Archive for the ‘Dialogue and Deliberation Models’ Category

The Central Texas Planning Team for the NCDD2008 Conference is smokin’. I mean they are all over the place! They are canvasing Austin to promote the conference, solicit sponsorships, enlist volunteer support, encourage workshop leaders, attract bookstores, solicit donations, recruit media partners, and whatever else it will take to make the NCDD conference in Austin this October, the very best one EVER!

Here are some details:

NCDD Austin will take place October 3rd through 5th, 2008 – with pre-conference workshops on the 2nd and a 2-day training opportunity on the 6th and 7th!

Update: Registration and workshop applications are now live! Look over the opportunities to lead workshops, innovation sessions and networking topics and consider what you might want to contribute to the conference. And register now, while the early bird rate of only $300 (!) is in effect.

If you have never been to an NCDD Conference (they only happen every two years, so you don’t want to miss this one!) check out this video:

OK, so are you convinced that this is the place to be October 3-5? Then register here and do it soon so you’ll get that early registration rate of $300 good until May 16.

And if you are really sold and want to tell your friends about the conference, here is a sample invitation you can use! Copy text from below of our invitations – light and fun or generic – and paste it into your e-mail, blog, or web site. (If you twitter, you can reference the NCDD Conference web site using this tiny url: http://tinyurl.com/28778j

Light and Fun Invitation

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation Conference is coming to Austin, October 3-5 and I’m on the Central Texas Planning Team for this exciting event. I’m volunteering my time because I deeply believe that helping people change the way they talk about difficult issues is one of the most powerful ways to create change in our society.

People who have attended this conference say it’s the most engaging, meaningful conference they’ve ever attended.

I hope I’ve sparked your curiosity and you’ll want to learn more about the conference at the NCDD Website: http://www.thataway.org

I also invite you to contact me directly for more information.

I hope you will join us at this event!

Generic Invitation

Save the Date
October 3-5, 2008
National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation Conference
Renaissance Hotel, Austin

Do you want to…
… put your hope for democracy into action?
… learn practical approaches to engage tough issues and conflicts?
… stretch your perspectives and network with others who value the same?

If I’ve sparked your curiosity, click on the link below to learn more about the conference we’ll all be talking about for years to come! (

National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation Web Site: http://www.thataway.org

Come join hundreds of people who believe that solutions to our world’s toughest problems CAN be found by talking and working together.

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The participants in the small groups at the Central Texas D&D Summit had almost forty-five minutes to share the lessons and insights they have gained during the course of their dialogue and deliberation work.

Steven Fearing set up the groups with the following comments.

  • This meeting is not a workshop on dialogue and deliberation techniques. Instead it is an opportunity for us to get to know each other and to document what we have done and learned. More importantly, we want to build relationships and find out how we can work together in the future.
  • You will be working in small groups at five tables
  • Each table has a facilitator
  • You have a template prepared by Sunni where you can capture in words and pictures from your group’s dialogue.
  • You will have 45 minutes for this portion and should feel free to take breaks as needed
  • Goal for our time in these small groups is to share and capture key learning, insights, and challenges related to dialogue and deliberation in community work.
  • After 45 minutes, we will come together to capture common themes – such as assets and resources, challenges and opportunities. Sunni will help us integrate all of the ideas we discuss in our groups and chart on our templates into a graphic narrative.

Each group had a beautiful graphic map drawn by Sunni Brown where they could capture their insights. The groups were lightly facilitated by Rod Reyna, Susan Schultz, Tobin Quereau, and Mary Thompson. The facilitators charged the participants:

  • Think of a time when you brought people together to work on an issue or community problem. What lessons have you learned about using dialogue and deliberation for helping people work together? These may be lessons you learned from your successes or things you learned that you would do differently.
  • Think also about challenges you have faced and what you would like to do better, and
  • What else do you need to be more effective in using dialogue and deliberation in your work with communities?

Here are the results of their small group dialogue:

Yellow Group

yellow group

Susan Schultz, Neil Meili, Stephanie Nestlerode, Steve Swanson, Lindsay LeBlanc

Blue Group


Mary Thompson, Ed Sharpe, Margaret Valenti, Robyn Emerson, Oliver Markley, Patricia Wilson

Red Group


Tobin Quereau, Ann Brudno, Jenny Meigs, Tom Moran, Landon Shultz, Mike Aaron, Leilani Rose

Green Group


Rod Reyna, Sherry Lowry, Robena Jackson, Cathey Capers, Juli Fellows, Steven Fearing

As the participants described their templates, Sunni captured their themes:


Prior to the reporting out and reflection, Erin Kreeger and Taylor Willingham had a charge for the group:

As you listen to the groups’ posting their templates, listen for assets and opportunities. Think about the opportunities that you identified in this room that will help you in your work. Perhaps you identified asset or opportunities that involve:

  • Connecting with someone else in this room or someone who needs to be part of this community
  • Participation in an event or activity
  • Contributing your expertise or resources

Make note of the ideas as they come to you. After every group describes their template we will have time for collective reflection that Sunni will capture for us in graphic form.

Here are some of the opportunities the group identified to connect:


In keeping with our spirit of reflection and “continuous improvement” (that term is here for Charles’ benefit!) Charles Knickerbocker led us in a period of reflection on the meeting. He asked them what worked and what did we need more of. Here’s what the group had to say:

what worked

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The Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and UC Berkeley School of Information are hosting a conference on Online Deliberation. This from the announcement:

At the dawn of the 21st century humankind faces challenges of profound proportions. The ability of people around the world to discuss, work, make decisions, and take action collaboratively is one of the most important capabilities for addressing these challenges.

Researchers, scholars, activists, advocates, artists, educators, technologists, designers, students, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, journalists and citizens are rising to these challenges in many ways, including, devising new communication technologies that build on the opportunities afforded by the Internet and other new (as well as old) media. The interactions between technological and social systems are of special and central importance in this area.

DIAC-08 combines CPSR’s 11th DIAC symposium with the third Conference on Online Deliberation. The joint conference is intended to provide a platform and a forum for highlighting socio-technological opportunities, challenges, and pitfalls in the area of community and civic action. Technology enhanced community action ranges from informal communities of practice to democratic governance of formal organizations to large social movements. We are especially interested in technology development that is already being tested or fielded. We are also interested in theoretical and other intellectual work that helps build understanding and support for future efforts. In addition to exploring social technology, we must at the same time understand and advance the social context of technology, including its design, access, use, policy and evaluation, as well as intellectual frameworks and perspectives that inform technological as well as social innovation including requirements, case studies, critique and self-reflection, and infrastructures for future work.

Our areas of focus include but are not limited to: deliberative and collaborative systems, e-democracy and e-participation, mobilization and organization, negotiation, consultation, sustainability, community support systems, open source models, human rights, ecological awareness, conflict resolution, justice, transparency systems, media and civic journalism, media literacy, power research, citizen science, economic development and opportunity, peace and reconciliation, infrastructure development, policy, education, community networks, research and development for civil society, social software, virtual communities and civic intelligence.

Read more…

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Skillful moderating is a key to any successful forum, and as community dialogues on the achievement gap come together around the nation, organizers are grappling with two critical questions: Who will moderate? And what kind of training should we provide?

Answers appear to be arising organically, based on how much experience organizers have with forums, existing community politics, and partners’ budgets and ambitions.

Building Civic Capacity

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, for example, where Marge Hiller’s Bridgeport Public
Education Fund
has helped nurture community engagement for the past decade, teaching students and teachers to moderate is intrinsic to her philosophy and project.

“You can’t do anything top down anymore,” Hiller said. “It has to be something that comes from the people affected…One group we haven’t had enough information from is students.”

Her group has been working with the city’s most troubled high school, Harding High, to increase involvement from the community. The model they’ve used features discussions led by teachers and students. She called the dialogue model a success and said it’ll continue at Harding and will be duplicated at the district’s two other high schools this year.

Taylor Willingham, the founder and head of Texas Forums, an initiative of the LBJ Library in Austin, trained 120 moderators for dialogues on the achievement gap in six Central Texas communities last fall. She agrees that it’s important to nurture grassroots interest in deliberation.

“I really want to build the civic capacity of a community,” she said. “We see the moderating role as another way of exercising citizenship…We wanted to have a large group of volunteers that organizations can call upon in the future.”

Read more… 

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Tavis’s show at PBS is now begining and it’s talking about the “Covenant with Black America.” The G21 team here, Allaina and I are Blogging on the event. It turns our that Yours Unruly is a celeb because I’m the only working journalist at the event. I was interviewed by a reporter from the University of Texas newspaper, The Daily Texan, therefore and a couple of people wanted to know about my writing at Slashdot.org.

So now we get into Tavis’s night, the All-America Forum.

The candidates are talking and Hillary gets first crack. Very prepared, as usual, after all she has the best teacher in politics around living with her in New York. Joe Biden comes up next but we all know nobody is taking him seriously. (Hate to be snarky but I know this game, as I said earlier.) Man, I hate to feel like a writer from Wonkette, but I’d love to have a shot right now. I’d like to make a shot game: have a shot when any candidate brings up the word “race.” Let’s face it, since Smiley is running this show, you could have one heck of a party. Snored through Bill Richardson and now I’m listening to “Smiling John” Edwards. In one ear. Now Barack is talking. This should be his shining hour.

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Our table discussed some of the barriers and the impact that poor health care has on the larger community.

-“Language barriers for non-English speakers is a huge issue – health care providers who cannot communicate with patients is especially an issue in a state like Texas where we have ever increasing populations of non-English speakers.”

-“Despite the wealth and advances in technology, we still have too many uninsured children in Texas.  Other countries have somehow been able to overcome the barriers but we lag behind in the US- it impacts us all in so many ways – preventable or treatable health problems become chronic and have to be treated as emergencies  – the problems have a ripple effect beyond health – medical bills impact economics, family dynamics, job stability, school attendance.”

-” Access to care is also an issue. When people in rural areas get sick,  they head for the emergency rooms – no access means more expensive cost of getting services.”

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28 June 2007: This evening I’m reporting from the LBJ Library at the University of Texas (UT) on Tavis Smiley’s Public Broadcasting System (PBS) forum with the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. Like many other Bloggers here tonight, I’m suppose to be an ear to what our community thinks about the pols and their policies. The difference, at least for me, from some of the other Bloggers is that I’m a working journalist and a former political hack. I know this game. So I’ll try to share with you what is meant by what is being said, instead of being a parrot.

In the process, I’ve brought along a few friends, included my Gen Y Personal Assistant, to look over my shoulder, take some digital photos of this crowd, and correct my impressions when I tend to act like an old curmudgeon.

The citizens at the each table were asked to have a Blogger like me write write about what they think. Live blogging is an interesting exercise in that we, the bloggers, should act as the ears of the people.

What I find interesting is that people at my particular table are talking about Dick Cheney, global corporations and corporate greed – compared to personal sacrifice – and nothing NOTHING about Tavis Smiley’s “Covenant for African-Americans” which is about what this forum was set up to look at. This Reporter walks around to a few of the tables at this meeting to ask if anyone had heard about Smiley’s initiative. Even the few Black people here have ever heard about it.

My Personal Assistant, Bonnie, is snapping people in the crowd right now. We’ll upload them later.

The issue is being brought up that most people didn’t know, in the pre-forum discussion that most of the attendants were ignorant to the fact there was a “Convenant to Black America.” So we have an audience who doesn’t know why they came here. They are learning that during this discussion.

7:47 p.m.: It’s gettting touchy-feely now. People are talking about how the even here in Austin we are becoming a *very* segregated community, all acknowledged. Now we’re going to hear from the Democratic Presidential candidates and Tavis Smiley.

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I’m not much of a graphic designer, but pictures appeal to my learning style. So, I thought I’d share a couple of more graphics I use to help me think about the process of framing issues.

This is a graphic of the process of framing the privacy issue that I’ve been using with some colleagues from American Library Association. I drew this on a napkin in a diner in Champaign, IL to explain framing to a team of students who were developing a c-wiki for Texas Forums as part of their class on Digitally Mediated information Systems at the Grad Library School at UIUC.


issue framing process


It’s rather messy, but it starts with people recognizing that they have a problem and they need a better way to talk about it and decide what to do about it. In the case of the ALA Privacy Framing, a handful of people are going out and talking with others from diverse experiences and perspectives to understand their concerns. This research will result in a long list of concerns that we will cluster according to the dominant value or motive behind that cluster. This will lead to 3-4 approaches about what might be done and why, AND what might be the consequences of that approach. When the guide for deliberation is written, it tends to follow the format of the graphic below:


(I usually show this in a power point presentation with the arrows flying in demonstrating that it is possible to find common ground because the same values may show up in different approaches or even be in the “likes” and “concerns” within an approach.)

In the top drawing, I didn’t include the deliberative forum because I was focusing on a specific application of technology. The last two phases are the reporting out on the forums and consolidating those findings into overarching themes that reflect how people across a number of forums are thinking about the issue when they deliberate.

Carolyn Caywood, a librarian at Virginia Beach Public Library drew up a map of issue framing for the ALA Privacy Framing experiment currently taking place online.

framing drawing

Do these pictures tell a thousand words? How can we make them clearer? What have we omitted? How might you use these?

I’d love to get your feedback!

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I’m working with E3 Alliance and Austin Voices for Education and Youth on community-wide deliberations on the Achievement Gap. (More details later.) In preparing our slides to explain this project to the school superintendents who are joining with us, Rick Olmos at E3 created a graphic that shows how the issues are framed around three approaches and what the product (a fourth approach) of deliberation might look like.

Framework Diagram

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I’ve been thinking about how we can use youtube, innertoob (see example posted on this blog), OPAL (See examples in our archive), and other technologies to distribute content for moderators, reporters, recorders, and conveners to use to brush up on their skills or describe what these deliberative forums are all about.

So the other day, I was doing scholarly research about deliberation on youtube. Ok, I probably can’t get away with that line…

So the other day I was goofing off watching some silly videos sent by a friend I should probably block from my in-box when I’ve got work to do, when I stumbled on a really great video describing good questions for encouraging deliberation! (That kind of serendipity happens just often enough for me to justify youtube play time, and keep me from banning my friend’s e-mail address.)

This is an excellent video done by a high school student in Hawaii named Sarah. She goes by the handle aloha on youtube and legothenego on Flickr. Her videos and photos are worth a look! (Hey Dolores, if aloha is not already in your network, you might send her a flickrmail. I sure am!)

Anyway, this video might be a good model. It’s bound to appeal to a lot more young people than anything I’ve ever done in a workshop on deliberation. (Marla, should this be part of our citizen journalism work?)

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