a training on participatory budgeting (PB) hosted by the Participatory Budgeting Project, or a training on citizen juries, citizen assemblies, sortition, and more hosted by the Jefferson Center and the Policy Jury Group. Click here to learn more and register for these pre-conference trainings, and to see the full IPD conference schedule.

Remember to keep an eye out for Courtney and I if you are attending the conference because we would love to see you!

Don’t Miss Tomorrow’s Tech Tuesday Featuring Iceland’s Citizens Foundation!

In case you missed our original announcement, we have an exciting NCDD Tech Tuesday call featuring Iceland’s Citizens Foundation, tomorrow February 13th from 2-3pm Eastern/11am-Noon Pacific. This FREE call will showcase Citizen Foundation’s digital democracy tools and how they are working to strengthen civic engagement in Iceland. You don’t have to be an NCDD member to participate in the webinar, so we hope you will join us! Register ASAP to save your spot on the call.

Róbert Bjarnason, from the nonprofit Citizens Foundation in Iceland, will present digital tools for upgrading democracy in Iceland and beyond, outlining the Foundation’s digital democracy work since 2008. Projects including policy crowdsourcing and participatory budgeting using open source tools will be demonstrated in this webinar. As highlighted in the Financial Times, since 2011 the citizens of Reykjavik have voted online to select close to 1,000 community improvement projects totaling over $20 million dollars.

The Citizens Foundation open source digital democracy tools have been used in over 20 countries and by over 1 million people to change policy and help rebuild trust between citizens and their governments. Collaborating with E-Democracy.org in the United States to help others deploy and measure civic digital outreach efforts, a new case study (request a copy) comparing paid Facebook and Google advertising used to reach nearly every citizen of Iceland will be shared in brief.

Róbert is a successful entrepreneur that introduced the web to Iceland in 1993 and in 1995 to Denmark. Before co-founding the Citizens Foundation in the year 2008 he worked in the online gaming industry where his team received many industry awards.

Robert has many years experience and much success in using digital tools for democracy, and he is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and experience with us. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity – register today!

About NCDD’s Tech Tuesdays

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

NCL Hosts 109th Nat’l Conference on Local Governance

The National Civic League, an NCDD member organization is hosting the 109th National Conference on Local Governance on June 22nd in Denver, which will precede the 2018 All-America City awards. This conference will be a great opportunity to hear about exciting civic engagement projects being done in cities across the country that are working to promote equity. You can register for the conference by clicking here and take note that early bird registration is available until March 28. Learn more in the announcement below or find the original on NCL’s site here.


109th National Conference on Local Governance: Building Community, Achieving Equity

The National Civic League is hosting the 109th National Conference on Local Governance in Denver on June 22, 2018. This one-day conference will highlight successful projects and initiatives around the country, with speakers from cities that are implementing creative strategies for civic engagement that promote equity. The conference will promote expansive civic engagement, innovation and collaboration as the best strategies for cities to make progress on complex issues like health, education, and relations between community and police.

The conference will precede the 2018 All-America City awards event, which will focus this year on Promoting Equity Through Inclusive Civic Engagement. The theme of both the conference and All-America City awards will be connected to the 50th anniversary of several events that took place in 1968, including the release of a report from President Johnson’s Kerner Commission, which warned of a worsening racial divide and proposed actions at the local and national levels to improve relations with people of color and reduce disparities.

The National Conference on Local Governance is targeted at community leaders, elected officials, academic practitioners, concerned citizens and all others with a passion for creating a stronger community. The conference will provide resources, examples and best practices for community activists, government officials, nonprofit leaders, academic researchers and those interested in better understanding how we can create more inclusive, equitable and thriving communities.

Speakers for the event include Jandel Allen-Davis, M.D., vice president of government and external relations for Kaiser Permanente; Secretary Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development; former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris, who served on President Johnson’s Kerner Commission; and Manuel Pastor, Ph.D., director of University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

The conference will feature three issue tracks:

Health Equity
Healthy, thriving communities use all sectors to make better health possible for all residents. Whether it’s access to fresh food, green space or affordable housing, local governments, nonprofits, school districts and businesses all have a role to play. This track will focus on creating a complete picture of health, from physical environments and planning to strategies for promoting mental health. Equity will be a connecting focus throughout the conference, with a focus on eliminating disparities and a vision of creating a community in which demographics or a zip code do not determine residents’ health outcomes.

Youth and Education
Investing in equitable educational opportunities for youth and adults creates a strong foundation for a thriving community. For this track, education goes beyond just the school system to include all learning opportunities a community can provide for youth and adults from libraries to monuments to arts spaces and more. This track will also explore the strategies and programs that create spaces for youth to be leaders in the community. The vision for this track is a thriving, learning community that provides equitable, culturally responsive educational opportunities that lead to meaningful work.

Community-Police Relations
Fostering community trust and relationships with police departments is top of mind for American communities. This track will explore successful programs that begin to honestly address policing issues and increase safety and well-being for all residents, regardless of race or other characteristics. Implicit bias training and hiring practices for police will be highlighted. Breaking down the school-to-prison pipeline will also be a focus. A thriving, safe community is one where all residents feel welcome and supported by law enforcement and justice systems.

You can find the original announcement on NCL’s site at www.nationalcivicleague.org/national-conference-community-governance/.

Third Phase Begins for Am. Library Association D&D Training

We are thrilled to announce the third phase of D&D training for librarians is starting in February, as part of our partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) on the Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change initiative. Last year we kicked off this partnership to train librarians on D&D methods and processes to share with their communities and further be hubs for engagement and dialogue. The first series last spring was tailored to large/urban public libraries, Fall 2017 was for academic libraries, and this round will be for small, mid-size, and rural public libraries. In addition to the initial webinar NCDD will be doing, this round of trainings will include webinars featuring NCDD member org Future Search and Conversation Café. We encourage you to read the announcement below or find the original on ALA’s site here.


Free Facilitation Training for Small, Mid-Sized and Rural Public Libraries

ALA, the Public Library Association (PLA) and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) invite public library staff serving small, mid-sized or rural communities to attend a free learning series on how to lead productive conversations.

Through Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, a two-year ALA initiative, library professionals have the opportunity to participate in three online learning sessions and one in-person workshop, all free of charge, between February and June 2018.

“I am excited to begin this process in our community, and I feel better equipped to do so,” said one attendee after a previous LTC: Models for Change learning session.

By attending these sessions, library professionals can learn how to convene critical conversations with people with differing viewpoints; connect more meaningfully with library users and better meet their needs; and translate conversation into action.

Registration is currently open for the following three webinars:

  • In Session 1, participants will learn about the range of dialogue and deliberation approaches available; start thinking about their libraries’ engagement goals; learn about resources available to libraries and how to access them; and be introduced to the two dialogue and deliberation approaches that will be featured later in this webinar series. Register for “LTC: Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation for Public Libraries Serving Small, Mid-sized and/or Rural Communities(Wednesday, Feb. 28, 1 p.m. CST).
  • In Session 2, participants will learn how they can use the Future Search process to enable large, diverse groups to validate a common mission, take responsibility for action, and develop a concrete action plan. Register for “LTC: Future Search(Wednesday, April 25, 1 p.m. CST).
  • In Session 3, participants will learn how Conversation Cafés can help community members learn more about themselves, their community or an issue; essential elements of hosting a Conversation Café; facilitation skills; and techniques for addressing challenges. Register for “LTC: Conversation Café(Wednesday, May 23, 1 p.m. CST).

Those who view all three webinars, live or recorded, will be invited to attend a free pre-conference workshop exploring the Conversation Café approach in-depth at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans on June 22, 2018. Space is limited, and preference will be given to public library professionals serving small, mid-sized or rural communities.

This learning series is the third offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change. Previous learning sessions, now available for free viewing, were offered for public libraries serving large or urban communities (recorded spring 2017) and academic libraries (recorded winter 2018).

LTC: Models for Change follows up on Libraries Transforming Communities, a two-year initiative offered in 2014-15 by ALA and The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation that explored and developed the Harwood Institute’s “Turning Outward” approach in public libraries. With this second phase of LTC, ALA broadens its focus on library-led community engagement by offering professional development training in community engagement and dialogue facilitation models created by change-making leaders.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change is made possible through a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. The initiative is offered by ALA’s Public Programs Office.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the ALA’s Programming Librarian site at www.programminglibrarian.org/articles/free-facilitation-training-small-mid-sized-and-rural-public-libraries.

Unrig the System Summit in NOLA Next Week

If you’re tired of political corruption and looking to improve our democracy, then check out what’s being convened next week! If you hadn’t heard already, Debilyn Molineaux, Co-Founder and Director of the Bridge Alliance – an NCDD member org – will be speaking at the upcoming Unrig the System Summit. The summit is February 2-4 in New Orleans, and is being hosted by BA member, Represent.Us. Convening folks from across the political spectrum, this conference will be an excellent opportunity to network and collaborate on next steps to improving our democratic environment. You can read the announcement in post below or find more information on BA’s site here.


Join us at Unrig The System Summit in NOLA!

We are thrilled to announce that Debilyn Molineaux, our Co-Founder & Director, will be a speaker at the Unrig The System Summit hosted by Bridge Alliance member Represent.Us in New Orleans on February 2-4.

Convening the Brightest Minds from the Right and Left to Fix American Politics…and Party in New Orleans

Unrig The System Summit is no ordinary conference. No endless panels and speeches. It’s fast-paced and fun, with plenty of time to self-organize as you mingle with top advocacy leaders, academics, comedians, musicians, celebrities, activists, philanthropists and journalists. This is about crossing partisan and ideological divides and working together on concrete solutions to unrig America’s political system…. with plenty of New Orleans fun mixed in. The Summit runs from Friday, February 2nd, 1pm through Sunday, February 4th, 2pm CT. Key programming will take place all 3 days, so plan on being in attendance for the entire event.

Click here to register – We hope to see you there!

Program tracks for Advocacy, Policy and One Helluva Good Time 
Shape the future of: Money in Politics, Gerrymandering, Citizens United, Voting Reform, Transparency and more. See the hour-by-hour agenda here, or get the Unrig Summit App to plan your personal agenda.

Advocacy Track Sneak Peek:

  • The Power of Storytelling – Learn the narrative skills that power winning campaigns from the experts who have organized some of the best. From gaining new recruits to getting press coverage, so much of what we do relies on our ability to tell a compelling story about our work and ourselves.
  • Fighting Big Money While Running for Office – If you’re running for office, thinking about running for office, supporting a candidate, or just interested in any of the above, come learn about how candidates can embrace a pro-democracy agenda on the campaign trail. You will learn about how to use the right language, how to raise money, how to run a winning campaign and build the next generation of elected champions who will fight to end the influence of big money.
  • Campaign Design Lab – In this interactive training, you’ll join a team to create a campaign live at the summit. You will be guided through a campaign planning 0simulation, and walk away with the recipe for designing and building groundbreaking new campaigns! After the workshop you may continue by participating in one of several follow-up workshops during the Summit. Build something great and it may even be showcased live from stage on Sunday!

Policy Track Sneak Peek:

  • At Our Whit(ford)’s End With Gerrymandering? – Join the lawyer who argued on behalf of Wisconsin’s voters in the Supreme Court’s recent Gill v. Whitford gerrymandering case and other redistricting experts to find out how the Court might rule, and how to prepare for next steps in each possible scenario. Gill v. Whitford is a potential blockbuster case to decide whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional — and we expect a decision soon after the Summit.
  • From Russia, with Facebook: Foreign Influence in American Elections – Join leading experts in a discussion on how we can limit the influence of people who are beyond the reach of our laws — and if we should. The 2016 presidential cycle showed how vulnerable our elections are to foreign influence.
  • What to Do About Citizens United? – Hear from the best legal minds in the country about how we can fight Citizens United, super PACs, dark money, and more. What are the most promising avenues for legal reform, and where should we be focusing our efforts? What’s the near- and long-term game?

Entertainment

  • Friday Night Welcome Party – Join us for a night on the town, and meet the movement at one of New Orleans’ most prolific venues: The Howlin’ Wolf, featuring local live music from Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, and Brass-A-Holics. Make sure to arrive on time to catch the open bar happy hour sponsored by Center for Secure and Modern Elections. This mixer is designed to help you meet new allies. Don’t be shy! 
  • Saturday Night Live Performance – Saturday night is the marquee event of the Summit: an inspiring evening of live music, stand-up comedy, and short speeches in a 1,800-seat historic New Orleans theater. The evening will be hosted by Jennifer Lawrence and Adam McKay and will be livestreamed on multiple platforms. Speakers include Represent.Us Director Josh Silver; Professor Richard Painter; comedians Nikki Glaser, and Adam Yenser; astronaut Ron Garan; former State Senator and Our Revolution President Nina Turner and more, with live music from HoneyHoney, and the legendary New Orleans-based Preservation All-Stars. 

Remember to follow the #UnrigTheSystem hashtag on Twitter for more in-the-moment happenings!

You can find the original version of this announcement on Bridge Alliance’s site at www.bridgealliance.us/unrig_the_system_summit.

PBP Opening for PhDs as Participation Design Strategist

There is an exciting opportunity for recent PhDs to work with NCDD member org, Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) and help strengthen participatory democracy! PBP recently announced they have an opening as a Participation Design Strategist, part of the Mellow/ACLS Public Fellows program, for those who are new PhDs. The deadline to apply is March 14th, 2018 for the position, and we hope some NCDDers will apply (by clicking here)! You can read more information on the fellowship opening in the post below or find the original here. Good luck to all applicants!


Mellon/ACLS Fellowship Opening – Participation Design Strategist

At the Participatory Budgeting Project, we’re pleased to announce that we have been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as a host organization for the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program, a career-building fellowship initiative designed to expand the reach of doctoral education in the humanities. In 2018, the Public Fellows program will place up to 25 recent PhDs from the humanities and humanistic social sciences in two-year staff positions at partnering organizations in government and the nonprofit sector. Fellows will participate in the substantive work of these organizations and will receive professional mentoring, an annual stipend of $67,500, and health insurance.

The application deadline is March 14, 2018 (9pm EDT). For more information, please visit http://www.acls.org/programs/publicfellowscomp/.

Fellowship Details
Position Title:
Participation Design Strategist

Position Description:
We are seeking a Participation Design Strategist to work in PBP’s Participation Lab, one of our three program areas. The Lab evaluates, researches, and develops tools and practices to make participatory budgeting and democracy work better. The strategist will work closely with other staff and partners to develop and test strategies that improve PBP’s services and PB processes. Through this work the strategist will identify and help implement design solutions that enable participatory democracy to grow and scale, and that advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in civic participation. This will include close collaboration with government and nonprofit staff, community leaders, and user design experts.

This position is great preparation for those interested in a career in the nonprofit or public sectors, including in user experience design, human centered design, public participation, civic engagement, program evaluation, service delivery, or public administration. This is a new position that expands PBP’s capacity to make data-informed design decisions as well as to keep pace with the increasing volume and diversity of communities excited about deepening local democracy. See the full job posting here.

  • Stipend: $67,500 per year, with health insurance coverage for the fellow, a relocation allowance, and up to $3,000 in professional development funds over the course of the fellowship
  • Tenure: Two years; start date on August 1 or September 1, 2018, depending on the fellowship position
  • Applications will be accepted only through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application system (ofa.acls.org). The system will open on January 4, 2018.
  • Application deadline: March 14, 2018, 9pm EDT
  • Notification of application status will occur by email starting late-May 2018.

Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows is a fellowship program offered by the American Council of Learned Societies and is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Please direct all inquiries about the fellowship program to ACLS.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/mellon-fellowship/

ILG Offers Training for Local Gov’t Public Engagement

For those in the NCDD network working in local government and looking to improve public engagement skills, check out this great training coming up from NCDD member org Institute for Local Government (ILG). ILG is offering their TIERS Learning Lab, which will be a two-day training on Tuesday, March 13th and Wednesday, March 14th in Sacramento, CA. This is a great opportunity for staff and elected officials working in local government to better engage and sustain their public engagement efforts. You can read the announcement from ILG below or find the original version here.


TIERS Public Engagement Learning Lab – March 13th & 14th, Sacramento CA

The Institute for Local Government is thrilled to offer our Public Engagement Learning Lab to California local governments on March 13-14 in Sacramento. The Learning Lab includes a two-day training and up to six hours post-training consulting. During the training, you will learn how to implement ILG’s TIERS Framework, a step-by-step public engagement guide, and practical tools to successfully plan your public engagement efforts. By the end of the training, you will also have a “blueprint” for the implementation of your given public engagement effort. Early bird registration deadline is February 2.

What: The TIERS Public Engagement Learning Lab is a training and coaching program for local government staff and elected officials. In the TIERS Learning Lab you will:

  • Receive customized coaching on your public engagement projects from ILG staff
  • Learn to utilize ILG’s TIERS Framework to successfully plan and implement your public engagement projects
  • Apply the TIERS process to a specific public engagement project you are working on
  • Discuss strategies to overcome a wide variety of barriers and challenges often seen in public engagement work
  • Practice valuable facilitation skills and communication techniques that can be applied to many areas of your work

Who: Teams of 2-5 individuals from cities, counties and special districts looking to strengthen their public engagement work.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018: 10am – 4pm Pacific
Wednesday, March 14, 2018: 9am – 2:30pm Pacific

Location: 1414 K Street, Adelante Room (1st floor), Sacramento, CA 95814

Registration Deadline: February 16th (Early Bird: February 2nd)

Learning Lab Overview
The TIERS Learning Lab is a comprehensive training and coaching program from ILG that provides local government teams of 2-5 individuals with hands-on instruction and coaching on the TIERS Framework. By participating in the TIERS Learning Lab, staff and electeds will learn how to utilize, customize and implement the TIERS tools and processes. The TIERS Learning Lab will help you build and manage successful public engagement in order to support local government work, stakeholder input and project success.

TIERS Learning Lab Components
The TIERS Learning Lab consists of training and support over a six month period for an agency team of up to five people. This six-month hands-on coaching opportunity includes:

  • A pretraining consultation with ILG to discuss your goals, plans and challenges; and to select your Learning Lab public engagement case
  • Immersive two-day Learning Lab: hands-on, participatory in-person training with expert coaches and peer learning
  • Post-training customized implementation coaching (up to 6 hours)
  • Monthly ’Open Lab’ for problem solving during the three months post training
  • Training workshop materials and meals
  • Scheduling and coordination of consulting calls for pre and post training

Learn More & Registration
For additional information and pricing, please visit http://www.ca-ilg.org/TIERSLearningLab.
To register please contact publicengagement@ca-ilg.org or (916) 658-8221.

“Attending TIERS was a great learning experience for the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) team.  The training helped us understand why our traditional methods of public outreach were not as effective as we hoped, and it provided insight into how we could enhance those efforts in the future.  Spending time together as a team was helpful, and the exercises and tools presented were enlightening.  The methods we learned at TIERS have already changed our public engagement process.  Using many specific techniques that we learned and working as a team, RTD increased our annual Unmet Transit Needs responses from 12 last year to over 1,350 this year! Thanks for the help!” -Donna DeMartino, Chief Executive Officer, San Joaquin Regional Transit District

You can find the original information of this training on ILG’s site at: www.ca-ilg.org/TIERSLearningLab.

Free NIF Workshop at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Feb.

As part of our partnership with the American Library Association, we have been working with the ALA on their Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change series; an initiative which seeks to train librarians in various dialogue and deliberation approaches. There is an opportunity for academic librarians to attend a free National Issues Forums workshop tailored for academic libraries on Friday, February 9th from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. MT at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver. Qualifications for attending the workshop are in the post below or on the original post here. While participation is free, space is limited – please check it out and share with your academic librarian friends!


Free Workshop for Academic Libraries this February!

We’re reaching out to encourage you to contact your academic library partners about this exciting opportunity for them to receive a free training workshop in the National Issues Forums model at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver.

Academic libraries are invited to attend “LTC: National Issues Forums Workshop for Academic Libraries,” which will be held on Friday, February 9, 2018, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The one-day pre-conference workshop at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting will highlight the National Issues Forums approach to dialogue and deliberation. Participation in the workshop is free; however, space is limited and registration via this website is required.

NOTE: In order to qualify for the in-person workshop, librarians must view three 90-minute online learning sessions prior to the workshop and must claim a participation badge via Credly.com after each webinar. View the online sessions here and create a Credly account by following these instructions.

Please share this opportunity with your academic librarians and encourage them to both view the free webinars and apply to attend the workshop. Space is still available but it won’t last long!

About Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change

This workshop is offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). The initiative seeks to introduce libraries to various dialogue and deliberation approaches, enabling libraries to foster conversation and lead change in their communities. LTC: Models for Change Series 2 highlights dialogue and deliberation models most useful for academic libraries.

LTC: Models for Change is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant RE-40-16-0137-16.

You can find the original version of this announcement on ALA’s LTC site at: www.apply.ala.org/LTCMidwinter.

NCDD Board Member on Protecting our Civic Ecosystem

Our NCDD board member, Jacob Hess recently wrote a piece in which he correlates the increasing call to protect our threatened natural ecosystems with the need to also protect our democratic ecosystem. In the article, he shares his experience adapting Living Room Conversations in Utah by collaborating with individuals and organizations already doing civic engagement work, of which developed into a thriving network of civically-engaged folks. We encourage you to read Jacob’s piece below or find the original here.


Preserving and Protecting Our Precious Civic Ecosystem

Lots of attention is going today to physical habitat under siege (and for good reason): without more attention, many of these beautiful areas might go away, or be irreparably damaged. For that reason, many believe that energy invested in this protection and preservation is well spent.

Far less attention, however, goes to the way our civic ecosystem remains under increasing siege. What began as occasional concern for the hostility in the U.S. media and elected leaders, has become widespread trepidation regarding public animosities deepening in every direction, on nearly every issue.

Some believe that without more attention, this precious civic ecosystem could go away or likewise become irreparably damaged, thus prompting similar calls for additional investment to protect and preserve this fragile democratic habitat.

A case study in Utah. Starting in 2014, I had the opportunity to work for Living Room Conversations in a Utah experiment to help cultivate the civic ecosystem there. Rather than plowing up the roots already in place (or riding into town with the “newfangled solutions”), it felt important to build upon and leverage whatever rich habitat already existed.

Thus we began with a local reconnaissance reaching out to 20 different civics organizations to find out what had already been done (it turns out, a lot, as you can see here in a general summary and here in a more recent success in LGBT-religious conservative dialogue). After meeting with a number of leaders in the past work, including John Kesler (Salt Lake Civil Network), Michele Straube (Environmental Dispute Resolution, U of U) and David Derezotes (Peace & Conflict Studies, U of U), I was struck at how underrecognized and little known their efforts were, compared to much louder initiatives that captured the public eye.

Given the lack of recognition and continuing suspicion this kind of bridge-building elicited from many, we have experimented with different ways to connect more people to the possibility of vibrant and productive “disagreement practice”, as defined in the AllSides Dictionary.

Small is big. Perhaps the most obvious way to do so is meeting people where they are – in their own homes and communities. From my own early experiences, I quickly became mesmerized by the almost magical power of small group gatherings to bring people together across divides (see Eating Hummus With the ‘Enemy’: From Aversion to Affection).

We subsequently experimented with different ways to introduce people in Utah to this Living Room Conversation practice, from a local press release with offers of free consultation, to highlights of a filmed conversation, to even going door to door with invitations in my own neighborhood. Our conversations ranged from gun rights and evolution, to women’s rights and same-sex marriage/religious freedom. Everyone who participated came away feeling uplifted and encouraged. Out of all these efforts, two additional lessons became clear: (1) The pervasive busyness of American culture remained the largest barrier to involvement: why should I take away time from other things to do this? (2) As simple as these conversations seem, they elicit some visceral fears in some people of political confrontation or dangerous exposures. That explains another parallel dialogue “gateway” that we attempted.

Easing concerns with a PARTY! Alongside direct invitations to try it in your own home, we also organized larger community events where people could come have some food, laugh and watch a high-quality conversation take place on stage. This was possible due to the critical support of our key partner, Utah Humanities, in two different “seasons” of dialogue events. As you can see in the highlights from our inaugural Village Square event, we intentionally aimed to make the atmosphere light and social.

After repeating this approach in a dialogue on the secular/religious divide in Utah, we got feedback that people wanted more of a chance to explore the issue on their own, rather than just listen to a panel explore it. So in each event since – immigration, policing, climate change, racial bias – we have done a hybrid Village Square / Living Room Conversation model, where we begin with small table conversations over a meal before turning to a panel and then ending with small debriefing conversations.

The success of these efforts over time led to a larger, day-long gathering, that we called the Utah Citizen Summit. Sponsored by nearly 15 prominent Utah organizations, this event brought together local citizens and national speakers to first, learn how and practice dialogue, and then celebrate positive steps being taken. That event expanded our network to include the Salt Lake Public Library system, The Deseret News (the largest newspaper in the state), Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams’ office, the Governor’s Office of Civic & Character Education, the NAACP, and the conservative Sutherland Institute.

Equipping citizen leaders. Even with all this, however, we noticed most people were hesitant and not confident in their own capacity to make any difference. Thanks to a grant from the Bridge Alliance, we’ve started an ongoing series of training for citizens who want to grow in their capacity to lead conversations, using the Essential Partners “Power of Dialogue” trainings as a vehicle.

Each participant comes away from these trainings with a new awareness of the many approaches they might use in their own community.

Building a practice network. One single event or training is not enough, though. As with most any craft, real time and work is needed to hone and develop the practice.For that reason, we have been deliberate about developing a network of dialogue practitioners throughout the state. This includes in-person and zoom meetings, as well as ongoing coordination in how to support each other’s work.

Like those who gather who practice meditation and gather with others for ongoing support and training, we aim to be a community of like-minded folks who support each other in “honing the craft.” Part of this “practice network” approach is helping each other make space and time for the practice, much like a meditation network encourages each other to “keep practicing.”

Why do we make time for this?

Because it’s worth prioritizing. Rather than waiting for national leaders to figure out how to talk across differences, our network of Utah citizens are committed to do whatever we can cultivate and preserve the civic ecosystem in our own communities. Once again, instead of advocating one technique, one organization or one practice as holding the singular capacity to “save” us from our current political atrophy, our overriding focus is on the complex and multiform civic ecosystem needed in order for communities to thrive. Just as, in nature, no single species in an ecosystem can thrive without a degree of interdependence on other forms of life, so too must efforts toward constructive dialogue draw strength from a web of other existing efforts. In this way, we envision Utah becoming a national model of what it takes to fight to protect a robust ecosystem for civic engagement, and in this way, strengthen our democracy.

You can find the original version of Jacob Hess’ article at: www.livingroomconversations.org/preserving-and-protecting-our-precious-civic-ecosystem/.