In August, two of Texas Forums’ own – Diane Miller of Envision Central Texas and Tim Eubanks of Austin Voices for Education and Youth – had the unique opportunity to explore the concepts of deliberation with 150 innovative and passionate young people at a conference in Washington D.C. entitled “Bridging the Partisan Divide: Rediscovering Deliberation”. Diane Miller filed this report…
The annual conference, hosted by the Arsalyn Program, brought together young people ages 16-20 from all over the U.S. to develop skills that would help them communicate effectively with those of opposing views and find common ground for action.
Tim and I co-facilitated an interactive workshops on deliberative decision making utilizing the National Issues Forums model and exploring the issue of “Americans Role in the World”. The workshops were well received, with some participants expressing their appreciation for the format that allowed diverse points of view to be explored rather than debated. There were even a few folks from Texas who plan to get more involved with Texas Forums and find ways to use this model in their communities!
This was the first time the Arsalyn conference has incorporated skill-building sessions on dialogue and deliberation (D&D), providing attendees new perspectives and practical tools for influencing political activism and civic discourse. Sandy Heierbacher, Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, worked with Arsalyn staff to make D&D a central focus of the conference. In addition to the workshop on Deliberative Decision Making, other workshops were held on methods such as Conversation Café, Study Circles, and Sustained Dialogue, as well as a case study workshop that had participants working together to develop D&D approaches to community problems. All of the facilitators left the conference deeply impressed by the intelligence and thoughtfulness of the young people and feeling rewarded to be part of this successful collaboration!