Count Me In! – Backyard Ballot Bash & Ballot Speed Dating

We always love hearing about cool, fun engagement efforts going on, which is why we’re excited to share with you an effort happening in Colorado called, Count Me In! It’s a collaborative civic engagement effort that educates voters on what’s on their ballot in a transpartisan way, bringing in all sides of the initiatives. CMI seeks to empower voters to know what they are voting on and vote on the whole ballot, with fun events like Ballot Speed Dating and Backyard Ballot Bashes. If you are in Colorado, check out the events that are lined up or contact CMI to plan your own! For those not in the state, we encourage you to check it out and see if you can bring something similar to your communities! You can learn more about CMI in the post below and on their site here.


Learn about what’s on your ballot with Count Me In!

There are going to be 13 initiatives for Coloradans to vote on this year, and that’s just the statewide ones. Even the most well-informed among us will need some help figuring out how they’re going to vote on all of these issues. That’s why Count Me In! is here. Once again, Count Me In! is partnering with community organizations around the state to make sure voters get all the information they need to make informed decisions about these critical policies affecting our state. Count Me In! is nonpartisan and provides information that is objective. There is still time to bring Count Me In! to your community, connect with us and we will plan an event that works for your community.

Check out where Count Me In! is headed with our list of events below. Join us for these events and share with your folks. We are getting new requests every day so check our website and Facebook page for the most up to date CMI! Events.

Save the Date(s) for Count Me In! Ballot Speed Dating

Count Me In! Colorado is hosting a few bigger ballot events we are calling Ballot Speed Dating. You’ll learn about each measure at these fun, informational ballot events. Count Me In! will be inviting all the statewide ballot campaigns to join us. You’ll get to ask your questions and learn more about each measure, like you would while speed dating. There will be appetizers, drinks, prizes, and engaging election information. Don’t miss this event!

  • Grand Junction Ballot Speed Dating: Thursday, September 27 from 5:30 –7:00 pm, SpringHills Suites, 236 Main Street, Grand Junction. Please share this event with folks in your network that would be interested!
  • Denver Ballot Speed Dating: Wednesday, October 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Great Divide Brewing, 1812 35th St, Denver, CO 80216. Be on the lookout for more info and promotional material for this event later this week.
  • Denver Ballot Bash: Saturday, October 20 – Denver Game Lounge – more info to come!

Ballot Bash in a Box

This year, in addition to great events at cool venues in every corner of the state, voters will be invited to host their own Backyard Ballot Bash (patent pending) using materials we’re calling Ballot Bash in a Box. If you’re dying to help your friends and neighbors get informed and want to make sure they vote their ballots from the bottom up, or you just need more information about Count Me In!, make sure you email Caitlin Schneider at schneider@coloradofiscal.org today.

Follow Count Me In on the social media, FacebookTwitterInstagram!

Check out the calendar of events planned so far!

Date/Time Event
9/13/18
10 am – 11:30 am
 Count Me In! at the Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days
9/20/18
7 pm – 8 pm
 CMI! joins DougCo Dems for “What’s on Your Ballot?”
 Highlands Ranch Library, Highlands Ranch CO
9/23/18
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Tri-County Health Network hosts Count Me In! in Telluride
9/27/18
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
 Grand Junction Ballot Speed Dating
 SpringsHill Suites by Marriot, Grand Junction CO
10/01/18
6 – 7 pm
What’s on your Ballot?
Aspen, CO
10/02/18
11:30 am – 1:30 pm
What’s on your Ballot?
Colorado Mountain College, Edwards Campus, Edwards CO
10/04/18
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
 CMI Happy Hour with Common Cause
10/10/18
5:30 am – 7:00 am
 Count Me In! partners with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
 Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Littleton Colorado
10/11/18
8 am – 10 am
 CMI! in Summit County “What’s on your Ballot”
10/11/18
12 pm – 2 pm
 CMI! in Grand County “What’s on your Ballot?”
10/14/18
9:30 am – 10:30 am
 Count Me In! and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
 Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Littleton Colorado

You can read more information about Count Me In! at www.countmeincolorado.com/.

Apply by October 15th to Host Nevins Fellow (for free!)

NCDD Member Organization the McCourtney Institute for Democracy is again offering the incredible opportunity for D&D organizations to take advantage of their Nevins Democracy Leaders Program. The 2018-19 application is open now through Monday, October 15th, for organizations who want to host a bright, motivated, D&D-trained student at no-cost!

The Nevins Democracy Leaders Program was founded in 2014 after a gift from David Nevins, President and Co-Director of the Bridge Alliance, an NCDD Member Org. The program provides Penn State students with education and ­training in transpartisan leadership skills by exposing them to a variety of viewpoints and philosophies, as well as teaching critical thinking along with the tools of dialogue and deliberation.

But the flagship work of fostering the next generation of democracy leaders centers on the yearly initiative to place Nevins Program students in unique fellowship position with organizations focused on D&D, transpartisan dialogue, and civic renewal – that means organizations like yours! Stipends and living expenses are provided to the students through the program so that organizations can bring these bright, motivated students into their work for a summer at no cost. The McCourtney Institute provides $5,000 toward the cost of hosting a Nevins Fellow for a summer internship. Students come to their internship sites well prepared and ready to get to work.

Fellows have interned at the following organizations, just to name a few:

  • Everyday Democracy
  • Participatory Budgeting
  • National Institute for Civil Discourse

Much like students apply for the fellowship, organizations apply to host a fellow. Nonprofits, government organizations, or other groups committed to building and sustaining democracy that would like to host a fellow can apply here!

NCDD hosted a Confab Call last September with Chris Beem from the McCourtney Institute, who covered lots of the important details about the program. You can listen to the recording of that call by clicking here. You can also check out this blog post from a 2017 Nevins Fellow about their summer fellowship with the Jefferson Center, to get a better sense of the student’s experience.

It’s an amazing opportunity for everyone involved!

We can’t speak highly enough about the Nevins program’s students or about the value of this program’s contributions to the D&D field. We know that these young people will be great additions to organizations in our field.  We encourage you to apply today!

Dispute Resolution Grant Opportunity, Applications Due 10/5

Our theme for NCDD2018 is about how to bring the D&D field into more widespread practice and a big part of that is funding, so folks can continue doing this work. Which is why we’re thrilled to find this grant opportunity to forward to the NCDD network from the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation. Applications are due Friday, October 5th, and there is an informative call for prospective applicants on Tuesday, September 18th. Several NCDD organizations have been awarded in the past, like Essential Partners, Consensus Building Institute, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Divided Community Project – and we hope another NCDDer will be granted this year! You can read about it in the post below and find more information on AAA-ICDR Foundation’s site here.


Grant Opportunity –  American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation

The AAA-ICDR Foundation is now accepting Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests for its fourth funding cycle. In its review the Foundation will be focusing on innovative and replicable proposals that provide:

  • ADR for vulnerable and underserved populations
  • ADR for community-focused dispute resolution.

The Foundation remains committed to funding high-quality innovative programs in furtherance of its broader mission dedicated to mediation/other non-binding ADR process and arbitration/other binding ADR processes, and beyond.

Interested organizations or individuals should submit an Initial Description of Grant Request no later than October 5, 2018. The Foundation is launching an online application this year. Only applicants submitted via the online system will be considered, please do not email a PDF of the application. See Additional Information below for links to training/instructions for using the new online system.

To Apply: Please click here to register and submit your Initial Description of Grant Request starting September 10, 2018.

The Foundation will be hosting a brief Q&A call on September 18th from 2:00 – 2:30 pm ET regarding the initial description process to answer any questions from potential grantees.

Call-in details are:
Toll-Free Number: 1-888-537-7715
International Number: 1-334-323-9858
Participant Passcode: 15083676 #

Additional Information: 

What We’ve Funded

Grants Awarded in 2018
The AAA-ICDR Foundation funded nineteen grants in its third funding cycle. The Foundation received over ninety Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests. The Foundation, after a careful review of all of the submissions and the presentation of full grant proposals, approved the following nineteen grants totaling over $500,000 in funding:

ABA Fund for Justice and Education: $10,000 to fund ABA’s annual Law Student Division Arbitration Competition.

Arizona State University Foundation: $59,789 to fund empirical study with goal of providing guidance about what needs to be accomplished during opening stages of mediation.

Association for Conflict Resolution Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination: $32,136 to fund training and expansion of elder caring coordination, a form of conflict resolution.

Association for the Organization and Promotion of the Vienna Mediation and Negotiation Competition: $5,000 to fund the Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition Vienna, which is an educational event in the field of international negotiation and mediation.

Community Mediation Services: $15,181 to fund facilitated dialogues by experienced Restorative Practitioner between youth, community and law enforcement in New Orleans Police Department 1st District.

Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County: $40,000 to fund training and direct ADR services in substance abuse centers in Baltimore County, MD.

Consensus Building Institute: $74,950 to fund pilot program in Piermont, NY to train local residents who will spearhead collaborative neighborhood dialogues on resilience planning against rising sea levels and increased flood risks.

CUNY Dispute Resolution Center at John Jay College: $30,000 to fund online access to conflict resolution resources for families worldwide dealing with mental illness.

Environmental Advocates of New York: $10,000 to fund Advocacy Crisis Training for environmental justice communities.

Essential Partners: $24,854 to fund trainings for teaching at-risk youth to lead and participate in more constructive dialogues about conflict and difference.

Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program: $24,921 to fund podcast series intended to help support teaching around dialogue on challenging topics including racial, ethnic and religious conflict.

Institute for Communication and Management of Conflicts – D.U.C.K.S:  $12,000 to fund teach the Prison of Peace (PoP) Peacemaker, Mediator and Train the Trainer Workshops in 2 men’s prisons in Greece.

International Mediation Institute: $25,000 to fund The Global Pound Conference North America Report.

Kennesaw State University, School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development:  $25,000  to fund creating working model in Athens, Greece to promote dialogue and reduce violence from racial, ethnic, and religious conflict.

King County Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution:  $29,850 to fund the Theatre of Mediation where mediators, actors and students present role-play mediations based on real cases involving themes of racial conflict to schools, community groups and in public forums.

Quabbin Mediation:  $20,000 to fund expansion of Training Active Bystanders (TAB) model throughout New England to diverse groups.

The Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice: $50,000 to fund convening of Dispute Resolution Hackathon events with community stakeholders for equitable, unbiased and humane enforcement of the law.

The Mediation Center: $20,500 to fund creation of standardized online mediation and community dialogue training modules that can be accessed without cost across the state of Tennessee.

The Ohio State University Foundation: $40,000 to fund development and conducting national “academy” targeted to strengthening local leadership capacity to use and collaborate with community mediation experts to plan for and address civil unrest.

Grants Awarded in 2017

The AAA-ICDR Foundation funded 11 grants in its second funding cycle. The Foundation received 92 Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests. Led by its Grants Committee, the Foundation, after a careful review of all of the submissions and the presentation of full grant proposals, approved the following 11 grants totaling approximately $410,000 in funding:

New York State Unified Court System Online Dispute Resolution Platform: $125,000 to fund multi-year pilot for court online dispute resolution (ODR) for small claims cases. 

Online Pro Bono Legal Advice: $25,000 to provide low-income citizens access to brief legal advice via an online interactive website, utilizing pro bono attorneys. ABA Fund for Justice and Education: ABA Free Legal Answers.

Conflict De-Escalation Training for Police Officers in Baltimore Schools: $25,040 to fund training for Baltimore City School Police and other school staff. University of Maryland Training in Conflict De-Escalation and Management. 

Training for Mediating Parties with Mental Health Issues: $24,998 to fund scalable mediation training for certified peer specialists to serve an underserved population of peers living with mental health issues. Research Foundation of CUNY on behalf of John Jay
College: The Dispute Resolution in Mental Health Initiative.

Columbia Law School Research of Twilight Issues in International Arbitration: $25,000 to fund analysis and development of best practices for twilight issues that are not clearly substantive or procedural with global presentations and publication.

Addressing Unconscious Bias in International Arbitration: $25,000 to fund educational series and mentorship to promote equality, diversity, access to justice, and leadership opportunities. ArbitralWomen Unconscious Bias Toolkit.

Cultivating Dialogue Between Dominant and Non-Dominant Communities in Minnesota: $45,000 to continue funding a transformative project to produce qualitative change in the type of engagement currently taking place between dominant and nondominant communities in Minnesota. Minnesota State Office for Collaboration and Dispute Resolution and Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law 2017 Talk with Purpose: Using Dispute Resolution to Engage Communities and Foster Relationships for Constructive Change. 

Best Uses of ADR to Respond to and Plan for Community Divides: $40,000 to fund a study that describes local ADR responses and planning initiatives to address controversies that divide communities and development of a Community Preparation Assessment Test tool for community use. Ohio State University Foundation on behalf of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Divided Community Project.  

The Curators of The University of Missouri: Reasoning in International Commercial Arbitration: Comparisons Across the Common Law-Civil Law Divide, the Domestic-International Divide, and the Judicial – Arbitral Divide:  $25,396 to fund research on arbitral reasoning in arbitral awards. 

Promoting Peace and Tolerance Through Leadership and ADR Training for Women in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine: $25,000 to support training scholarships for female community leaders from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine for advanced mediation and leadership training, focused on promoting peace and interfaith/interethnic tolerance. Project Kesher: Training for Women in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

Promoting Peace Through Leadership and ADR Training for Women in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela: $25,500 for training scholarships to enable women community leaders to complete four days of advanced mediation and community leadership training. Mediators Beyond Borders International—Women in Peacebuilding.

Grants Awarded in 2016

In May 2016, the AAA-ICDR Foundation completed its inaugural funding cycle. The Foundation sent out a press release in October 2015 announcing its inaugural round of grant solicitations. In response, the Foundation received 75 Initial Descriptions of Grant Requests. After a careful review of all of the submissions and the presentation of full grant proposals,the Foundation, led by its Grants Committee, approved the following six grants totaling approximately $175,000 in funding:   

Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law—Straus Institute Annual Global Summit on Conflict Management, September 2016: $15,000 to supplement the investment of the Straus Institute in supporting the convening of working groups and planners in advance of a summit that will bring together individuals and organizations from all over the world to discuss common issues and concerns associated with complex dispute resolution processes. 

Prison Inmate Mediation Training: $75,000 to fund a 40-hour mediation workshop for 30-50 inmates. The workshop will be conducted in one cohort to be completed in 7-10 weeks, creating a new cadre of desperately needed inmate mediators at Valley State Prison and to fund train the trainer program at Valley State Prison, aimed at training new mediators as well as developing a cadre of inmate mediation trainers. Prison of Peace 2016 Valley State Prison Mediation Training Program. 

Cultivating Dialogue Between Dominant and Non-Dominant Communities in Minnesota: $24,998 for OCDR/DRI to conduct a transformative project to produce qualitative change in the type of engagement currently taking place between dominant and non-dominant communities in Minnesota. Minnesota State Office for Collaboration and Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law 2016 Talk with Purpose: Using Dispute Resolution to Engage Communities and Foster Relationships for Constructive Change.

Promoting Peace Through Leadership and ADR Training for Women in Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand: $25,500 for training scholarships required to enable women community leaders from Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand to complete four days of advanced mediation and community leadership training in Djakarta, Indonesia. Mediators Beyond Borders International—Women Peacebuilding: Enhancing Skills and Practice Training.  

Consensus Building Institute – Innovative ADR in Groundwater Sustainability to Manage California Drought: $25,000 for CBI to highlight and promote the use and the central role of ADR in connection with the implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The creation of a multi-media report (including mini case studies, video segments, and blogs) that highlights the state’s impressive use of innovative dispute resolution and collaboration to address conflict and create new government structures will help CBI ensure the sustainability of local groundwater basins. This grant proposal is an opportunity to analyze and highlight the unique role that ADR is playing in this public policy issue that truly goes to the heart of water conflict in California. 

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division – Annual Law Student Arbitration Competition: $10,000 to defray operating expenses, making the event more attractive and affordable for law schools participating in the next competition for the 2016-2017 school year, as law schools have increasingly reduced discretionary funds available. The competition format introduces students to arbitration and allows students to learn and practice skills relating to arbitration advocacy, such as crafting opening and closing statements, introducing evidence, creating demonstrative evidence, preparing witnesses, and developing case themes. This will be the 13 year of the competition.

About the Foundation
American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation® (AAA-ICDR Foundation®) was established in 2015 with the purpose to fund critical projects, domestically and internationally. This effort fills important needs in the ADR community by expanding the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), improving the process, increasing access to ADR for those who cannot afford it, and sharing knowledge across different cultures.

The Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization from the AAA and is able to solicit donations and provide grants to fund a range of worthy causes that promote the Foundation’s wide-reaching mission.

The Foundation is not involved in any way in the oversight, administration or decision making of the AAA-ICDR cases or in the maintenance of the AAA-ICDR’s various rosters of arbitrators and mediators.

You can read the original version of this announcement of AAA-ICDR Foundation site at www.aaaicdrfoundation.org/grants.

MetroQuest Online Public Engagement Playbook Webinar

Next week, NCDD member org MetroQuest will be hosting the webinar, Online Public Engagement Playbook; co-sponsored by NCDD and the American Planning Association (APA). The free webinar on Wednesday, September 19th will discuss the successful online engagement strategy which engaged over 5100+ Austin residents and led to the development of the city’s first comprehensive transportation plan. You can read the announcement below or find the original on MetroQuest’s site here.


MetroQuest Webinar: Online Public Engagement Playbook

How is America’s #1 boom town planning for the city’s transportation future?

Wednesday, September 19th
11 am Pacific | 12 pm Mountain | 1 pm Central | 2 pm Eastern (1 hour)
Educational Credit Available (APA AICP CM)
Complimentary (FREE)

On September 19th, find out how Austin engaged 5,100+ citizens online to help inform and shape the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, its first locally-focused comprehensive transportation plan.

Join Liane Miller, AICP and Senior Business Process Consultant with Austin’s Transportation Department, as she shares the winning elements of her team’s online public engagement playbook. Learn how they combined a great online engagement experience with the right promotional strategy to involve thousands of people, including communities that have been underrepresented in past processes. Discover which of three transportation scenarios earned the most public support.

Attend this complimentary 1-hour webinar for innovative ways to involve members of your community! You’ll learn how to:

  • Reach more people, even with limited staff
  • Share and collect richer planning information by going online
  • Leverage business partnerships to lower barriers to engagement
  • Mine survey results to build a plan that works for all communities
  • Impress city council with a transportation plan informed by the people

Liane will be joined by MetroQuest Chief Engagement Officer Dave Biggs to share best practices and to answer your questions in a live Q&A session.

Thank you to our sponsors: APA and NCDD! AICP CM credit will be available.

Speakers

Liane Miller – Planning and Policy Manager, City of Austin’s Transportation Department
Liane works on planning initiatives, such as the development of the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, the City’s first multimodal plan. She previously led the citywide capital needs assessment and helped develop the comprehensive plan, Imagine Austin. Liane earned a BS from the University of Texas at Austin and master’s degrees in planning and public administration from the University of Southern California.

Dave Biggs – Chief Engagement Officer, MetroQuest
Dave is a die-hard champion of community engagement and has built a reputation for leading edge community outreach. He is an internationally-recognized speaker, author, and public engagement strategist. Dave is honored to serve as an advisor on best practices for public involvement to many planning agencies such as APA, FHWA, and TRB and public participation organizations such as IAP2 and NCDD.

You can find the original version of this announcement on MetroQuest’s site at http://go.metroquest.com/Online-Public-Engagement-Playbook.html.

Democratic Learning Exchanges with NCL and Kettering

NCDD member and partner – the National Civic League has been working with the Kettering Foundation on “learning exchanges” with city managers. The two organizations have a long working history over the last several decades, which has sought to explore how to further democratic practices, particularly within local government. This is the most recent effort in this work to continue to shift deeper government collaboration with the community. You can read the article in the post below or find the original on NCL’s site here.


Learning About Democratic Practices with City Managers

The National Civic League is working with the Charles F. Kettering Foundation to organize “learning exchanges” to explore the ways professional city managers engage with members of the public to foster democratic practices in communities.

These twice-a-year exchanges, which have been held at the foundation’s campus in Dayton, Ohio, have facilitated wide-ranging conversations about civic engagement efforts and examples of complementary public action—everything from an experiment in participatory budgeting in Chicago’s 49th ward to dialogues about community-police relations in a small southern city.

The participants have also explored issues such as assets-based community development, relational organizing, social media and technology and the role of public deliberation in addressing “wicked problems,” that is, persistent problems for which there are no obvious technical solutions.

In many of the exchanges, participants have identified tensions between the job of professional manager and the idea of public engagement and democratic governance. Traditionally, managers have been trained to view themselves as technical problem-solvers who advise elected officials and manage city departments to implement the policies adopted during public meetings.

In effect, local elected and appointed officials made the tough decisions and handled the strategizing, prioritizing and long-range planning efforts that allowed municipalities and counties to flourish.

But managers are in some ways uniquely positioned to foster collective problem-solving efforts and grassroots community initiatives, especially when there is a continuity of effort by public managers over a period of years. Some city governments, in fact, have developed detailed protocols to help staff-members think about how and when to engage the public in decision-making and public deliberation.

The National Civic League’s involvement with the Kettering Foundation goes back many years. In the early 1970s, the two organizations worked together to conduct research on what was then described as “citizen participation.” With support from the foundation, the League developed a series of books and videos, highlighting how winners of the All-America City Awards had come together to address pressing issues.

The Kettering Foundation’s primary research question is, “What does it take to make democracy work as it should?” For Kettering, one aspect of this mission is to look at ways professionals can “align their work” with the work of ordinary members of communities.

The League’s various research agreements with the Kettering Foundation have offered unique opportunities over the years to develop new ideas and new relationships with individuals and organizations, some of which have led to other initiatives and projects.

The city manager exchange, for example, led to the development of the Richard S. Childs Fellowship, a project that offers editorial assistance and guidance to working city managers seeking to write about their experiences with democratic practices in their communities. Some of these writings have already appeared in the National Civic Review as case studies and essays.

The fellowship was named for the political reformer and long-serving member of the National Civic League board of directors who played a leading role in developing the 1915 Model City Charter, the original blueprint for the city council-city manager plan for local government.

These research exchanges have become an important part of the League’s efforts to learn more about community-based efforts and address challenging issues. They also serve as a bridge between the organization’s historic mission of promoting professionalism in local government with its more modern focus on civic engagement, collaborative problem-solving and social equity.

You can find the original version of this on National Civic League’s site at www.nationalcivicleague.org/learning-about-democratic-practices-with-city-managers/.

Our Responsibility to Safeguard Our Democracy

NCDD member org, the Bridge Alliance, recently shared this article on their blog from Dr. Thom Little of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF). In the article, he speaks on the tenets at the core of our democracy and the need for the people and the representatives to protect and uphold these principles if this nation is to be able to continue. You can read the article below and find the original on the Bridge Alliance site here.


Protecting Our Democracy: The Obligation of Leadership

More than two centuries ago, fifty-five men from across thirteen American colonies established a government like none other before, a government where power was bestowed not by birth right or by armed might, but by consent. A democracy. The governed had, by the power of their voice and their vote, the right to determine who would govern them and accordingly, the right to remove them as necessary. Thus began what Alexis de Tocqueville described as “the great experiment” to see if man was truly capable of self government.

With a lot of hard work, good leadership and not a little bit of luck, this government has endured- it has survived some less than competent and noble leaders and irrational decisions made out of fear, racism, sexism, partisanship and just plain ignorance. It has survived wars internal and external. It has, although not without pain, hardship and some serious missteps, integrated peoples of different races, ethnicities, identities and philosophies. The nation has moved forward in fits and starts, but it has moved forward.

And yet, the success of America’s democracy is not preordained, based on destiny or providence. What has been so long maintained can easily be lost if we as a people and our leaders lose sight of the institutions that have allowed it to prosper and served us well for so long: free and fair elections; an independent press; three autonomous branches of government and strong and effective state governments. While not perfect, these four institutions have been the bedrock of democracy and must be maintained if this experiment is to continue.

Free and Fair Elections. A government that derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed can only stand if the governed have faith in the process by which they lend that consent: the elections. That faith has been tested from time to time, especially when no candidate for the US Presidency earned a majority of the electoral votes. Further, electoral reforms such as voter registration, primary elections, campaign finance regulations and limitations and the elimination of numerous obstacles to voting have been implemented to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. In addition, the right to vote has been extended to Americans of all races, genders over the age of seventeen fulfilling the revolutionary vision of the founders that indeed all are created equal.

An Independent and Trusted Press. While the relationship between public officials and the press has always been a tense one, the authors of the United States Constitution understood that for the infant government to thrive, freedom of the press, even the very partisan papers, pamphlets and fliers of the time, would have to be protected. The founders so valued freedom of the press that they codified it in the very first amendment to the new Constitution. Ideologically driven journalism is nothing new, but the rise of electronic media, cable news, talk radio and social media have made it so difficult to determine what sources are to be trusted that faith in the press is being severely tested.

Autonomous Branches of Government. Separation of powers. Checks and balances. Power spread across three independent units of government? Preposterous- at least to most in the eighteenth century when power was given by God or taken by might. Kings or dictators made the laws, administered the laws and interpreted the laws. In America, each of those decisions are to be made by an independent branch (legislative, judicial and executive), with some oversight from each of the others to keep any one branch from getting out of hand. However, for this system to work, each independently elected branch must be strong enough to do their jobs and willing to stand against the others when they step beyond their bounds.

Strong and Capable State Governments. Perhaps the most unique contribution to the American system of the governed is federalism, a system by which power is shared. While the thirteen states were all part of a larger nation, each also retained significant rights by which they would govern themselves and, perhaps more importantly, address important issues when the national government is unwilling or incapable of doing so. Strong, capable state governments, led by informed and independent legislatures are as critical today (maybe even moreso in light of the gridlock and bitterness that has gripped Washington, DC) as it was more than two hundred years ago.

The responsibility to maintain this gift of democracy has, and always will be, in the hands of the people and the representatives they elect to serve and govern them. If we do not protect and honor these institutions, the government that has for so long been a beacon to the world could easily be lost like others before it. So, I challenge you and all of us to work diligently to make sure that the democracy that has served us so well for so long will stand for our children and their children and their children’s children. And SLLF stands ready, willing and able to help in any way we can!

You can find the original version of this article on the Bridge Alliance site at www.bridgealliance.us/protecting_our_democracy_the_obligation_of_leadership.

The Modern Revival of Democracy in Municipalities

While democracy on the national level has gone through some serious upheaval in the last years, it’s inspiring to see many cities across the country come together and nurture localized democracy. NCDD member org, Public Agenda, shared this article on how cities are returning to being spaces of civic engagement for the community and some cities have even adopted deliberative democratic practices. We encourage you to read this piece that elevates the work of several NCDD member organizations in the post below (thanks for mentioning us too!) and find the original on Public Agenda’s site here.


Cities as Centers for Deliberative Democracy

Whether dealing with climate change, immigration or even trade, cities and metropolitan areas have for some time now taken initiatives and formed networks to address pressing social and economic issues.

The New Role for Cities

The late Benjamin Barber, a political theorist, wrote that the dysfunction of democracy that we see at the national, and even state level, has caused us to return to the origins of democracy in metropolitan areas because it is in cities that we can get things done on a manageable scale. Consequently, cities are taking on a role once played by states. Barber’s book, “If Mayors Ruled the World,” has turned out to be prescient, especially in light of our federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord.

Whether dealing with climate change, immigration or even trade, cities and metropolitan areas have for some time now taken initiatives and formed networks to address pressing social and economic issues. In light of the prevailing headwinds democracy itself faces today it is not surprising to look to cities as the place for innovations as well. One example of a city leading innovation in democracy is Pittsburgh, where under the mayor, Bill Peduto, the city has adopted “deliberative democracy.”

Deliberative Democracy

Under the ideals of deliberative democracy, political decisions are the product of fair and reasonable discussions and debate among the public.

In one sense, the principles and practice of deliberative democracy are straightforward: Create conditions for inclusive, informed and well-structured conversations; ensure that the results of these deliberations are taken seriously by stakeholders; and hope that those participating in these conversations leave with a positive attitude and a heightened sense of civic engagement.

In today’s political climate, this may seem Pollyannaish, but it is important to see how this situation came to be. Here, proponents of deliberative democracy are in a good position: its principles can help analyze the problem and its practices can help address the problem.

Today’s Political Climate: How did we get here?

Since the 18th century, the concept of democracy came to embody the ideas of the Enlightenment (basic rights including freedom of speech and thought). These ideals were expressed in our written constitution as amendments to an essentially mechanistic set of procedures that comprise the way our government works. Recently, this model of a “thin, liberal constitution” was seen as sufficient to create democracies abroad. Granted that there was a lot more to be done on the ground (establishing a rule of law, courts, districting for representatives, etc.), but essentially there was a belief that a constitution was like an algorithm – turn it on and democracy happens.

But we need to add the virtues of citizenship to the freedoms granted by our constitution. Such civic virtues include political toleration, a willingness to listen to other points of view, and the ability to give public reasons for one’s own view. A willingness, if you will, to engage in open and informed conversations with those who are different from us and our circle of friends. A society that has failed to instill these civic virtues will easily collapse into warring tribes — as we have seen with the Sunni and Shia groups in the Middle East and the Red and Blue counties of America.

A second problem arises when democracies are seen as “‘vote centric”’ and the game of democracy becomes that of winning the most votes. Getting the most votes has evolved into a science these days and political consultants can use a whole array of strategies that involve framing, agenda setting, and manipulation to do whatever it takes to influence voters. Politics becomes a kind advertising campaign where winner takes all.

Deliberative Democracy Today

One could argue that a Madisonian interpretation of our Constitution envisions a deliberative democracy as its original intent. But contemporary interpretations of deliberative democracy go back to philosopher Jürgen Habermas’s view of democracy in the 1980s. For Habermas, those affected by a policy should participate in a rational conversation of that policy, allowing the force of the better argument to determine the outcome of the deliberative process.

Since the beginning of this Century, the field rapidly expanded as practitioners in mediation and group facilitation connected with theoreticians. As a result, deliberation is now aligned with a set of procedures designed to provide the basic requirements for informed, well-structured conversations linked to outcomes of some sort. Today, organizations like the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation have over 3,000 followers and many universities have programs in the field of deliberative democracy.

In essence, a deliberative democracy is not a society that ‘talks’ but a model of democracy that is instantiated in a set of explicit protocols that I call Deliberative Loops. One can adjust these protocols as the situation requires. Everyday Democracy, for instance, uses multiple learning circles spread out over a period of weeks.

Despite expansion through the integration of theory and practice, the link between this practice and the functioning of government was limited to ad hoc funding opportunities and both large and small scale projects. These activities were not insignificant and many were quite successful in fulfilling the desiderata of deliberative democracy. A great deal of empirical data was also compiled, leading to rigorous assessment studies of actual real-world protocol driven citizen deliberative forums. But the crucial link between the principles and practices of deliberative democracy and the everyday functioning of government had not been established.

Institutionalizing Deliberative Democracy at the Level of Local Government

In 2013 a Civic Health Index sponsored by the National Conference on Citizenship recommended that the City of Pittsburgh become a national center for deliberative democracy. Mayor Peduto endorsed this recommendation and in 2014 the city ran six “Community Deliberative Forums” to assist in the hiring of a new Police Chief. In light of the quality of the feedback and the degree to which the public expressed its appreciation of the process, the city began to develop its own in-house capacity to run these forums. The city chose to do so in areas that meet the regulatory requirements for Public Comment. To

date

there have been three City Budgets (2016, 2017 and 2018) using Community Deliberative Forums as well as special Community Deliberative Forums on topics like affordable housing. The City has even published its own handbook on Community Deliberative Forums and made it available for use by the National League of Cities and other organizations here and abroad (http://hss.cmu.edu/pdd/cities/).

This model of deliberative democracy is working in Pittsburgh and can work in other cities as well. But it is hard to see how it can work its way up to state legislatures and the federal government, given our political climate. Mickey Edwards’ book, “The Parties vs The People,” offers suggestions by which we can “‘move the furniture around”’ in Washington to help those bodies live up to their potential. The subtitle is telling: “How to Turn Democrats and Republicans into Americans.” But it’s a daunting task. Better to see how cities can do it. There’s even a handbook.

Robert Cavalier, PhD is Emeritus Teaching Professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Philosophy Department and Director of the Program for Deliberative Democracy, which won a 2008 Good Government Award from the Pittsburgh League of Women Voters. He is author of Democracy for Beginners (For Beginners LLC, 2009) and Editor of Approaching Deliberative Democracy: Theory and Practice (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011).

You can read the original version of this article on Public Agenda’s site at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/cities-as-centers-for-deliberative-democracy.

Join the #DemocracyChat on Twitter, Monday September 10

We shared a post last week from NCDD member org and sponsor, The Jefferson Center, about their recent partnership with The New York Times to attend the annual New York Times Athens Democracy Forum in September. As part of this, they are hosting a Twitter chat under the hashtag #DemocracyChat on Monday, September 10th at 11 am CT. This will be an opportunity to share your thoughts on the current state of democracy and how to strengthen it moving forward. You can read the announcement below and find the original on Jefferson Center’s site here.


Join Our #DemocracyChat!

Want to share your ideas about how democracy is working today, and the steps individuals, journalists, governments, and companies can take to strengthen it? Join our Twitter chat on Monday, September 10 at 11:00 am CT with the hashtag #DemocracyChat! Add to Google CalendarOutlook, or iCal here.

We’ll discuss topics including…

  • How technology is changing the way politics work
  • How democracies can preserve human rights, while populist movements are on the rise
  • The responsibility of companies to uphold democracy

In just a few weeks, our team is heading to Greece to participate in the New York Times Athens Democracy Forum, “Democracy in Danger: Solutions for a Changing World”. As an official Knowledge Partner, we’ve been working with the New York Times team to bring our Citizens Jury method of deliberation to Athens. We’re moderating a key breakout session, where senior journalists from the NYT will sit down with business leaders, policymakers, and other experts from around the world to discuss democratic solutions.

We know (sadly) that not everybody is able to join our conversation in Athens. We still want to know how you’re thinking about the state of modern democracy.

New to Twitter Chats? Twitter Chats happen when a group of Twitter users meet online at a specific time to discuss a specific topic with a designated hashtag. In our case, that hashtag is #DemocracyChat. As the host, the Jefferson Center (are you following us on Twitter? You should be!) will host questions to guide the discussion marked as Q1, Q2, Q3… and so on. You can answer these directly with A1, A2, and A3 at the beginning of your tweets.

To help keep you organized, you may want to use a website like TweetChat so you only see tweets related to the hashtag, which will make the chat easier to follow. Just type in #DemocracyChat to start, and TweetChat will integrate with your Twitter account.

We’re excited to hear your ideas! See you on Twitter soon.

You can find the original version on this announcement on The Jefferson Center’s site at www.jefferson-center.org/join-our-democracychat/.

Free Webinar Series this Fall on Storytelling for Good

The theme of our upcoming 2018 National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation is how to bring dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement work into greater awareness and more widespread practice. There are a lot of components to what that means and we will explore this much deeper at #NCDD2018! One way to expand the reach and impact of the D&D field is through better storytelling of the work being done to deeper engage with each other. The Communications Network is offering a free Storytelling for Good webinar series this fall, and the first webinar on “Strategy” is August 28th 2 – 3 EST. You can read about the webinar line-up in the post below and find more information on The Comms Network site here.


Storytelling for Good Upcoming Webinars

Storytelling for Good connects you to a suite of tools and a growing community that can help you leverage the power of narrative to increase reach, resources and impact for your social impact organization.

Webinar – Storytelling for Good: Strategy
August 28, 2018 2 – 3 pm EST
RSVP HERE

Stories are powerful: Our brains are literally wired to take in and preserve stories. Done well, stories can drive us to take action.

So how do you tell stories well? There have never been more ways to reach an audience, but it’s harder than ever to really get their attention.

We’re happy to introduce Storytelling for Good. It’s a platform designed with you in mind and will help you and your organization plan and execute a storytelling strategy—giving you the tools, resources, and case studies you need to become a storytelling organization from top to bottom.

In this webinar, we’ll focus on Strategy, one of the four pillars of storytelling.

Future webinars:

Webinar – Storytelling for Good: Content
September 18, 2018 2 – 3 pm EST
RSVP HERE

Webinar – Storytelling for Good: Engagement
October 28, 2018 2 – 3 pm EST
RSVP HERE

Webinar – Storytelling for Good: Evalution
November 8, 2018 2 – 3 pm EST
RSVP HERE

You can find the original version of this announcement on The Communications Network site at https://storytelling.comnetwork.org/.

Join the NCL Webinar on Sept 20th for All-America City Tips

Are you interested to learn what it takes to be named an All-America City? Then check out this free webinar from NCDD member and partner – the National Civic League on September 20th called, “So you want to be an All-America City” part of their AAC Promising Practices Webinar series.  We encourage you to read more about the webinar in the post below and register on NCL’s Eventbrite site here.


AAC Promising Practices Webinar: So you want to be an All-America City?

Join the National Civic League to learn more about the 2019 All-America City Award Program: Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement

Thursday September 20th at 10 am PST / 11 am MST / 12 pm CST / 1 pm EST

2018 All-America City winners, Kershaw County, SC and Las Vegas, NC, will be presenting on their All-America City journey with tips for applying, the types of projects they submitted and an update on the benefits they have seen from winning the award.

Presenting Communities:

2018 All-America City Kershaw County, South Carolina
– Laurey Carpenter, Executive Director of the PLAY Foundation in Kershaw County

2018 All-America City (2016 Finalist) Las Vegas, Nevada
– Jordan More, Assistant to the Director, Youth Development & Social Innovation, City of Las Vegas

Webinar Description: Previous winning communities will be presenting on their All-America City journey with tips for applying, the types of projects they submitted and an update on the benefits they have seen from winning the award. You can download the application and learn more about the presenting communities below.

2019 All-America City Key Dates:

  • November 14, 2018 – Letter of Intent due for interested communities (LOI not required to apply)
  • March 5, 2019 – Application Due
  • April 2019 – Finalists Announced
  • June 21-23, 2019 – Awards competition and learning event in Denver, Colorado

To Join by Computer:
Sign on to the National Civic League’s Webex Meeting Room:
https://nationalcivicleague.my.webex.com/meet/ncl 
Access code: 622 739 287

To Join by Phone:
+1-510-338-9438 USA Toll
Access code: 622 739 287

All-America City Promising Practices Series
National Civic League is hosting a series of “AAC Promising Practices” webinars to share innovative and impactful AAC projects nationwide. This series will also highlight 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 NCL hopes to accelerate the pace of change in communities across the country.

The All-America City Promising Practices webinars are made possible with support from Southwest Airlines, the official airline of the All-America City Awards.

You can find the original version of this on National Civic League’s site at www.nationalcivicleague.org/resource-center/promising-practices/.