Weekly Online Roundup Feat Bridge Alliance and More!

January is finishing strong with this fantastic line-up of D&D online events! NCDDer Chris Santos-Lang let us know about his upcoming webinar on making research transparent that we encourage you to check out. There is a Common Ground for Action deliberation series running for three consecutive Saturdays from NCDD member National Issues Forums Institute, and more exciting webinars from NCDD member orgs, MetroQuest, Bridge Alliance, and Living Room Conversations!

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


Online Roundup: NIFI, CSA’s Ethics Working Group, Living Room Conversations, MetroQuest, Bridge Alliance

National Issues Forums Institute – January & February CGA Forum Series Deep Deliberation: Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome? What Should We Do?

Three consecutive Saturdays in Jan & Feb
Saturday, Jan 26th, Feb 2nd, Feb 9th
2pm Pacific, 5pm Eastern

Please join us for a deep dive into immigration reform using Common Ground for Action (CGA) online deliberation platform.

This will be one online forum set across three consecutive Saturdays in January and February in order have a deeper deliberative experience. Starting at 5pm ET on Saturday January 26th, February 2nd and February 9th, we will take an in-depth look at Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome? What Should We Do? On Jan 26th, we’ll discuss our personal stake and Option 1: Welcome Immigrants, Be a Beacon of Freedom. On February 2nd, we’ll deliberate Option 2: Enforce the Law, Be Fair to Those Who Follow the Rules and Option 3: Slow Down and Rebuild Our Common Bonds. On February 9th, we’ll begin making sense of our common ground, talk next steps, and the value of deliberation in these types of conversations. Plan to participate in all three forums for a highly deliberative and deep look at this wicked issue.

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

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

If you’d like to watch the starter video before registering, you can view it here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/comingtoamerica/256884446

REGISTER: www.nifi.org/en/events/jan-feb-cga-forum-series-deep-deliberation-coming-america-who-should-we-welcome-what-should

Ethics Working Group of the Citizen Science Association webinar – How to Make Your Research Transparent
* shared via NCDD member Chris Santos-Lang

Thursday, January 31st
9-10 am Pacific, 12-1 pm Eastern

A Webinar from CSA’s Ethics Working Group, presented by Chris Santos-Lang (Ethics Working Group Co-Chair)

This webinar is a practical how-to demonstrating some of the latest technologies developed to satisfy the transparency principles in the European Citizen Science Association’s Ten Principles of Citizen Science and the DIYbio Codes of Ethics. It will demonstrate two free solutions as examples: One is the Open Science Framework and the other is a homespun mixture of Google Drive, Google Docs, and FigShare. Both solutions leverage PubPeer, Creative Commons licenses, and research standards. This webinar also introduces the “APRICOT” mnemonic to map the range of transparency failures, and discusses the concerns that drive current negotiations between transparency and privacy.

About Chris: Chris Santos-Lang co-chairs the Ethics Working Group of the Citizen Science Association. He applies citizen science to ethics (e.g. studying moral psychology, machine ethics, and the sociology and political science of ethics).

If you experience any issues in registration, please email: info@citizenscience.org

REGISTER: https://citizenscience.member365.com/public/event/details/78a40bcdbcf4cbe1486b57996f0434fc336d9953/1

Living Room Conversations webinar – Guns & Responsibility

Tuesday, January 29th
12-1:30 pm Pacific, 3-4:30pm Eastern

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

  • What role have guns played in your life?
  • Where did you learn about guns? And what did you learn?
  • Are gun/second amendment issues very important to you?

Is there anything you would change about current gun laws or regulation in your state or at the federal level?

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

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

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

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-guns-responsibility/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridge Alliance webinar – BridgeUSA Peer Learning Session – Achieving Diversity: An Example *this webinar is for Bridge Alliance members only – learn more here

Wednesday, January 30th
12 pm Pacific, 3 pm Eastern

Manu Meel will discuss how the Bridge Alliance and its members can achieve greater diversity in the revitalization movement. Specifically, he will present on:

  1. BridgeUSA’s lack of diverse leadership.
  2. The importance of diversity.
  3. How BridgeUSA is prioritizing diversity within its organization.
  4. What lessons other Bridge Alliance organizations can draw from its example.

We are very excited to host this event for Bridge Alliance member organizations through Zoom Video Conference, and we hope you will be able to join us.

If you wish to attend this event, please RSVP by January 24th.

RSVP: www.bridgealliancefund.us/bridgeusa_peer_learning_session

Living Room Conversations webinar – Mental Health

Thursday, January 31st
1:30-3 pm Pacific, 4:30-6 pm Eastern

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

  • What experiences in your life, your work or your family inform your thinking about mental health?
  • Is mental health an important issue in your community, and if so, why?
  • In your experience, how are mental health issues affecting young people? (If you are a young person, how do mental health issues affect you and your peers?)

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

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

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

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-mental-health-2/

Living Room Conversations webinar – Status & Privilege

Friday, February 1st
2-3:30 pm Pacific, 5-6:30 pm Eastern

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

  • What status do you enjoy? Education, wealth, gender, race, etc?
  • What are the privileges of your status?
  • What do you value and how is that connected to your status or privilege?

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

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

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

REGISTER: www.livingroomconversations.org/event/online-living-room-conversation-status-privilege-3/

EvDem Announces Leadership in Democracy Awardee

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Featured D&D Story: KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives

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


ShareYourStory-sidebarimageTitle of Project:
KRIA The Icelandic Constitution Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was your role in the project?
Creative Director

What issues did the project primarily address?
Human rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AllSides Updates: New Students Website & Is Civility Bogus?

In an era when the mainstream media is hyperpolarized, it is vital to our societal and democratic well-being to have access to news sources with more balanced viewpoints. AllSides provides news sources from across the center-left-right spectrum and works to improve civil discourse, and they just announced exciting news and posted a great article exploring civility!

The new website, AllSides for Schools, offers resources for students to improve their media literacy, build empathy, and have tools for engaging in civil discourse – read more about it in the post below! Listen to the archive of our TechTuesday here featuring AllSides’ student-focused programming, Mismatch. 

They also shared the article, Is Civility a Bogus Concept After All?, which explores the challenging arguments around civility on if it’s possible and how it can be best utilized. You can read the article below and find the original on AllSides site here.


Brand New AllSides for Schools Website!

America, we need to talk. Our democracy is increasingly media-driven and polarized. How can we prepare young people?

We’re so excited to announce the launch of our brand-new AllSides for Schools website, featuring updated tools and resources to help students gain the media literacy and critical thinking skills they need to improve our democracy long-term.

We worked hard to launch our new Schools site, and we can’t wait for you to see it.

Featuring a clean new design, AllSides for Schools features nearly a dozen resources to make media literacy fun and engaging. Students can take AllSides’ bias quiz to find out where they fall on the Left-Center-Right political spectrum, then browse our Balanced Dictionary to see how people across the political spectrum define, think and feel differently about the same term or issue.

Plus, our Mismatch program and Civil Conversation Guides ensure students get the guidance they need to build relationships with people who are different from them. And it works — a whopping 92% of students who tried our Mismatch program said they better understood another person or perspective after just one conversation.

Through a revealing look at today’s news media and memorable experiences of respectful dialogue, AllSides for Schools equips students to navigate the complexities of modern media, social networks (on and offline), and personal relationships.

Join the 12,000 teachers and students in 47 states who are already using our tools every week. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them.

You can check out the new Allsides for Schools website at www.allsidesforschools.org

Is Civility a Bogus Concept After All?

By Julie Mastrine

We built AllSides in part because we believe in the power of civility and civil discourse. AllSides helps people build relationships with those who are different from them, which we believe will ultimately improve our democracy.

But, could we be wrong? What if civility is actually a sham?

A TED Talk by political theorist Teresa Bejan raises this very question. Bejan studied and wrote a book about civility — particularly, religious tolerance in early modern England and America — because at the time, she thought that civility was, as she puts it, “bullsh*t.”

Yet how wrong she was.

After concluding her studies, Bejan learned “the virtue that makes un-murderous coexistence possible [in society] is the virtue of civility,” as she states in her TED Talk. “Civility makes our disagreements tolerable so that we can share a life together, even if we don’t share a faith — religious, political or otherwise.”

Still, she says, when most people talk about civility today, they are talking about something different than this. While civility is the virtue that “makes it possible to tolerate disagreement,” she says, “talking about civility [today] seems to be a strategy of disengagement — its like threatening to take your ball and go home when the game isn’t going your way.”

Often, she says, today’s “civility talk” is used as a way to “silence, suppress and exclude” those people we disagree with. (It’s a concept AllSides refers to as “tyranny of civility.”)

“Civility talk” or “tyranny of civility” gives people the feeling of the moral high ground while also allowing them to paint those they disagree with as offensive, or uncivil.

“Some people use “civility” when they want to communicate that certain views or people are beyond the pale, but they want to save themselves the trouble of actually making an argument,” Bejan says.

This is why some people (like Bejan in the past) roll their eyes at the call for civility.

“It seems like “civility talk” saves us the trouble of actually speaking to each other, allows us to talk past each other, signal our superior virtue, and let the audience know which side we’re on,” she says. In this way, “civility talk” can actually deepen divisions.

Instead of civility talk, Bejan argues we need what she calls “mere civility.” This type of civility is not the same thing as being respectful, because “we need civility precisely when we’re dealing with people we find it the most impossible to respect.” And it’s not the same as being nice, either — “because being nice means not telling people what you really think about them or their views.”

Mere civility means “speaking your mind, but to your opponent’s’ face, not behind her back…Being merely civil means pulling out punches but not landing them all at once.”

The point of civility, she says, is to allow us to “have fundamental disagreements without denying or destroying the possibility of a common life tomorrow with the people we think are standing in our way today.”

In this way, civility is closely related to courage.

“Mere civility is having the courage to make yourself disagreeable and to stay that way, but to do that while staying in the room and present to your opponents,” Bejan says. “If you’re talking about civility as a way to avoid an argument, as a way to isolate yourself in the more agreeable company of the like-minded who already agree with you, if you find yourself never actually speaking to anyone who fundamentally disagrees with you, you’re doing civility wrong.”

You can listen to Bejan’s TED Talk in full below.

You can read the original version of article on the Allsides Perspectives blog at www.allsides.com/blog/civility-bogus-concept-after-all.

New Resource & Webinar on Combating Bias in Schools

Addressing incidents of bias when they come up can be challenging, especially when they happen in schools. NCDD member org, Public Agenda, just released their new guide, “Addressing Incidents of Bias in Schools” to support having these conversations (which can be downloaded for free on their site here). There will also be a free webinar on addressing bias in schools this coming Wednesday, December 5th from 3-4pm Eastern, 12-1 Pacific – which you can register for here. You can read this announcement below and find the original version on Public Agenda’s site here.


Ways to Combat Bias in Schools: A New Resource

There’s a growing concern about discrimination and hate crimes taking place across the country. While incidents of bias can occur anywhere, it’s especially troubling when it happens in our schools. Discussing race and discrimination can be difficult for the most seasoned of professionals, however, that discomfort should not prevent important conversations from taking place.

Join Matt Leighninger and Nicole Cabral of Public Agenda for a one-hour webinar where attendees will be armed with the tips and strategies they need to facilitate safe, illuminating and productive conversations on incidents of bias. Matt and Nicole will pull from the newly-released discussion guide, “Addressing Incidents of Bias in Schools: A guide for preventing and reacting to discrimination affecting students” to provide a framework for this virtual conversation that will include advice on how to use the guide in classrooms, staff meetings, afterschool programs, and schoolwide events.

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 5 – 3:00 pm ET

Guest Speaker: Nicole Cabral, associate director of public engagement, Public Agenda
Moderator: Matt Leighninger, vice president of public engagement, Public Agenda

To register for this free webinar and to receive updates leading up to the event, please  is serving only as the host for this presentation. The content was created by the sponsor. The opinions expressed in this webinar are those of the sponsor and do not reflect the opinion of or constitute an endorsement by Editorial Projects in Education or any of its publications.

Closed-captioning is available for this event. On the date of the event, you can log in as early as 15 minutes before the start of the webinar. Open the “Closed-Captioning” link from the “resource list” (located at the bottom of the console) to access Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). A transcript will also be available for download from the resource list within three business days after the event.

You can find the original version of this announcement on Public Agenda’s site at www.publicagenda.org/pages/ways-to-combat-bias-in-schools-a-new-resource.

Exciting New Book on 30 Years of Participatory Budgeting

For our participatory budgeting enthusiasts out there (and we know there are a lot of you!), NCDD member org – the Participatory Budgeting Project, recently shared the exciting new book, Hope for Democracy: 30 years of participatory budgeting worldwide. The 600-page volume, edited by Nelson Dias, features over 60 authors on their experiences with PB across the world over the last 30 years and offers great insights for how to further grow the PB movement. We are thrilled to note that folks are able to download this book for free! You can read more about it in the post below and find the original announcement on the PBP site here.


Hope for Democracy: A New Book Reflects on 30 Years of Participatory Budgeting

An expansive new volume edited by Nelson Dias features dispatches by more than 60 authors from the frontlines of participatory budgeting’s (PB) growth around the world. This book, Hope for Democracy, could not have come out at a better time for PB supporters in North America. Next year will mark 10 years of PB in the US and new opportunities to take PB to the next level: a big citywide process approved in NYC, hundreds of new school PB processes, and growing political interest in strengthening democracy.

To make the most of these great opportunities to revitalize democracy, we need to first learn from PB’s growth internationally. Dias and his collaborators deliver countless insights in their 600-page panorama. (Download the book for free here.)

We lift up the biggest lessons below…

Why have Hope for Democracy?
Dias begins with an overview of key trends in PB as it spread from Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 to over 7,000 localities around the world. PB experts Brian Wampler, Stephanie McNulty, and Michael Touchton note how in Brazil during the 1990s, leftist politicians and activists championed PB as a radical project to “broaden the confines of representative democracy, mobilize followers, and achieve greater social justice” (p. 55); over time, it attracted support from a wide range of actors, including international organizations like the World Bank, because of its potential to improve governance and promote civic engagement. Giovanni Allegretti and Kalinca Copello discuss how, as PB spread internationally, new processes often committed fewer funds, whether measured as lower PB spending per person or as a smaller share of PB in the overall budgets (p. 45).

Benjamin Goldfrank and Katherine Landes examine how this trend has played out in the U.S. and Canada. They report that PB has expanded more slowly than other regions in terms of the number of cities implementing it, the amount of participants, and the volume of funds (p. 161). Yet, Goldfrank and Landes demonstrate this is not due to a lack of public interest: “we find that where PB allocates larger pots of money, the rate of participation tends to be higher” (p. 172). In other words, the more dollars that a PB process allocates, the more people care about it. Moreover, two bright spots on the horizon indicate that PB may grow faster in coming years: its mounting presence in schools and its rising appeal among progressive activists and politicians.

In the light of the recent victories in NYC—PB in all public high schools and citywide PB approved into the city charter—this watershed may be closer than the Goldfrank and Landes anticipated. Chapters on Paris, Russia, and Portugal offer additional insights on how to scale up PB in North America.

Paris offers a model of PB going big
Paris currently runs the largest PB process in the world. Similar to NYC’s coming city-wide process, PB in Paris was championed by a progressive mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who successfully campaigned on bringing PB to Paris in her 2014 election. Mayor Hidalgo wasted no time in implementing her plan of dedicating 5% of the city’s capital budget to PB over the first five years (That’s roughly 500 million euros!). Tiago Peixoto and colleagues use the Paris case to study large-scale issues, like whether online voting improves the process or biases it towards more privileged residents. Their research finds that voting patterns between online voters and those who vote in person are remarkably similar.

PB in Russia innovates, expands rapidly
In 2015, Russia experienced a turning point after which the number of PB processes grew surprisingly fast. This occurred when the Ministry of Finance noted the positive outcomes in regional PB processes and created a framework known as Initiative Financing. The next year, 8,732 PB projects were implemented. By 2018, half of all regional governments in the country (the equivalent of U.S. states) decided to set up PB programs.

Why did so many regions begin PB so quickly, when the federal government did not provide financial incentives to do so? Ivan Shulga and Vladimir Vagin emphasize how the central framework and technical assistance provided by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank made regional implementation much easier. These processes also made use of some innovative institutional designs. In some programs, municipalities, businesses, organizations, and citizens pledged to co-finance projects, increasing their chance of receiving regional funding. Another program used a form of sortition or citizen jury, in which a cohort of volunteer budget delegates was randomly selected, to work with experts to turn project ideas into full-fledged and feasible proposals.

Portugal leads the way with national PB
Portugal was the first country to run nation-wide PB. While the process is not particularly large in terms of public participation or budget, it does provide one model of a large-scale institutional design that bridges disparate regions.

Roberto Falanga outlines how the process collected nearly 1,000 ideas from each part of the country in 50 assemblies and winnowed them down into viable proposals for a vote. The process did not use budget delegates to revise the proposals. While this may streamline the process, it runs the risk of giving experts and officials more power than public participants. However, an effort was made to minimize this danger by requiring detailed reasons for rejecting proposals and re-including ones that could be revised and made feasible. Still, proposals that were backed by informal social networks may have received undue prominence. For example a bullfighting project won funding even though a majority of the Portuguese public believes that the practice should be banned.

Reflecting on what’s been done, ready for more
It’s an exciting moment to get involved with PB. And it’s an important time to reflect on how far different regions have taken PB. While there are currently around 100 active processes in the U.S. and Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean hosts around 2,500 processes and Europe 3,500. We have some catching up to do.

Donate here to help PB grow.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/hope-for-democracy-a-new-book-reflects-on-30-years-of-participatory-budgeting/.

Moving Past Couch-Potato Democracy to Engagement

In the sixth installment of their series, democracy around the world, NCDD sponsoring member, the Jefferson Center, wrote this piece on how Americans can be more civically engaged and address our challenging issues. Many of the states in the U.S. are designed to give the people even more power to shape legislation through initiatives and referendums. The article challenges for people to push more into civic life and participate in government, especially when their elected officials are not. You can read the article below and find the original version of it on the Jefferson Center site https://jefferson-center.org/2018/09/initiate-democracy-across-the-united-states/here.


It’s Time to Initiate Democracy Across the United States

This is the sixth post in our blog series exploring democracy around the world, submitted by a diverse group of people interested in using deliberation, participation, and civic tech to solve challenges we face today. The following does not necessarily represent the views of the Jefferson Center or Jefferson Center staff.

John Hakes is a freelance writer and Certified Public Accountant who has worked with the U.S. Census Bureau and Questar Assessment Inc. He earned his Master’s Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

In the opening blog of this series, guest blogger Ross Busch suggested a national assembly model recently employed by the country of Ireland– on an agenda of climate change leadership, aging population and abortion– might be used to address the seemingly intractable issue of gun control in the United States.

If Ireland, a nation with a centuries-long entrenched position on the sensitive abortion issue can use informed reasoning to assess the will of the people through assembly— the Busch reasoning goes– there is hope people could do likewise on other emotionally-charged issues.

We will now ‘wait ‘n see’ whether Busch’s clarion call takes root around the world. But meanwhile, in November, the twin ‘people power’ petition mechanism afforded to American citizens by the First Amendment will be exercised on the issue of gun control. That’s when Washington citizens will decide whether they wish to add parameters to the use of firearms through a vote of the people via Initiative I-1639.

The Initiative Tool

Should you call states like Hawaii, New Mexico, Iowa, North Carolina, Maryland, or around 20 others home, you may not be not familiar with the initiative process.

Unlike a referendum, where a question must come from a given jurisdiction’s legislative body, a citizen initiative is typically created when a certain number of ‘registered voter’ signatures are gathered on a question proposed to become law.  Initiatives can either be direct (where potential new law is decided on by voters) or indirect (where the affirmed petition question is handed to a Legislature for it to decide on).

The state of Washington’s citizen initiative process was enacted in 1897. The I-1639 effort began when the gun measure petition received the requisite number of signatures from across the state.  Naturally, the road from ‘obtaining a verifiable set of signatures’ to ‘Secretary of State approval’ to ‘finalized question on the November ballot’ has been met by significant counter challenges. But on August 24, 2018, a ruling of the Washington Supreme Court officially permitted the existence of the ‘gun measures’ question to be included on the November 6th ballot .

Initiative and Referendum in the U.S.

Less than half of the U.S. states allow their citizens to raise & legally install the answer to a question through the initiative process. More western than eastern states have this process in place.

At least partly due to the continually shifting voting preferences over time in a given electorate, states currently deemed ‘red’ and ‘blue’ both offer legislation-by-initiative. Washington & California are examples of so-called blue states while North Dakota and Arizona are counted among ‘red’ states that utilize initiatives.

Unsurprisingly, voter turnout in these states has historically been 5 to 7 percent higher than in states without initiative and referendum (states with one typically offer the other). The reason for this is simple: voters feel that their vote for or against a grassroots-raised issue on the ballot does make a difference.

Despite being a state that frequently leads the nation in voter turnout,  Minnesota–also well-known for possessing a strong political and civic culture–features neither an Initiative or Referendum component in its democratic procedural toolkit.

Like every other state, Minnesota does allow questions pertaining to  legislatively-referred, state constitutional amendments to be decided on by voters.  There have been three periods in which the right to decide by Initiative has been seriously considered in Minnesota, with the last push led by MN House Representative Erik Paulsen during the Jesse Ventura administration of the early 2000s.

Looking ahead

Although it’s true that social media has the power to amplify voices and mobilize people to achieve ‘a’ form of grassroots push on a given issue, such sentiments too often blow away with the wind of the next incoming news cycle.  Rather than focusing only on the  couch-potato democracy by electronic device, Americans in half of the U.S. states should exercise the legal levers they already have to permanently alter the law when their elected representatives don’t seem up to the task.

To quote the Busch piece again: “Conversations between ordinary citizens on complex topics are perhaps the greatest defense against the degradation of modern politics.”

What better way to begin stepping across the street for face-to-face conversation than to create outcomes on even an incredibly divisive issue through an Initiative provision, like approximately half of our country’s people have the legal luxury of doing?

And though founders like James Madison would likely be one to equate the Initiative process with ill-advisedly caving to the passions of the people, perhaps even our celebrated ‘Father of the Constitution’ might see the diligence and organization required of Initiative efforts as preferable to the Rule by Retweet method that regularly influences the course of events today.

Thanks to efforts like those who’ve advanced the I-1639 in Washington, political pockets of our country are arguably “deliberating, even when it’s difficult,” on important issues, as writer Ross Busch recommends.

You can find the original version of this article on The Jefferson Center site at www.jefferson-center.org/2018/09/initiate-democracy-across-the-united-states/.

Celebrating Our Time Together at #NCDD2018!

Wow! We can barely believe it’s been a week since we all parted ways at #NCDD2018! The 8th National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation convened hundreds of innovators and practitioners in dialogue, deliberation, civic engagement, and more. It was an incredible time to come together, see old friends and make new ones, learn from each other, and find ways in which we can conspire moving forward.

Lots of gratitude is in store for those who helped make #NCDD2018 the dynamic event that it was! An immense THANK YOU to our conference sponsors (and D&D champions) for your generous support – you truly help drive this work and this field forward, and we couldn’t do this without you!

Huge THANK YOU to our indispensable conference planning team who worked hard to make NCDD2018 such a great success! NCDD conferences are collaborative from the beginning, which is why it was vital to have such a creative and supportive planning team. These phenomenal individuals offered their precious hours and valuable skills to make this conference a sensational reality – helping design the event, getting the word out, and volunteering on the ground to make sure things went smoothly. Putting on an event like #NCDD2018 is no easy lift, but because of the incredible team we worked with, they made it both possible and a joy!

While the conference planning team worked hard to design a great event… it’s thanks to our fantastic attendees who really brought #NCDD2018 to life! It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and also meet lots of new folks who have been doing this work (many of whom were first-timers to NCDD conferences!). It’s exciting to say that with over 450 attendees – #NCDD2018 was our largest event yet!

Our theme for this conference was, Connecting and Strengthening Civic Innovators, and so we made sure to provide ample space for people to connect with each other, build relationships, and explore how to broaden the capacity for this work.

#NCDD2018 featured 6 pre-conference sessions and several other events on Thursday, and over the following three days we had: 60+ workshops, 3 engaging plenaries, 40+ presenters during the D&D Showcase, 3 mentoring sessions, dozens of posts on the Networking Board, and countless connections made throughout. This conference held space for fellow attendees to connect with each other by using the plentiful breakout rooms or getting out in the city for a Civic Dinner. If there was a session you didn’t see and/or wanted to explore a particular subject more, you could offer your own session during the plenaries for Open Space and ProAction Cafe. This conference had a unique opportunity for NCDDers to attend the kick-off community event for the White Privilege Symposium which was held in the main ballroom on Friday night and offered an evening of powerful performances on addressing inequality.

Not to rub it in too much, but if you weren’t able to join us, you really missed out!

Moving Forward to Connect and Strengthen Civic Innovators

NCDD conferences are always in-person reminders of just how powerful this work is and how truly catalytic we can be when we come together. We want the conferences to be incubators for motivation to do this work and connections to make it happen, both at the conference and beyond!

There are a few ways to enrich your experience at #NCDD2018 and/or tap into the knowledge of the conference (even if you weren’t able to join us in person). We encourage you to check out:

  • The conference Google drive folder – which can be found at: bit.ly/ncdd2018. We highly recommend that everyone please add your notes, slides from your presentations, and other info to the folder for everyone to share. We also hope you’ll upload the best pictures you took to this folder so we can see all of the smiling faces of NCDD!
  • Our interactive guidebook (hosted by Konveio) – view graphic recordings, post comments, connect with other attendees, and more at www.kauses.org/ncdd2018

Keep the conversation going on social media with the hashtags #NCDD2018#NCDD, and #NCDDEmergingLeaders or by participating in our NCDD Facebook Discussion Group. Don’t forget to follow NCDD on Facebook and Twitter!

Friendly reminder! At the conference, we shared a special offer for attendees to join NCDD as a member at a discounted rate and you got to experience first-hand the exciting potential of NCDD and being part of the Coalition. We want to remind folks who attended #NCDD2018 to take advantage of this limited time offer to join NCDD as a member ASAP while it still lasts! An email with the link on how to join at this special rate was sent out last week, so email me at keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org if you missed it.

We want to hear from you! The conference evaluation is up at www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCDD2018Eval. Please be sure to let us know what you loved, what could have been better, and any advice you have for the next planning team. We appreciate any feedback you can offer and will take it into consideration as we plan #NCDD2020. Thank you so much!

We are truly honored to be working to support our network and the important work you do. We will continue to share more in-depth updates on specific outcomes and next steps that emerged from the conference over the next weeks, so continue to check back here on the news blog for more.

For now, let’s bask in the great memories we made during this incredible gathering of our field while we make plans for advancing our work until the next time we all meet together for #NCDD2020!

Opportunity for Students to Join Youth Collaboratory by 11/13

In case you missed it, Citizen University is accepting applications until this Tuesday for their 2019 Youth Collaboratory cohort! The Youth Collaboratory is an exciting opportunity for 24 high school sophomores and juniors, passionate about civic engagement, to join this year-long program to strengthen civic literacy and network with civic leaders. Applications are due November 13th – so make sure to share with your networks and submit applications by this coming Tuesday. You can read more about the Youth Collaboratory and how to apply in the post below, and find the original version of this information on Citizen University’s site here.


Empowering the Rising Generation: Youth Collaboratory

The Youth Collaboratory is a year-long program for 24 highly-motivated students from around the country who are passionate about civic engagement and making a positive change in their communities and country. The Youth Collaboratory is one component of Citizen University’s Youth Power Project, a multi-year effort supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation to empower and connect a rising generation of civic leaders and doers. The application for the 2019 Youth Collaboratory is open now!

The application due date is Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 11:59pm PT. For details about the program, including a PDF of all application questions – read more below. If you have questions about this application, please contact Ben Phillips at ben@citizenuniversity.us.

Learn More About the Youth Collaboratory 

Members of the 2019 Youth Collaboratory will spend the year sharpening their literacy in civic power while traveling to cities around the nation and meeting with national civic innovators. They participate in interactive workshops led by Eric Liu and Citizen University educators, collaborate with CU staff to develop, test, and optimize programs to engage youth nation-wide, and individually complete independent projects in their communities. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to be connected to a network of incredible change-makers and gain the skills and connections for a lifetime of civic power.

The Youth Collaboratory program includes:

  • Travel, accommodations, and meals to attend three meetings of the Youth Collaboratory in 2019:
    • Feb. 20-22 in Malibu, CA
    • May 15-17 in Chicago, IL
    • Sept. 11-13 in Washington, DC
  • Tools and workshop trainings to become powerful, engaged citizen leaders
  • Connections with civic innovators and mentors
  • Connections with other student leaders and innovators from around the country

Who is eligible:

  • Applicants must be current high school sophomores or juniors
  • Applicants must live in the United States
  • Applicants must be able to attend all three of the Youth Collaboratory meetings (We are aware that the May dates conflict with certain Advanced Placement (AP) testing dates. There is a place on the application to indicate any AP tests you are taking, and we will make arrangements as possible.)
  • Students who come from backgrounds that historically have less access to power and civic opportunity are especially encouraged to apply, specifically young people of color, immigrants, and young women.

Application:

  • The application deadline is November 13, 2018 at 11:59pm Pacific Time
  • View a PDF of the application here
  • Apply now

Please contact Ben Phillips at ben@citizenuniversity.us with any questions.

In this era of economic and political inequality, the work of power literacy is especially urgent, nowhere more so than in the rising generation of young people who will be facing the consequences of today’s polarization and inequality for years to come. Armed with the knowledge, skills, connections, and experience of the Youth Collaboratory, our diverse cohort of passionate young people will be prepared to be true leaders of civic change in America for the next generation.

Past Participants

The 2019 cohort of the Youth Collaboratory is the third cohort of this exciting and innovative program. In the first two years of the program, participants came from over 20 states representing every region of the country, with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Here is some of what they had to say about the Youth Collaboratory:

“The highlight was getting to meet with the Civic Collaboratory, to really connect to people in the successful, professional world and talk to them about the issues and projects that they’re working on. It’s really inspiring.”

“I was shocked at the space we created, that we allowed each other to feel safe expressing our opinions and views.”

“I was so pleased to be welcomed into a group that taught me how to be the best civic version of myself that I could be.”

Follow Citizen University on social media, to learn more about the Youth Collaboratory and other programs!

You can find the original version of this information on the Citizen University site at www.citizenuniversity.us/programs/youth-power-project/.