NCL Announces Winners of the 2018 All-America City Award

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Decatur, GA – Continuing its commitment to civic engagement, Decatur is actively seeking to build an equitable and inclusive experience for its residents and visitors, focusing on racially-just community policing and building diverse and affordable housing. Project details.

Las Vegas, NV – Las Vegas provides residents, stakeholders, staff and elected officials with a collective vision and plans for a future of income equality and economic mobility, building programs and services that remove barriers and address challenges faced by their most vulnerable youth. Project details.

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations to the 2018 All-America City Finalists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civvy Award Nominations are Now Open Until July 11th

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


The 2018 Civvys: The American Civic Collaboration Awards

Celebrating Partnerships that Strengthen America

Nominations are open June 11 – July 11, 2018.

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

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

Award Categories and Criteria

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

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

Award Categories

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

Criteria

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

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

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

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

In addition, the Civvys celebrates programs and people that:

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

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

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

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

Nevins Fellows Begin Internships – TWO with NCDD orgs!

We are very excited to share an update from Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy, that the new Nevins Fellows will be starting their summer internships! NCDD has partnered with the McCourtney Institute over the last few years to help connect students from their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program to internships with individuals and organizations in the D&D and public engagement field. We are extra proud to share that two of the fellows will be joining NCDD member orgs – the Participatory Budgeting Project and Everyday Democracy. Please join us in wishing all the Nevins Fellows the best of luck in their new roles – you will be great!

We encourage you to read the announcement below and find it on McCourtney’s site here.


Nevins Fellows Begin Summer Internships

This week, our new cohort of Nevins Fellows will start working with organizations around the country that advance democracy in a variety of areas.

Over the next two months, students will have the opportunity to learn what it looks like to engage in deliberation, outreach, and other processes that are essential to a healthy democracy.

Here’s what they are most looking forward to as they begin their internships:

Alexis Burke
Participatory Budgeting Project
Brooklyn, New York

I chose to work with The Participatory Budgeting Project because of their tangible effects on the communities they work with. Through the implementation of small d democracy, The Participatory Budgeting Project helps to foster community and democracy in the New York metropolitan area.

I’m most looking forward to connecting with The Participatory Budgeting Project’s team members as well as members of New York’s various communities. I can’t wait to gain hands-on experience implementing everyday democracy.

Maia Hill
City of Austin
Austin, Texas

I selected this organization because the mission aligns with some of the practices I believe need to be incorporated within all communities. This line of work would help me in the long run because I plan on going into politics and/or becoming a State Representative and in order for me to be an effective and efficient leader in that line of work.

Entering into this internship, I hope to gain a greater understanding of the importance of participatory democracy. I am looking forward to learning how to be active within community engagement and how to get minorities within between race, ethnicity, gender, etc. involved within local government to get the change that they want and need within their communities. This hands-on experience will definitely make a huge difference in how I can also be more involved with the current community I reside in here at Penn State.

Sophie Lamb
Everyday Democracy
Hartford, Connecticut

I chose Everyday Democracy because of their focus on the inequalities in the criminal justice system. I am fascinated by the differences between how legislation is written compared to how it is implemented. I am also excited to see the outreach the organization does and how they interact directly with different communities.

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to see how laws are implemented compared to the theoretical intention behind legislation, specifically in regards to the racial disparity in the criminal justice system. In addition, this internship will allow me to continue to improve on the research and writing skills that I have built during my time at Penn State.

Stephanie Keyaka
City of Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland

I went to school in Baltimore City, so I have an extreme love for the community. What attracted me to this site was Councilman Cohen’s dedication to building a stronger democracy and legislating that is rooted in equality and justice. I wanted to do more for communities of people that look like me, and this site and the office’s mission aligned perfectly with my political aspirations.

It will be very interesting to use a racial equity lens to tackle public policy issues in Baltimore City. Urban and local politics are often overlooked, but can have be of extreme importance for the members of this community. I am hoping to better learn the ways in which local politicians can have an impact on the immediate lives of residents, especially in marginalized communities

You can find the original version of this announcement on McCourtney Institute’s site at www.democracyinstitute.la.psu.edu/blog/nevins-fellows-begin-summer-internships.

Exciting Models of Democracy in Engaged Cities Awardees

This week, Cities of Service announced the three winners of the Engaged Cities Awards, given to the cities of Santiago de Cali, Bologna, and Tulsa. As NCDD member org Public Agenda noted in their recent piece, each of these cities offer inspiring examples of civic engagement and better models of local democracy. Sometimes democracy in the US can feel in a rut, but these cities give us innovative ways to bring better democratic practices to our own communities and more fully enrich our lives. You can read the article from PA below and find the original version here.


For Better Models of Democracy, Look to the Engaged Cities of Cali and Bologna

Both Santiago de Cali, in Colombia, and Bologna, Italy, demonstrate the power of putting citizens at the center of governance, giving them opportunities to engage that are meaningful, enjoyable, regular, and sustained.

The main problem with American democracy is that we don’t realize it can be improved. We assume that we’re stuck with the system we have, and we ignore the fact that there are other varieties of democracy already out there in the world.

Two of the three winners of the Engaged Cities Award, given by the nonprofit organization Cities of Service, illustrate some of the possibilities. Both Santiago de Cali, in Colombia, and Bologna, Italy, demonstrate the power of putting citizens at the center of governance, giving them opportunities to engage that are meaningful, enjoyable, regular, and sustained.

Not too long ago, Cali was a city plagued by violence spilling over from drug wars and civil wars. It had a homicide rate of 15 per 100,000 inhabitants. Almost a third of the population came from places other than Cali, and there were regular conflicts between people from different places and cultures. Over 60 percent of Cali residents said they didn’t trust their neighbors.

To remedy an interrelated set of problems, Cali created a comprehensive system for local engagement. As part of a strategic planning process, they created a department and council devoted to “civic culture.” They conducted a comprehensive research process, reaching 30,000 people, to take stock of the civic landscape and find out what kinds of changes people supported.

The backbone of the new system is a set of “local councils for civic culture and peace,” with one in each of Cali’s 22 neighborhoods. Unlike most neighborhood councils in the US, these councils are highly participatory and deliberative, and attract large numbers of people to their meetings and events. Each neighborhood develops a set of norms and “agreements of coexistence” to govern how they will work together. There is an explicit focus on engaging people of different “ethnic, cultural, artistic, religious and social groups.”

The councils make decisions on issues ranging from land use to waste management to environmental concerns. Neighborhoods also identify initiatives that they want to take on. The city supports these high-impact volunteering efforts with teams of professionals who help people plan, research and implement their ideas. Over 300 of those initiatives took place in the last year.

Each year, the work culminates with “Civic Culture Week,” a festival that attracts thousands of people.

The city developed a tool to measure progress called the “Diagnosis of Civic Culture.” Cali residents’ trust in their neighbors and perceptions of public safety have risen. Homicides and violent incidents are at their lowest levels in a decade.

In Bologna, a declining voter rate and increasing mistrust of government were signs of local civic decay. Rather than focusing solely on voter registration or electoral reforms, community leaders decided to be proactive about improving the relationship between residents and public institutions. The city adopted a “regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the City for the care and regeneration of urban commons” and created a new office for “civic imagination.”

To give this new vocabulary a real presence in the city, Bologna has a system of six District Labs which provide spaces for residents to develop plans, share information, make new connections and co-design collaborative projects for the improvement of the city’s physical infrastructure. The labs are considered the “antennae” of the neighborhoods, relaying ideas and concerns within the new engagement system.

In the last five years, 508 collaborative proposals have been developed and 357 have been implemented, with over 1,700 citizens participating in district meetings in the last year alone. The spinoff “Incredibol!” initiative, which called for the support of creative industries by allowing the re-use of public spaces to develop entrepreneurial projects, received 621 proposals, nominated 96 winners and assigned sixteen public spaces.

Alongside the district labs, Bologna has launched a citywide participatory budgeting process that also has engaged thousands of people. The city also uses a range of online tools, including direct emails, social media and a “Comunità” website to facilitate information-sharing and networking within and across districts.

A secret to the success of both Cali and Bologna is that, in those cities, engagement is fun. The Cali system capitalizes on the “recovery of streets and parks, murals, photographic exhibitions, soccer tournaments, gastronomic shows and festivals.” Bologna’s application for the Engaged Cities Award featured the roles played by artists, kindergarteners and cyclists.

Beyond the fun factor, local democracy in Cali and Bologna seems more vibrant because engagement in both cities is sustained and systemic, with a wide variety of opportunities for people to participate.

The third winner of the Engaged Cities Award, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, demonstrates another way to encourage and capitalize on citizen engagement. By creating a team of Urban Data Pioneers, they tapped the tech skills of people inside and outside City Hall. Through a range of new tools and apps, they are identifying and solving problems ranging from traffic incidents to blight.

A great virtue of the Engaged Cities Award, and the role played by Cities of Service in organizing it, is that it provides stories from near and far for spurring our civic imagination. If we are dissatisfied with the state of our democracy, there are inspiring examples to look to elsewhere, and many ways of improving public decision-making, problem-solving and community-building.

You can find the original version of this blog post from Public Agenda at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/for-better-models-of-democracy-look-to-the-engaged-cities-of-cali-and-bologna.

Become a Sponsor of NCDD 2018 Today!

NCDD is working hard on putting together our 2018 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation this November 2-4 in Denver. It’s shaping up to be a phenomenal conference, and like all of our events, NCDD 2018 will be a great opportunity to gain recognition while supporting the field by becoming a conference sponsor!

Looking to heighten the profile of your organization and work in the field? Being a sponsor is a great way to do it! NCDD conferences regularly bring together over 400 of the most active, thoughtful, and influential people in public engagement and group process work across the U.S. and Canada (plus practitioners from around the world), and being a sponsor can help your organization can reach them all.

Being an All-Star Sponsor ($10,000+), Collaborator ($5,000+), Co-Sponsor ($3,000), Partner ($2,000), or Supporter ($1,000) will earn you name recognition with potential clients, provide months of PR, and build respect and good will for your organization every time we proudly acknowledge your support as we promote the conference. Plus you’ll be providing the crucial support that NCDD relies on to make our national conferences so spectacular, including making it possible for us to offer more scholarships to the amazing young people and other deserving folks in our field. You can learn more about the details in our sponsorship document.

The earlier you commit to being an NCDD 2018 sponsor, the more exposure you earn as we begin to roll out our sponsor logos on our website. But the benefits go way beyond that – just look at all the perks you get for being a sponsor!

This year, we are also offering some additional opportunities to sponsor, including sponsoring our Friday Showcase Reception, and purchasing ads in our conference guidebook. All of these options are outlined in our sponsorship doc, and if you have other ideas, we’re happy to discuss them!

By supporting an NCDD conference, our sponsors are demonstrating leadership in D&D, showing commitment to public engagement and innovative community problem solving, and making a name for themselves among the established leaders and emerging leaders in our rapidly growing field. We expect to have between 400 and 450 attendees at NCDD 2018, and all of them will hear about our sponsors’ work!

When you sign on as a sponsor or partner of NCDD 2018, you’ll be joining an amazing group of peers you can be proud to associate with. To give you an idea, check out the list of 2016 sponsors or the spread of our sponsors and partners for our 2014 national conference:

SponsorLogosAsOf9-7-14

Interested in joining their ranks and sponsoring the 2018 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation? We encourage you to consider investing in yourself, in NCDD, and in the field by becoming a sponsor today! We would deeply appreciate your support – plus you get so many benefits.

Learn more about sponsor benefits and requirements here, or send an email to sandy@ncdd.org to let us know you are interested in supporting this important convening through sponsorship. And thank you for considering supporting the conference in this critical way!

2018 Brown Medal Awarded to Public Mapping Project

In case you missed it, NCDD member the McCourtney Institute for Democracy recently announced the Public Mapping Project as the winner of the 2018 Brown Democracy Medal. The Public Mapping Project created the open-source software program, District Builder that allows participants to re-draw their congressional maps and has been implemented in Pennsylvania. You can learn more in the article below and find the original on McCourtney Institute’s site here.


Public Mapping Project Wins 2018 Brown Democracy Medal

As conversations about how to stop partisan gerrymandering continue around the country, the work being done by this year’s Brown Democracy Medal winner could not be more timely or more relevant.

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy will award the 2018 Brown Democracy Medal to the Public Mapping Project, an initiative led by Micah Altman, director of research and head of the program on information science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida.

The Public Mapping Project has developed District Builder, an open-source software redistricting application designed to give the public transparent, accessible and easy-to-use online mapping tools. The goal is for all citizens to have access to the same information that legislators use when drawing congressional maps — and use that data to create maps of their own.

“The technological innovation of online redistricting software and especially open-source system provided ordinary people unprecedented access to the tools and data to create legal districts,” Altman and McDonald wrote in their award-winning submission. “This enables what might otherwise be a static quantification of representation to be embedded in a living, democratic, transparent and participative process.”

McCourtney Institute Director Michael Berkman said the Public Mapping Project plays an important role in helping Americans understand redistricting and advocate for a fairer process moving forward.

“This transparency and involvement is the type of democratic engagement and innovation the Brown medal was designed to recognize,” Berkman said.

Draw the Lines PA, a nonpartisan organization that aims to “fix the bug in the operating system of democracy” in Pennsylvania, is using District Builder in its outreach efforts across the state. David Thornburgh of Draw the Lines PA explained how the Public Mapping project has impacted the organization.

“We are using District Builder as a critical building block for this effort. It gives Pennsylvanians in schools, colleges, community groups, faith congregations, and retirement communities the chance to make their voices heard,” Thornburgh wrote in a reference letter. “District Builder and Draw the Lines give the power of data and technology to the real bosses of democracy: current and future voters.”

The McCourtney Institute awards the Brown Democracy Medal annually to honor the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States and internationally. As part of the award, Altman and McDonald will present a public lecture at University Park this November and record an episode of the Institute’s Democracy Works podcast.

The award is named for Larry and Lynne Brown. Lynne Brown graduated from Penn State in 1972 with a degree in education. Larry Brown is a 1971 history graduate and currently chairs the McCourtney Institute’s Board of Visitors.

For more information about the Public Mapping Project, visit publicmapping.org.

You can find the original version of this article on McCourtney’s site at http://sociology.la.psu.edu/DIINST/news-events/public-mapping-project-wins-2018-brown-democracy-medal.

The Better Arguments Project Nominations due TODAY

Now, this is a tight turnaround for this next announcement, but we wanted to give folks in our network a heads up in case you missed it. The Better Arguments Project is an effort for Americans to engage each other around core US values and they are seeking nominations for communities to host their Better Arguments forums. Applications are due TODAY – April 10th, so check it out and get yours in ASAP!  In the post below, learn more about the funding support and other opportunities for those selected, as well as, find more detailed information on the Better Arguments Project’s site here.


The Better Arguments Project – Nominate your Community!

The Better Arguments Project allows Americans to reach across political, cultural and economic divides to have arguments that bring us closer together instead of driving us further apart. We launched this project out of the recognition that arguments are essential for our democracy. Indeed, America is an argument — between equality and liberty, central and local government, unity and diversity. The more we can equip communities to have arguments rooted both in this history and in best practices of constructive communication, the healthier our country will be.

Visit www.BetterArguments.org for more background on this initiative.

This project is designed to be practiced around a specific issue. How will we do this? We need YOU!

Over the next year, we will pilot the Better Arguments Project through local forums in select communities around the country. Would you and your community like to host one of our pilot Better Arguments forums? You’re in the right place!

With each partner, the Better Arguments Project will:

  • Provide the funding, materials, and training needed to convene community members.
  • Offer resources to help successfully lead community members through the forum.
  • Facilitate at least one agreed-upon follow-up step.
  • Document the experience in a video to be shared.

Our team is seeking partners representing various political parties, big and small towns, rural and urban areas, and most importantly, people from all walks of life. Some key qualities include:

  • Individuals or organizations rooted in community
  • Open-mindedness
  • Ability to convene community members representing a wide range of perspectives

Dates and Deadlines

  • Application due April 10th, 2018
  • Selections made April 24th, 2018

Ready to start a Better Argument? For more information:

The Better Arguments Project is a partnership among Facing History and Ourselves, The Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program, and The Allstate Corporation.

You can find the original version of this announcement on The Better Arguments Project’s site at www.facinghistory.org/together/better-arguments.

Co-Creating a Shared Future and Funding the Vision

Those in the NCDD network can attest that while there is a lot of enthusiasm and effort around engagement work; what many in our field continue to struggle with is having funding to do said work and operating in silos. That’s why we wanted to share this excellent article posted on the Bridge Alliance site from NCDD member, Debilyn Molineaux, that articulates this vital need for co-creating a shared future and getting this shared vision funded.

Like the article states and our community knows, it takes conversation in order to build a shared future, and there’s a longing for many in this country to be able to bridge divides and work better together. NCDD stemmed from this need to bridge the D&D field and we’ll continue to share the important work being done to engaged people – like the National Week of Conversation on April 20-28, a collaborative effort to build relationships and heal our divisions. You can read Debilyn’s post below and find the original version on BA’s site here.


We Need To Talk: It’s Time to Create and Fund Our Future

Collectively, there are thousands of organizations and funders already working to improve our country. So why does our country appear to be a mess?

The weakest part of our country is our willingness to live in a narrative/news stream that confirms our own bias and demonizes others. We could make our collective work exponentially more effective by fostering strong relationships among people of different viewpoints.

Our current frayed social fabric is the result of “winner take all” politics, party loyalty over patriotism and is exacerbated by attacks from foreign influencers who manipulate us through social media and propaganda. Only We the People can change our attitudes and behavior to stop it.

Foundations have spent or committed $4.1 billion since 2011 to strengthen our democratic republic. And yet, the results are not recognizable to the average American. What will it take to continue to progress the ideals of our country and the future we want to create in this environment of turmoil and chaos?

Some of the most well-known movements in the last decade have started in a seemingly spontaneous manner following years of build-up. Think of the Tea Party in 2009, Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and #MeToo in 2017.

Collectively, the citizens and organizations that comprise our current post or cross-partisan movement are very energetic, and we are not yet coalesced. Largely because our biology is focused on what we DON’T want instead of what we DO want.

Creating and funding our shared future requires a shared vision of what we want — beyond avoiding the crisis of the current moment. It is our dreams, goals, and visions combined with a solid strategy and certain resources that will sustain us, long-term.

To determine this, we need to talk with each other to determine a vision for our shared future. We often hear people express how tired they are of talking — especially when they’ve been talking with friends and strangers for decades about what doesn’t work.

And that’s exactly the point —  focusing on problems is exhausting. Some among us are inclined to move straight to action — just fix it. But how will we know it’s “fixed” without checking in? This is why we need to engage in conversations, debates, and deliberation — it’s the fastest way forward to consciously create a shared vision.

We are constantly creating our future. I suggest we upgrade our visioning and planning to develop new social systems. As with anything new, extra communication is needed to establish systems, experiment with different approaches, and say what is working or not. Extra communication enables us to move forward, together.

Once new systems are in place, we can talk less and “just do it.” But when the systems are broken, unknown, ineffective or corrupt, then increasing our communication processes is an important FIRST ACTION.

So here is a prescription for creating and funding our future:

  1. Talk, debate and deliberate to create a future vision we WANT to share. (Maybe sign up for the National Week of ConversationApril 20-28, 2018).
  2. Talk, debate and deliberate the tactics needed to support the shared vision.
  3. Fund the leaders, programs and organizations who have the skills and capacities to turn deliberation into shared action.

“We deliberate not about ends,” said Aristotle, “but about the means to attain ends.”

In the end, it all starts with conversation.

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

Opportunity to Host a Jefferson Dinner!

We are excited to announce NCDD is working with NCDD member organization The Village Square to support dialogues across the country using the format of the Jefferson Dinner, which invites people with differences of opinion to discuss an important topic over dinner.  These dinners are compelling experiences that The Village Square wants you to experience firsthand, and so we are letting you all know about an exciting opportunity!

Because they are particularly interested in making this surprisingly powerful tool available to NCDD members, they are offering stipends to at least 15 moderators to organize and facilitate a Jefferson Dinner. And the best part is that you can pick the topic for your dinner from any current political or civic topic around which there is substantial disagreement in the public square.

Some history about this tradition: Jefferson hosted his dinners at a time when prospects weren’t good that our new republic would hold together. Early legislators were described as coming to work “in the spirit of avowed misunderstanding, without the smallest wish to agree.” Sound familiar? Jefferson hosted dinners that were profoundly humanizing for these angry opponents. One dinner – with guests Alexander Hamilton and James Madison – resulted in the Dinner Table Bargain of 1790, widely credited with saving the American experiment.

In the same way that Jefferson mastered the art of these dinners as a way to make things happen that mattered to him, The Village Square would like you to experience how you can do the same.  Your dinner is about what’s in your heart  – whether that’s starting a civic project, running for office, contemplating solutions to a problem that deeply concerns you or imagining the future. By intentionally gathering people with diverse opinions – something that doesn’t happen enough these days – you’re harnessing incredible power toward whatever matters to you.

All that’s really required: 8-12 diverse guests, 1 dinner table and a welcoming environment. Could be your home, a private room at a restaurant, or a picnic table at a park. If you’re feeling inspired, put a modern twist on it & make it a brunch. Live a little!

The Village Square also hosts group Jefferson Dinners (a number of conversations in the same room, as part of a public event) and is delighted to support you in offering this format as well.

Find the Village Square’s Jefferson Dinner project online: www.jeffersondinner.org.  Read a feature piece about a dinner here.

This is a great opportunity for members to use this model to connect people who normally wouldn’t share a meal together and experience its potential to form the basis of unique alliances. NCDD would love to see a whole bunch of our members get involved with Dinners across the country. It’s another great way we can work to strengthen community connections and help people bridge divides, at this particularly divisive time in our nation.

If you are interested and would like to connect with organizers to learn more about how the dinner format can be used to achieve your goals, please fill out this quick form here and they will contact you directly!

For more information about The Village Square please visit https://tlh.villagesquare.us/. The Jefferson Dinner project is funded by a grant from the Bridge Alliance and in partnership with the 92Y’s Ben Franklin Circles project (all NCDD Members!).

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. ”  — Thomas Jefferson

Apply for Technology and Democracy Fellowship by 4/15

As NCDD reflects on the ways in which technology can support face to face D&D in today’s Tech Tuesday, we wanted to share this fellowship opportunity which supports the technological work that enhances democratic governance. [By the way, you can still join the free Tech Tuesday here!] Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, an NCDD member, recently announced they are offering an unpaid, non-resident Technology and Democracy Fellowship; to create space for participants to build relationships, develop their work or research, and have a unique opportunity to dig into the bigger questions behind their practice. The fellowship deadline is April 15th, so apply now if you are interested! Learn more about the details of the fellowship in the post below or find the original here.


Technology and Democracy Fellowship

Applications are now open for 2018 Fellowships. Applications can be found here

The Technology and Democracy Fellowship is part of an Ash Center initiative to explore technology’s role in improving democratic governance—with a focus on connecting to practice and on helping Harvard Kennedy School students develop crucial technology skills.

Over the course of the fellowship, participants design, develop, or refine a substantive project that is salient to their field. This project could entail research, writing, and developing strategy relating to each fellow’s work, or could take the form of a new platform, service, app, or idea.

Technology and Democracy Fellows form a virtual community through which they share ideas and resources, pose questions, offer feedback, and help one another with solving challenges in their projects or other work. The Kennedy School serves as a unique space for these technologists to take a step back from the day-to-day minutia working in the world of practice to discuss, research, and write about the bigger questions their work addresses.

Fellows also help students, staff, faculty, and other members of the HKS community to develop their understanding of major concepts and to build skills related to technology and governance. This knowledge sharing is primarily delivered through a hands-on, skill-building workshop that each fellow designs and leads once during the year on a topic of interest to the fellow (see past workshops here).  Fellows can also develop personal relationships with faculty, staff, and fellows at HKS in the form of consultation and mentoring, event/speaking opportunities, and more.

The Technology and Democracy Fellowship is an unpaid, non-resident fellowship, so Fellows are not expected to reside or work locally. We invite Technology and Democracy Fellows to Cambridge at least twice during the course of the fellowship year (at the Ash Center’s expense) to give workshops, present their work, and meet with members of the HKS community.

Eligibility
The Fellowship welcomes mid-career practitioners with an interest in leveraging technology to improve democratic governance. Each cohort of fellows includes technologists with an interest or background in democratic politics and governance or public and civic leaders with technology expertise.

How to Apply
Applications are now open. Please apply here.  The deadline for completed applications to be submitted is April 15, 2018. For questions, please contact Teresa Acuña at Teresa_Acuna@hks.harvard.edu.

Current Technology and Democracy Fellows
The 2017-18 Technology and Democracy Fellows are below.

Fatima Alam, Researcher on Trust and Safety at Google

Tiffani Ashley Bell, Founder and Executive Director of The Human Utility

Jeff Maher, Software Engineer for CivicActions

Marina Martin, Public Interest Technology Fellow at the New America Foundation

Aaron Ogle, Director of Product for the OpenGov Foundation

Mjumbe Poe, Co-founder and CTO of FixList

You can find the original version of this article on the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation’s site at www.ash.harvard.edu/technology-and-democracy-fellowship.