Don’t Miss Tech Tuesday with Gell, Tomorrow Nov. 14

In case you missed our original announcement, we wanted to remind everyone that we are hosting our next FREE Tech Tuesday, tomorrow November 14th from 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern/10:00-11:00am Pacific. We’re very excited to welcome Loren Bendele, Founder and CEO of Gell, a new mobile/web platform for civil discourse on important issues.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to learn about Gell – register today!

Gell is a free mobile/web platform that brings elected officials, parents, students, educators, administrators and concerned citizens together for civil discourse on issues that matter. Gell encourages, facilitates and moderates healthy discussions and debates. They then make it easy for users to find the top rated opinions for and against important issues and candidates, so the community can form its own opinions from a balanced and diverse set of facts and opinions. Columns of opposing views are displayed side-by-side, so users can quickly get a balanced viewpoint and formulate their own opinions. The community can flag inappropriate content (personal attacks, spam, off topic, etc.) for removal from the site. That way, the discussion stays focused on what matters most, while not being distracted by “noise” or irrelevant conversations.

Loren will walk participants through Gell and answer your questions about this new and exciting platform. Loren is a serial entrepreneur, and prior to Gell was the co-founder and CEO of Savings.com which he led from launch in 2007 through acquisition in 2012 by Cox Media Group and continued to run within Cox until 2015. Loren was also the founder of Favado, a grocery app that aggregates all the most popular sales and coupons for every major grocery store across the country.

Watch this video to learn more about Gell

Tech Tuesdays are a series of learning events from NCDD focused on technology for engagement. These 1-hour events are designed to help dialogue and deliberation practitioners get a better sense of the online engagement landscape and how they can take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to them. You do not have to be a member of NCDD to participate in our Tech Tuesday learning events.

Getting More Involved with Deliberative Democracy

Today’s election day and in addition to voting, NCDD Sponsor – the Jefferson Center – recently shared this piece written by Annie Pottorff to encourage people to further stretch their civic muscles and get involved with deliberative democracy. We recommend you check out this list they’ve compiled [complete with entertaining GIFs!] and find the ways that work for you to tap deeper into deliberative democracy. You can read the post below or find the original version on the Jefferson Center’s blog here.


10 Ways to Get Involved in Deliberative Democracy

Creating local change can be difficult, between finding the time, motivation, and opportunities to participate. For this week’s blog, we’ve put together a few simple ways you can become a civic leader in your own backyard (even from your own couch).

1. Listen to Community Members
Head over to your city’s website to see when the next community meeting is. For instance, here’s the calendar the City of Minneapolis publishes. You’ll likely hear grievances and suggestions from your fellow citizens, but these local gatherings may only attract a few vocal participants. While these meetings may be poorly attended, you’ll have the chance to directly introduce yourself to leaders and make your voice heard.

You can also actively listen for issues in your town while talking with your neighbors, teachers, and other community members on a daily basis. Some cities even have digital engagement interfaces where citizens can submit work requests, complaints, or suggestions to laws and ordinances. You can check out a few examples here.

2. Attend training sessions, webinars, and local events
If you want to learn more about engagement techniques, try searching for webinars and online training sessions. On October 4th, groups like the Participatory Budget Project and Healthy Democracy will share their success stories and tools you can use in your local community in a free webinar. Because it’s easy to get lost in the rabbit-hole of Google search results, using Twitter and Facebook to connect with engagement groups will likely fill up your feed with similar resources.

Shameless plug: the Jefferson Center is on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. You can follow us, and the cool people we retweet and follow, for engagement opportunities.

3. Volunteer
It can be overwhelming to know where to start when you want to volunteer. Databases like VolunteerMatch and Create the Good can help connect you with the right groups for causes you care about. If you use Facebook, you can filter local event searches by selecting the “Causes” category. Or, you can work backwards, by searching for nonprofits in your area and reaching out to them directly to see if they could use any help.

4. Bring friends
For all of the above, you don’t have to go it alone. Invite your friends to come along, and you’ll likely be more motivated to show up. Plus, you can hold each other to it.

5. Write
This option can work from the safety of your own home or your favorite coffee shop. Write about issues affecting citizens in your community, and send your drafts out into the universe. Many organizations working on civic engagement and participation want to hear from the public, to guide their own efforts, see new perspectives, or work with you to publish what you’ve written. At the Jefferson Center, we’d love to hear your ideas for new stories.

6. Listen, read, or watch
While this one may seem like a cop-out, getting informed on issues is half the battle. Instead of tuning out, find your favorite way to keep updated. If you’re not a reader, check out podcasts like Democracy Now!, or find out which organizations have their own YouTube or Vimeo accounts. You can easily share this content with others to spread the message and increase familiarity with deliberative democracy.

7. Download FREE resources
If you’re thinking about creating an engagement project, or just want to learn more about different processes involved, look online for resources. For instance, Participatory Budgeting Project has training videos, materials, and guides that are free to download. After each of our projects, we publish our full reports and findings on our website.

8. Teach Others
You can also use free resources and reports to help teach others about how deliberative democracy works. Whether you talk with your friends, family, or host a formal community meeting, involving other people will help spur new ideas and pave the way for future projects.

9. Remember all your resources
If you’re trying to contact your local government representatives, local newspaper, or other organizations, don’t give up after one phone call. Using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, sending emails, sending letters, and showing up to an office can help get your voice heard.

10. Partner with the Jefferson Center!
Sure, this last one may edge on self-promotion. But the Jefferson Center strives to shorten the gap between citizens and the institutions, policies, and issues that affect their daily lives by empowering citizens to solve shared challenges. Our process is made up of three key components: we listen to stakeholders in your community to gain a deeper understanding of the issue at hand. Then, we develop a specialized engagement process to unleash creative citizen ideas. Finally, our project partners use the public designed solutions to: advance actions in their local community, reform institutional practices and processes, and guide policy development and decision-making. For more information on our process, head over to our about us page.

Bonus: You can also make an individual donation! Every contribution makes a difference, helping everyday Americans develop and promote thoughtful solutions to challenging problems.

You can read the original version of the Jefferson Center’s piece on their blog at www.jefferson-center.org/10-ways-to-get-involved-in-deliberative-democracy/.

CGA Forums and Trainings Coming up in November

We wanted to let everyone know about several updates this month from NCDD member org, Kettering Foundation on their Common Ground for Action online forum. Throughout the month of November, Kettering will be holding several CGA opportunities using the recently released Opioid Epidemic issue advisory. Also available are two training events for those interested in learning to moderate CGA forums; a general one for those new to CGA and another tailored for K-12 and college educators. Register to join these online forums and trainings by clicking on the links in the announcement below. This announcement was from the October Kettering newsletter – sign up here to start receiving their newsletter.


Common Ground for Action Activities in November

As usual, there are several opportunities to participate in a deliberative forum from the comfort of your desk. Please register at the links below if you’d like to join, or, if you can’t make any of the dates yourself, please help us spread the word and reach new audiences by sharing the links via email or social media. All of this month’s forums will use the What Should We Do about the Opioid Epidemic? issue advisory.

Tuesday, Nov. 7 | 11a.m. EST | REGISTER

Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 5:30 p.m. EST | REGISTER

Monday, Nov. 20 | 5 p.m. EST | REGISTER

Thursday, Nov. 30 | 12 p.m. EST | REGISTER

There are also two upcoming moderator training sessions for those who want to learn to hold their own online forums. These online sessions are held in two-part sessions of two hours each. (Please plan to attend both parts of the workshop.)

CGA New Moderator Training
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 5:30 p.m. EST
Thursday, Nov. 16 | 6 p.m. EST
REGISTER

CGA for K-12 & College Educators Moderator Training
Thursday, Nov. 30 | 12 p.m. EST
Friday, Dec. 1 | 12 p.m. EST
REGISTER

If you’ve been trained as a CGA moderator, but it’s been a while and you’d like a refresher (or you just have some questions), Kara Dillard will hold online “office hours” on November 3, 10, 17, and 27 at 11 a.m. EST. Just hop on this link to talk with her.

Announcing the November Tech Tuesday Featuring Gell

NCDD is excited to announce our next Tech Tuesday will feature the platform Gell. Join us for this FREE event Tuesday, November 14th from 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern/10:00-11:00am Pacific.

Gell is a free mobile/web platform that brings elected officials, parents, students, educators, administrators and concerned citizens together for civil discourse on issues that matter. Gell encourages, facilitates and moderates healthy discussions and debates. They then make it easy for users to find the top rated opinions for and against important issues and candidates, so the community can form its own opinions from a balanced and diverse set of facts and opinions. Columns of opposing views are displayed side-by-side, so users can quickly get a balanced viewpoint and formulate their own opinions. The community can flag inappropriate content (personal attacks, spam, off topic, etc.) for removal from the site. That way, the discussion stays focused on what matters most, while not being distracted by “noise” or irrelevant conversations.

Joining us for this call will be NCDD member Loren Bendele, founder and CEO of Gell. Loren is a serial entrepreneur, and prior to Gell was the co-founder and CEO of Savings.com which he led from launch in 2007 through acquisition in 2012 by Cox Media Group and continued to run within Cox until 2015. Loren was also the founder of Favado, a grocery app that aggregates all the most popular sales and coupons for every major grocery store across the country.  Loren will walk participants through Gell and answer your questions about this new and exciting platform.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to learn about Gell – register today!

Tech Tuesdays are a series of learning events from NCDD focused on technology for engagement. These 1-hour events are designed to help dialogue and deliberation practitioners get a better sense of the online engagement landscape and how they can take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to them. You do not have to be a member of NCDD to participate in our Tech Tuesday learning events.

Watch this video to learn more about Gell

Humanizing Technology

We wanted to share the article written by NCDD member Kaliya Young, about the opportunity the internet and technology provide for deepening connections and building strong communities. She mentions the need for investment in social and emotional technologies, and mentions NCDD as well as Member Tom Atlee and others as critical to this work. This is a good piece about the interaction of social, emotional, and technical “technologies” and what it will take for online technologies to be able to enhance our connections to one another and our communities. We welcome you to share your thoughts on this in the comments below. You can read Kaliya’s post below or find the original post from opendemocracy.net over here.


Humanizing technology

Can we use the internet to enhance deep human connection and support the emergence of thriving communities in which everyone’s needs are met and people’s lives are filled with joy and meaning?

That’s a very challenging question, and the answer isn’t just about technology, at least not in the conventional sense of that word. It’s not about any of the emerging trends that are already impacting our societies like bitcoin, dronesVirtual RealityAugmented Realityhyperloops or any of the things that the Singularity University thinks will converge.

It’s not just a matter of finding new technologies either, even if they are more user-centric or built on self-sovereign digital identities in place of corporate ownership and control—the field that forms my own techno-specialty. And the solutions can’t be driven by a government need to find a military advantage—which is the case for a vast range of everyday innovations today—as Manuel DeLanda outlines in his book, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines.

Our work on ‘technical’ technologies won’t generate broad human gains unless we invest an equal amount of time, energy and resources in the development of social and emotional technologies that drive how our whole society is organized and how we work together. I think we are actually on the cusp of having the tools, understanding and infrastructure to make that happen, without all our ideas and organizing being intermediated by giant corporations. But what does that mean in practice?

I think two things are absolutely vital.

First of all, how do we connect all the people and all the groups that want to align their goals in pursuit of social justice, deep democracy, and the development of new economies that share wealth and protect the environment? How are people supported to protect their own autonomy while also working with multiple other groups in processes of joint work and collective action?

One key element of the answer to that question is to generate a digital identity that is not under the control of a corporation, an organization or a government.

I have been co-leading the community surrounding the Internet Identity Workshop for the last 12 years. After many explorations of the techno-possibility landscape we have finally made some breakthroughs that will lay the foundations of a real internet-scale infrastructure to support what are called ‘user-centric’ or ‘self-sovereign’ identities.

This infrastructure consists of a network with two different types of nodes—people and organizations—with each individual being able to join lots of different groups. But regardless of how many groups they join, people will need a digital identity that is not owned by Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Google or Facebook. That’s the only way they will be able to control their own autonomous interactions on the internet. If open standards are not created for this critical piece of infrastructure then we will end up in a future where giant corporations control all of our identities. In many ways we are in this future now.

This is where something called ‘Shared Ledger Technology’ or SLT comes in—more commonly known as ‘blockchain’ or ‘distributed ledger technology.’  SLT represents a huge innovation in terms of databases that can be read by anyone and which are highly resistant to tampering—meaning that data cannot be erased or changed once entered. At the moment there’s a lot of work going on to design the encryption key management that’s necessary to support the creation and operation of these unique private channels of connection and communication between individuals and organizations. The Sovrin Foundationhas built an SLT specifically for digital identity key management, and has donated the code required to the HyperLedger Foundation under ‘project Indy.’

While this critical infrastructure is being birthed we need to think about how to leverage it for the world that we want to create—a world of interconnected humanness in place of centralized social networks controlled by profit-driven and publically-traded companies whose mission is to manipulate us into buying more stuff. These networks are selling access to us and limiting our ability to connect and organize independently. They have deals with companies like Cambridge Analytica and Palantir to suck up the digital exhaust of our lives, spy on us, and collectively manipulate us for their own ends.

As the basis of this next generation of user-centric or self-sovereign identities, Shared Ledger Technology is crucial if corporate control of the internet and our lives is to be reversed, but this  won’t be enough to humanize  technology, and that’s my second key point: social and emotional ‘technologies’ are also vital.

Social technologies are the tools we use to interact with each other in groups of any size, from the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and other neighborhood organizations to national governments and international bodies. They are increasingly important in the shift that is taking place from an exclusive reliance on representative political processes and institutions to an expanded range of deeper and more deliberative forms of democracy. The social technology of voting for representatives was a breakthrough 300 years ago, but these systems are breaking down and are not serving us well enough today.

Emotional technologies are the tools we use to interact with ourselves internally and in our relationships with other people. They are more critical than ever because the mental health of everyone is now a key concern—since one lone individual can inflict enormous harm through high-tech weapons or by hacking into our core infrastructures. Such technologies are well known and include mediation and meditation practices of different kinds, yoga and mindfulnessNonviolent CommunicationCo-Counseling, and 12 Step processes like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Social technologies work a lot better if people have a range of these emotional tools and practices to draw on, because they are better able to manage themselves and interact with others. We want security and have been putting billions of dollars into the security-surveillance-industrial complex post 9/11, but what about the deeper issue of how we connect to each other and solve problems together? What are we doing to address everyone’s mental and emotional wellbeing to reduce alienation and disconnection?

How do you get people on vastly different sides of controversial issues to collaborate to solve what seem to be intractable problems? How do you structure inclusive deliberations that involve whole communities and build up social capital and connection? Individuals like Miki KashtanTom Atlee and Sharif Abdulah and groups like the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation have been working on these questions for many years but deserve much more investment and support. Without further innovations in these social and emotional technologies, no ‘technical’ technologies will save us.

To take a concrete example, my ‘sweet spot’ is in designing and facilitating interactive meetings for professional, scientific and technical communities in what are called ‘unconferences.’ I’ve been co-leading one of these unconferences—the Internet Identity Workshop—twice a year for over a decade, during which we’ve developed many innovations built on nurturing the emotional capacities  of the people involved and the social processes we’ve been using at our meetings.

They are organized primarily through Open Space Technology where the agenda is co-created live on the day of the event with all the participants. We throw in an hour of demonstrations on the second day after lunch and we eat dinner together every night. The patterns described in the Group Works Deck have been particularly useful—things like ‘Embracing Dissonance and Difference’ (meaning that anyone is welcome in the conversation); and openingand closing every day in a circle while diverging into as many as 15 different sessions every hour during the rest of the time we spend together—what in Open Space terms is called the rhythm of ‘Convergence and Divergence.’ Taken together these processes have been very successful in building a strongerGroup Culture.

I got excited by the possibilities of user-centric identity technologies over 15 years ago while part of the Planetwork Community, which came together to look at global ecology and information technology and think through how planetary challenges could be addressed more effectively. But through the process of co-leading efforts to build that infrastructure it became clear that we must also invest in the social and emotional technologies that make it possible to collaborate and work together at all scales.

All three forms of technology are essential to the transformation of our relationships to each other and our bigger social/societal systems. Technical technologies provide the tools that can empower individuals to connect and work together for their own wellbeing and that of their communities. Social technologies enable these tools to be used effectively and inclusively in processes of collective action. And emotional technologies support everyone’s mental health as a precondition for engaging in these processes with more chance of success.

To put it simply, technical technologies are easier to turn in the direction of democracy and social justice if they are developed and applied with social and emotional intelligence. Combining all three together is the key to using technology for liberating ends.

You can find the original version of this article written by Kaliya Young on the Transformation blog at www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/kaliya-identity-woman/humanizing-technology.

Common Ground for Action Opportunities in October

We wanted to share these upcoming opportunities with NCDD member org, Kettering Foundation to dive deeper into the Common Ground for Action online forums by either participating in a forum or learning how to host them. The CGA forums you can participate in are around issues of safety & justice, and immigration in America. There is also a new moderator workshop coming up as well. Register here to join these online forums ASAP!


October Common Ground for Action (CGA) events

CGA FORUM SERIES:
The CGA Forum Series is back this month talking about immigration reform and safety and justice.  Here’s the dates and times:

October 16th CGA Forum Series event: Immigration in America
Monday, October 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM EST

October 19th CGA Forum Series event: Safety & Justice
Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 11:00 AM EST

October 27th CGA Forum Series event: Safety & Justice
Friday, October 27, 2017 at 12:00PM EST

Want to moderate any of these forums? Email us and we’ll set you up!  If you can’t make these times, don’t worry. November’s CGA forum series will feature deliberation on the NIFI issue advisory “How Can We Stop Mass Shootings In Our Communities?”

MODERATOR TRAINING WORKSHOPS: 

Want to moderate a CGA forum in your community or for the Forum Series but need training? Register for the upcoming new moderator workshop:

October CGA New Moderator Workshop

Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT AND Friday, October 20, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT

Join this workshop on how to moderate a Common Ground for Action (CGA) deliberative forum. This is a TWO DAY, TWO PART workshop. Part 1 is Thurs October 19th @ 11am EST/8am PDT; Part 2 is Fri October 20th @ 11am EST/8am PDT. Please plan to attend both parts of this workshop.

CGA OFFICE HOURS:

Have questions about CGA moderating or convening? Want to practice but need a live person to deliberate with? Starting this month, we will have CGA Office Hours where you can drop by and chat with either Amy or Kara about all things CGA. We’ll be online at http://join.me/KetteringFdnevery Friday from 11:30 AM- 12:30 PM EST. Stop by and say hello!

This announcement was from the October Kettering newsletter – sign up here to start receiving their newsletter.

Benefits and Challenges of Digitizing Deliberative Democracy

We wanted to share this article from NCDD sponsor, The Jefferson Center about the potential of digital democracy. The article talks about the powerful impact digital democracy can have and lifts up some of the challenges faced. It explores several examples and asks “what other ways do you think civic participation organizations can use technology to increase democratic participation?” and we invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments below!  You can read more on post below or find the original version the Jefferson Center blog here.


Digitizing Deliberative Democracy

The smartphones in our pockets can seemingly accomplish anything—even things you didn’t know you needed (like downloading virtual bubble wrap). While various apps and our social media feeds may threaten our productivity and full night’s sleep, they also connect us to people, organizations, and information at our fingertips. However, there’s one key area that hasn’t quite reached its full digital potential: democracy.

While we live in an increasingly interconnected world, we also use the internet to join neighborhood associations, alumni pages, and other community groups. Digital spaces, which can be used on a city to national scale, may have the power to cultivate meaningful local impacts. It’s no secret that trust in the institutions and processes that govern our lives as citizens is in decline. Could digital democracy, that seeks to involve citizens anywhere, anytime, be the fix?

Increasing Accessibility

Jimmy Carter, writing in a recent op-ed for the New York Times, writes the United States needs to improve “systems for inclusive and effective political participation” in the digital era. Between outdated communications, layers of bureaucracy, and purposeful confusion tactics, it can be extremely difficult for citizens to know where to go, and who to talk to about community grievances or ideas.

If democracy is rule by the people, then it makes sense to engage citizens with the tools right at our fingertips. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center poll, nearly 9 in 10 Americans are now online, and 77% of Americans own a smartphone. People with limited mobility, job commitments, vehicle troubles, childcare responsibilities, and any other hindrance to participating in person could have their voices heard more easily.

At the Jefferson Center, we’ve seen these trends in action. In our current project with the Minnesota Community Assembly Project, citizens in Red Wing, Minnesota wanted strengthened digital public engagement from their city. Better digital platforms would allow more citizens to reach out directly to elected officials to offer their input and recommendations, have conversations with other community members, or vote directly on public decisions.

Digital Democracy in Action

Digital democracy has been taking root around the world, and it’s easy to find success stories. In Seoul, South Korea, residents use an app called “mVoting” that allows residents to share their thoughts on the “city’s public parks, bus routes and designated smoking areas.” To date, there have been 181 cases that have been officially accepted as Seoul policy.

Meanwhile in Spain, “Decide Madrid” is a similar app which asks residents to submit suggestions or new laws, and other communities members can voice their support on suggestions. A South Australian program called “YourSAy” is trying to accomplish a similar task, by offering an online forum where citizens can take part in discussions, vote in polls, and decide where government funds are spent within broader engagement efforts that include face-to-face meetings. The UK Parliament has also begun a system of “evidence checks”, which invites citizens to examine current policies, and the evidence used to support these policies, to identify any gaps or problems.  A United States start-up firm called “Innovote” is also working to increase participation and accessibility by taking the vote to your phone, working with governments across the country.

Harnessing people power through technology would require apps, website, and other digital engagement tools. But in the long run, inviting people to participate remotely likely saves time and money, as well as delivering representative results.

Challenges to Inclusive Participation

In Taiwan, the website “vTaiwan” seeks to gather citizen views on issues. The results are collected and the program condenses the range of opinions into core citizen views. The website doubles as a facilitator, where stakeholders can participate in digital discussions, and policies are eventually formed on a national scale.

While the program has been scaled up over time, digital participation still remains in the thousands. Taiwanese activist Audrey Tang states that one driver of this lower participation may be because the process works well when primary stakeholders are online. When affected citizens don’t use the same technology, the process may be limited to niche issues. However, the website has been successful in both deciding and implementing policy, and popularizing media coverage around social enterprise company law, Uber ride service, and others. Minister Jaclyn Tsai commented that the process can be successful “if we can all take the time to understand the problem, read the data, while also listening to the views of the people—and enter a discussion, we are much more likely to reach a consensus.”

While accessibility to democratic conversations may increase for some, many citizens may not have stable internet access, or feel comfortable enough with technology to participate. In order to create representative solutions to issues, technology could be brought to different communities, combining new techniques and traditional advocacy to listen to more people.

Translating the Process

While these examples have largely focused on national and local government, there’s opportunities to broaden this scope. For instance, digital democracy could be used to ask what kind of local news citizens want to read, helping journalists to decide what issues to cover and how best to inform their communities. This could also be used to reduce diagnostic error, by engaging digitally with healthcare consumers to gather patient-focused perspectives.

At the Jefferson Center, we’re incorporating digital tools to recruit people to participate in our Citizens Juries, inform community members, and facilitate decision making. What other ways do you think civic participation organizations can use technology to increase democratic participation?

You can read the original version of this blog article from the Jefferson Center at www.jefferson-center.org/digitizing-deliberative-democracy/.

Online Facilitation Unconference Coming Up Oct. 16-22

We encourage the NCDD network to attend the fourth edition of Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) on Oct 16-22. This digital gathering is hosted by the Center for Applied Community Engagement LLC, and is a great opportunity for anyone interested in virtual facilitation – no previous experience needed!

As part of NCDD member benefits, NCDD members are eligible for a 20% discount when you use discount code “NCDD2017”. Make sure you register and get your tickets ASAP! Follow OFU on Twitter with the hashtag #OFU17 for more #FacWeek updates. You can read the announcement below for more info or find the original on the OFU Exchange site here.


Online Facilitation Unconference 2017

Your favorite online unconference on the art and practice of facilitating in virtual environments is back!

Join us October 16-22, 2017, alongside International Facilitation Week.

Share, learn, connect, and have fun with participants from (or currently based in): the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Finland, Iceland, Australia, Peru, Canada, and the United States.

ABOUT

What is Online Facilitation Unconference?
The Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) is a community-driven event that brings together people from the public, private and non-profit sector whose work includes, or who have an interest in, facilitation in virtual environments.

OFU is about sharing, learning, making new connections and having fun.

When does the event take place?
OFU 2017 will once again take place alongside International Facilitation Week and run for exactly one week, from Monday, October 16 to Sunday October 22, 2017.

Who’s organizing the event?
The event is run by the Center for Applied Community Engagement, LLC, a private institute and social enterprise serving the growing professional field of community engagement and public participation practitioners from around the globe through market research, content publishing, industry events and other services.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

Do I have to be a professional facilitator in order to attend?
No, anyone with an interest in online or virtual facilitation – whether for professional or personal reasons – is welcome! While a good number of our attendees do facilitation for a living, many others perform the functions of convener and facilitator as part of their regular job.

Do I have to have prior experience with facilitation in virtual environments?
No, OFU aims to bring together experts and newbies alike. Everyone can contribute!

Who are the attendees?
Here are some of the job titles people are bringing to the table this year (in alphabetical order):

  • CEO
  • Coach
  • Collaboration engineer
  • Community organizer
  • Community strategist
  • Consultant
  • Director
  • Facilitator
  • Founder
  • Head of school
  • Independent scholar
  • Organizer
  • Planner
  • Program analyst
  • Program coordinator
  • Senior product manager
  • Trainer

Where are attendees from?
So far, our registered attendees are from – or currently based in – the following 15 countries from around the world (in alphabetical order):

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Dominican Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Netherlands
  • Peru
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

FORMAT & FOCUS

What is an unconference?
An unconference is a conference where the attendees create the agenda. We’ll have more to say about this over the coming weeks. Make sure to sign up for the mailing list.

What do you mean by “virtual environment”?
Anything that creates venues for people and groups to interact outside a strictly in-person context: phone conferences, online chat, video conferencing, virtual reality etc. as well as augmented in-person processes and events.

AGENDA & SCHEDULE

What is the agenda for the event?
A handful of introductory sessions will be scheduled ahead of time. These will likely take place on Monday and/or Tuesday of that week. We’ll try our best to fit them into one of three daily slots (see below).

The rest of the agenda will emerge dynamically once the unconference gets under way as people suggest potential topics, find collaborators, negotiate timing and add sessions to the schedule.

We recommend that unconference sessions get scheduled from Wednesday at the earliest, giving everyone enough time to find out about them and sign up.

Who can propose session topics?
Anyone is encouraged to make suggestions and lead sessions.

What are the three main daily time slots?
In order to maximize connection and collaboration across key time zones, we suggest that sessions be scheduled to fall into one of the following slots:

1. Americas + Europe: 8-11am Pacific Time (that’s evening 5-8pm in Europe)
2. Americas + Australasia: 4-7 pm Pacific Time (that’s 9am to 12pm in the morning in Sydney)
3. Europe + Australasia: 12-3am Pacific Time (that’s morning in Europe & afternoon/evening in Sydney)

This is simply a recommendation and has worked well in the past. However, attendees are free to pick whatever session times work best for them.

VENUES

Where will the conference be held?
Online Facilitation Unconference (OFU) is a virtual event.

In terms of online meeting venues, we will provide a central space where people can introduce themselves and plan the schedule together.

Regarding individual sessions, which online meeting venues will be used is up to the session leads. In the past, people have used a wide variety of tools depending on topic, group size, where they are based etc. We’ve also had people make tools available for others (e.g., WebEx, Adobe Connect).

TICKETS

Where can I get tickets?
Please head on over to Eventbrite for to purchase your ticket and register for the event.

Will there be stipends available for students or people of low income?
Our goal is to make this event as inclusive and as accessible as possible.

As of September 20, a first batch of 10 pay-what-you-like tickets has been made available for students, people of low income, attendees from developing countries etc. Just pick the amount that best fits your needs – no questions asked!

We’ll add more tickets over time as the number of regular registrations increases.

Please subscribe to our newsletter and be among the first to get updates. Thanks!

CONTACT

How can I get in touch?
Please shoot us an email to let us know any questions, ideas or concerns. Thanks!

You can find the original version of this announcement on the OFU Exchange site at www.ofuexchange.net/

Upcoming Opportunities with Common Ground for Action

We wanted to let everyone know about several updates this month from NCDD member org, Kettering Foundation on their Common Ground for Action online forum. Coming up quick is the  CGA forum on climate choices being held tomorrow (September 8th – Register ASAP!) and another CGA forum on healthcare on September 21st. Later on in the month, Kara Dillard will be hosting a two-part training on how to use CGA forums in your communities or places of work. Register to join these online forums and trainings by clicking on the links in the announcement below. This announcement was from the September Kettering newsletter – sign up here to start receiving their newsletter.


Common Ground for Action: Updates, Upcoming Forums, and Moderator Training

The largest public university in the country, the Ohio State University, is using Common Ground for Action online forums as part of its first-year experience programming again this year, offering students the chance to participate in deliberative forums on climate choices and other issues. CGA is also being used by many other teachers in colleges around the country, including Lone Star College in Texas, Florida International University, and the University of Washington.

If you haven’t had a chance to participate in an online deliberative forum using KF and NIFI’s Common Ground for Action platform yet, or if you want to participate in a forum on Climate Choices or Health Care, there are two open forums in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, September 8, 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST | Climate Choices | REGISTER

Thursday, September 21, 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST | Health Care | REGISTER

If you’re unable to participate in either of those forums, click on the button below to sign up to receive e-mail invitations to other upcoming CGA forums.

Would you like to learn to use CGA in your work or community? Kara Dillard, an experienced moderator of CGA forums, is leading an online training session soon. The session consists of two parts, Thursday, September 21, at 12 p.m. ET and Friday, September 22, at 4 p.m. ET. The first session consists of participating in a CGA forum; the second session walks participants through moderating an online forum and using the support materials. REGISTER.

Second Phase of D&D training with Am. Library Association

In the beginning of the year we launched our two-year partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) on the Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change initiative. For this collaborative project, we are working to train librarians on D&D methods and processes which they can in turn share with their communities to further make libraries hubs of community engagement and agents for change. We were thrilled at the response during the first phase of the project, which focused on large and urban libraries featuring NCDD member orgs Everyday Democracy and World Café.

Starting in September will be the second phase of the project, to provide D&D training tailored to academic libraries and further deepen the impact these spaces have on collaborative change on campuses. This round is comprised of three webinars featuring NCDD member orgs Essential Partners and National Issues Forums; and those that attend all three webinars will be invited to the in-person pre-conference workshop at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting early next year. This partnership is an incredible opportunity to share the work of our field and increase the possibilities for our members to network with librarians over the long-term. We encourage you to read the announcement from ALA below and you can find the original here.


Announcing Free Dialogue & Deliberation Learning Series for Academic Libraries

ALA’s Public Programs Office, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) invite academic library professionals to attend a free learning series that teaches several dialogue facilitation approaches and helps librarians position themselves to foster conversation and lead change on their campuses and beyond.

Through Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change, a two-year ALA initiative in collaboration with NCDD, academic library professionals can participate in three online learning sessions and one in-person workshop, all free of charge, between September 2017 and February 2018.

Attendees of this professional development training will learn to convene critical conversations with people with differing viewpoints; connect more meaningfully with library users and better meet their needs; and translate conversation into action.

Registration is currently open for three online sessions:

Each session will be recorded and archived for free on-demand viewing on the Programming Librarian Learning page.

Individuals who view all three webinars, live or recorded, will be invited to attend the free, one-day pre-conference workshop at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver (Feb. 9 to 13, 2018). Details about the pre-conference will be available in fall 2017 and will be shared during the webinars.

LTC: Models for Change is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant number RE-40-16-0137-16.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the ALA’s Programming Librarian site at www.programminglibrarian.org/articles/announcing-free-dialogue-deliberation-learning-series-academic-libraries.