Moving Past Couch-Potato Democracy to Engagement

In the sixth installment of their series, democracy around the world, NCDD sponsoring member, the Jefferson Center, wrote this piece on how Americans can be more civically engaged and address our challenging issues. Many of the states in the U.S. are designed to give the people even more power to shape legislation through initiatives and referendums. The article challenges for people to push more into civic life and participate in government, especially when their elected officials are not. You can read the article below and find the original version of it on the Jefferson Center site https://jefferson-center.org/2018/09/initiate-democracy-across-the-united-states/here.


It’s Time to Initiate Democracy Across the United States

This is the sixth post in our blog series exploring democracy around the world, submitted by a diverse group of people interested in using deliberation, participation, and civic tech to solve challenges we face today. The following does not necessarily represent the views of the Jefferson Center or Jefferson Center staff.

John Hakes is a freelance writer and Certified Public Accountant who has worked with the U.S. Census Bureau and Questar Assessment Inc. He earned his Master’s Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

In the opening blog of this series, guest blogger Ross Busch suggested a national assembly model recently employed by the country of Ireland– on an agenda of climate change leadership, aging population and abortion– might be used to address the seemingly intractable issue of gun control in the United States.

If Ireland, a nation with a centuries-long entrenched position on the sensitive abortion issue can use informed reasoning to assess the will of the people through assembly— the Busch reasoning goes– there is hope people could do likewise on other emotionally-charged issues.

We will now ‘wait ‘n see’ whether Busch’s clarion call takes root around the world. But meanwhile, in November, the twin ‘people power’ petition mechanism afforded to American citizens by the First Amendment will be exercised on the issue of gun control. That’s when Washington citizens will decide whether they wish to add parameters to the use of firearms through a vote of the people via Initiative I-1639.

The Initiative Tool

Should you call states like Hawaii, New Mexico, Iowa, North Carolina, Maryland, or around 20 others home, you may not be not familiar with the initiative process.

Unlike a referendum, where a question must come from a given jurisdiction’s legislative body, a citizen initiative is typically created when a certain number of ‘registered voter’ signatures are gathered on a question proposed to become law.  Initiatives can either be direct (where potential new law is decided on by voters) or indirect (where the affirmed petition question is handed to a Legislature for it to decide on).

The state of Washington’s citizen initiative process was enacted in 1897. The I-1639 effort began when the gun measure petition received the requisite number of signatures from across the state.  Naturally, the road from ‘obtaining a verifiable set of signatures’ to ‘Secretary of State approval’ to ‘finalized question on the November ballot’ has been met by significant counter challenges. But on August 24, 2018, a ruling of the Washington Supreme Court officially permitted the existence of the ‘gun measures’ question to be included on the November 6th ballot .

Initiative and Referendum in the U.S.

Less than half of the U.S. states allow their citizens to raise & legally install the answer to a question through the initiative process. More western than eastern states have this process in place.

At least partly due to the continually shifting voting preferences over time in a given electorate, states currently deemed ‘red’ and ‘blue’ both offer legislation-by-initiative. Washington & California are examples of so-called blue states while North Dakota and Arizona are counted among ‘red’ states that utilize initiatives.

Unsurprisingly, voter turnout in these states has historically been 5 to 7 percent higher than in states without initiative and referendum (states with one typically offer the other). The reason for this is simple: voters feel that their vote for or against a grassroots-raised issue on the ballot does make a difference.

Despite being a state that frequently leads the nation in voter turnout,  Minnesota–also well-known for possessing a strong political and civic culture–features neither an Initiative or Referendum component in its democratic procedural toolkit.

Like every other state, Minnesota does allow questions pertaining to  legislatively-referred, state constitutional amendments to be decided on by voters.  There have been three periods in which the right to decide by Initiative has been seriously considered in Minnesota, with the last push led by MN House Representative Erik Paulsen during the Jesse Ventura administration of the early 2000s.

Looking ahead

Although it’s true that social media has the power to amplify voices and mobilize people to achieve ‘a’ form of grassroots push on a given issue, such sentiments too often blow away with the wind of the next incoming news cycle.  Rather than focusing only on the  couch-potato democracy by electronic device, Americans in half of the U.S. states should exercise the legal levers they already have to permanently alter the law when their elected representatives don’t seem up to the task.

To quote the Busch piece again: “Conversations between ordinary citizens on complex topics are perhaps the greatest defense against the degradation of modern politics.”

What better way to begin stepping across the street for face-to-face conversation than to create outcomes on even an incredibly divisive issue through an Initiative provision, like approximately half of our country’s people have the legal luxury of doing?

And though founders like James Madison would likely be one to equate the Initiative process with ill-advisedly caving to the passions of the people, perhaps even our celebrated ‘Father of the Constitution’ might see the diligence and organization required of Initiative efforts as preferable to the Rule by Retweet method that regularly influences the course of events today.

Thanks to efforts like those who’ve advanced the I-1639 in Washington, political pockets of our country are arguably “deliberating, even when it’s difficult,” on important issues, as writer Ross Busch recommends.

You can find the original version of this article on The Jefferson Center site at www.jefferson-center.org/2018/09/initiate-democracy-across-the-united-states/.

Rural Lessons on Weaving Civic Fabric

NCDD member Public Agenda recently reposted an article on their blog that talks about the ways in which rural America is a great incubator and educator of civil society. The original article shares five lessons that rural communities can teach on how to form and maintain a civil society, and they illustrate this point through the use of a magic carpet analogy. In order to make society fly, we need to work together to weave the carpet – but in smaller rural areas, people often have to take on several civic roles to repair the carpet along the way. You can read the article below and find the original version on PA’s site here.


What Rural America Can Teach Us About Civil Society

When one thinks about “community engagement” or “public participation” the image is often of a neighborhood meeting, or a public hearing. Implicitly, the background setting is a town or city.

I’m glad to highlight analysis by Allen Smart and Betsey Russell about What Rural America Can Teach Us about Civil Society.

Allen is leading a project at Campbell University to identify, align, and energize effective rural philanthropy around the country. Betsey is a philanthropy writer and researcher, currently developing a series of case studies about successful rural funding approaches.

Smart and Russell focus on dispelling stereotypes of rural America.

There is a popular, longstanding perception (among urban folk) that rural America is somehow separate from the rest of us…. Seen either as one large, poorly educated and impoverished backwater (a rural dystopia as in the film Deliverance), or a self-segregated, agrarian utopia…. (À la the sitcom “Green Acres”). Post 2016, another frame has emerged: that of rural America as an angry white mob that votes counter to its own interests.

Their nice metaphor is of a magic flying carpet:

We believe civil society exists when people who live in a defined geographic proximity work cooperatively—even when they strongly disagree with or dislike one another—to sustain mutually beneficial conditions. Think of civil society as a magic flying carpet that, to hold a community aloft, must contain many different fibers.

Five lessons are derived from their experience with rural community engagement and philanthropy. Two highlights:

Civil society is rooted in actions, not words.

…while some urban researchers, thinkers, and pundits may spend time developing and analyzing theories about civil society, people in rural communities are spending time imagining and incubating the “real-world” conversations, partnerships, mutual understandings, and trust necessary to create it.

Civil society can become a bastion of the privileged.

In many cases, civil society in rural communities has been controlled by a few, much to the detriment of the whole…. Those in power are quick to serve on boards, run for office, donate to local organizations, and speak their minds. While this may ensure some consistency in leadership for civil society, the downside is that this small group of people ultimately control the community….Fortunately, rural communities can change this dynamic to foster civil society.

To find out about the other three lessons, here’s their August 2018 post. which is part of a partnership between  and the nonprofit group Independent Sector called the Civil Society for the 21st Century series.

This blog was originally posted on Community Engagement Learning Exchangement — a University of North Carolina School of Government blog.

You can find the original version of this article on Public Agenda’s site at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/what-rural-america-can-teach-us-about-civil-society.

Common Ground for Action Dates in November & December

For those looking to get more experience with the Common Ground for Action (CGA) forums, there are several forums and open practice sessions happening throughout November and December. CGA is an online platform from NCDD member orgs, the National Issues Forums Institute and Kettering Foundation, to be used in conjunction with the NIFI issues guides and hold space for participants to deliberate on that specific issue. Forums will be held on a wide range of subjects, so we encourage you to learn more about the offerings and register to join! You can read the announcement in the post below and find the original information on NIFI’s site here.


Register to Join an Online Forum – November and December Dates Available

The Kettering Foundation (KF) and the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) are convening online Common Ground for Action (CGA) forums in November and December— these are great opportunities to share with people you’d like to experience a deliberative forum: teachers who might want to use deliberation in the classroom, partners on an issue who are new to forums.  Please share this post widely with your networks and on social media.

Register below to participate in any of the following CGA forums.

Common Ground for Action Open Forum Series:

What Should We Do About the Opioid Epidemic?  Register
Thursday November 1 @ 1:30p ET/10:30am PDT

Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome? What Should We Do?  Register
Tuesday November 13th @ 12:00pm ET/9:00am PDT

Changing World of Work: What Should We Ask of Higher Education?  Register
Monday November 26th @ 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PDT

Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?  Register
Wednesday December 5th @ 1:00pm ET/10:00am PDT

America’s Energy Future: How Can We Take Charge?  Register
Saturday December 15th @ 6:00pm ET/3:00pm PDT

November and December Common Ground for Action moderator practice sessions on Fridays. Register to join by signing up here!

This is an open practice session for new and seasoned Common Ground for Action online deliberation moderators. We will play around with features, workshop deliberative questions, and get practice moderating a robust online deliberative forum.

  • November 2nd @ 12p ET
  • November 9th @ 12p ET
  • November 16th @ 12p ET
  • November 30th @ 12p ET
  • December 7th @ 12p ET
  • December 14th @ 12p ET

You can find the original version of this announcement on NIFI’s site at www.nifi.org/en/register-join-online-forum-november-and-december-dates-available.

Celebrating Our Time Together at #NCDD2018!

Wow! We can barely believe it’s been a week since we all parted ways at #NCDD2018! The 8th National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation convened hundreds of innovators and practitioners in dialogue, deliberation, civic engagement, and more. It was an incredible time to come together, see old friends and make new ones, learn from each other, and find ways in which we can conspire moving forward.

Lots of gratitude is in store for those who helped make #NCDD2018 the dynamic event that it was! An immense THANK YOU to our conference sponsors (and D&D champions) for your generous support – you truly help drive this work and this field forward, and we couldn’t do this without you!

Huge THANK YOU to our indispensable conference planning team who worked hard to make NCDD2018 such a great success! NCDD conferences are collaborative from the beginning, which is why it was vital to have such a creative and supportive planning team. These phenomenal individuals offered their precious hours and valuable skills to make this conference a sensational reality – helping design the event, getting the word out, and volunteering on the ground to make sure things went smoothly. Putting on an event like #NCDD2018 is no easy lift, but because of the incredible team we worked with, they made it both possible and a joy!

While the conference planning team worked hard to design a great event… it’s thanks to our fantastic attendees who really brought #NCDD2018 to life! It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and also meet lots of new folks who have been doing this work (many of whom were first-timers to NCDD conferences!). It’s exciting to say that with over 450 attendees – #NCDD2018 was our largest event yet!

Our theme for this conference was, Connecting and Strengthening Civic Innovators, and so we made sure to provide ample space for people to connect with each other, build relationships, and explore how to broaden the capacity for this work.

#NCDD2018 featured 6 pre-conference sessions and several other events on Thursday, and over the following three days we had: 60+ workshops, 3 engaging plenaries, 40+ presenters during the D&D Showcase, 3 mentoring sessions, dozens of posts on the Networking Board, and countless connections made throughout. This conference held space for fellow attendees to connect with each other by using the plentiful breakout rooms or getting out in the city for a Civic Dinner. If there was a session you didn’t see and/or wanted to explore a particular subject more, you could offer your own session during the plenaries for Open Space and ProAction Cafe. This conference had a unique opportunity for NCDDers to attend the kick-off community event for the White Privilege Symposium which was held in the main ballroom on Friday night and offered an evening of powerful performances on addressing inequality.

Not to rub it in too much, but if you weren’t able to join us, you really missed out!

Moving Forward to Connect and Strengthen Civic Innovators

NCDD conferences are always in-person reminders of just how powerful this work is and how truly catalytic we can be when we come together. We want the conferences to be incubators for motivation to do this work and connections to make it happen, both at the conference and beyond!

There are a few ways to enrich your experience at #NCDD2018 and/or tap into the knowledge of the conference (even if you weren’t able to join us in person). We encourage you to check out:

  • The conference Google drive folder – which can be found at: bit.ly/ncdd2018. We highly recommend that everyone please add your notes, slides from your presentations, and other info to the folder for everyone to share. We also hope you’ll upload the best pictures you took to this folder so we can see all of the smiling faces of NCDD!
  • Our interactive guidebook (hosted by Konveio) – view graphic recordings, post comments, connect with other attendees, and more at www.kauses.org/ncdd2018

Keep the conversation going on social media with the hashtags #NCDD2018#NCDD, and #NCDDEmergingLeaders or by participating in our NCDD Facebook Discussion Group. Don’t forget to follow NCDD on Facebook and Twitter!

Friendly reminder! At the conference, we shared a special offer for attendees to join NCDD as a member at a discounted rate and you got to experience first-hand the exciting potential of NCDD and being part of the Coalition. We want to remind folks who attended #NCDD2018 to take advantage of this limited time offer to join NCDD as a member ASAP while it still lasts! An email with the link on how to join at this special rate was sent out last week, so email me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org if you missed it.

We want to hear from you! The conference evaluation is up at www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCDD2018Eval. Please be sure to let us know what you loved, what could have been better, and any advice you have for the next planning team. We appreciate any feedback you can offer and will take it into consideration as we plan #NCDD2020. Thank you so much!

We are truly honored to be working to support our network and the important work you do. We will continue to share more in-depth updates on specific outcomes and next steps that emerged from the conference over the next weeks, so continue to check back here on the news blog for more.

For now, let’s bask in the great memories we made during this incredible gathering of our field while we make plans for advancing our work until the next time we all meet together for #NCDD2020!

Large Grant Available for Dialogues on Experience of War

Veteran’s Day offers us a chance to be intentional in our gratitude to those individuals who have served our country and honor the freedom they provided because of their service and sacrifice. Which is part of why we were eager to share this funding announcement for a $100K grant available that is geared toward veterans (but the application is due soon!). The National Endowment for the Humanities is offering up to $100,000 to support discussion programs designed to reach veterans and active military on the experience of war. The application is due November 15, so make sure you submit yours ASAP and share with your networks! You can find the announcement below and read the original on the NEH site here.


Dialogues on the Experience of War

The National Endowment for the Humanities offers the Dialogues on the Experience of War program as part of its current initiative, Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War. The program (Dialogues) supports the study and discussion of important humanities sources about war, in the belief that these sources can help U.S. military veterans and others think more deeply about the issues raised by war and military service. Dialogues is primarily designed to reach military veterans; however, men and women in active service, military families, and interested members of the public may also participate.

The program makes awards of up to $100,000 to support…

  • the convening of at least two sustained discussion programs for no fewer than fifteen participants; and
  • the creation of a preparatory program to recruit and train program discussion leaders (NEH Discussion Leaders).

Preparatory training and discussion programs may take place in veterans’ centers, at public libraries or cultural centers, on college and university campuses, and at other community venues. The discussion programs should comprise multiple meetings that are long enough to allow participants to engage in deep and inclusive discussion.

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount: $100,000
Open to: Organizations
Expected output: Curriculum, Community Partnerships, Discussion Groups, Facilitator Training
Period of performance: Twelve- to twenty-four months

Application available September 26, 2018
Draft due October 10, 2018
Application due November 15, 2018
Expected notification date April 1, 2019
Project start date May 1, 2019

Potential Resources for Dialogues on the Experience of War Projects

War, military service, patriotism, pacifism, and civic duty are themes that have permeated the great works of history, literature, philosophy, and art that will form the basis of Dialogues on the Experience of War discussion programs. From the Standard of Ur to the Book of Deuteronomy, to Herodotus, Thucydides, Sun Tzu, the Mahabharata, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, the subject of war—its causes and effects, and the experience of soldiers, sailors, civilians, and families—has animated the works of poets, philosophers, historians, artists, and theologians of the ancient and medieval world.

The same is no less true in the modern world, in which great questions about war and military service have commanded sustained attention in literary, historical, artistic, and philosophical sources. Powerful works emerged from the wars of the last three centuries. Consider, for example, the writings of Carl von Clausewitz and Henry David Thoreau; poetry by Rudyard Kipling, Wilfred Owen, Anthony Hecht, and Brian Turner; histories by Russell Weigley, Drew Gilpin Faust, John Keegan, and Laura Hillenbrand; plays by Alice Dunbar-Nelson and David Rabe, artworks by Käthe Kollwitz, Pablo Picasso, and Stanley Spencer; Civil War ballads and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony (dedicated to the city of Leningrad in 1941).

To this list may be added many powerful cinematic treatments, including La Grande Illusion (France, 1937), The Best Years of Our Lives (United States, 1946), Night and Fog (France, 1955), The Cranes Are Flying (USSR, 1957), Hell in the Pacific (United States, 1968), Das Boot (Germany, 1981), The Pianist (Poland, 2002), Turtles Can Fly (Iraq/France/Iran, 2005), and The Messenger (United States, 2009).

The works listed here are offered only as examples. None of them needs to be included on proposed syllabi.

Download Application Materials

Dialogues on the Experience of War Guidelines (PDF)

Dialogues on the Experience of War Guidelines (DOC)

Dialogues on the Experience of War Grants.gov application package

Budget Resources

Budget Form, September 2018 (MS Excel)

Dialogues on the Experience of War Sample Budget, 2018 (PDF)

Program Resources

Form for Submitting a Preliminary Sketch of a Dialogues on the Experience of War Proposal (MS Word)

Dialogues on the Experience of War Frequently Asked Questions, 2018 (PDF)

List of recent grants in this program

DUNS Number Requirement

Sample Application Narratives

Governors State University, War Memory and Commemoration in the Humanities (PDF)

University of Florida, War and the Everyday Life of Combatants (PDF)

Minnesota Humanities Center, Echoes of War (PDF)

Touchstones Discussion Project, Comparing the Returns Home of Homer’s Odysseus and Modern Soldiers (PDF)

You can find the original version of this and where to register at www.neh.gov/grants/education/dialogues-the-experience-war.

Opportunity for Students to Join Youth Collaboratory by 11/13

In case you missed it, Citizen University is accepting applications until this Tuesday for their 2019 Youth Collaboratory cohort! The Youth Collaboratory is an exciting opportunity for 24 high school sophomores and juniors, passionate about civic engagement, to join this year-long program to strengthen civic literacy and network with civic leaders. Applications are due November 13th – so make sure to share with your networks and submit applications by this coming Tuesday. You can read more about the Youth Collaboratory and how to apply in the post below, and find the original version of this information on Citizen University’s site here.


Empowering the Rising Generation: Youth Collaboratory

The Youth Collaboratory is a year-long program for 24 highly-motivated students from around the country who are passionate about civic engagement and making a positive change in their communities and country. The Youth Collaboratory is one component of Citizen University’s Youth Power Project, a multi-year effort supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation to empower and connect a rising generation of civic leaders and doers. The application for the 2019 Youth Collaboratory is open now!

The application due date is Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 11:59pm PT. For details about the program, including a PDF of all application questions – read more below. If you have questions about this application, please contact Ben Phillips at ben@citizenuniversity.us.

Learn More About the Youth Collaboratory 

Members of the 2019 Youth Collaboratory will spend the year sharpening their literacy in civic power while traveling to cities around the nation and meeting with national civic innovators. They participate in interactive workshops led by Eric Liu and Citizen University educators, collaborate with CU staff to develop, test, and optimize programs to engage youth nation-wide, and individually complete independent projects in their communities. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to be connected to a network of incredible change-makers and gain the skills and connections for a lifetime of civic power.

The Youth Collaboratory program includes:

  • Travel, accommodations, and meals to attend three meetings of the Youth Collaboratory in 2019:
    • Feb. 20-22 in Malibu, CA
    • May 15-17 in Chicago, IL
    • Sept. 11-13 in Washington, DC
  • Tools and workshop trainings to become powerful, engaged citizen leaders
  • Connections with civic innovators and mentors
  • Connections with other student leaders and innovators from around the country

Who is eligible:

  • Applicants must be current high school sophomores or juniors
  • Applicants must live in the United States
  • Applicants must be able to attend all three of the Youth Collaboratory meetings (We are aware that the May dates conflict with certain Advanced Placement (AP) testing dates. There is a place on the application to indicate any AP tests you are taking, and we will make arrangements as possible.)
  • Students who come from backgrounds that historically have less access to power and civic opportunity are especially encouraged to apply, specifically young people of color, immigrants, and young women.

Application:

  • The application deadline is November 13, 2018 at 11:59pm Pacific Time
  • View a PDF of the application here
  • Apply now

Please contact Ben Phillips at ben@citizenuniversity.us with any questions.

In this era of economic and political inequality, the work of power literacy is especially urgent, nowhere more so than in the rising generation of young people who will be facing the consequences of today’s polarization and inequality for years to come. Armed with the knowledge, skills, connections, and experience of the Youth Collaboratory, our diverse cohort of passionate young people will be prepared to be true leaders of civic change in America for the next generation.

Past Participants

The 2019 cohort of the Youth Collaboratory is the third cohort of this exciting and innovative program. In the first two years of the program, participants came from over 20 states representing every region of the country, with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Here is some of what they had to say about the Youth Collaboratory:

“The highlight was getting to meet with the Civic Collaboratory, to really connect to people in the successful, professional world and talk to them about the issues and projects that they’re working on. It’s really inspiring.”

“I was shocked at the space we created, that we allowed each other to feel safe expressing our opinions and views.”

“I was so pleased to be welcomed into a group that taught me how to be the best civic version of myself that I could be.”

Follow Citizen University on social media, to learn more about the Youth Collaboratory and other programs!

You can find the original version of this information on the Citizen University site at www.citizenuniversity.us/programs/youth-power-project/.

#NCDD2018 is Here!

Today is the day! #NCDD2018 is finally here and we couldn’t be more excited!! As our fantastic D&D community convenes, we look forward to a jam-packed weekend filled with inspiring speakers, an exciting variety of great workshops, the hottest efforts in civic engagement, and so much more!

This weekend will be a great opportunity to connect with hundreds of folks passionate about dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement work! Connect with movers and shakers in the field as we explore how to further strengthen our capacity for this work and amplify D&D across the nation and world.

You can still join us if you’re in the Denver/Colorado area -check out the registration page here and consider registering for even just one day at the $175 one-day registration rate!

The NCDD 2018 Guidebook: A Comprehensive Guide

We have several exciting options of our #NCDD2018 guidebook for conference attendees to check out. Our beautiful guidebooks were created by our co-founder, Andy Fluke; so make sure you pick up your hard copy at the NCDD registration office! In addition to our classic offering, we teamed up with Konveio who is hosting a digital, interactive version – which you can find here. The Konveio digital version allows NCDDers to makes comments on sessions, engage with other attendees, tweet directly from the guidebook, and more. It’s great addition to our usual conference experience, so check it out!

Follow along on social media

NCDD will be keeping you up to date on about what’s happening during the conference via our social media outlets, so make sure to be part of the conversation! Our conference team and attendees will be live tweeting the whole conference on Twitter, so follow us @NCDD and using the hashtags #NCDD2018, #NCDD, and #NCDDEmergingLeaders.

You can also follow along on NCDD’s Facebook page or on Instagram via ncdd_network. These will all be great ways to be part of the conversation even if you’re not here with us in Denver.

Discover All the Great Offerings at #NCDD2018!

#NCDD2018 is almost here! Just another day until our pre-conference sessions kick off on Thursday and we couldn’t be more excited to start seeing folks again! In order to really get the most out of #NCDD2018 we encourage you to check out the extra offerings at the conference, in addition to our inspiring speakers, over 60 workshops, and 30+ presenters at the D&D Showcase.

The full conference schedule is on the NCDD blog and make sure you check out the interactive, digital version hosted by Konveio! Share your thoughts here on the blog about the conference theme and how to amplify the work of D&D. Get started on the conference networking early by connecting with other attendees here. If you are looking for a room share at the Sheraton, folks are posting here. Finally, if you haven’t gotten your tickets and you’d like to join us, we have 3-day and single-day tickets still available here. That’s all, folks!

Can’t wait to see everyone at the conference!

Thursday, November 1st

Pre-conference sessions!
We are thrilled to offer five exciting day long and one half-day pre-conference sessions on Thursday, November 1, 2018, prior to the start of NCDD 2018! These sessions are great for people of various levels of experience, and offer a variety of topics. Read through these descriptions and go to ncdd2018-precon.eventbrite.com to register!

  • Standing Up for Social Justice in Times of Fear & Hatred
  • Tackling Wicked Problems in Local Communities: A Workshop for Local Governments, School Districts, and Community Leaders
  • What is Participatory Budgeting and how can it work for me?
  • A Taste of the Theory and Practice of Bohm Dialogue
  • Transforming Community Spaces: A Workshop for Community Facilitators
  • We the People Are More Powerful Than We Dare to Believe: First Steps in Dismantling Corporate Rule

5 – 7pm – Informal Meet & Greet
We welcome all folks participating in pre-conference activities and conference attendees who have arrived early to join NCDD’s Staff at Mix16 Lounge in the hotel lobby for an informal meet & greet!

6 – 7pm – Deliberation Bootcamp
This session, specifically designed for newcomers to the conference, will provide an overall introduction to NCDD and to many of the key concepts, organizations, and challenges related to the field. The session will be led by Martin Carcasson, NCDD Board member and Director of Colorado State University’s Center for Public Deliberation. Email Martín at mcarcas@colostate.edu to let him know you’ll be attending the Bootcamp.  (Governor’s Square 14)

6:30 – 8:30pm – Breaking the Partisan Trance: A dialogue think tank about this American moment
Similar to a couple in the middle of deep-set resentments, growing numbers of Americans today have become so enraged that they can hardly see or hear each other honestly anymore.  The kind of collective distortions that anger generates can be reminiscent at times of a “trance-like” state.  If that’s true, we’re curious about the ways in which dialogue practices can effectively break the almost hypnotic, reflexive reactions that currently paralyze politics. This evening will be dedicated to exploring these possibilities together, and trying them out for ourselves, utilizing various approaches we’ve been exploring, including a Living Room Conversation format and the Transpartisan Matrix to assist in the collective inquiry. Come join the brainstorm.. The fate of the republic depends on it! (Governor’s Square 15)

8 – 9:15pm – Emerging Leaders Mentoring Session
NCDD is hosting a pre-conference event for young people and students. This will be a time for attendees 35 and under to connect with the other younger conference attendees. We will also be kicking off our NCDD 2018 Mentoring Program, which will intentionally connect a cadre of experienced D&D leaders with students and youth attendees during the conference. (Governor’s Square 12)

Friday, November 2nd

 6pm – 8:30pm – White Privilege Symposium Community Event
We are sharing the Ballroom with the White Privilege Symposium for their community event, featuring performances and speakers. Event is open to NCDD attendees and the public.  (Plaza Ballroom)

7:30pm – 9:30pm – National Issues Forum: The Opiod Epidemic
What Should We Do About The Opioid Epidemic?  –  Virgina York will lead attendees in a National Issues Forum on the opioid epidemic. Join fellow attendees to experience the National Issues Forums model and deliberate on possible approaches to this complex national issue. (Governor’s Square 15)

8:30pm and on  – Building Bridges Salon
Join a late night discussion about dialogue and racial privilege after the WPS community kick-off event. Come upstairs around 8:30pm to the 15FIFTY Restaurant & Lounge for a loosely facilitated conversation to explore how WPS attendees & NCDDers can do better together.

Saturday, November 3rd

12:30 – 1:30 pm – Ben Franklin Circles Lunch

Ben Franklin Circles (BFC) use Franklin’s classic 13 virtues to spark discussion about how participants can improve themselves and their communities. Join BFC hosts from around the country for a relaxed lunch and Ben Franklin Circle in action. Get a feel for the BFC approach as we discuss Franklin’s virtue of “Resolution” in relation to our conference theme: connecting and strengthening civic innovators. The combination of Franklin’s original prompts and modern day topics generates a unique lens for civic dialogue and community building. Come eat, explore, and innovate with us. (Plaza Court 2)

For planning purposes it would assist the presenters to know if you will plan to attend this discussion circle.  Please fill out the brief form here.

This lunchtime breakout session is a circle in action. For general information about BFC please see our workshop on Friday Nov. 2nd , Session A.

Hosted by: Tracy Rogers-Tryba, Ben Franklin Circle Host, IL and Danyel Addes -Network and Program Manager, Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact, 92nd Street Y

5pm – on – Free Time & Civic Dinner Opportunity

Explore downtown Denver and go out to dinner with new or old friends… We’ll provide you with all you need to organize your evening out!

Conference sponsor Civic Dinners is offering to help people run their own Civic Dinners Saturday night. Civic Dinners helps people transform dinner tables into forums for positive social change. Our friends at Civic Dinners are happy to help anyone who wants to host on any of their three national topics: Bridging the Racial Divide, The Voice of Women, or Common Ground (just launched!).

Civic Dinners will be getting people to sign up during the Showcase/Reception on Friday afternoon. Those of you who’d like to host something at a restaurant or, even better, local folks who’d like to host a Civic Dinner in your home, can plan to do so! If this is of interest to you, email Jenn Graham at jenn@civicdinners.com so you two can connect on the details.

Make sure you check out the full conference schedule for the line-up of workshops, plenaries, and more!

On Monday, NCDD member David Campt will be holding one of his workshops, Dismantling Racism: One Conversation at a Time, on November 5th in Denver. Learn more and register here!

Apply for EvDem’s Institute for Community Change Leaders

NCDD member, Everyday Democracy – a sponsor of #NCDD2018, recently announced they are seeking applications for their new Institute for Community Change Leaders program. The Institute will be a year-long experience to strengthen leadership and community building skills through a racial equity lens. The first part will be a five-day retreat in December to learn and build relationships with your fellow cohort; then design a plan over the following year to address an issue your community is facing.  Applications are due November 9th. You can read the announcement below and find the original on Everyday Democracy’s site here.


Now Accepting Applications: Institute for Community Change Leaders

EvDem LogoStrengthening democracy in our country and communities will depend on strong, diverse leaders – leaders from all backgrounds and ages who have the skills, knowledge and courage to help people engage with each other across difference, understand and embrace racial equity, and create equitable and sustainable community change.

The Everyday Democracy Institute for Community Change Leaders is a unique experience that will deepen your leadership in engaging your community, in using a racial equity lens, and in leveraging the power of voice and participation as a pathway to equitable change on the issues your community is facing.

Join peers from across the country and across sectors who want to take their leadership to the next level. You will have the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of democracy in this moment, consider ways to address racial equity in the current context, create plans for engaging your community for equitable change, and connect across generations in a community of learning and practice.

The Institute for Community Change is for you if…

  • You want to connect your community leadership to the broader challenges facing our democracy
  • You want to reflect deeply about the kind of leadership that creates opportunity for voice and participation for all and a powerful racial and intergenerational equity framework
  • You would appreciate learning with a community of leaders from all ethnic backgrounds, sectors, and ages
  • You want to improve your skills in engaging the community in dialogue to address tough public issues with a racial equity lens and sustained, people-driven impact.
  • You see the potential of Everyday Democracy’s Dialogue to Change approach for your community and want to learn more about how to apply it.

More about the Institute
The Institute begins with a five-day learning experience designed to help leaders from a variety of sectors deepen their knowledge, skills, and readiness for leading community change in inclusive, participatory and equitable ways.

There will be time for connection, reflection, and skill building in an environment that is supportive of deep learning and fun. Our curriculum will address these topics:

  • The theory and practice of democracy and what it means for today
  • Using a racial and intergenerational equity framework
  • Coaching for inclusive community organizing and community-level change
  • Facilitating intra- and inter-group dialogue
  • Communicating with clarity to various audiences to support inclusive, equitable engagement and change
  • Issue framing that helps people start where they are, talk productively about racial equity, and move to individual and community-level change
  • Using evaluation as a tool to model racial equity and build others’ capacity for leadership and community change
  • Using the arts to expand and deepen community change
  • Self-care in the context of authentic community as a leadership practice

The in-person retreat is the first phase of year-long learning opportunity, as part of a cohort of leaders. In the second phase, Everyday Democracy will support the group through personalized webinars and conference calls, to deepen the learning begun in the retreat and provide opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences. In phase three, we will support participants as they implement a community engagement strategy of their own choosing and design, on an issue of importance to their community. In the final phase, we will support leaders as they reflect on and assess their leadership experiences, share their lessons with each other, and apply their learning to planning their future leadership development.

Who should apply?
The Institute is designed for leaders in a variety of sectors and settings who care about engaging the community in dialogue and change with a racial and intergenerational equity lens. Whether you are a neighborhood problem solver, community organizer, faith leader, school leader, public official, non-profit leaders, or another kind of concerned resident who wants to improve your community’s ability to cross divides and work together in equitable ways, this is for you. We welcome folks from every stage of their leadership practice.

When and where
The practicum and retreat will take place December 10 – 14, 2018 in a hotel and conference center located in scenic south-west Connecticut in the vicinity of parks, museums, and gardens. The facility includes a spa, which participants can enjoy at their own cost. If you are flying into Connecticut, use either Bradley International or Tweed New Haven Airports.

Cost
Your payment of $500 that includes an entire year-long experience will cover your lodging (up to five nights), breakfast and lunch each day of the retreat, and all materials. Other meals and your travel will be your responsibility. If two people are able to attend from the same community, your combined cost will be discounted to $850. If cost is a barrier for your participation, please apply for a scholarship.

How to apply
The application period ends November 9, 2018. Individuals will be notified regarding acceptance by November 14, 2018. Click here to download the application.

We Are All Catalysts: Part One – How We Can Amplify and Broaden Dialogue and Deliberation Work

“After all, the ordinary hero hiding in each of us is often the most powerful catalyst for change.” ~ Tate Taylor

We all have a spark within and we choose every day how we will or will not use our spark. In our NCDD community, we spark conversations–dialogues that change hearts and minds and steadily change the world. Our sparks can be small or big, but we must work intentionally to ensure that the sparks catch fire. What do I mean by this? I mean that it is up to us, as those working firsthand in the creations of spaces for dialogue and deliberation, that we do not work in isolation. Like the catalysts in science, we must interact with others to create the chemistry worth having in our world.

The upcoming 2018 NCDD conference in Denver seeks to “catalyze the catalysts” by asking how we can work together to broaden the use and amplify the impacts of dialogue and deliberation efforts locally and globally. We live in an interconnected world, but it is very easy in our everyday lives to cling to the familiar and agreeable. This includes the media we consume, company we keep, and in our own work. It is up to us to share our work in ways that amplify the benefits and accessibility of both dialogue and deliberation. This means we need to intentionally step up our efforts and in doing so, step out of our comfort zones to facilitate the connections we need most–such as those across ideological divides poisoning our discourse. As Jonathan Haidt shares in his book The Righteous Mind, “When I was a teenager I wished for world peace, but now I yearn for a world in which competing ideologies are kept in balance.”

We see incredible work by D&D innovators every day that are answering this call to bring together our communities in innovative ways that heal and strengthen our relationships. Here are just a few examples (among many) from some of our conference presenters…

Libraries Transforming Communities is a joint effort by the American Libraries Association and NCDD. The initiative is founded on the strengths of the library as a trusted public community space and a place ideal for D&D work and is intended for use by libraries around the world to facilitate healing and idea generation via D&D.

The Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University has the mission of enhancing the local civic culture through increased participation and know-how of how deliberation works. Through elevating conversation via civics education, the center celebrates how crowds conversing (rather than arguing) can create better ideas for the whole community. They also recently won a Civvys Award for Local Winner!

The David Mathews Center for Civic Life based in Alabama believes in public forums and have locals define the issues and come together to solve them. The center provides education, services in moderation, and setting up community engagement events.

Make America Dinner Again empowers everyone to act locally with dinners of 8 and 2 moderators that discuss tough issues with an emphasis on respectful conversation and delicious food.

We hope these examples evoke excitement for the D&D community (and for the upcoming conference)! In true NCDD form, we want to engage this community of innovators in discussing how we build capacity for D&D in more communities and design action steps to make this happen moving forward. How have you succeeded in building capacity for engagement in the communities you serve? What do you think the next innovations might look like for dialogue, deliberation, and engagement? What do we need to discuss and think about together as a field, in order to succeed in broadening the use of D&D?

We hope readers will share below their own stories of successes, ideas for new innovations, and even the challenges that we need to tackle collectively in order to achieve this goal of bringing dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement to more communities. Share your thoughts below and engage with others’ responses. NCDD’s staff will be sharing your input at the conference to help us jumpstart further conversations and collaborations we hope will help us all take our work to the next level. You can still join us at #NCDD2018 – get your tickets today!

Stay tuned for the follow-up post, “We Are All Catalysts: Part 2”, where we will shift from examples to best practices to help everyone begin or continue to strengthen and amplify their dialogue and deliberation initiatives!