Job Opportunity: SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue

The NCDD community is a vibrant group of individuals dedicated to improving dialogue & deliberation, and is an excellent network to hear about the latest job opportunities and/or find your next fantastic employee!

Which is why were we thrilled to receive the job post below, submitted to the NCDD blog by Brenda Tang of SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue – an NCDD member. They are seeking a full-time Manager, Knowledge and Practice, to work in their Vancouver office. Applications are due Monday, August 6th – so make sure you apply by then!

If you’re looking to hear about the jobs we find ASAP, make sure you sign up here for our Making-A-Living listserv where we post opportunities as we find them. To note, access to the Making-A-Living listserv is part of being an NCDD member, so make sure you join/renew your NCDD membership here to receive this great benefit! Finally, if your organization is hiring, send the details directly to the Making-A-Living listserv or to keiva[at]ncdd[dot]org.


Job Opportunity: Manager, Knowledge and Practice at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue

As our future ambassador for Knowledge and Practice, you have both the analytical chops to identify and spread best practices for dialogue and engagement, as well as the street smarts to lead real-world projects for government clients. You will be a key contributor in articulating the Centre’s methods for citizen engagement, collaborative decision-making and dialogue. Through working with government, engagement practitioners, and stakeholders, you will play a pivotal role in strengthening the democratic process, decreasing polarization and creating positive and enduring social change. You will also have the opportunity to develop professional programs and the internal knowledge base within staff and its programs.

SFU is committed to employment equity, welcomes diversity in the workplace and encourages applications from all qualified individuals including women, members of visible minorities, Aboriginal persons and persons with disabilities. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply, although Canadians and Permanent Residents will be given priority.

Application deadline: August 6, 2018

Full job description and application information: https://trr.tbe.taleo.net/trr01/ats/careers/v2/viewRequisition?org=SIMOFRAS&cws=37&rid=308

Please share with this announcement with your networks and best of luck to all applicants!

ENGAGING IDEAS – 08/03/2018


Democracy

New app News With Friends encourages users to share stories from outside their filter bubble (journalism.co.uk)
The social app wants to fill the space left by Facebook deprioritising news content in its News Feed.Continue Reading

Facebook Identifies an Active Political Influence Campaign Using Fake Accounts (The New York Times)
Facebook said on Tuesday that it had identified a political influence campaign that was potentially built to disrupt the midterm elections, with the company detecting and removing 32 pages and fake accounts that had engaged in activity around divisive social issues.
Continue Reading

Social Movements Are Much More Partisan Than They Used to Be (The Atlantic)
There are definite parallels between today's protests and those of the 1960s, when Graham Nash wrote his classic anthem, "Teach Your Children." But increased polarization means changes in tactics and goals.
Continue Reading


Opportunity/Inequality

One chart that shows how much worse income inequality is in America than Europe (Vox)
The income share of the poorest half of Americans is declining while the richest have grabbed more. In Europe, it's not happening.
Continue Reading

10 cities with the highest, lowest income inequality (Becker's Hospital Review)
Atlanta has the highest income inequality among the nation's metro areas, according to an analysis by Zippia, a career search and employment services company.
Continue Reading

Middle-class Americans still haven't recovered from housing bust, study finds (MarketWatch)
A new study by the Opportunity and Growth Institute at the Minneapolis Fed found that the housing boom and bust made middle-class Americans poorer but boosted wealth for the richest 10%, widening the income and wealth gap substantially.
Continue Reading


Engagement

A Roadmap for Policy Change (GovEx)
GovEx created A Roadmap for Policy Change for cities, and with input from cities, to facilitate a new way to help municipalities rethink the way they solve problems and address the most salient policy challenges in urban governance. Read the Roadmap below.
Continue Reading

What's New in Civic Tech: Boulder, Colo., Works to Develop Better City Website by Engaging Users (Government Technology)
Boulder, Colo., is the latest local government to design a new website with guidance from the end users - the city's residents.
Continue Reading


K-12

New York City schools agree to bullying reforms in wake of lawsuit (Chalkbeat)
A legal settlement calling on the education department to do more to address bullying in schools was approved this week by a judge, despite objections from advocates.
Continue Reading

Many charter schools fail to disclose spending on low-income students, report says (EdSource)
The vast majority of California's charter schools sampled for a study failed to fully disclose how they spent money on students targeted for assistance under the state's funding formula. Some didn't account for any of that funding, as the state requires, according to a report released Wednesday by the nonprofit law and advocacy organization Public Advocates.
Continue Reading

Online learning can open doors for kids in juvenile jails (The Hechinger Report)
While online-only programs have come under fire for deprioritizing classroom relationships and providing too little instructional support for students, blended programs have been seen as able to strike an ideal balance.
Continue Reading


Higher Ed/Workforce

Colleges and Universities Woo Once-Overlooked Transfer Students (The New York Times)
Transfer students - whose challenges have often been ignored in higher education - are feeling a surge in popularity as colleges and universities are increasingly wooing them.
Continue Reading

The iGen Shift: Colleges Are Changing to Reach the Next Generation (The New York Times)
The newest students are transforming the way schools serve and educate them, including sending presidents and deans to Instagram and Twitter.
Continue Reading

Will Majoring in Psychology Make You Better Off? The Government Wants to Know (Wall Street Journal)
The Trump administration is moving to require colleges and universities to publish more detailed data on the finances of their graduates, part of a broader effort to make higher education more market driven and focused on consumer choice.
Continue Reading


Health Care

Value-based healthcare models require a better-educated, patient-centered workforce (Modern Healthcare)
The drive to attain value-based care is reshaping hospital staffing at every level, from hiring to education to teamwork.
Continue Reading

Majority of women in healthcare say it will take 25+ years to reach parity in workplace (Becker's Hospital Review)
The past year brought conversations about sexual harassment and assault in the workplace into mainstream discourse. Despite this newfound collective consciousness - or perhaps because of it - women are more pessimistic about how long it will take to reach gender parity in the workplace, according to an annual surveyof women in healthcare conducted by Rock Health, a digital health venture fund.
Continue Reading

The Health 202: 'Medicare for all' is the dream. 'Medicaid for more' could be the reality. (Washington Post)
"Medicare for all" is the hottest position on the left these days, but there's a quieter push afoot to create a public option using Medicaid..
Continue Reading

NCDD Member Discount Available on weDialogue Events!

We are excited to share that NCDD member Amy Lenzo is offering dues-paying NCDD members a 20% registration discount on their upcoming webinars! They are offering The Art of Online Hosting for four Wednesdays starting August 8th and running until August 29th. On August 14th, there is a free Community World Cafe webinar happening that all are welcome to join. Looking to strengthen your skills around tech hosting? Join the Mastering the Art of Tech Hosting course, a companion series to The Art of Online Hosting, starting August 30th and going every Thursday until October 18th.

If you are not an NCDD member or if your dues have lapsed, now is a great time to [re]join NCDD as an official member to receive this great discount and learn more benefits of NCDD membership! We encourage you to read more in the post below and find the original information on weDialogue’s site here.


The Art of Online Hosting

The Art of Online Hosting is designed for those who are called to gather people together across geographic boundaries and host online courses and events that are everything we know they can be – real, engaging, truly interactive & deeply connected.

Four Wednesdays – August 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th
10am – 12pm Pacific Time (ONLINE)

The course, experienced in a series of four two-hour online sessions, is both visionary and practical. Visionary in that it awakens new possibilities for how to “be” together in the digital realm, and practical in terms of sharing specific tools and practices that underpin successful online engagements.

We’ll focus on the basics and some of the deeper levels of hosting in the digital realm, using a variety of participatory formats as our entryways – not simply as methods, but as fundamental patterns of engagement.

We will become familiar with the technology of online interaction and together explore how to be fully present and connected – to the collective wisdom in our groups & to the innate wisdom of the earth – as the stance from which we host.

Join us and open the door to a better way to be together online.

Hosted by Amy Lenzo and FireHawk Hulin

For more information – click here
REGISTER HERE

August Community World Cafe

These Cafes are for everyone – whether you have just joined our global community of practice or you’ve been here for years. We’ve found there is something wonderful about connecting with other World Cafe practitioners from all over the world. 

No matter where you live on this beautiful planet, your voice is welcome and needed as we create hospitable space together online.

The idea came from a series of Community Cafes we hosted in September 2016 to find out what is needed to support our extended shared community of practice.
For details, please see the Harvest Report
 
These World Cafe Community Cafes are free of charge & produced entirely on a volunteer basis. AND we warmly invite your contributions.

Please contact us to volunteer your time and expertise, and/or make a financial contribution (everything is helpful) via your registration form or the contributions page on the World Cafe website. 

This is a time in which many of us feel deep divisions in the world. Listening deeply to and with each other is one of these key things that helps us hold the challenges we face together. Join us for this month’s Community Cafe! 

REGISTER HERE

Mastering the Art of Tech Hosting

Announcing the long-awaited companion course to The Art of Online Hosting…

Mastering the Art of Tech Hosting is all about partnering. It’s about being in relationship – with your technology, with the needs of the program design and the hosting team, and with the deeper patterns that support Life (and extraordinary online experiences).

Eight Thursdays – Aug 30th, Sept 6th, Sept 13th & Sept 20th, Sept 27th, Oct 4th, Oct 11th, & Oct 18th
10am – 12pm Pacific Time (ONLINE)

The course is primarily for those who want to focus their attention and skills on the technology of online hosting, working in partnership with an online host. But it’s also for online hosts who want to understand what’s “under the hood” for themselves, at an advanced level of proficiency, whether or not they are working with a tech host.

Completing this course will give you a solid grounding in the art and craft of Tech Hosting & the deeper awareness that will allow you to step confidently into in this exciting new field, knowing you are well prepared.

Hosted by Amy Lenzo and FireHawk Hulin

For more information – click here
REGISTER HERE

For all these events, use the promotional code “GIFT” (all caps) to receive the 20% discount.

You can find the original version of this on the weDialogue site at www.wedialogue.com/events/.

suing for better civics

(DCA) Robert Pondiscio for the Fordham Institute:

Many of us who view ourselves as civic-education advocates spend lots of time writing earnest op-eds and columns, attending conferences, and speaking on panels … Collectively, we have spilled gallons of ink urging states, school districts, and teachers to return public education to its roots.

Well, to hell with all that jawboning, says Michael Rebell, in effect. He’s going to force the issue by making a federal case out of it. Literally.

An attorney and Columbia professor, Rebell has been quietly working with a group of law school students to prepare a federal lawsuit to be filed next month, arguing that our public schools are not adequately preparing children for citizenship. ….

Before you write this off as a quixotic quest or mere law school exercise, know that Rebell isn’t just some lawyer, or even some professor. In 1993, he led the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit against the State of New York and won …

I would add that Rebell’s new book, Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation (University of Chicago Press, 2018) is a thoughtful, well-informed, and judicious overview of civics–valuable even if you aren’t interested in the lawsuit. The book also helpfully explains what would happen if the plaintiffs won. They wouldn’t ask courts to set education policy but to require a deliberative process (involving elected officials and others) that would make progress on civics.

NCL Webinar on How Libraries Serve Vulnerable People, 8/7

As part of their Promising Practices Webinars, a series dedicated to lifting up creative civic engagement projects around the country, NCDD member – the National Civic League is hosting their next one on August 7th! This free webinar will focus on how public libraries are being utilized in DC and Denver to better serve vulnerable people. NCDD knows the possibilities that libraries hold as drivers of civic engagement in their communities, which is why we are in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA), and wanted to lift up this webinar as another important example of how libraries are vital to our society. 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: Public Libraries Lending Social Work Resources to Vulnerable People

Join the National Civic League to learn about how libraries are serving vulnerable people.

Tuesday August 7th at 9:30 am PST / 10:30 am MST / 11:30 am CST /12:30 pm EST

Public libraries see some of the community’s most pressing problems up close. In this webinar, learn how libraries are assisting people with recovery needs and homelessness. In Denver, a community resource team helps people connect with resources to help them reach their goals. In Washington, D.C., the public library engages customers without homes and facilitates access to social services, medical care, and housing. Learn how these libraries have leveraged community partnerships, trained staff, developed programs and even engaged customers.

About the presenters:

Jean Badalamenti, a licensed social worker with more than 25 years of experience, became the D.C. Public Library’s first health and human services coordinator in 2014. A graduate of Howard University’s master’s in social work program in the late 1980s, she has been living and working in Washington, D.C. ever since, advocating for people without homes or jobs, as well as those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. At the Library, Jean spends roughly half her time focused on customers without homes – including how to manage their needs during the MLK library’s upcoming renovation. In addition, Jean has also coordinated efforts to open a library branch at the D.C. jail, which the City Council recently funded.

Elissa Hardy, LCSW is the Community Resource Manager at the Denver Public Library. This department consists of three other social workers and four peer navigators. Her role also includes providing training for library staff in the areas of trauma-informed services, homelessness, mental health, resiliency, and more. The Community Resource team connects with Denver’s citizens utilizing the library who are experiencing life challenges. The team works to support and build relationships with people and assist them in navigating community resources to achieve their goals and improve quality of life. Elissa also teaches courses on Policy, Mental Health, Substance Use, Trauma and Recovery, and Power, Privilege and Oppression at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver.

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

Have questions about AAC Promising Practices Webinar: Public Libraries Lending Social Work Resources to Vulnerable People? Contact National Civic League

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.

All-America City Award

2019 All-America City Application

The All-America City Experience

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/.

Local Civic Challenge #4: Telling Your Community’s Story

In the final installment of the Local Civic Challenge from by NCDD member, The Jefferson Center, they recommend folks get involved in telling the story of your local community. Last month, the Local Civic Challenge offered a mini-challenge every week to encourage folks to be more civically engaged in your community and local democratic efforts. This fourth edition advises to get to know your neighbors and listen to their stories, as well as, participate in your local newsgathering and share the story of your community. You can read the post below and find the original on the JC site here.


Local Civic Challenge #4: Telling the Story of Your Community

Supporting local storytelling strengthens our relationships and preserves the history of our communities. When we listen to the experiences of our neighbors, we can better understand one another, which makes it easier to work through projects and issues together.

Think about your role in your local news ecosystem–are you subscribed to the local paper? Do you know what the current headlines are? Can you identify a few stories that aren’t being covered, but should be? According to a 2015 Pew survey, Americans are great at sharing news, but we don’t often get involved in actual newsgathering ourselves.

For this week’s civic challenge, we’ve found a few ways you can start collecting stories and amplifying diverse voices in your neighborhood:

1. Meet with people

Find events like garage sales, movies in the park, and clothing swaps where you can sit (or stand) across from someone and get to know them. If these don’t exist already, create your own community gatherings! Share online, and post to community bulletin boards in places like the grocery store and community center.

2. Submit an op-ed or write a blog post

Take stock of the local papers and blogs in your community to see where you could submit a story. Here are a few tips on how to start writing for your community paper.

3. Use technology

Apps and social media pages that connect neighborhoods are becoming more common, such as:

Nextdoor is a “private social network” for your community. While some people use the app to report a break-in or a lost dog, you can also post about upcoming cookouts or garage sales.

Ioby helps kickstart community projects, through crowd-funding, social networks, volunteers, and advocacy. You can find out what projects are happening near you, and if it’s a cause you can get behind, help spread the word.

Patch is a customizable “hyperlocal” news feed with real-time alerts, local articles, and easy social sharing.

Neighborhood Facebook groups are another way to share photos, events, news, and concerns with people who live close to you.

Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat: by following the hashtag and location of your city on these apps, you can see what people are posting about locally.

4. Host a listening booth

Setting up a listening booth is easy: find a spot with some foot traffic, set up a table and two chairs, and make a sign that says “Let’s Chat!” Giving people your undivided attention, instead of focusing on when it’s your turn to talk, will likely open up an incredible conversation about their life experiences.

5. Launch a community history project

Using all the techniques above, you can record stories with tools like the StoryCorps app, which give people a chance to easily record meaningful conversations that are then archived at the Library of Congress. On their website, you’ll find guides to asking questions, resources you need to record, how to prepare for a storyteller interview, and more.

If you like taking photos, you could pair your story collecting with a photo series, like Humans of New York.

This marks the end of the Local Civic Challenge! Do you have other ideas that will help people get engaged with their communities? Let us know below.

You can find the original version of this article on The Jefferson Center site at www.jefferson-center.org/telling-story-your-community/.

from modest civic reforms to a making a stand for democracy

This summer, I’ve had the chance to lead discussions among 20 scholars and activists who gathered for two weeks at Tufts, to chair the Frontiers of Democracy conference for about 130 educators and organizers (mostly Americans), to work with social studies teachers in Utah and in Ukraine, and to participate in the 4th annual European Summer Institute for scholars and activists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. I got to meet more than 200 new people, almost all of whom would say that their vocation is to support democracy.

These conversations provoke reflection on my part, a quarter century after I started in the “democracy business” at Common Cause and then at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. It strikes me that our agenda must be very different today from during the Bush I and Clinton years, when I was in my 20s and early 30s. I’ve perhaps been too slow to adjust to the change (the Obama years made me complacent), but it’s not too late.

In the late 1900s, the formal systems of parliamentary democracy seemed secure in countries like the US, and triumphant globally. Autocrats were old guys who couldn’t deliver prosperity, achieve popularity, or anticipate the social movements that toppled them.

However, politics and government were unpopular in the US. We weren’t using public institutions to tackle complex and profound problems, such as de-industrialization, racial injustice, or environmental crises. Maybe that was because the neoliberal center-left–leaders like Clinton and Blair–had simply given up. Or maybe it was because citizens had come to mistrust public institutions for good reasons, and the tools and processes of government were inadequate to the challenges of the day.

Meanwhile, everyday civic life had eroded. Robert Putnam suggested this erosion in “Bowling Alone” (1995); succeeding events have unfortunately vindicated him. Traditionally, formal politics in the US rested on a foundation of associations that brought people out of their private spheres and taught them values and skills relevant to national government. Those associations had shrunk and fractured.

Many of us thought that we should try to “deepen” democracy by adding to the formal processes of our political system better opportunities for citizens to discuss and collaborate. That would repair some of the gaps among citizens and between citizens and the state and would enable civil society to tackle intractable problems. This was the premise of the National Commission on Civic Renewal, of which I was deputy director (1997-8), and of my 2000 book, The New Progressive Era: Toward a Fair and Deliberative Democracy.

Flash forward to 2018, and we observe a very different situation. The autocrats and oligarchs are now the innovators, delivering prosperity and popularity in countries like China. Freedom House argues that democracy has been in retreat for a dozen years. As influential as the book version of Bowling Alone was in 2000 is this year’s How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.

Then, one of the concerns was US arrogance and ideological imperialism, as we sent legions of advisers to places like the former Soviet Union and discussed the End of History thesis. We “spiked the football” in the end-zone of the Cold War. Now China offers the model that has rising global appeal: sophisticated technocratic authoritarianism, a corporate-dominated market economy, and assertive nationalism. The US follows that global trend but in a version that inspires almost no one beyond our borders.

Many people don’t merely disapprove of the performance of their respective democratic governments; they explicitly disparage democracy. Whereas every Republican president from TR to George W. Bush (except perhaps Taft) presented himself as a champion of democracy (by that name), now only one of the major American parties consistently endorses democracy as an ideal.

Americans are not merely disengaged and a little mistrustful of one another; we increasingly hate each other.

In the modern world, we observe events not directly, but through media of communications. Those media have been massively transformed since the late 1900s. One third fewer people are employed at journalists today, metropolitan daily newspapers have virtually collapsed, and the global media environment is dominated by openly ideological broadcast companies and caustic social media.

We’ve made some progress on some social issues (health insurance, for instance), but other issues have reached the boiling point. Policing, for example, was racially unjust in the 1990s. People then demanded the execution of innocent young Black men and defended their stance by saying, “maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.” But now the person who uttered that particular phrase is the President of the United States and has the explicit support of more than 4 in 10 Americans.

I am increasingly skeptical that our main need is to deepen democracy–to add forums, programs, or policies that grant citizens more valuable roles in our formal systems. I doubt that strategy would block Brexit or Trump or the purge of the Supreme Court in Poland. Deepening democracy might work for addressing a mild sense of alienation from routine governance, but not for holding back autocracy.

If mishandled, this strategy can even help to delegitimize institutions that deserve support.  Caroline W. Lee argues that organized deliberations can co-opt resistance. Cristina Lafont worries that deliberative fora can delegitimize regular democratic processes, such as elections, by making them look so inferior that they don’t deserve protection. China is implementing local deliberative processes at a large scale, perhaps to blunt criticism and improve satisfaction with its regime.

I think the new wave of strategies must have these features:

  1. Democracy must be championed by candidates, parties, and movements that aim to govern, not by specialized nonprofits in the democracy field. We can’t be satisfied with procedural innovations around the edges. Governments must demonstrate that they can get better outcomes by using democratic methods. That means that the same people must offer procedural reforms, democratic values, and substantive policies, and they must deliver results while they hold power.
  2. Democratic reforms must shift the balance of power. That means that democracy can’t be viewed as politically neutral or nonpartisan. Some people must gain influence at others’ expense, to even the balance.
  3. Our strategies must address formal processes and rights guaranteed by constitutions–not add-ons.
  4. We should make more use of direct action and contentious social movement tactics.
  5. Arguments for democracy must be enthusiastic assertions of human dignity, fairness and equity, decency and non-corruption. They can’t be technocratic, legalistic, or procedural arguments, nor can they be hedged with qualifications. Human beings (everywhere) simply have a birthright to be treated as owners of their societies.

In many countries, the torch can be carried by new parties with explicitly democratic values and policy agendas. Pedemos (left) and Ciudadanos (center-right) both fit that bill in Spain.

In the US, the most important struggles involve our existing parties. The Democrats must win in 2018 and 2020, must then govern competently, must articulate a persuasive vision of an inclusive democracy, and must shift from making social policy reforms (like Obamacare) to changing who has power through electoral and labor-law reforms. They must address the third level of power.

Meanwhile, conservatives must capture the Republican Party for a genuinely conservative agenda of decentralization, constitutionalism, and skepticism about government. This may sound like “concern trolling“: a liberal pretending to care about the GOP to score points against it. But I genuinely believe that the struggle of true conservatives for their party is one of the most important frontiers in the US today.

See also: people trust authoritarian governments mostwhy autocrats are winningwhat does it mean to say democracy is in retreat?; and why the deliberative democracy framework doesn’t quite work for me.

NCDD2018 Pre-Conference Sessions Announced for Nov 1!

We are excited to announce the pre-conference sessions for the upcoming 2018 National Conference for Dialogue & Deliberation happening in downtown Denver! While the conference will officially be from Friday, November 2nd through Sunday, November 4th; we also have a full day planned for several pre-conference sessions on Thursday, November 1st! We encourage you to keep these in mind when planning your trip for NCDD2018 and consider joining us the day before to participant in these fantastic pre-conference sessions – which you can check out below.

Stay tuned to the NCDD blog in the coming weeks for information on registering for these pre-conference sessions, and we will begin announcing the workshops next Monday. Friendly reminder to get your tickets for NCDD by clicking here. We have a room block at the Sheraton Downtown Denver (where the conference will be held), and if you are looking for a roommate for the conference – check out our blog post here to coordinate!


Pre-Conference Sessions: Thursday, November 1st

Tackling Wicked Problems in Local Communities: A Workshop for Local Governments, School Districts, and Community Leaders
This workshop is focused on building local capacity to engage difficult issues more collaboratively and productively through the use of deliberative engagement processes. Deliberative engagement involves interactive, often facilitated, small group discussions utilizing materials and processes designed to spark collaborative learning rather than merely the collection of individual opinions. An opening session will examine the concept of “wicked problems” as a framework to better understand difficult issues and then review recent research on social psychology to help explain why traditional engagement processes are often counterproductive to supporting the high quality communication democracy requires. The workshop will then review the key components to deliberative engagement and explore and engage in hands-on practice with a variety of tools and techniques drawn from several dialogue and deliberation traditions. The workshop will be particularly valuable to practitioners focused on their local community working to build capacity across the public, private, and non-profit sectors for higher quality engagement.

All proceeds from the workshop fees are being provided to NCDD to support their ongoing efforts.

Martín Carcasson, Ph.D
Professor of Communication Studies at Colorado State University, the Founder and Director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) (www.cpd.colostate.edu), and the current chair of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation Board of Directors (www.ncdd.org).

We the People Are More Powerful Than We Dare to Believe
The Community Rights movement has helped more than 200 communities in nine states to pass local laws that begin to dismantle corporate rule from the local up. Communities are banning harmful corporate activities, stripping corporations of their corporate personhood, & enshrining local community self-government. Profound culture shift takes place in this transformative process, where residents discover their power & authority as We the People. Learn how YOUR community can join this growing movement of people saying “No!” to corporate interference and “Yes!” to nurturing healthy communities.

Paul Cienfuegos
Founding Director, Community Rights US

Standing Up for Social Justice in Times of Fear & Hatred
When discussing and confronting “heated” racial and/or social justice issues within our communities, utilizing practical facilitation skills that are both culturally-responsive and sensitive to the needs and issues facing minority groups are imperative. In this workshop, we will make use of personal stories, diversity vignettes, and film clip scenarios to encourage participants to authentically address a variety of social justice issues. The group will be taught “Mindful Facilitation Techniques” to support one another to become stronger and more effective allies within our communities.

Lee Mun Wah
Master Diversity Trainer, Founder/CEO, StirFry Seminars & Consulting, Inc.

Transforming Community Spaces: A Workshop for Community Facilitators
Many places around the globe are seeing insistent challenges to monuments, memorials, contaminated sites, and other locations identified with histories of harm. These challenges offer opportunities to foster more complete understandings of history and to take action to remedy deep, systemic inequities, which tend otherwise to be ignored or suppressed. “Transforming Community Spaces” (TCS) is a new, national project led by the Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) at the University of Virginia to help institutions and communities take on these challenges through inclusive, transparent dialogues that uncover hidden histories, advance social justice, and promote collective healing. This training will introduce facilitators to the concepts of problematic community spaces, to cultural humility, to trauma-informed facilitation, and to the Transforming Community Spaces Toolkit that will be provided to community leaders and others working to better their communities. The training will be highly interactive with both exercises and simulations. We anticipate that participants will return to their own institutions and communities with a new appreciation for the issues at stake in these conflicts and new capacity to help those institutions and communities bring people together to address their own problematic spaces.

Frank Dukes, Ph.D
Distinguished Institute Fellow, Institute for Environmental Negotiation
Tanya Denckla Cobb
Director, Institute for Environmental Negotiation
Selena Cozart, PhD
Community Facilitator, Institute for Environmental Negotiation

A Taste of the Theory and Practice of Bohm Dialogue
This one-day pre-conference session will provide participants with a weave of the background, theory, guides, and basic building blocks of Bohm Dialogue together with an experience of being in Dialogue on emergent topics. Bohm Dialogue can play a powerful role within polarized communities. This process is based on the work of the late David Bohm, a quantum physicist who turned to philosophy to move ideas from his quantum worldview into practical ways of resolving complex social problems often rooted in unacknowledged cultural assumptions.

Linda Ellinor
Founder and Sr. Partner, Action Dialogue Group
Beth Macy, Ph.D
Owner and Lead Consultant, Macy Holding Management LLC 

Better Group Experience in Franklin Circles and Beyond

Since we established our partnership with NCDD member org, Ben Franklin Circles (BFC), we have been sharing stories from Circles that have been convening. This article from Victoria Fann, who hosts a circle in North Carolina, shared an article on A Better Group Experience, that shares some foundational tips to good group process that can be used for Ben Franklin Circles and beyond this process: the right setting, good guidelines, and gentle facilitation. You can read the post below and find the original post on BFC’s site here.


A Better Group Experience

As Ben Franklin discovered hundreds of years ago, something magical happens when a group of people get together to engage in meaningful conversation: that circle of individuals becomes something far greater than the sum of its parts. A powerful, dynamic energy emerges from the group collective and creates access to all the combined energy, tools, inspiration, the information, wisdom, insights and resources of that group of people.

In this context, people are able to share great levels of wisdom, become vulnerable with each other, establish a higher level of trust than they would in a social setting and have a deep level of intimacy with people they barely even know very quickly.

In addition, small groups that connect deeply often facilitate high levels of motivation, honesty, healing, growth, learning that can motivate people to think and behave in ways that they might not have considered before. When someone tells a story or models something new, it opens up a whole new range of possibilities, which ultimately, can foster hope and optimism.

Given what’s happening in our world today, with loneliness becoming an epidemic and suicide rates rising, this is extraordinary. And yet it’s something that isn’t done enough.

Yes, there are thousands of Meetup groups happening around the world based on common interests. But, unless there are certain conditions, those meetings will not yield the same transformative power as a small group having a deep discussion in a quiet environment.

So what are the conditions that open the doors to the extraordinary?

It’s fairly simple really. The right setting, a good set of guidelines and gentle facilitation.

Setting
Let’s talk about the setting first. I’ve run successful groups for close to thirty years, and the majority of those groups took place in my living room or the living room of a group member. Why? Because it’s one of the few places that combines privacy, comfort, quiet, natural lighting, a friendly host, non-public bathroom, occasional adorable pets, etc. If you want a group of people to relax, take off their masks, open up and share their stories, gather them in an environment that is familiar, that is associated with relaxation and ease and feels more like a gathering of friends than a business meeting. No other setting even comes close to this.

Our Ben Franklin Circle initially met in a local café, and while it was nice to be able to buy coffee and baked goods, it ended up being too noisy and not private enough. Plus, we were sitting around tables in wooden chairs with a table between us. Shifting to a living room setting in a member’s home sitting on comfortable chairs and couches, created a totally different experience that immediately allowed us to deepen the discussion. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief.

But setting alone isn’t enough. In fact, when you’re in a less formal setting, the tendency would be to fall back into casual, undirected discussion. This is why there is a strong need for guidelines.

Guidelines
Again, these are simple and not at all inhibiting. Instead, they create an even deeper level of trust and relaxation because the participants know that they will be heard and that conversation will stay on topic, and not degenerate into debates and philosophizing.

Here is the guideline that I created years ago for all the groups I’ve run and am currently using in our Circle:

  • Speak from the heart and from direct experience using “I” statements.
  • Speak without interruption or cross-talk.
  • Respect each other’s need for silence as well as each other’s need to speak and be heard.
  • Listen from the heart and serve as a compassionate witness for other people in the circle. To be an effective witness means paying attention to what’s being said without interpreting, judging, or trying to “fix” or rescue the person speaking.
  • Respect each other’s privacy and keep everything that’s shared confidential.

These guidelines are not new nor are they unique. However, they are incredibly effective creating a group experience that is deeply rewarding.

Gentle Facilitation
Finally, it is important to have someone that is able to lead the group with a gentle hand. Mostly, this person presents conversation-starting questions and quotes (or as I mentioned in a previous blog post allows them to be drawn from a hat), keeps the conversation on topic, makes sure everyone has had an equal opportunity to share and be heard and generally tunes into what is needed by the group. That sounds like it’s a lot, but it’s fairly simple. A good facilitator is one that fades into the background and appears to participate in the same way as other members. This establishes trust and removes any sense of hierarchy.

In my experience, setting, guidelines and gentle facilitation are what makes a good group experience, an extraordinary one.

I will leave you with a little food for thought from Ben Franklin:

“To expect people to be good, to be just, to be temperate, etc., without showing them how they should become so, seems like the ineffectual charity mentioned by the apostle, which consisted in saying to the hungry, the cold and the naked, be ye fed, be ye warmed, be ye clothed, without showing them how they should get food, fire or clothing.”

You can find the original version of this post on Ben Franklin Circles’ site at https://benfranklincircles.org/tips-advice/a-better-group-experience.