NCDD Joins Coalition in Launching National Survey on the American Dream

In an era of political divide and confusion, we can learn a lot about what is happening if we slow down and ask people how their thoughts and feelings about the issues that seem to divide us most are changing.

That is why NCDD is proud to announce that we’ve joined a national, nonpartisan coalition that is launching the “What’s Your American Dream?” survey. This survey will ask people across the US to express their values and goals around the issues they see as most vital, and deliver the results to lawmakers. We think that an effort like this can help guide the nation’s leaders – as well as dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement practitioners –  to understand Americans’ goals for this time and then devise the tactics to achieve those goals.

The survey grew out of discussions with former members of Congress and everyday Americans, all frustrated with being out of touch with each other. The coalition rolling out the “What is Your American Dream?” survey – comprised of 25 universities, media outlets, organizations spanning the political spectrum, and spearheaded by the team at TheChisel – has the potential to reach 30 million Americans.

NCDD joined this growing coalition because we believe that the survey is a great tool to help D&D practitioners in our network gain clearer insights on what the people we’re engaging are really thinking and how they’re prioritizing for different issue areas, which will help our field do more impactful work that is responsive to the needs in our communities. That’s why we’re supporting the survey and encouraging our network to participate & share the survey to your own networks!

The seven-week survey is being hosted on TheChisel.com, a unique nonpartisan public discussion platform that encourages people across the US to step beyond political slogans and platforms to share what matters to them, their loved ones, and communities.

Their survey uses elements of public deliberation to help distill Americans’ shared dream in seven important areas: Economy; Social Justice; Liberty and Regulation; Health, Education, and Care; Services; Foreign Affairs; and Governance. One of these themes will be featured each of the seven weeks that the survey is open. Unlike traditional surveys, the American Dream survey allows participants to share their stories with fellow Americans, or even add issues important to them that they think should be part of the conversation. It also features whimsical graphics and game-like navigation, is easy to use and understand, and appeals to all ages – whether they are 18 or 99 year olds.

TheChisel and the coalition will share the survey’s findings with the media and hand-deliver the report to the President, Cabinet, Members of Congress, Supreme Court, and state governors once it’s completed.

The “What’s Your American Dream?” survey launched on May 16 and will be open to the public for free until July 4, 2017, so be sure to participate soon! You can find the survey at www.thechisel.com/americandream. We encourage NCDD members and our broader network to take the survey yourself, share it with your followers, or even consider signing on to the coalition, which already includes other NCDD member orgs!

More about the Coalition
University partners include University of Missouri School of Journalism, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, University of Mary Government and Political Philosophy Department, University of the Pacific Political Science Department.

Other partners include: ALL-IN Campus Democracy Challenge, AllSides, Associated Collegiate Press, Diplomat Books, Future 500, Heartfelt Leadership Institute, Hope Street Group, Independent Voter Network, Inyo County Clerk-Recorder, JGArchitects, Living Room Conversations, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, National Speech and Debate Association, ReConsider Media, The TAI Group, Take Back Our Republic, TheChisel, The Democracy Commitment, The Policy Circle, Wellville, and The Women’s Debate.

More about TheChisel
TheChisel is a nonpartisan website offering citizens a unique platform to engage in a dialogue with experts from both sides of the aisle. It enables citizen voices to be heard over the noise of special interest groups and media spin. On TheChisel’s proprietary discussion platform, every American can engage and help revise public policy proposals related to issues important to America’s future. These proposals are developed by nonpartisan organizations and bipartisan coalitions. With TheChisel’s help, Americans’ views will educate civic leaders and guide their policy-making.

Lessons on Non-Hierarchical Decision Making from Our Confab with Loomio

On Thursday of last week, NCDD hosted another one of our Confab Call events with over 40 people from our network. The call featured Rich Bartlett and MJ Kaplan of the Loomio cooperative who talked about their experience with decision making in non-hierarchical organizations. If you missed this Confab Call, you missed a great event!

We had a lively conversation on how non-hierarchical organizations can be structured, how decisions are made (spoiler alert: deliberatively!), and how work flows can be managed in ways that don’t require anyone to be “the boss.” Rich and MJ also shared interesting reflections on what they’ve been learning on their US tour in meetings with all kinds of organizations – from government departments to non-profits to grassroots organizations – who are exploring “the democracy question” internally and in civic society.

If you couldn’t participate in the Confab, never fear – we recorded the whole presentation and conversation, and you can hear and see the whole thing again by clicking here. You can also find the slides from MJ and Rich’s presentation by clicking here, and the transcript of the discussion being had in the chat during the call can be found here.

Confab bubble imageWe want to thank Rich, MJ, and the whole Loomio team again for collaborating with us on making this timely conversation happen. We encourage our network to explore how the Loomio tool can help your or other “flat” organizations work together better at www.loomio.org.

To learn more about NCDD’s Confab Calls and hear recordings of others, visit www.ncdd.org/events/confabs.

Don’t Miss Thurs. Confab Call Exploring D&D in “Flat” Organizations

In case you missed our original announcement, we want to remind everyone that we are hosting our next Confab Call event this Thursday, May 4th from 3-4pm Eastern/12-1pm Pacific. You won’t want to miss it, so be sure to register today!

Confab bubble imageThe Confab will feature the insights Rich Bartlett and MJ Kaplan, two of the co-founders of a non-heirarchical, cooperative organization called Loomio that has helped develop online tools to help groups across the globe make consensus-style decisions. But instead of focusing on the tech side of Loomio, we’ll take a dive into their cooperative’s internal dynamics. We’ll look at Loomio’s unique decision-making processes, talk about the ins and outs of “flat” organizations, and think about what the D&D field and non-hierarchical cooperatives like theirs can learn from each other.

We’re sure to have a rich, lively discussion on the call, and you can sign up to be part of it today!

This Confab Call is a “virtual stop” on a US tour that Loomio staff have embarked upon to host discussions with groups who want to share and reflect on “the challenges and delights of non-hierarchical, inclusive, intersectional, collaborative, horizontal organising.” There are many ways that what we do in the D&D field applies to, intersects with, and diverges from the kinds of shared work and collaborative workplaces Loomio embodies and supports, and we hope this conversation can serve as a jump off point for a deeper exploration of those commonalities and differences.

Don’t miss the chance to be part of this provocative conversastion – register today to join us! For more background on Loomio or on Rich and MJ, check out our original announcement at ncdd.org/23494.

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

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

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

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

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

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

About NCDD’s Confab Calls

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

About Our Guests

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

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

Join Kettering’s “A Public Voice” Event on Safety & Justice

In case you haven’t heard about it already, we want to encourage all of you in the NCDD network to mark your calendars for A Public Voice 2017 (APV) on Tuesday, May 9th from 1:30-3pm Eastern.

APV 2017 is the annual event hosted by NCDD member organizations the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute that brings together Congressional and agency staffers in Washington DC for a working meeting on the results of the deliberative forums that KF and NIFI have hosted across the nation on pressing public policy issues.

This year’s APV forum will focus on what was learned about the public’s feelings on community-police relations during the Safety & Justice forums held this year in communities across the country. And KF and NIFI will be livestreaming the Washington event via Facebook Live, so you are invited to particiapte by sending your comments on social media directly into the program.

Here’s how they describe the event:

At this year’s A Public Voice event in Washington, we’re trying something new. We will introduce congressional staffers to NIF forum convenors from their districts, and those convenors will explain the most unique and transformational moments from the deliberative forums in their communities. Our aim is to illustrate the unique value of these forums and the breadth of the network.

Which means, WE NEED YOU. Put May 9 from 1:30 to 3:00 pm on your calendar, because we’ll be livestreaming the Washington event via Facebook Live.

We encourage our network to join the APV event on Facebook to get updates as the event nears and share about it with your networks. You can learn more about A Public Voice 2017 by visiting www.apublicvoice.org and checking out NIFI’s Safety & Justice deliberative forum discussion guide here.

PB Network to Host Study Session on Deliberation & Voting

The Participatory Budgeting Project team recently launched the exciting PB Network – a learning and collaboration infrastructure for cities and institutions using participatory budgeting – which is hosting periodic “study sessions” online, and the NCDD network is invited! Their next study session will be a webinar focused on citizens juries and deliberative methods of decision-making this Wednesday, March 22. We encourage you to learn more in the PBP announcement below or sign up here.


Upcoming PB Network Event

We’d like to invite you to the PB Network’s next PBP Study Session on Wednesday, March 22nd!

One of the ideas behind participatory budgeting is that we need to get beyond the simple yes/no votes we’re usually presented with at ballot boxes. Choosing between 2 options doesn’t capture the breadth and subtlety of the needs that many communities face. Deliberation and new voting techniques can help get better decisions that benefit broader groups of people.

The study session will feature Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, who will share some lessons from “citizen juries“, which take a randomly selected and balanced group of citizens to deliberate and make informed and thoughtful recommendations about a public issue. We’ll also learn from Ashish Goel of Stanford’s Crowdsourced Democracy Team, who works on collaborative decision-making, including developing innovative ballot platforms for participatory budgeting in many cities across the US.

Join us for a discussion on new innovations in participatory decision-making with broad sets of stakeholders.

The webinar will be:
Wednesday, March 22nd
1pm EST/10am PST
Click here to register and receive the webinar info

Don’t Miss the Special Journalism-D&D Confab Call on Wed.

As we announced last month, NCDD is co-hosting a very special Confab Call along with member org Journalism That Matters (JTM) on deepening collaboration between the world of journalism and the field of dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement this Wednesday, March 15th from 1-2:30pm Eastern / 10-11:30am Pacific. It’s going to be one our most engaging Confabs yet, so we encourage you to register todayConfab bubble image

During the call, we’ll continue the conversation that we began during NCDD 2016 about how journalists and public engagement practitioners are needed now more than ever to help our communities in #BridgingOurDivides, enhance the impact D&D practitioners’ work, and find new ways to change the narrative about whether and how our country can overcome our bitter partisanship and political disfunction.

How can we bring our skill sets together to do this? How do community engagement practitioners and journalists work together to share stories? We’ll have in-depth conversations about these questions and more, hear from case studies of successful D&D-journalist partnerships, and even host special region-based small group discussions using Zoom technology to allow for more concrete opportunities to move from conversation to action.

We are excited to have NCDD’s Managing Director Courtney Breese co-hosting this call with JTM Executive Director and NCDD member Peggy Holman. We’ll also be featuring insights and stories from JTM President Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Kyle Bozentko of the Jefferson Center, Doug Oplinger of the Akron Beacon Journal, and Betty Knighton of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life. You can find more info about the details of the call and our speakers in our original announcement here.

Don’t miss this highly interactive discussion about an exciting new direction emerging in our field! Be sure to register today!

Growing Civic Infrastructure with D&D-Library Collaborations

As we announced early this year, NCDD is partnering over the next two years with the American Library Association on the Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change project, during which we will be helping introduce libraries and their staff to various models of D&D work and training them to use our field’s tools to support the communities they serve. It’s an exciting collaboration that we think will yield potentially transformative results.

To kick-start the project, our Managing Director Courtney Breese and ALA presented a webinar last week introducing NCDD’s work and the LTC collaboration to over 400 librarians and library staff from across the country. We were blown away by the level of participation, and are looking forward to seeing the project grow even further beyond this amazing start!

During the webinar, Courtney shared about our NCDD partner organizations, the models we’ll be training on, the NCDD engagement streams framework, and featured examples of libraries and communities using these models for engagement. Participating librarians expressed excitement for learning techniques that can benefit the libraries and the communities they serve, and they are eager to engage with the NCDD community more broadly as well.

The Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change project is a follow-up to the ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities: Turning Outward project which introduced the Harwood Institute – an NCDD member organization – and their Turning Outward approach to libraries. Libraries have been using the Turning Outward approach over the past several years to engage their communities and identify the needs of their community.

NCDD is especially excited about this collaboration with ALA because we believe it will produce possibilities for members of our network to partner in concrete ways with libraries over the long-term. But we know that some of our members already collaborate with libraries, and we’d love to hear about how!

If you collaborate with local libraries in your D&D work or have collaborated with them in the past, tell us about it! Please share a bit in the comments section below about what your partnerships have looked like, what sort of you’ve done, or how you hope to work with libraries in the future. 

We know there are mountains of potential in building library-D&D collaborations as part of our nation’s civic infrastructure, and we can’t wait to see and catalyze more!

Bridging Our Divides with NCL’s All-America Conversations

NCDD members might want to check out the All-America Conversations initiative being hosted by the National Civic League, an NCDD member organization. NCL is encouraging communities across the country to host short, public conversations focused on questions of how we can begin #BridgingOurDivides, showing that our country can still work together. They are providing a toolkit and webinar training series to help conversation hosts plan and convene these events, and we encourage practitioners in our network to consider hosting one yourself. You can learn more in the NCL announcement below or by learning more here.


All-American Conversations: Bridging Divides. Building Community.

National Civic League is launching All-America Conversations to demonstrate that locally, we are still able to work together across dividing lines to create stronger, more equitable communities.

Communities that host All-America Conversations will:

  • Better understand residents’ aspirations for the community
  • Learn how residents talk about and see community challenges and divisions
  • Gain clear insight into what small actions would give people confidence that we can work together across dividing lines
  • Help residents engage with one another in a productive conversation
  • Demonstrate a commitment to inclusive engagement

All-America Conversations are designed to help cities and other groups understand residents’ aspirations for the community, the divisions facing the community and, most importantly, the small, specific actions that give people a sense of confidence that we can work across dividing lines.

The format/template for All-America Conversations is flexible and scalable. Some communities will decide to focus on engaging underrepresented residents about their specific concerns and perspectives. Others will hold conversations designed to bring together people on different sides a specific divide to talk with one another and explore shared values. Some communities will use these questions and conversations as part of a large public meeting with breakout conversations.

Conversation Resources and Support

All-America Conversation Toolkit

Everything necessary to hold a productive and meaningful conversation – just add residents.

The toolkit walks you through:

  • How to identify whom you want to engage and how to recruit participants
  • Where to hold the conversations
  • How to set up the room
  • Selecting and preparing facilitators and note takers
  • What questions to ask
  • How to adapt the conversation guide to different types of meetings

The kit also includes a tips for facilitators and note takers, a note taking tool, ground rules, a sign-in sheet, sample recruitment letter, sample email to engage the media around these conversations.

Download the Toolkit and other resources

Support and Coaching Calls

NCL is hosting a series of 1-hour conference calls to provide support for communities or organizations hosting All-America Conversations. Calls will include a brief overview of the purpose and potential of these conversations and available resources. The main focus is providing local communities with the support, coaching and guidance necessary to make the conversations work for them. So, each call will include dedicated time for support and coaching from NCL experts to help you adjust the conversations to fit with existing efforts, your local context, staff resources and community needs.

You can watch the Jan. 31st, 2017 toolkit webinar here:

You can find the original version of this National Civic League announcement at www.nationalcivicleague.org/all-america-conversations