DMC Hosts Third Annual Civic Institute on August 17th

The third annual Civic Institute is happening Friday, August 17th, hosted by NCDD member org the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. This will be one of the premier events dedicated to strengthening civic life in Alabama and will be a fantastic opportunity for those doing civic engagement work throughout the state.  DMC recently announced the session line up which you can read more below and on the DMC’s site here.


2018 Civic Institute: Be Together Differently

We’ve added new sessions to our third annual Civic Institute! Please join us Friday, August 17, for some deep conversations on strengthening civic life in Alabama – not for a day, but for the duration.

Each year, our hope at the Civic Institute is that Alabamians doing good, sustainable work in their neighborhoods and hometowns connect with each other in new ways. Every place has a unique story and faces a distinct set of challenges, yet across the state, the Mathews Center sees increasingly that Alabama residents and civic leaders often face similar issues. Through Alabama Issues Forums we see that when people desire to address an issue they all face – rather than politics or personalities – deliberative conversations can be especially suited for the uncommon and transformative experience of working together across difference. Wicked problems don’t tend to disappear overnight, and so the everyday habit of talking with each other as citizens – not circling issues, but working towards creating solutions we can all live with – often proves to be, simultaneously, one of the most effective and the most accessible approaches to sustainable community development.

At this year’s Civic Institute, we hope to find deeper ways to support Alabamians practicing such fundamental aspects of democracy as having sustained conversations on difficult issues, practicing innovations in journalism, bringing underrepresented groups to the table, and recognizing the potential each individual holds to make their communities better for everyone. More than ever, this year, we seek to continue modeling our call to listen first and to “pass the mic” by highlighting the following speakers and topics:

The Elephant in the Room: Talking About Difficult Issues: Talking about challenging issues in a divided political climate is hard. Listening to those we disagree with is difficult. Finding opportunities to bridge divides and discuss the “elephants in the room” in a productive, civil manner that prioritizes understanding over consensus is even more challenging. During this interactive session, learn from Alabama communities that are engaging citizens in deliberation on some of the most divisive public issues facing communities today. Discover tools and resources you can use to tackle the issues facing your community. Chris McCauley of Markstein will moderate; additional speaker details are forthcoming. This session is made possible by a generous donation from The Blackburn Institute at the University of Alabama.

“Public life is bigger than political life. We have narrowly equated the two in recent years, and we’ve impoverished ourselves in the process. Public life includes all of our disciplines and endeavors, including ourselves as citizens and professional people and neighbors and parents and friends. The places we’ve looked for leadership and modeling have become some of the most broken in our midst. And so it is up to us, where we live, to start having the conversations we want to be hearing and creating the realities we want to inhabit.”

– Krista Tippet, On Being

Who Remembers? Collective Memory and Public Life: The issue of monuments and memorials in public spaces divides communities around the nation, and people of goodwill on all sides of the issue struggle to hear each other productively.  In this facilitated discussion, participants will discuss what concerns them the most regarding this issue and whether they can imagine opportunities for deliberation within their communities and networks. This session will be moderated by Dr. Mark Wilson, Director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities at Auburn University. Our thanks to the Alabama Bicentennial Commission for generously sponsoring this session.

“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”

– Wendell Berry

The Front Doors of Fellowship: Engaging with Difference Through Faith: What is the role of faith communities in public life? What do we find at the intersection of faith and civic engagement? How can we cultivate the physical and conceptual spaces that houses of worship occupy, in order to bring people together in new ways that connect our individual experiences and our rich inner lives with the work that we must all do, collectively, as a public? Faith communities, for many Alabamians, not only feed the spiritual life, they also serve as a hub of community life. This session will focus on stories, challenges, and opportunities in bringing faith communities together across divides to address key issues and challenges facing our hometowns and our state.

“The power of belonging creates and undoes us both; if spirituality does not speak to this power, then it speaks to little.”

-Pádraig Ó Tuama, Irish Theologian

Urban Perspectives on Civic Engagement in Alabama: The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Woodlawn Project and Spring Hill College’s Foley Fellowship in Civic Leadership are experiential learning opportunities that seek to work alongside neighboring communities to better understand and address the complex effects that poverty and other related disparities have on their quality of life. The effectiveness of each project is rooted in its being tailored to fit the particular contexts in which each institution operates. Attendees of this session will take part in a dialogue that compares and contrasts the unique challenges, approaches, and learning outcomes that these programs have yielded working with community partners in urban contexts on opposite sides of the state.

“As we internalize the view of others, we change. And as our perception of others changes, we see possibilities for acting together that we didn’t see before.”

-Dr. David Mathews

Who’s Not At the Table? Engaging Youth in Civic Deserts: Over the past decade, civic engagement and volunteering rates among young Americans have declined across race, income, and education levels. However, youth and young adults living in “civic deserts” are disproportionately represented among the disengaged.  Civic deserts are communities that lack adequate opportunities for young people to learn about and participate in civic and political life. Over 40% of American youth and young adults live in “civic deserts.” In rural areas, the percentage of young people living in civic deserts climbs to nearly 60%. Youth in civic deserts are less engaged in politics, are less likely to vote in elections, and are less likely to believe in the influence of their own voice and the collective potential of their community. While the statistics can be harrowing, there are leaders, educators, and organizers across Alabama who are working to revive youth engagement within rural and urban civic deserts. By capitalizing on the assets within their community to create leadership opportunities, mentorship programs, career training, and youth programming, the guest speakers in our Engaging the Disengaged: Youth in Civic Deserts session are creating innovative avenues for youth engagement. This session is made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Alabama Public Television.

Passing the Mic: Representation & Empathy in Civic Media: The digital disruption of traditional news and media outlets has become an accepted, albeit cliche, archetype for the twenty-first century. The fourth estate that so many Americans revered throughout our history has been faced with growing distrust, diminished resources, and has struggled to translate its traditional structure and function into an increasingly viral model of news and journalism. At the same time, digital technologies have enabled millions to tell their own stories in a way that is diffuse, yet direct.

The rise of citizen journalism and social media has emerged as a critical component of what we today characterize as “civic media.” The centuries-long interpolation of citizen and journalist is newly-malleable, and calls for a radical reconceptualization of the citizen-journalist relationship. “I just want to be a voice for the voiceless,” is a refrain that is increasingly unable to bear the complex weight of citizens ready to speak for themselves. Why be a voice for the voiceless when you could just pass the mic?

This session will explore ways of passing the mic and equipping others to tell their own story through digital media as well as traditional journalistic outlets. From Twitter to the town square, we will consider examples of intergenerational cooperation amongst communities, local professors, and their students, as they reimagine what community journalism and self-representation can accomplish in our time.

To register, visit 2018civicinstitute.eventbrite.com. Please contact Rebecca Cleveland at rcleveland@mathewscenter.org if the cost of attending presents a burden; we have some scholarships available. To become a sponsor, contact Cristin Brawner at cfoster@mathewscenter.org. 

 You can find the original version of this announcement on the David Mathews Center blog at www.mathewscenter.org/2018-civic-institute-sessions/.

NCL Announces Winners of the 2018 All-America City Award

This weekend, the National Civic League announced the awardees for the 2018 All-America City Award, following the National Conference on Local Governance. The award is granted to those communities who demonstrate inclusive and innovative civic engagement practices that work to address critical issues and strengthen relations within the community. Please join us in congratulating all the winners and finalists of this prestigious award! You can read the announcement below and find the original on the National Civic League’s site here.


Announcing This Years’ Winners! These 10 communities all get the honor of being named an All-America City.

The All-America City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues.

The Winners
Each of the following winning communities demonstrated civic engagement practices that are inspirational, inclusive and promising in their ability to unite members of the community to collectively and collaboratively help solve our country’s most pressing and complex issues.

Springdale, AR – Chosen for creating the Committee for Civic Engagement and Inclusion and initiating work on city-wide initiatives to incorporate people of color and new Americans into civic life, resulting in a revitalized downtown, active youth council and free food pantries for residents in need. Project details.

Stockton, CA – Stockton’s efforts to build a culture of engagement have resulted in community-based programs and systems that are healing decades of trauma for individuals and communities, empowering students who have been historically marginalized and providing new pathways to higher education. Project details.

Longmont, CO – Through recognizing the diversity of its population, and bringing more community members to the table, Longmont has been able to identify and address community needs creatively and cooperatively from mental health to disaster relief. Project details.

Decatur, GA – Continuing its commitment to civic engagement, Decatur 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. Project details.

Las Vegas, NV – Las Vegas provides residents, stakeholders, staff and elected officials with a collective vision and plans 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. Project details.

Charlotte, NC – Following reports showing economic inequity in the city, and a police shooting in late 2016, the City of Charlotte engaged thousands of residents in one-on-one conversations and community meetings. This has resulted in partnerships that have built a more skilled workforce, reduced teen crime and invested in infrastructure in neighborhoods in need. Project details.

Kershaw County, SC – Kershaw County embraces the changing faces of its rapidly growing community, balancing its rural past and suburban future, with its business owners, residents and elected officials reflecting that diversity and building programs to ensure equity in healthcare, education and economic growth. Project details.

Mount Pleasant, SC – Mount Pleasant is employing a balance of outreach from city departments and officials and engagement with community members through partnerships, dialogue and forums, resulting in youth participation in the Reading Patrol Program and streamlined navigation through the planning process. Project details.

El Paso, TX – El Paso built upon the City’s 2015Strategic Plan to conduct a year-long community outreach process that reached more than 70,000 people and has led to an Advanced Leadership Training program for graduates of The Neighborhood Leadership Academy, partnerships to increase training and adult education, and creative implementation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program to serve more than 4,000 families. Project details.

San Antonio, TX – The Office of Equity, in partnership with the nonprofit, SA2020, applied data from an Equity Impact Assessment to seven high-impact City initiatives, seeing positive results in higher involvement from Latino residents, an increased number of residents enrolled in health insurance programs, reduced incidents of teen pregnancy and progress in adult education initiatives. Project details.

Congratulations to the 2018 All-America City Finalists

Placentia, CA – Finalist because of the encouragement of active engagement across the community in meetings, discussions and task forces that have brought about revitalization, collaborative partnerships, and fiscal sustainability recommendations to guide the city decision makers. Project details.

Battle Creek, MI – Recognizing the power of existing residential groups, Battle Creek is engaging residents through a neighborhood ambassador program, building leadership capacity among its youth, and working with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to address historic and contemporary effects of racism and improve economic conditions. Project details.

Cincinnati, OH – Cincinnati’s formal commitment to civic engagement, seen in city staffing and the organization of community groups, has led to plans to assist vulnerable neighborhoods in going green, platforms for information sharing and engagement training and reduction of crime in targeted neighborhoods. Project details.

Beaverton, OR – Beaverton Organizing and Leadership Development (BOLD) is a unique and dedicated space for immigrants, refugees and other people of color to discover their common goals and struggles, build leadership capacity, gain community organizing and advocacy skills, and strengthen cross-cultural understanding. Project details.

Allentown, PA – Allentown is undertaking several redevelopment efforts and is engaging residents every step of the way. They partnered with outside agencies on developing the national training model on police relations with the LGBTQ community, published a guide in 12 different languages for all newcomers and provided critical job training to all residents in need. Project details.

Columbia, SC – The city government has been assessing and addressing its community needs, developing programs to serve minority and women-owned businesses, connect police officers with community members and revitalize areas affected by flooding and neglect. Project details.

Pasco, WA – Pasco has embraced its diversity by developing inclusionary practices that have changed their election process to enable broader representation, built training and problem solving tools to enhance police community relations and enlisted a resident committee to guide the Economic Strategic Vision. Project details.

Tacoma, WA – Faced with a history of community distrust, anger and grief, Tacoma has chosen to invest in equity both internally and externally. They have established the Office of Equity and Human Rights, developed a Handbook for Recruiting, Hiring & Retention and established programs to ensure on-going community input and engagement. Project details.

“These finalist communities are building local capacity to solve problems and improve their quality of life. The National Civic League is honored to recognize these communities, and views their efforts as critical in addressing the challenge to communities issued by the 1968 Kerner Commission, ‘to make good the promises of American democracy to all citizens – urban and rural, white, black, Spanish surname, American Indians, and every minority group.’” – The National Civic League’s President, Doug Linkhart

About the Award
The All-America City awards are an awards ceremony and networking event unlike any other! Through concrete examples, interactive discussions, and finalist presentations – you will walk away with the knowledge, skills, contacts, and inspiration you need to better strengthen your community.

The award, given to 10 communities each year, celebrates and recognizes neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities, counties, tribes and regions that engage residents in innovative, inclusive and effective efforts to tackle critical challenges.

Promising Practices Webinar
This free monthly webinar series highlights successful projects around the country with speakers from cities implementing creative strategies for civic engagement. By equipping individuals, institutions and local governmental bodies through this series with ideas, models and insights that can be adopted/adapted to individual communities National Civic League hopes to accelerate the pace of change in communities across the country. These webinars are free and open to anyone who is interested in creating stronger communities. Click here to view archives.

Interested in applying?
Communities have found civic strength and growth as a result of winning the award and gain a better understanding of civic excellence through the year-long application process. In applying communities reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, challenges and the progress they have made. Click here to learn how to apply.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the National Civic League’s site at www.nationalcivicleague.org/2018-finalists/.

The Tonic to Heal our Ailing Democracy

It’s incredible how relevant this article still is on how to strengthen our weakened democracy, despite that some time has passed since it was published. Penned by Will Friedman, Executive Director of Public Agenda – an NCDD member org, he states that the tonic to remedy our ailing democracy is “not just more democracy, but better quality democracy”. As many communities around the country are going through their primaries, it is a vital time to practice this; as we all have roles to play in nursing our democracy back to good health. You can read the article below and was re-shared on the Deliberative Democracy Consortium‘s site here.


Fixing What Ails Democracy

What does it mean, this chaotic, disturbing, unpredictable electoral season? We’ll know more after the dust has settled, but we can’t afford to wait to make our best guess. We need a working theory to orient ourselves as we seek to minimize damage and prescribe a path that will move our democracy in a healthier direction.

One thesis has been powerfully articulated in an insightful and beautifully written essay by Andrew Sullivan for New York magazine. I agree with practically everything Sullivan had to say in this fascinating read — with the exception of his central thesis and conclusion!

Sullivan does not bury his lede — it’s all there in the title: “Democracies end when they are too democratic, and right now America is a breeding ground for tyranny.” His argument leads, ultimately, to a call for elites to assert themselves and save the people from themselves.

Yet it is the very non-responsiveness of elites to the needs and problems of great swaths of the public that is profoundly frustrating people in the first place. Asking political and economic elites to control rather than engage the public would only exacerbate that frustration.

In an analysis from the Rand Corporation, the factor best predicting support for Donald Trump was agreement with the statement, “people like me don’t have any say.”

Certainly elites have a role to play in fixing what’s broken in our public life, but if they assert themselves by disempowering people, they risk worsening the problem rather than solving it.

In a recent piece for The New York Times, Michael Lind counters Sullivan’s thesis, arguing for more democracy, not less. He describes the ways in which decisions that affect people’s lives are being made in increasingly distant and unapproachable ways:

Majorities need to be constrained when it comes to essential rights. But removing too many decisions from local to remote governments and from legislators answerable to voters to unelected judges, executive officials and treaty negotiators, is likely to create a democratic deficit that provokes a backlash against the system.

If we want to avert the sense of powerlessness among voters that fuels demagogy, the answer is not less democracy in America, but more.

In defining “more democracy,” Lind focuses squarely on political institutions and legal structures that enable citizens to have more influence on the decisions that affect their lives. Expanding citizen influence is crucially important; it can attenuate the public powerlessness and marginalization that fuel the antagonistic temper of the times. This expansion can emerge not only through traditional political reforms like decentralizing certain decisions and resources to the local level, but also through innovative experiments in community democracy like participatory budgeting.

But Lind’s appraisal is also an incomplete prescription in one important respect. Citizens now operate in an environment that inflames rather than informs public opinion.

We have a political culture and fractured media environment saturated with increasingly sophisticated spin, the cult of celebrity, and the conflation of incivility and authenticity.

We have access to more information than ever before, but that information often serves to reinforce our prejudices and assumptions. It’s never been easier to avoid alternative views and disconfirming data.

We have more ways of expressing ourselves than ever before, but it’s too easy to sound off irresponsibly, even anonymously, and avoid challenge and intellectual accountability.

Rather than a political culture of listening to and engaging people with different views, we have too much of a culture of dismissal, disdain and groupthink. As a result, we end up with a politics full of magic bullets, scapegoats, and focus-group-tested slogans.

To counter these inflammatory forces, we need a democratic culture and set of practices that help people encounter and weigh competing ideas and the choices we need to make as we face the future. Such structures will enable people to transform gut-level opinions and assumptions into what Dan Yankelovich calls “public judgment” — views that people have won, not received, through the hard work of thinking for themselves and talking with others.

What we truly need, then, is not just more democracy, but better quality democracy, with better resources for public conversation and judgment.

If there’s an upside to the current turmoil it’s that, despite the demagogic excess, important questions are swirling to the surface.

Why is the economy working so well for a small number of Americans and so poorly for so many? Is the disappearance of middle class jobs, and along with them the American Dream, inevitable or can we do something about it? If so, what? How can we better address our entrenched issues around race and ethnicity, and best adapt to our rapidly changing demographics? How can we work to make gridlock the exception rather than the norm?

We need more robust democratic conversation on questions like these — not just to “save the people from themselves” but to renew America’s democratic promise and set the nation on a better path.

You can find the original version of this article on the Deliberative Democracy Consortium site at http://deliberative-democracy.net/2017/06/16/fixing-what-ails-democracy/

Civvy Award Nominations are Now Open Until July 11th

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


The 2018 Civvys: The American Civic Collaboration Awards

Celebrating Partnerships that Strengthen America

Nominations are open June 11 – July 11, 2018.

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

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

Award Categories and Criteria

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

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

Award Categories

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

Criteria

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

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

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

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

In addition, the Civvys celebrates programs and people that:

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

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

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

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

Improving Employee Engagement and Morale with PB

One of the best ways to both empower people to be more engaged and improve the level of trust in democratic practices is participatory budgeting (PB), and it works in sectors across the board. Another successful example of PB is when it is implemented within business, as NCDD member org, the Participatory Budgeting Project, recently shared on their blog. We encourage you to read more on how PB was utilized in the company, Justworks, and the powerful results that followed. You can read the original version of this article below and on PBP’s site here.


Participatory Budgeting for Businesses: It Justworks

Last April, Isaac Oates was leaving his local library when a stranger asked him to vote. At first he politely declined, but when the volunteer said it was about the budget and would just take a minute, Isaac took a ballot, and learned about participatory budgeting (PB).

Six months later, Oates was leading a PB vote for his business’s budget. Standing in front of a company-wide all-hands meeting, he invited Justworks’ 300 employees to decide how to spend $250,000. The end result was a powerful team-building experience, which led to greater staff understanding and a better workplace.

Justworks is an HR platform that helps employers run their business by simplifying and supporting payroll, benefits, HR, and compliance. After rapid growth forced its employees to overflow into multiple offices, Justworks decided to move to a larger office on the far west side of Manhattan, 15 minutes from mass transit. To compensate for the worse commute, Oates, the company’s founder and CEO, committed an additional $250,000 to make Justworks a better place to work. And he asked employees to decide how to spend it.

Over a couple months last fall, Justworks held brainstorming sessions with facilitators, where dozens of employees identified initial ideas. Staff teams developed these ideas into proposals, and then sent a survey on the top proposals to all staff, to give feedback and prioritize which proposals should go to a vote.

Based on this feedback, Justworks narrowed down the list to six finalists. The staff teams prepared budgets and final proposals for each project, and then presented them to hundreds of staff at the all-hands meeting.

Each presenter delivered a tightly rehearsed pitch, with slides and a few jokes on the side. (Why vote for healthier snacks? “You’ve all had times where you go to grab a snack at 4pm and all that’s left are some bags of Hot Cheetos.”)

After a few vigorous rounds of questions, Oates thanked the project champions. “That was the most fun I’ve had in awhile!”

All staff then had a day to vote online, by casting up to three votes per person. 226 staff voted – 75% turnout!

The top four projects received enough votes to win funding: enhanced healthier snacks, a calm zen space for relaxing at the office, new office decor and art, and more comfortable office chairs. Justworks donated the remaining funds to a local soup kitchen.

Oates was impressed with the results of this new approach to employee engagement. “People learned about the budget. I always expect them to understand it, but they don’t really have the chance.”

During a challenging transition for Justworks, PB showed employees that the company was listening to their needs and investing in their priorities.

And at a difficult time for our democracy, Justworks also showed how PB can inspire a new wave of civic power. Over 100,000 people voted last year in PBNYC, learning first hand a better way to decide together. Oates was one of many who took this experience to heart, launching PB in his own community. Are you next?

You can find the original version of the article on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/participatory-budgeting-for-businesses-it-justworks/.

Attend the UNCG Annual Conference in Portland this June

The University Network for Collaborative Governance is holding their annual conference in Portland, Oregon from June 3rd – 5th. Hosted by NCDD member org Kitchen Table Democracy, along with National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University, this conference will be an excellent opportunity for academic professionals working on collaborative governance to learn from each other and deepen the impact of collaborative governance work on a systemic level. The conference will focus on the integration and innovation of collaborative governance research, practice, and teaching, through group discussions and “Lightning Talks” [5 min or less presentations]. Proposals for “Lightning Talks” are due by April 16th, so make sure you submit yours ASAP! We encourage you to read the announcement below or find the original on Kitchen Table Democracy’s site here.


University Network for Collaborative Governance 2018 Conference

June 3-5, 2018 – Portland, OR

Hosted by the National Policy Consensus Center, Portland State University (UNCG members Oregon Consensus, Oregon’s Kitchen Table, Oregon Solutions)

About the Conference

What does the tapestry for collaborative governance research, practice, and teaching look like for the next 10 years?

The UNCG annual conference is an opportunity for academic professionals – including faculty, staff, and students – from across the county who are engaged in the work of collaborative governance to come together to learn from each other.  This year’s conference will build off recent strategic planning activities and will challenge participants to ask how we as a network can strategically evolve to more systemically address societal challenges, engage the next generation of university-based collaborative governance professionals, and contribute to deepening the understanding of the impact and results of collaborative processes.

At this year’s conference, we are particularly interested in two topic areas:

  • Integration of Research, Practice, and Teaching: How are we – or how could we be – connecting the dots and integrating the three topic areas UNCG focuses on: research, practice, and teaching.  What are some instances where we have been weaving together all three through one approach, program, or project, where research, teaching, and practice all come together? What are the challenges to being able to incorporate all three together? And, how could we be doing that better? What are the opportunities for us – either as a Network or in our individual/center work – to bring research, practice, and teaching to inform one another and advance each forward?
  • Innovations in Research, Practice, or Teaching: Where have we been particularly innovative in research, practice and teaching, or in the development of supportive public policies, around collaborative governance? As we look forward to another 10 years of UNCG, how are our member centers, individuals, and partners venturing out on innovative paths? What ideas, perspectives, or approaches are emerging, or should emerge, in collaborative governance?

This year’s conference format will include a mix of “Lightning Talks” and group discussions focused on the above two topics.  Attendees will also spend time in focused breakouts/work sessions to advance priority actions identified in the 2018 UNCG Strategic Plan that will advance collaborative governance research, practice, and teaching.

Call for Proposals

We invite submissions from UNCG members, university-based faculty, staff, and students, and members from other networks working in the field of collaborative governance to present “Lightning Talks.”  Lightning Talks are short (5 minutes or less) presentations that respond to either one of the two topic areas, Integration or Innovation (see above).  Presentations may be accompanied by a slideshow, but much like Pecha Kucha or Ignite Talks, slides are limited to 15 and will be advanced for you! As part of UNCG efforts to explore different communication methods and approaches, we’re also challenging presenters to use slides with a limit of 5 words (per slide) and images, graphics, art, or video. The intention is that the slides will act as prompts to help you in your presentation and to “illustrate” what you’re talking about rather than act as text for you/the audience to read and focus on.

Click here for: Lightning Talks Template

Helpful tips are here and here.

You can practice with a timer! There’s an app for that.

Submit your proposal here by April 16.

You can find the original version of this on Kitchen Table Democracy’s site at www.kitchentable.org/annual-conference.

Missed our Tech Tuesday Feat Synaccord? Listen now!

We had another one of our fantastic NCDD Tech Tuesday calls last week featuring NCDD member David Fridley of Synaccord! We were joined by over 50 participants on the call, to learn more about the Synaccord online platform and the ways in which it compliments face-to-face (F2F) deliberation. David had a special offer for NCDDers which you can learn more about by listening to the recording! We recommend you check it out if you weren’t able to make it because it was a great call!

On the Tech Tuesday, David walked us through a demo of Synaccord using a previous project around developing a 2-year strategic plan; which gave participants an opportunity to see the capabilities of the platform. Participants use Synaccord to rank their values online before engaging in a F2F process and then afterward rank again online to see if/how perspectives shifted. The platform allows participants to give comments on their specific choices which is especially helpful because after decisions are submitted, the top priorities are shown with how much agreement/disagreement is in the group and comments can help guide how issues are worked with. Synaccord can easily accommodate larger groups by having smaller break out groups which then feed back into the larger group response; that way everyone’s input gets seen/heard and is accessible to the rest of participants.

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).

Tech_Tuesday_Badge

Big thank you to David and everyone who joined us on this informative call! We encourage you to check out the TechTues recording and learn more about Synaccord and it’s online platform at www.synaccord.com/. 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). Thank you!

The United States’ Democratic Promise (IF Discussion Guide)

The 36-page discussion guide, The United States’ Democratic Promise, was published by Interactivity Foundation in 2011 and edited by Dennis Boyer. For this discussion guide, IF brought together panelists to explore what democracy has come to mean in the US, why we value it, and to guide further discussion by offering contrasting public policy possibilities. Below is an excerpt from the guide, which can be downloaded as a PDF for free from IF’s site here, both in English and in Spanish.

From the introduction…

In this project, the two panels met in Madison, Wisconsin, from September 2010 to May 2011. This included a period of significant political turmoil in Wisconsin, including two months of protests by citizen groups and labor unions and an occupation of the state capitol. Several panelists played a role in these protests while several others opposed them. Needless to say, conditions on the ground provided a very interesting backdrop to the fundamental issues involving democratic governance and democratic government.

Panelists considered democratic governance to involve those elements of civil society that contribute to the conversation on the direction a democratic society should take, the cultivation of skills that contribute to democratic citizenship, and the formation of public opinion on choices that democratic citizens must make. Panelists saw these governance areas as important, or more important, than the formal systems of elections and processes that make up democratic government. It was the sentiment of the panels that a discussion of democracy in modern society must take both governance and government into account.

The panels started with a recognition that the United States’ experiment with democracy has been shaped by many forces and that our understanding of what democracy is has grown steadily. It was noted early on that the United States was founded as a republic with constitutional features that did not guarantee wide participation or majority rule. There was much struggle over who could participate as a citizen and the extent of the rights of that participation. Along the way, most U.S. citizens developed a sense of government of, for, and by the people, which many interpret as a promise of democracy.

Panelists felt that this promise of democracy has numerous aspects—some in contention with others. For some, the most important elements were freedom from arbitrary and heavy-handed government. For others, the central features had more to do with enlarging the community of citizenship and fostering participation. Many saw a complex web of rights and responsibilities that need to function as a democratic “ecosystem.” Almost all thought that attention must be paid to honest elections and fair democratic processes that inspire confidence and deal with democratic citizenship in the face of changing social conditions and expanding technological capabilities.

By the end of the project, panelists had arrived at the items that make up the possibilities in this report. Panelists recognized that some citizens might not want to enlarge democratic participation and that some public discussions of this report might focus on the reasons not to pursue these possibilities. The possibilities are contrasting approaches to the search for a democracy that goes beyond periodic elections and lip service to encourage participation. The possibilities value the consent and informed involvement of citizens. The possibilities also value the proximity of decision making and action to citizens…

Interactivity Foundation Fellows conduct discussion projects based on a process that relies on two panels (one of citizen-generalists and one of expert-specialists) to explore and develop areas of concern. These projects ask questions, develop answers, and complete other developmental tasks that assist in the drafting of contrasting policy possibilities that, hopefully, serve as discussion starting points for the public.

If you are interested in further information about the process used to develop IF reports or IF’s work in general, we invited you to consult our website at interactivityfoundation.org

The PDF version of this report is available for download here

About the Interactivity Foundation
The Interactivity Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to enhance the process and expand the scope of our public discussions through facilitated small-group discussion of multiple and contrasting possibilities. The Foundation does not engage in political advocacy for itself, any other organization or group, or on behalf of any of the policy possibilities described in its discussion guidebooks. For more information, see the Foundation’s website at www.interactivityfoundation.org.

Follow on Twitter: @IFTalks

Resource Link: www.interactivityfoundation.org/discussions/the-united-states-democratic-promise/

Apply for the 2018 Summer Institute of Civic Studies

We wanted to make sure folks in our network saw that the Summer Institute for Civic Studies is now accepting applications until March 16th, and we encourage you to read more about it in the post below. The Summer Institute will run from June 11 to June 21, 2018 at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Participants will then be expected to stay for the Frontiers of Democracy conference in Boston, immediately following the Institute from the evening of June 21st to June 23rd. You can read the announcement below or find the original version on Peter Levine’s blog here.


Apply for the 2018 Summer Institute of Civic Studies

The eleventh annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies will take place from June 11 to June 21, 2018 at Tufts University. It will be an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar that brings together faculty, advanced graduate students, and practitioners from many countries and diverse fields of study. Please consider applying or forward to others who may be interested.

The Summer Institute was founded and co-taught from 2009-17 by Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Research at Tisch College, and Karol Soltan, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. In 2018, it will be taught by Peter Levine with Tufts colleagues. It features guest seminars by distinguished colleagues from various institutions and engages participants in challenging discussions such as:

  • How can people work together to improve the world?
  • How can people reason together about what is right to do?
  • What practices and institutional structures promote these kinds of citizenship?
  • How should empirical evidence, ethics, and strategy relate?

The daily sessions take place on the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar concludes with a public conference, Frontiers of Democracy, and participants in the Institute are expected to stay for the conference.

A draft syllabus for the 2018 summer institute (subject to change) is here. This is a 16-minute video introduction to Civic Studies. You can read more about the motivation for the Institute in the “Framing Statement” by Harry Boyte, University of Minnesota; Stephen Elkin, University of Maryland; Peter Levine, Tufts; Jane Mansbridge, Harvard; Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University; Karol Soltan, University of Maryland; and Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania.

To apply: please email your resume, an electronic copy of your graduate transcript (if applicable), and a cover email about your interests to Peter Levine at Peter.Levine@Tufts.edu.  For best consideration, apply no later than March 16, 2018.

You can also sign up here to receive occasional emails about the Summer Institute if you’re interested, but perhaps not for 2018.

European Institute: Applicants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are invited to apply to the European Institute of Civic Studies to be held in Herrsching, near Munich, Germany, from July 15 to July 28, 2018. Their costs are covered thanks to a grant from DAAD.

Practicalities 

Tuition for the Institute is free, but participants are responsible for their own housing and transportation. One option is a Tufts University dormitory room, which can be rented from $69/night for a single or $85/night for a double. Credit is not automatically offered, but special arrangements for graduate credit may be possible.

The seminar will be followed (from June 21, evening, until June 23) by a public conference–”Frontiers of Democracy 2018″–in downtown Boston. Participants in the institute are expected to stay for the public conference. See information on the conference here.

You can find the original version of this resource on Peter Levine’s blog at http://peterlevine.ws/?p=19472.

Participatory Budgeting Coming to NYC High Schools

Very exciting news from NCDD member org – the Participatory Budgeting Project, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that participatory budgeting will soon be happening in all NYC public high schools. With over 400 high schools, this is bringing PB to schools in a way that sets a powerful precedent for youth engagement and participation in democracy. Friendly reminder about the Innovations in Participatory Democracy conference happening next week and we encourage folks in the NCDD network to attend!

For those that will be at IPD, NCDD will be co-presenting a session on the first day which you can learn about in our blog post here and we also plan on having an NCDD meet up on Friday night – which we would love for you to join! You can read the PBP announcement below or find the original here.


BIG News for PB in Schools – and a BIG invitation!

Did you hear? Just this week Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the launch of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in all public high schools in New York City!

That’s over 400 schools in total!

In his State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio emphasized:

“We’ve got to prove to our young people that they’ve got the power to change the world around them. When people feel empowered they participate. When they can see the impact they’re making they come back for more. So starting next school year public school students will learn how to stay civically engaged and to fight for the future they believe in with our Civics for All initiative.”

At the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), we’re fighting for this future alongside young leaders like Jacinta Ojevwe and Vanessa Gonzalez – two of our youth scholarship recipients for the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference.

To continue growing this work, we’re hosting many conference sessionson how to engage, support, and empower youth leadership in reimagining democracy. I’m especially excited to open our conference at Phoenix’s Central High School during their PB vote – where we’ll hear from students and teachers and see nearly 3,000 students cast their ballots on how to spend part of the school district budget.

We’re eager to continue scaling and deepening the impacts of PB because, as Mayor de Blasio said:

“We know that when students feel that opportunity to make a difference it will be the beginning of a long lifetime of participation.”

Will you join us in empowering even more young leaders, and celebrating with them at our Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference?

For a preview of the PB vote in Phoenix, see (and share!) our PB in Schools Video.

Hope to see you there!

You can find the original version of this PBP blog post at www.participatorybudgeting.org/big-news-pb-schools-big-invitation/.