EvDem Announces Leadership in Democracy Awardee

In case you missed it, NCDD member org, Everyday Democracy announced the winner of the second annual Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award! Please join us in congratulating Beth Broadway of InterFaith Works of Central New York for her work in Syracuse over the last 40 years, and runner-up, Mayme Webb Bledsoe of the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership in North Carolina. We encourage you to read the announcement below or on Everyday Democracy’s blog here.


Syracuse New York’s Beth Broadway Wins 2018 Paul Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award

EvDem LogoBeth Broadway of InterFaith Works of Central New York is Announced the Winner of the Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award

For more than 25 years, Everyday Democracy has worked with communities across the country to foster a healthy and vibrant democracy – characterized by strong relationships across divides, leadership development, including the voices of all people, and understanding and addressing structural racism.

Beth A. Broadway was recognized for her more than 40 years as a force for justice, raising voice to issues of oppression, and advancing racial and social equity through the process of dialogue and action. Her racial equity work has directly impacted thousands of individuals and families and has markedly improved Syracuse and surrounding communities.

“Throughout her career, Beth has championed democracy and bridge building across divides of ethnicity, race, faith and socioeconomic background.” said Beth’s nominator, Shiu-Kai Chin, PhD, Prof., Syracuse University College of Engineering & Computer Science and Chair of the Board of InterFaith Works. “She has created space for the voices of those who often go unheard, and nurtured leadership skills in those who are frequently marginalized. At 11, she watched her mother stand firm in front of angry neighbors trying to prevent African American children from getting off their school bus at her newly desegregated school. Beth’s mother stepped between the mob and children to escort them into the building. Her mother’s courage is the touchstone for Beth’s work in civil rights and human service.”

Beth first served as a social worker for Head Start in Chicago. Working with single moms and pre-school children, she provided leadership training and a forum for mothers to learn to advocate for themselves and their children. To this day, Beth credits those moms with teaching her about helping people find their voice.

Beth has been one of the design thinkers and implementers of two city-wide democracy building initiatives, each of which has continued for more than 23 years. The two initiatives are The Leadership Classroom that trains grassroots leaders to view the world through a lens of equity and power, and Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, a neighborhood planning model that assembles grassroots groups, social service agencies, businesses and governmental departments in Syracuse to identify critical needs and develop annual and long-range plans for the city’s neighborhoods.

After serving as a consultant and board member for six years, Beth became director of the Community-Wide Dialogue to End Racism in 2001 which is now the Ahmad and Elizabeth El-Hindi Center for Dialogue. The Center focuses on ending racism, improving police-community relations and interfaith understanding. After participating in Everyday Democracy’s Communities Creating Racial Equity learning community, Beth adapted the dialogue work to take action on a specific need facing Syracuse: a city school district whose staff members are largely white and suburban teaching students that are largely of color. That work has contributed to increasing diversity of teaching staff in Syracuse and a commitment to continuing the work of creating equitable education opportunities for students of color. The Community-Wide Dialogue is one of the longest continually running programs of its type in the nation, having directly engaged over 12,000 people to date. It actively serves as model for communities across the country.

In 2010, she assumed the role of President/CEO of the entire agency, which, in addition to the above, settles refugees and is a welcoming center for immigrants and New Americans to the Central New York region. The agency also promotes interfaith understanding, provides chaplaincy services to people who are incarcerated and institutionalized, and serves frail elderly to affirm their dignity and break through the isolation and loneliness that often accompanies aging.
“Beth has raised the profile and practice of Dialogue to Change in Syracuse and across the country, and has held up a consistent vision of democratic participation connected to equitable change,” said Everyday Democracy’s Executive Director Martha McCoy. “ Beth models what it means to be a white ally – a leader who is committed to racial justice and to democratic dialogue and engagement. She demonstrates how to build inclusive spaces for people to start where they are and deepen their understanding of racial justice.”

“It is an honor to be selected by one’s peers for recognition, especially peers like those at Everyday Democracy, who have helped our nation develop the tools of dialogue and a racial equity lens that will keep our democracy strong. This award means a great deal to me, but is really a testament to the many hard working people, both staff and volunteers, that make InterFaith Works the caring, compassionate, and forward thinking agency that it is. The gift that accompanies this award will be added to our newly founded endowment that will assure that this work will go on for many years to come.”

This year, the Committee also recognized a Runner Up, Mayme Webb Bledsoe of the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership in North Carolina. They also recognized these strong finalists for the award: Campus Compact of Oregon; Marcia DuFore of the North Central Regional Mental Health Board in Connecticut; and the Michigan Community Scholars Program. Honorable Mentions went to: InterAction Initiative (Taeyin ChoGlueck and Deandra Cadet), Mishawaka, Indiana; and Deeqo Jibril, Roxbury, Massachusetts. Recognition of Promising Practices went to: The Connecticut Youth Forum, Hartford, Connecticut; Equity Arcata, Arcata, California; The Multicultural Resource Center, Ithaca NY; and Tracey Robertson, FitOshKosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


Paul J. Aicher and his wife Joyce were known for their generosity and creative genius. A discussion course at Penn State helped Paul find his own voice in civic life early on, and sparked his lifelong interest in helping others find theirs. Paul founded the Topsfield Foundation and the Study Circles Resource Center, now called Everyday Democracy, in 1989.  The organization has now worked with more than 600 communities throughout the country, helping bring together diverse people to understand and make progress on difficult issues, incorporating lessons learned into discussion guides and other resources, and offering training and resources to help develop the field and practice of deliberative democracy.

You can find the original version of this announcement on Everyday Democracy’s site at www.everyday-democracy.org/news/syracuse-new-yorks-beth-broadway-wins-2018-paul-aicher-leadership-democracy-award.

Featured D&D Story: KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives

Today we’d like to feature a great example of dialogue and deliberation in action, KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives. This mini case study was submitted by Eileen Jerrett via NCDD’s Dialogue Storytelling Tool. Do you have a dialogue story that our network could learn from? Add your dialogue story today!


ShareYourStory-sidebarimageTitle of Project:
KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives

Description:
At the end of September, Build Up joined constitutional and legal scholars, government ministers, and democratic activists from around the world at the conference on Democratic Constitutional Design (DCD) at the University of Iceland hosted by EDDA Research Center in Reykjavik. We presented a tool, in partnership with the Center for Democratic Constitutional Design (CDCD) and the University of Washington, to support the continued process of constitutional reform in Iceland.

Iceland may seem like a strange destination, possibly far from the characteristics we’ve come to expect for peacebuilding processes. Build Up staff collectively have decades of experience supporting efforts by peacebuilders all around the world, but mostly in non-Western and global South conflict contexts. We don’t think Iceland sees itself as a conflict or post-conflict country — but as we learned more about Iceland’s citizen-driven constitutional reform process, we recognized that what Icelanders are doing around their constitution process is relevant to all of us.

We came to know this process in 2014 at our first Build Peace conference at MIT in Boston, where Eileen Jerrett presented her documentary Blueberry Soup, a beautiful film that introduced all of us to Iceland’s remarkable constitutional reform process.

Being able to amplify and broaden participation in peacebuilding processes, which often times including constitution making, is critical. Build Up feels there is a lot to learn from the organic process that Icelanders have gone through and continue to pursue in the aftermath of their 2008 economic crash.

The entire history of this process, including crowd-sourced inputs from common citizens and the innovative process employed by its authors… are in danger of being lost.

We are profoundly moved by Icelanders efforts to re-imagine their constitution, by truly making it a people driven social contract. Too often, the legalistic and technical complexities of a modern constitution makes it inaccessible to the people it’s intended to protect; it’s not a government’s document, it’s a people’s document. At the DCD conference, there were some wonderfully provocative discussions on a variety of forms of engaging and convening people, both online and offline — whether through new forms of digitally connected conversations and crowd-sourcing, or mini-publics and deliberative processes.

At this point, the core drafting process of the proposed Icelandic constitution is complete. The Icelandic people approved the draft Constitution in a non-binding referendum in 2012, but a filibuster by the opposition party prevented it from being voted on by the Parliament in that year and it has been stalled ever since. There are a number of political parties that remain committed to the passage of draft Constitution, however, and citizen’s groups have worked hard to keep the issue of citizen-centered constitutional reform on the national agenda.

What’s at risk in this process is more than just the success or failure of a unique and forward-thinking citizen-driven constitution. Writing a constitution is a society’s statement of values and purpose. Imagine it as the core social and legal contract that holds a nation together. This would be the backbone of stewardship of public resources, spaces, rights, and laws, should the constitution, or even parts of it, be enacted.

Yet, the new draft of the Icelandic constitution faces other dire problems through this stagnation. Over a decade’s worth of documentation critical to the reform process, including interviews, drafting notes, analysis, films, photos, and other electronic and physical evidence remains scattered across the island on the computers and in the homes of many who participated. The entire history of this process, including crowd-sourced inputs from common citizens and the innovative process employed by its authors in drafting the reformed constitution are not easily accessible to Icelanders, and are in danger of being lost. The memory of the process, of what mattered to Icelanders in their difficult four-year struggle after the 2008 economic crisis, is in danger of fading away.

Given the resistance by some of the political elite to put that people-driven constitutional reform process behind them, losing this history could ultimately close the door on a process that still shows signs of life.

In collaboration with the Icelandic Constitutional Society, the CDCD, and the University of Washington, Build Up envisioned a portal to access an archive of the history. A well designed and well presented interactive analysis of events important to the constitutional process could help Icelanders stay connected to its relevance.

Through an ongoing process of input from Icelandic stakeholders, Build Up worked closely with Eileen Jerrett (CDCD) and Cricket Keating (University of Washington) to develop a portal prototype— a proof-of-concept that gives us an idea of what’s possible when it comes to preserving the history and telling the story of an active constitutional reform process.

Our initial presentation of the tool was met with overwhelming positivity. There is clearly a strong desire for this kind of resource, not only by those central to the Icelandic process but many conference participants from around the world were equally excited about having access to this important process and its history.

Build Up will continue to support this important process. Following the conference, we are now working with CDCD and the Icelandic Constitution Society to bring more Icelanders on board. While thousands of documents and electronic files have been collected, there are likely thousands more uncollected across the island. Icelanders will also need to play a central role in determining the proper framing for the resources as they’re presented through the portal, ensuring the material is relevant and usable. Ideally, this portal not only preserves the history, but also catalyzes new energy among those Icelanders who were central to the effort, as well as a new generation of reformers who were too young to participate in a process that started over a decade ago.

What Icelanders are doing around their constitutional process is relevant to all of us.

While we see many learning opportunities beyond Iceland in making this process accessible, we also appreciate that its universal lessons must first and foremost be focused inward on a process of change within the country. Build Up is excited to play a small but, we believe, important role in supporting Icelanders efforts to present and preserve their recent history while continuing to reform their constitution for a more just and equitable future.

Which dialogue and deliberation approaches did you use or borrow heavily from?

  • Essential Partners dialogue
  • Technology of Participation approaches
  • Deliberative Polling
  • Council / Circle process

What was your role in the project?
Creative Director

What issues did the project primarily address?
Human rights

Where to learn more about the project:
www.medium.com/@howtobuildup/we-the-people-of-iceland-ab29e6e670bc

Online Roundup feat NIFI, MetroQuest, Living Room Conversations, and the Zehr Institute!

As we get into the second week of January, the online events going on in the dialogue, deliberation, and engagement field are starting to ramp up. Below are events happening this week and a preview of some of the ones happening next week. Learn more about the Common Ground for Action deliberative online forums from NCDD member National Issues Forums Institute, and webinars from NCDD member orgs, MetroQuest and Living Room Conversations, and the Zehr Institute.

Do you have a webinar or other event coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know in the comments section below or by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!


Online Roundup: NIFI, Living Room Conversations, Zehr Institute, MetroQuest

National Issues Forums Institute – January CGA Forum Series: Climate Choices

Tuesday, January 15th
1:30 pm Pacific, 4:30 pm Eastern

Please join us for a Common Ground for Action (CGA) online deliberative forum on January 15th @4:30pm ET/1:30pm PDT on Climate Choices: How Should We Meet The Challenges of a Warming Planet?

If you’ve never participated in a CGA forum, please watch the “How To Participate” video before joining. You can find the video link here: https://vimeo.com/99290801

If you haven’t had a chance to review the issue guide, you can find a downloadable PDF copy at the NIF website: https://www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/climate-choices

Also, if you’d like to watch the NIFI starter video, you can see it here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/climatechoices/172418880

REGISTER: www.nifi.org/en/events/january-cga-forum-series-climate-choices

Living Room Conversations webinar – Status & Privilege

Tuesday, January 15th
2-3:30 pm Pacific, 5-6:30pm Eastern

Join us for a free online (using Zoom) Living Room Conversation on the topic of Status & Privilege. Please see the conversation guide for this topic. Some of the questions explored include:

  • What are the privileges of your status?
  • What do you value and how is that connected to your status or privilege?
  • How does status, or lack of status, affect your sense of personal dignity? How have you noticed it impacting others?

You will need a device with a webcam to participate (preferably a computer or tablet rather than a cell phone).

Please only sign up for a place in this conversation if you are 100% certain that you can join – and thank you – we have many folks waiting to have Living Room Conversations and hope to have 100% attendance. If you need to cancel please return to Eventbrite to cancel your ticket.

A link to join the conversation and additional details will be sent to you by no later than the day before the conversation. Briscoe T will be hosting.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-status-privilege/

Living Room Conversations webinar – Tribalism 101: Next Door Strangers

Thursday, January 17th
11 am-12:30 pm Pacific, 2-3:30pm Eastern

Join us for a free online (using Zoom) Living Room Conversation on the topic of Tribalism. Please see the conversation guide for this topic. Some of the questions explored include:

  • Name one or more groups you feel at home or strongly identify with (where you find a sense of belonging and/or feel stronger together)
  • What generalizations do you make about other groups? How do you evaluate or check the validity of your generalizations, if at all? How important is it to you that your generalizations are accurate?
  • Some groups come together based on sharing a common culture, vision, or enemy. What is the commonality for your group? What need does your group fulfill in your life?

You will need a device with a webcam to participate (preferably a computer or tablet rather than a cell phone).

Please only sign up for a place in this conversation if you are 100% certain that you can join – and thank you – we have many folks waiting to have Living Room Conversations and hope to have 100% attendance. If you need to cancel please return to Eventbrite to cancel your ticket.

A link to join the conversation and additional details will be sent to you by no later than the day before the conversation. Kathy & Mary will be hosting.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-tribalism-101-next-door-strangers/

Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice – “The Little Book of Racial Healing – A Virtual Book Launch”

Wednesday, January 23rd
1:30pm – 3pm Pacific, 4:30pm – 6pm Eastern
Guest: Jodie Geddes and Tom DeWolf
Host: Johonna Turner

Join authors Jodie Geddes and Thomas Norman DeWolf for this “virtual” book launch. This Little Book will be published by Skyhorse Publishers in January 2019. The authors will share the book’s genesis (hint: the seeds were planted at the RJ in Motion conferenceat Eastern Mennonite University in 2016). With restorative justice and trauma awareness principles at its foundation, Coming to the Table has grown from a gathering of two dozen people at EMU in 2006 to thousands of members across the United States today, including 32 Local Affiliate Groups meeting in communities in 12 different states.

Join the webinar for an engaging conversation of the content of the book, of Coming to the Table, and the high interest across the United States for truth-telling, liberation and transformation.

REGISTERhttp://zehr-institute.org/webinars/little-book-racial-healing.html

MetroQuest webinar – “Public Engagement at All Scales | CMAP’s Winning Recipe”

Wednesday, January 30th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (APA AICP CM)
Complimentary (FREE)

For the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, award-winning comprehensive plans involve public engagement at all scales, collaboration with 284 communities, and a Local Technical Assistance program that’s admired nationally. Join us January 30th to get inspired!

CMAP Deputy Executive Director of Planning Stephane Phifer, Associate Outreach Planner Katanya Raby, and Senior Planner Lindsay Bayley will take you inside their local approach to online engagement for OnTo2050 – their comprehensive regional plan to improve quality of life and economic prosperity for 8.5 million people.

Public feedback was essential to exploring alternative futures for innovative transportation, climate change, walkable communities, a transformed economy, and constrained resources. You’ll learn how CMAP used a multi-phased approach to online engagement for a variety of local plans, including the downtown Aurora Master Plan.

Attend this complimentary 1-hour webinar to explore effective ways to:

  • Engage inclusively to build inclusive plans
  • Uncover the ideas, hopes, and concerns of residents
  • Take a multi-phase approach to online engagement
  • Think both locally and regionally for collaborative planning

This webinar will include a live Q&A session to help you prepare for 2019. Bring your public engagement questions for Stephane, Katanya, Lindsay, and Dave Biggs, Chief Engagement Officer at MetroQuest.

REGISTER: http://go.metroquest.com/Public-Engagement-at-All-Scales-CMAPs-Winning-Recipe.html

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

In part one of We Are All Catalysts, the focus was on examples of groups in dialogue in deliberation who showcase how our powerful inner sparks can be used to transform conversations and communities. In part two, we want to follow up and have all of you help guide our continued conversations!

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” ~ Yogi Berra

We live in a world of noise. Many of us lament at the current environment of ideological polarization that hinders respectful and productive conversation. We have the power to break through this noise and create spaces for listening and thoughtful dialogue. It can seem daunting in the current ways of the world, but the tools are accessible and the need critical.

The space for listening and dialogue was successfully achieved at the biennial NCDD conference in November. Wonderful themes emerged that are well worth continued attention. We must work in the spirit of this year’s conference theme and gain momentum by connecting while home in our respective areas. One way we at NCDD hope to support is through helping to launch monthly phone conversations among a small group of committed members, to continue some of these discussions into the spring. If you would like to lead a group on a particular topic of interest to you, please let us know via the comment tool below or by emailing us!

Some themes to consider from the conference sessions that may inspire ideas for the forthcoming conversation topics include:

  • How can we design our D&D work to be more proactive and recurring? Too often, our programs are reactive and follow a “one and done” model.  The conference session led by Todd Davies and Michael Freedman in November asked us to consider improving our efforts through intentional design in D&D work focusing on long-term community relationships across many constituencies. Through building trust and transparency, the ongoing meetings could take the form of citizen juries, participatory budgeting, town halls among other formats.
  • How might the Bohm Dialogue technique be utilized in different settings? The Bohm technique removes cross talk while adding reflective pauses after each speaker contributes. The approach is meant to encourage collective community processing of local and global crisis that impact many, if not all, humans and the planet. This comes through suspension of judgement, listening at three levels, assumption identification, inquiry and reflection.
  • In what ways may arts (visual, musical, movement) enhance D&D work? Expression can take many forms and can be a great way to make D&D both more inclusive and more engaging. From visual arts to music and movement, varying the tools for expression can help the dialogue branch out into more creative and freeing spaces and spaces that can transcend barriers created by language.
  • What are successful ways to have more ideologically inclusive based participation in dialogues? Continued exploration on how to engage across the entire spectrum of ideological beliefs and political affinities. What forms this takes will vary depending upon local contexts.

The above are just a few suggestions to get everyone thinking. Please feel free to take a look at the Open Space session notes from the conference at this link for further inspiration, and/or comment below with your own ideas for which topics you would like to see a committed group dive into this spring!

Online Roundup feat Nat’l Issues Forums Institute & more!

In an effort to continue to bring you even more D&D events, we will be expanding the weekly webinar round-ups to include any online events! New additions this week include Common Ground for Action deliberative online forums from NCDD member National Issues Forums Institute, and webinars from NCDD partner, National Civic League, and member org, Living Room Conversations.

Do you have a webinar or other event coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know in the comments section below or by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!


Online Roundup: NIFI, National Civic League and Living Room Conversations

National Issues Forums Institute – January CGA Forum Series: What Should We Do about the Opioid Epidemic?

Wednesday, January 9th
5 pm Pacific, 8 pm Eastern

If you’ve never participated in a CGA forum, please watch the “How To Participate” video before joining. You can find the video link here:https://vimeo.com/99290801

If you haven’t had a chance to review the issue guide, you can find a downloadable PDF copy at the NIF website.: https://www.nifi.org/es/issue-guide/opioid-epidemic

Please also watch the starter video before joining the forum: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/opioidepidemic

REGISTER: www.nifi.org/en/events/january-cga-forum-series-what-should-we-do-about-opioid-epidemic

National Civic League AAC Promising Practices Webinar – “Addressing Addiction on a Community-Wide Level”

Thursday, January 10th
9 am Pacific, 12 pm Eastern

Join the National Civic League to learn more about how two communities address addiction

Two communities will discuss their local intervention programs to address drug and/or alcohol abuse. Beaverton, OR will discuss their B-SOBR program and Hamilton County, OH will overview their Hamilton County Heroin Coalition.

B-SOBR Program- Beaverton, OR:
Faced with a burgeoning number of DUII citations, the Beaverton Municipal Court launched the B-SOBR program in 2011. B-SOBR, the first evidence-based practice (EBP) DUII court in Oregon, is designed to treat individuals whose drinking and drug use is beyond their control but who continue to drive motor vehicles. B-SOBR participants agree to strict conditions in exchange for remaining out of jail, including alcohol and drug treatment, regular reports to court, regular communication with a Case Manager, sobriety and urine tests, wearing an alcohol monitoring bracelet, committing to Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar program, a search for employment, and random check-ins from Beaverton police officers. With a potential probation period that could last up to 60 months, the B-SOBR program hopes to have participants build a solid foundation in recovery during their time in the program.

Hamilton County Heroin Coalition- Hamilton County, OH:
The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition provides countywide leadership and solutions to address the heroin and opiate epidemic both immediately and in the long-term. The coalition is committed to assisting residents and neighbors with the emergency support that they need, as well as working to prevent the spread of drug use in youth before it begins. Through collaboration between public health officials, law enforcement, prevention experts and treatment providers, the coalition can make an impact on this pressing public health and public safety issue.

REGISTER: www.eventbrite.com/e/aac-promising-practices-webinar-addressing-addiction-on-a-community-wide-level-tickets-53746857297

Living Room Conversations webinar – Relationships First

Thursday, January 10th
2-3:30 pm Pacific, 5-6:30pm Eastern

Join us for a free online (using Zoom) Living Room Conversation on the topic of Relationships First. Please see the conversation guide for this topic. Some of the questions explored include:

  • Have you ever seen or been in a conversation where people were not listening to each other? How did that turn out?
  • Have you ever taken a position or voiced an idea that was very different from a group you are part of? How did that feel? Or have you ever decided against speaking out because it just wasn’t worth the repercussions?
  • When have you used respect and listening to resolve a problem? Did it work?

You will need a device with a webcam to participate (preferably a computer or tablet rather than a cell phone).

Please only sign up for a place in this conversation if you are 100% certain that you can join – and thank you – we have many folks waiting to have Living Room Conversations and hope to have 100% attendance. If you need to cancel please return to Eventbrite to cancel your ticket.

A link to join the conversation and additional details will be sent to you by no later than the day before the conversation.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-relationships-first-3/

Register ASAP for January Confab feat Senator Unger!

NCDD is excited to announce our January Confab Call featuring West Virginia Senator John Unger! This FREE call will take place Wednesday, January 16th from 1-2pm Eastern/10-11am Pacific. Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

On the call, Senator Unger will discuss the integral role of public engagement in his work as a state senator. He will talk with us about how he has been using dialogue and deliberation to engage with constituents in his district, and how he attributes that to his recent reelection bid against a well-funded opponent.

John Unger has committed his life to being a public servant-leader and bringing together his many experiences in theology and public life. Unger is currently serving as a West Virginia state senator representing Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia. Unger was first elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1998 at the age of 28 – making him one of the youngest elected state senators in West Virginia history. He is currently serving his fifth four-year term and is the Senate Minority Whip. Also, Unger is currently the pastor of the three historic Harpers Ferry Civil War churches: St. John Lutheran Church, Bolivar United Methodist Church, and the priest of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Unger has also done extensive work relating to international humanitarian issues in Asia, India, and the Middle East.

During his Senate tenure, Unger lead to make West Virginia one of the first states in the nation to have universal early childhood education through the West Virginia Early Childhood Education Act. He combated child poverty and hunger with the Feed to Achieve Act. Senator Unger also sponsored the creation of the State Division of Energy, Farmland Protection Act, Water Resource Protection Act, anti-animal cruelty legislation, anti-litter legislation and numerous education bills.

This will be an engaging conversation on a timely topic in our politics. Don’t miss out – register for our call today!

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

Confab bubble imageNCDD’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. Confabs are free and open to all. Register today if you’d like to join us!

Webinar Roundup Feat Living Room Conversations and IAP2

First webinar round up of the New Year! Check out the list of webinars happening this coming week from NCDD member Living Room Conversations and IAP2. FYI there are more webinars happening later next week that we will share closer to the day, so stay tuned to the blog for more!

Do you have a webinar coming up that you’d like to share with the NCDD network? Please let us know by emailing me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org, because we’d love to add it to the list!


Webinar Roundup: Living Room Conversations and IAP2

Living Room Conversations webinar – “Free Speech, Fighting Words, and Violence”

Monday, January 7th
4-5:30 pm Pacific, 6-8:30 pm Eastern

Join us for a free online (using Zoom) Living Room Conversation on the topic of Free Speech, Fighting Words, & Violence. Please see the conversation guide for this topic. Some of the questions explored include:

  • How do we protect free speech and ensure public safety despite ongoing threats of violence?
  • Have you had a personal experience where free speech was inhibited? Or have you ever felt harmed by the speech of others?
  • How do we decide what our collective, social morality is? What is the federal government’s role?

You will need a device with a webcam to participate (preferably a computer or tablet rather than a cell phone).

Please only sign up for a place in this conversation if you are 100% certain that you can join – and thank you – we have many folks waiting to have Living Room Conversations and hope to have 100% attendance. If you need to cancel please return to Eventbrite to cancel your ticket so someone on the waitlist may attend.

A link to join the conversation and additional details will be sent to you by no later than the day before the conversation. The conversation host is Shay M.

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-free-speech-fighting-words-and-violence/

Living Room Conversations webinar – “Fake News”

Tuesday, January 8th
1:30-3 pm Pacific, 3:30-5pm Eastern

Join us for a free online (using Zoom) Living Room Conversation on the topic of Fake News. Please see the conversation guide for this topic. Some of the questions explored include:

  • What is fake news? What makes it fake?
  • Is fake news a problem? Why?
  • How do you decide what news sources to trust?

You will need a device with a webcam to participate (preferably a computer or tablet rather than a cell phone).

Please only sign up for a place in this conversation if you are 100% certain that you can join – and thank you – we have many folks waiting to have Living Room Conversations and hope to have 100% attendance. If you need to cancel please return to Eventbrite to cancel your ticket.

A link to join the conversation and additional details will be sent to you by no later than the day before the conversation. The conversation host is Leah S.

IAP2 Monthly Webinar – Diversity and Inclusion in P2

Tuesday, January 8th
11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern

Reaching as many people as effectively as possible is vital in any public participation process, and that’s especially true when an area is demographically diverse. TriMet, the public transportation agency serving the Portland, Oregon, region, had to “reach people where they were” as it expanded a transit service through neighborhoods of historically under-represented residents. The city of Surrey, BC, had to reach out to a wide range of ethnicities and interests in updating its Parks, Recreation and Culture Strategy. Join us and find out how these processes accomplished it: they won the IAP2 USA and IAP2 Canada (respectively) Core Values Awards for Respect for Diversity, Inclusion and Culture.

Remember the two-stage process when registering. Your confirmation email will contain a link to our webinar service provider. Follow that link and fill in the form to receive your login information.

REGISTER: https://iap2usa.org/event-3076943

Sharing Best Practices of D&D – Inspiration for 2019

Great way to start off the new year reading this excellent write-up by NCDDer, Kevin Amirehsani, on the recent 8th National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. He shares some of the best practices in our field and highlights several gems from the conference. We are proud to work amongst such talented, dedicated, and inspirational individuals, and can’t wait to see the new heights this field will go! We encourage you to read Kevin’s piece below and find the original version on the UNC School of Government Blog here.


Sharing Dialogue and Deliberation Best Practices: NCDD 2018

Within the community engagement community, best practices are sometimes hard to identify.

The context of, say, a small-scale event dealing with restorative justice differs greatly from a packed city council meeting covering zoning permits. The message, audience, program design, and feedback mechanisms can be completely different, which makes standardizing a set of guidelines an oft-impossible task.

Still, there are a few gatherings that bring together enough diverse, experienced, and motivated engagement practitioners that something approaching best practices can be found across many of community engagements’ subfields, from productively navigating race relations to developing responsive digital platforms.

The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) is probably the best example. Lucky for me, Denver (my home), hosted their most recent annual conference in November of last year.

With more than 70 workshops and sessions available to choose from across four days, the hardest part was figuring out where to spend my conference time.

Here are some highlights from three sessions I attended.

Day 1 – D&D for Everyone: How do we get everyone to participate?

I decided to dive right into one of community engagement’s most difficult questions – how on earth do we maximize participation?

This session was relatively unstructured, which allowed small groups to come up with numerous ideas that were then shared with the room. One key takeaway many of us arrived at was on an issue that is often glossed over: language.

Language and Ideology – Who “Welcomes Dialogue”?

Let’s face it: community engagement and D&D initiatives are usually carried out by progressive/liberal practitioners. While this may have something to do with the innate differences between many conservatives and progressives, what it means is that much of the language we use to publicize our events, conduct them, and gather feedback from them may be imbued with a liberal bias.

Terms like “diversity”, “safe space”, or even “dialogue” itself are often viewed in a partisan light, which may skew the demographics of who shows up and who participates more frequently.

Luckily, there are some resources that can help us be more aware of our language, like the online Red Blue Dictionary or a growing number of political dialogue courses offered at universities.

Can we Dialogue with our Passion and Frustrations?

Another issue I found useful to discuss was the degree to which participants are encouraged or expected to check their frustrations and convictions at the door.

On paper, engagement projects often encourage a diversity of viewpoints, but some may be implicitly accepted more than others through, say, the responses that the facilitators choose to emphasize, or even the way a participant who expresses an unpopular opinion is glared at by others.

Many of us have probably witnessed well-intentioned D&D practitioners define numerous topics as “problems,” which implies that somebody’s at fault. This can be at odds with encouraging feedback from participants who may be afraid of being blamed if they speak up.

Day 2 – Don’t Avoid, Don’t Confront: Dialogue Skills for Anti-Racism Allies

I have never been to an anti-racism workshop, so I thought a workshop led by David Campt, the founder of the White Ally Toolkit, would be a great place to start.

As a veteran of the Clinton White House’s Initiative on Race and America Speaks, David knows how to distill a lot of information on how to have effective conversations on race into a short time period while keeping everybody in the room entertained. And he certainly did not disappoint.

While his anti-racism trainings are typically given to white participants, this was a mixed-race crowd that engaged him as he spoke on concepts ranging from the empirical – e.g. racial anxiety – to more practical tools, like the types of icebreakers that can be useful in reducing some of the tension that envelopes meetings on difficult topics (such as race).

One key takeaway that I walked away with was David’s quippy but powerful advice to find the “chocolate in the trail mix” of what a person is saying.

When we’re dealing with community members who have views that may be antithetical to ours, there are almost always remarks they make that we can relate to. For those of us who keep abreast of the literature, the power of small talk should not be a surprise. But David went a step further and emphasized the importance that positive acknowledgement has in ultimately changing people’s views.

Simply pointing out things you agree with by others who share an individual’s race, ethnicity, or politics, for example, markedly increases that person’s willingness to continue talking to you and, ultimately, their openness to gradually changing their views on thorny subjects.

Day 3 – Elevating Voices and Building Bridges: Community Trust and Police Relations

Finally, I capped off an inspiring time at NCDD 2018 with a discussion on police-community relations, in part since I sit on Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen’s Community Advisory Board.

The session saw a pair of practitioners – one from the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the other from Illinois’ Attorney General’s Office – speak in depth about 14 “community roundtables” they organized across Chicago as part of the city police department’s ongoing federal consent decree. They were followed by Chief Pazen and Denver Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) Community Relations Ombudsman Gianina Irlando, who described a novel program breaking down some of the barriers between police officers and youth.

Design – Sharing Ground, Empathy and Feedback Mechanisms

My impression after hearing these success stories was that both sides in some of the most intractable disputes can substantively cede some ground and gain some empathy for the other side if community meetings and the feedback mechanisms which follow them are effectively designed.

In the Chicago example, the meeting organizers spent a considerable amount of time recruiting participants from affected communities, hiring translators for each table, training facilitators, and designing the layout of their World Café-type engagement model so that everybody knew what ideas each table was bringing up, without fears of “problematic” points of view being forgotten.

Closer to home, the Denver collaborative model between law enforcement and their civilian oversight body emphasized how empathy-building can be quantitatively shown to increase if officers are given enough classroom training, local community leaders (and, in this case, a hip hop artist) help conduct the sessions, and youth are encouraged to participate through strategically placing them with officers in a safe environment whom they have had no personal contact with.

You can find the original version of this article on the UNC School of Government Blog at https://cele.sog.unc.edu/sharing-dialogue-and-deliberation-best-practices-ncdd-2018/.

New Website Launches Called weDialogue – Test it Now!

The new website, weDialogue, recently launched and the creators are currently looking for folks to experiment with the site and provide feedback. weDialogue is a participatory, citizen-driven platform designed to facilitate better online news commentary and be a space for improved online discussions. The creators are testing between two platforms right now, so check out the site ASAP to join this exploratory phase! You can read about the website in the post below and find the original website here.


weDialogue – A Space for Real Debate

What is weDialogue?
weDialogue is a global experiment to test new solutions for commenting on news online. The objective of weDialogue is to promote humility in public discourse and prevent digital harassment and trolling.

What am I expected to do?
The task is simple. You are asked to fill out a survey, then wait until the experiment begins. You will then be given a login for your platform. There you will be able to read and comment on news as if it was a normal online newspaper or blog. We would like people to comment as much as possible, but you are free to contribute as much as you want. At the end of the experiment we would be very grateful if you could fill in a final survey and provide us with feedback on the overall experience.

Why is important to test new platforms for news comments?
We know the problems of harassment and trolling (see our video), but the solution is not obvious. Developers have proposed new platforms, but these have not been tested rigorously. weDialogue is a participatory action research project that aims to combine academic expertise and citizens’ knowledge and experience to test potential solutions.

How much does weDialogue cost? Who is financing weDialogue?
weDialogue is funded by Humility and Conviction in Public Life, a project of the University of Connecticut, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. The grant is for USD 250,000. The real cost of weDialogue is significantly higher. Most members of the project team are volunteering a significant amount of time because they believe the objectives of the project are so important.

Do you have a political agenda? Is weDialogue a conservative or liberal project? Are you linked to a political organization?
weDialogue is not linked to any political organization. It is a non-partisan research project led by university researchers. Our political agenda is to improve online discussions so that they become more civil, safe and meaningful.

What are you going to do with the research?
All our research and data will be publicly available so that others can build upon it. Both the Deliberatorium and Pol.is are free software that can be reused. The data we will create and the resulting publications will be released in an open access environment.

Who is weDialogue?
weDialogue is an action research project led by a team of academics at the University of Westminster (UK) and the University of Connecticut (USA).  For more information about the academic project see our academic project website.

Timeline

weDialogue is divided into 3 phases:

Phase 1: Enrollment
In this phase you will be asked to fill out a survey and provide your email. Based on the survey data, we will create similar groups of participants to take part in the experiment. We aim to start the enrollment in the third week of November 2018.

Phase 2: Experiment
In this phase your group will be assigned to an online platform where you can comment on news items. You will receive an anonymous login and a password to access the platform. Groups will use different commenting platforms so that we can compare their impact on the discussion. We designed the experiment to last 3 weeks.

Phase 3: Exit survey and debriefing
At the end of the experiment, we will ask you to complete a final survey. We will then open all the discussion groups of weDialogue so that you can explore and compare the different platforms. You will have an opportunity to provide open feedback on the experience. We designed the debriefing to last 2 weeks.

You can check out the original weDialogue website at www.wedialogue.world/.

Submit by Jan 18th to Win $50K in Engaged Cities Award!

We love hearing about opportunities to award those doing great engagement work and want to ensure folks heard that the international Engaged Cities Award is now accepting submissions! NCDD member org, Public Agenda, shared on their blog that Cities of Service has recently launched the second annual Engaged Cities Award, given to those cities with successful engagement efforts to address a specific public problem, in order to create a template for other cities to use in their own communities. 3 cities will be chosen as winners and each winning city will be awarded $50,000 and will be announced at the Engaged Cities Award Summit in Fall 2019.

The award is open to cities in the Americas or Europe, with populations above 30,000 – and the submissions are due January 18, 2019. You can read more about the award below and find the original information on the Public Agenda site here.


Cities of Service Launches Second Annual Engaged Cities Award

Cities of Service, a nonprofit organization that helps mayors build stronger cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together, launched the application process for its second annual Engaged Cities Award. The international award program recognizes cities that have actively engaged their citizens to solve a critical public problem.

All over the world, city leaders and citizens are reducing community violence, producing better budgets, creating safer streets and building stronger communities together. The award shines a light on the engagement solutions that have worked for these neighborhoods. Cities of Service creates blueprints, case studies, and other resources that highlight winning cities’ solutions so other cities can replicate their projects and their impact. You can find resources from the 2018 award at engagedcitiesaward.org.

Engaged Cities Award applicants must address a specific problem that directly affects the lives of citizens, such as homelessness, neighborhood safety, or extreme weather, or impacts the city’s ability to deliver vital services to the community.

The Engaged Cities Award is open to cities with populations of 30,000+ in the Americas and Europe. Cities of Service, along with an esteemed group of experts, will choose three winning cities. Each winner will receive a minimum of $50,000 and be announced as part of the Engaged Cities Award Summit in fall 2019.

Are you a city leader engaged in this kind of problem-solving, world-changing work with your citizens? Cities of Service wants to hear from you! Just answer five short questions and submit your application by January 18, 2019.

For more information about the Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award, including guiding philosophy, criteria, eligibility, timeline, and past winners, please visit: engagedcitiesaward.org.

Looking to learn more about last year’s winners? Check out this blog from Cities of Service Award judge and Public Agenda Vice President of Public Engagement Matt Leighninger.

You can read the original announcement of this on Public Agenda’s site at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/cities-of-service-launches-second-annual-engaged-cities-award.