Join NCDD Confab on Non-Hierarchical Orgs with Loomio, May 4th

We are excited to invite the NCDD network to register to join us for our next Confab Call on Thursday, May 4th from 3-4pm Eastern/12-1pm Pacific. This one-hour webinar event will feature a conversation with staff of Loomio, a collaborative online decision making tool and a worker-owned cooperative based in New Zealand.

Some of you may remember that NCDD hosted a Tech Tuesday webinar on Loomio a couple years ago where we showcased the features of Loomio’s decision making tool. But during this Confab, the discussion will focus on Loomio’s organizational dynamics, philosophy, and what lessons the dialogue and deliberation field can learn from – and offer to – non-hierarchical cooperatives like theirs.

Loomio is part of Enspiral – a global network that is also a lab for new ways distributed innovators can collaborate. Their team recognizes that there’s a need and opportunity for new ways of working for diverse groups to become more nimble, creative and productive. Loomio recently made an open source handbook that teaches others to use their cooperative work processes, and a few of their staff have been on a US tour this month to host discussions with different organizations who want to share and reflect on “the challenges and delights of non-hierarchical, inclusive, intersectional, collaborative, horizontal organising.” We are inviting Loomio to share and reflect with the NCDD network as a “virtual stop” on their tour, and we hope you will join us!

We will be joined on the Confab by Rich Bartlett, one of the co-founders of both Loomio and Enspiral, and NCDD member MJ Kaplan, also a Loomio co-founder and social innovator in her own right. Rich and MJ will help us learn more about the unconventional, non-hierarchical approaches that their networks apply to shared work and collaborative workplaces, and engage in dialogue with participants about how these approaches apply to, intersect with, and diverge from the work of the D&D field.

You won’t want to miss this great discussion, so to register today to be part of it!

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

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

About Our Guests

Rich Bartlett is co-founder and Director of Autonomy at Loomio, as well asa software developer, activist, and open source hardware hacker. He is also a co-founder of the Enspiral Network, a “DIY” social enterprise support network of companies and professionals brought together by a set of shared values and a passion for positive social impact. Rich believes in the boundless potential of small self-organising groups to reshape society in a way that works for the planet.

MJ Kaplan is a social entrepreneur and consultant who weaves across sectors and industries to enable groups to align purpose and operationalize innovative collaborative practices. She splits her time working with Loomio, Kaplan Consulting, teaching/coaching at Brown University and serving on Social Enterprise Greenhouse and Commerce RI boards. She founded Kaplan Consulting in 2000, a networked consulting group that works globally with groups to gain clarity about shared purpose and to design innovative approaches to work that are deeply human-centered, agile and adaptive. In 2013, MJ was Ian Axford Fulbright Fellow in New Zealand. MJ was awarded the Cordes Innovation Fellowship by Ashoka U and honored as The Outstanding Mentor for RI Business Women Awards. MJ earned her M.Ed. from Harvard University and B.A. Brown University.

The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter

The 300-page book, The World Cafe, was written by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs and published April 2005. In the first comprehensive book on the World Café, co-founders Brown and Isaacs introduce readers to this simple yet powerful conversational process for thinking together, evoking collective intelligence, and creating actionable results.

Beautifully illustrated with stories contributed by World Café practitioners, this is still the most definitive compendium of Café Know-How available.

Available in Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese, Simple Chinese, Complex Chinese, German, Korean, and Thai. Below is an excerpt from the foreword of the book, which can be purchased on the World Café site here.

From the foreword…

We Can Be Wise Only Together
By Margaret J Wheatley

The World Café process reawakens our deep species memory of two fundamental beliefs about human life. First, we humans want to talk together about things that matter to us. In fact, this is what gives satisfaction and meaning to life. Second, as we talk together, we are able to access a greater wisdom that is found only in the collective.

The World Café in Action
As you read the stories and counsel in this book, you will see these two beliefs brought to life in the Café process. In order to provoke your exploration of them, I’d like to underline some of the dimensions of the Café process that bring these beliefs into vibrant, healthy reality.

Belief in Everybody
The World Café is a good, simple process for bringing people together around questions that matter. It is founded on the assumption that people have the capacity to work together, no matter who they are. For me, this is a very important assumption. It frees us from our current focus on personality types, learning styles, emotional IQ—all the popular methods we currently use to pre-identify and pre-judge people. Each of these typologies ends up separating and stereotyping people. This is not what was intended by their creators, but it is what has happened. The Café process has been used in many different cultures, among many different age groups, for many different purposes, and in many different types of communities and organizations. It doesn’t matter who the people are—the process works. It works because people can work well together, can be creative and caring and insightful when they’re actively engaged in meaningful conversations around questions that count. I hope that these stories inspire us to move away from all the categories and stereotypes we currently use about who should be involved, who should attend a meeting—all the careful but ill-founded analysis we put into constructing the “right” group. We need to be focused on gathering the real diversity of the system, but that’s quite different from being absorbed with these other sorting devices.

Diversity
It’s important to notice the diversity of the places and purposes for which the World Café is used, and the diversity of participants who are encouraged to attend World Café gatherings. These pages contain a rich illustration of a value I live by: we need to depend on diversity. Including diversity well is a survival skill these days, because there’s no other way to get an accurate picture of any complex problem or system. We need many eyes and ears and hearts engaged in sharing perspectives. How can we create an accurate picture of the whole if we don’t honor the fact that we each see something different because of who we are and where we sit in the system? Only when we have many different perspectives do we have enough information to make good decisions. And exploring our differing perspectives always brings us closer together. One Café member said it well: “You’re moving among strangers, but it feels as if you’ve known these people for a long time.” Invitation In every World Café, there’s a wonderful feeling of invitation. Attention is paid to creating hospitable space. But the hospitality runs much deeper. It is rooted in the host’s awareness that everyone is needed, that anyone might contribute something that suddenly sparks a collective insight. Café facilitators are true hosts—creating a spirit of welcome that is missing from most of our processes. It’s important to notice this in the stories here, and to contrast it with your own experience of setting up meetings and processes. What does it feel like to be truly wanted at an event, to be greeted by meeting hosts who delight in your presence, to be welcomed in as a full contributor?

Listening
When people are engaged in meaningful conversation, the whole room reflects curiosity and delight. People move closer physically, their faces exhibit intense listening, and the air becomes charged with their attention to each other. A loud, resonant quiet develops, broken by occasional laughter. It becomes a challenge to call people back from these conversations (which I always take as a good sign).

Movement
In the World Café process, people generally move from table to table. But it’s much more than physical movement. As we move, we leave behind our roles, our preconceptions, our certainty. Each time we move to a new table, we lose more of ourselves and become bigger—we now represent a conversation that happened among several people. We move away from a confining sense of self and our small certainties into a spaciousness where new ideas can reveal themselves. As one participant describes it: “It’s almost as if you don’t know where the thought came from because it has merged so many times that it has been molded and shaped and shifted with new dimensions. People are speaking for each other and using words that started somewhere else that they hadn’t thought of before.” We also move into a greater awareness as we look for connections amongst the conversations, as we listen to voices other than our own. Patterns become apparent. Things we couldn’t see from our own narrow perspective suddenly become obvious to the entire group.

Good Questions
World Café dialogues, like all good conversations, succeed or fail based on what we’re talking about. Good questions—ones that we care about and want to answer—call us outward and to each other. They are an invitation to explore, to venture out, to risk, to listen, to abandon our positions. Good questions help us become both curious and uncertain, and this is always the road that opens us to the surprise of new insight.

Energy
I’ve never been in a World Café that was dull or boring. People become energized, inspired, excited, creative. Laughter is common, playfulness abounds even with the most serious of issues. For me this is proof positive of how much we relish being together, of how wonderful it is to rediscover the fact of human community. As one host from a very formal culture says: “My faith in people has been confirmed. Underneath all the formal ways of the past, people really want to have significant conversations. People everywhere truly love to talk with each other, learn together, and make a contribution to things they care about.”

Discovering Collective Wisdom
These are some of the Café dimensions that bring out the best in us. But this is only half the story. World Café conversations take us into a new realm, one that has been forgotten in modern, individualistic cultures. It is the realm of collective intelligence, of the wisdom we possess as a group that is unavailable to us as individuals. This wisdom emerges as we get more and more connected with each other, as we move from conversation to conversation, carrying the ideas from one conversation to another, looking for patterns, suddenly surprised by an insight we all share. There’s a good scientific explanation for this, because this is how all life works. As separate ideas or entities become connected to each other, life surprises us with emergence—the sudden appearance of new capacity and intelligence. All living systems work in this way. We humans got confused and lost sight of this remarkable process by which individual actions, when connected, lead to much greater capacity.

About World CaféWorld Cafe_logo
Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

Follow on Twitter: @TWCcommunity

Resource Link: www.theworldcafe.com/world-cafe-book/

Harwood Institute Opens New Studio on Community

The team at The Harwood Institute – an NCDD member organization – recently announced an exciting new initiative that they are calling the Studio on Community, and they are looking for two associates to help launch its work. The Studio will dig into work that we are sure many in our network would thrive in, so we wanted to share about the initiative and the opportunity here on the blog. We encourage you to read the announcement from Harwood below or or find the original here.


Rich Harwood’s New Studio on Community Announced

Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, is creating a studio within The Harwood Institute to support special efforts to advance new ideas for strengthening communities and society in a rapidly changing world. He is looking for two studio associates to begin work this year.

The studio will explore topics such as:

  • The emergence and meaning of a new American narrative;
  • The importance of belief and a can-do spirit in moving communities and countries forward;
  • New mechanisms and spaces for bridging societal divides and engaging individuals in collective efforts;
  • A new approach to shared responsibility in communities;
  • The role of civic rituals in society; and
  • The renewed role for the human element in civic and political affairs.

The Studio Concept

Studios have long existed as a combination workshop and space where the act of reflection can merge with acts of production. Studios have been filled with associates who both seek to contribute to those efforts, while developing their own ideas and skills. Located within the Institute, the studio will allow Rich and a high-performing team of individuals the opportunity to innovate together, as well as advance and incubate new ideas, projects, and initiatives.

Studio Associate Position Description

This is a tremendous opportunity for individuals who are seeking an intense, purpose-driven experience, who want to be part of a larger effort to advance new ideas for communities and society, particularly at a time of growing division and inwardness throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. Studio associates will work directly with Rich, a national leader whose practice, methods, ideas and approaches have helped shape the field of civic and community change for nearly 30 years.

Studio associates will support Rich in:

  • Developing a series of new groundbreaking books, including conducting research, interviews, compiling background materials, and serving as a thought partner and sounding board.
  • Creating new ways to spread critical ideas emerging from the studio, including new articles, special reports and projects. Specific work would include drafting ideas and materials for written pieces; researching content and ideas for possible convenings; and developing concepts for new delivery mechanisms like podcasts, innovative collateral, and new courses.

You can read the original version of this Harwood Institute announcement and find details on applying for the studio associate position at www.theharwoodinstitute.org/news/2017/3/16/rich-harwoods-new-studio-on-community-announced.

Conversation Café Training Webinar Published Online

NCDD was pleased to host a training webinar for those wanting to learn to host the Conversation Café (CC) process earlier this week, but we were even more pleased by the great turnout we had! We were joined by 45 participants, who spent 90 minutes learning about the ins and outs of hosting Conversation Cafés from Susan Partnow, one of the CC co-founders. It was a great training!

If you missed the training, don’t worry – we recorded the whole thing! You can find the whole training webinar recording by clicking here. For additional tips, we also encourage you to click here to read the chat transcript from the call, where there were a number of resources, links, and answers to questions shared.

With this new round of trained hosts, we’re excited to see the Conversation Café community continue to grow! We encourage everyone to check out the Conversation Café website at www.conversationcafe.org, especially if you are looking for more resources. We recommend checking out the “Resources for Hosts” page here and printing out some of the CC how-to cards here to help you be as prepared as possible to host your first Café.

We also highly recommend that new Conversation Café hosts consider joining the CC updates and announcements list and the CC hosts email discussion list so that you can stay informed and connected to the broader CC network. Let’s all stay in touch!

Join Conversation Café Host Training Call, Jan. 3rd

Last week, NCDD hosted another one of our Confab Call events featuring the co-founders of Conversation Café (CC), Susan Partnow and Vicki Robin. The call featured a history of the CC process, reflections from the experiences of CC hosts, and a brief tour of the new CC website at www.conversationcafe.org.

If you missed this engaging discussion, don’t worry. You can still listen in on what the Conf Call was like by finding the recording at this link.

There is also a great next step that came out of this call that we want to make sure our members hear about. We had so much interest from folks wanting to learn to use the CC process that co-founder Susan Partnow offered to host a free Conversation Café Host Training to start the new year!

So NCDD and Susan will be hosting 90-minute CC training webinar on Tuesday, January 3rd at 12pm Eastern/9am Pacific with much appreciation to Susan for making this training available before she takes her sabbatical. We encourage everyone who would like to host Conversation Cafés or just wants to learn more about the process to register today take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to host Conversation Cafés!

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This upcoming training call will be the perfect opportunity to get personalized support in hosting Conversation Cafés. Whether you’re considering using the process for the first time or want to brush up on it before hosting a new conversation, we encourage all of our NCDD members with an interest in the CC process to register now to participate in this CC host training!

The CC process is an accessible tool for hosting needed conversations on difficult issues in our communities, and we are excited to see more people getting trained to use it. We look forward to having many of you join us on January 3rd for the event!

Register for Conversation Café Confab Call on Monday

In case you missed our post last week, we want to share a friendly reminder encouraging our NCDD network to register for our next Confab Call this Monday, December 19th, from 1-2pm Eastern/10-11am Pacific!Confab bubble image

This Confab will feature the insights of long-time NCDD members Susan Partnow and Vicki Robin – two of the three original co-creators of the Conversation Café (CC) process that NCDD now stewards – and leading practitioners from across the country who host Cafés in their communities.

The CC process is easily accessible and flexible enough to be picked up quickly by many people, helping them move from “small talk to big conversation.” Monday’s call will be the perfect opportunity to learn all about the history of Conversation Café, connect with the network of people already hosting Cafés, learn the basics of being a host, and share your thoughts on how NCDD can best support the CC network.

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You won’t want to miss this collaborative conversation – make sure you register today for the call! We look forward to talking with you Monday!

NCDD Podcast Episode 2 about Conversation Café Now Live

NCDD’s second podcast episode is now live on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play! It features the story of Conversation Café as told by three stewards of this process: co-creator Susan Partnow, past steward Jacquelyn Pogue, and NCDD Resource Curator Keiva Hummel, who plays a key role in helping NCDD serve as the steward of the Conversation Café (CC) process.

cc_cardsAs you may remember from our post last week, the first series of episodes in the NCDD Podcast were recorded at the NCDD 2016 Conference, where we asked leaders and practitioners from the D&D field to share their stories and ideas, as well as discuss opportunities and challenges in our audio room. These episodes are being released over the next several weeks as we continue our conversation from the conference about #BridgingOurDivides. Additional episodes will be produced on an on-going basis.

In this episode, Keiva asks Susan and Jacquelyn to share the story of Conversation Café’s inception and history over the past fifteen years. They explain how this elegantly simple process works, talk about how it has been utilized, and their hopes and advice for NCDD as the recent steward. This is a fantastic introduction to the CC process and a great lead into our Confab Call being held next Monday, December 19th about Conversation Café – learn more about that event here.

We invite you to listen to this episode and share your thoughts here, including responses to these questions: What experiences have you had with Conversation Café? Or, what more would you like to learn about it? What opportunities do you see for Conversation Café in your community or in our nation generally?

Again, our thanks to Ryan Spenser for recording and editing these podcast episodes, to Barb Simonetti for her financial support of this initial series, and to everyone who participated in the episode recording sessions at the conference! Please continue to tune in and share the podcast with your networks!

Top Resources for Post-Election Dialogue Across Divides

Earlier this week, NCDD hosted a special post-election Confab Call during which over fifty of our members and affiliates had a rich, inspiring, and for some, therapeutic conversation about what kind of work people in the dialogue and deliberation field are doing to address this post-election moment.

XS Purple NCDD logoThe call was part of our ongoing #BridgingOurDivides campaign, during which we’ve been encouraging our members to share about the work happening in our field that’s aimed at fostering bridge building, and to share resources that can build capacity to move forward together despite differences. The Confab Call was its own kind of resource, and if you missed the call, you can hear about all the great projects, insights, and resources that were discussed during it by listening to the recording here or reading over the discussion and links from the call’s chat transcription here. But there are many more resources we want to share with you all today.

As we’ve mentioned before, there are important needs being felt in the wake of the election year’s end that dialogue and deliberation can address: D&D can help us process our feelings and what’s next, it can help promote and maintain civility, it can assist in bridging long-standing divides, and it can facilitate interactions that humanize people or groups who’ve been made into caricatured “others” and out groups. NCDD wanted to know how our field is responding to these needs, so we recently asked our D&D community to share their resources, tools, and projects that could help address post-election issues with us.

We received a wide variety of wonderful resources in response to that call, and in our continued efforts to help the field rise to the needs and opportunities presented in this challenging moment for our country, we’ve created a list of some of the best resources the NCDDers shared. We’ve linked to over two dozen resources below that we hope D&D practitioners will find useful as you engage with your communities over the coming weeks and months.

Please continue to add to this list in the comments section, as we’ll be continuing to archive the best of these and other tools in our Resource Center for future use. For now, take a look through the list below of valuable D&D resources.

Processing Emotions and What Happens Next

Much of what is needed across the country after the election is simply spaces and methods to process our thoughts and feelings about the election season, the outcome, and what they want to see happen next – together. There are tons of great resources in our field for doing that, and here are some of the good ones:

Promoting and Maintaining Civility

With the divisiveness and rancor of the election season’s rhetoric on all sides, a huge part of the need D&D can fill right now is to help build the capacity for civil conversations when we’re disagreeing – whether within families, in the media, or in the legislature. Below are some of the best resources for supporting civility after the election:

Bridging Our Dividesflag-cracked

The election both opened new divides and deepened old ones in our society, and helping individuals and communities bridge those divides need to be a special focus of D&D work today. We encourage you to learn more about how you can facilitate that bridging using the resources below:

Humanizing Groups Seen as “the Other”

One of the most troubling needs after the election, especially in light of the spike in hate crimes over the last month, is the need to develop and implement D&D methods that can help people see the humanity in those who they’ve written off as “other” or “less than” themselves. This need is one that our field urgently needs to develop more robust resources for addressing, but there are some good ones out there, which we’ve listed below:

  • NCDD member organization Not In Our Town has a treasure trove of resources for hosting conversations and taking action to oppose bullying and hate groups. Check out their huge catalogue of videos (most of which come with discussion guides) you can use to start conversations about addressing intolerance. You can also check out their guide on bringing stakeholders together, their Not In Our Schools guides for educators, and their quick start guide
  • NCDD recently launched our new Race, Police, & Reconciliation listserv to support collaboration and exchange among those working in racial dialogue, community-police relations, and truth-telling & reconciliation work – all of which help break down barriers between “us” and “them.” We encourage all involved in such work to join
  • We recommend reading and sharing about AllSides.com, a project that helps reduce the disconnection from other perspectives that the echo-chamber effect of social media fosters by providing comparisons of the same news stories from left-leaning, right-leaning, and center-based sources
  • If you want to get sense of how thick your “bubble” is or help your friends think about theirs, check out this quiz that purports to give a rating of how insulated you are or are not from the experiences of working class people
  • On the creative side, the US Department of Arts & Culture is inviting communities to participate in their annual People’s State of the Union between Jan. 27 – Feb. 5 by hosting story circles that encourage telling real stories of connection, disconnection, and breaking through barriers. Check out the downloadable toolkit for hosts
  • This illustrated video of a webinar on the power of storytelling to humanize “others” has important lessons on listening to people we’ve been taught to hate
  • For some reflection on how we make those we don’t know into “the other,” check out the classic TED talk from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about “the danger of a single story”

What Other Resources Are Out There?

This list features some incredible resources, but we know it’s just a taste of what’s out there in our field, so we encourage everyone to continue sharing your resources for addressing post-election needs in the comments section below! For now, we encourage you all to keep thinking about how our field can make its broadest impact possible in moving our communities and our nation beyond its deep divides and toward a positive future.

If you want to find even more amazing D&D tools, be sure to visit NCDD’s Resource Center.

Join our Confab on “What’s Next?” Post-Election, 11/29

As we posted about earlier this week, the Presidential election has brought forth new needs for dialogue and deliberation, as well as renewed importance of the work to bridge divides that our field has been doing for many Confab bubble imageyears. We’ve been appreciating the responses our community have had so far to this post, and we’d like to provide an additional opportunity for us all to discuss this important time in our work.

Join us Tuesday, November 29th at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific for a 90-minute Confab Call to talk together as a community about what’s next after the election. This will be an open call, allowing community members to talk about their bridge building work, or ideas for what they can do post-election. NCDD staff will lead the call, but we won’t have any featured presenters – we want to hear from you!

The need for dialogue and deliberation is stronger than ever, and our network is poised to help our communities and nation come together across divides to tackle our toughest challenges. Join us as we talk about what’s being done now, and what’s possible for us in our work individually and collectively.

NCDD’s interactive Confab Calls are free and open to all members and potential members. Register today if you’d like to join us!

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