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Archive for the ‘Texas Forums Events’ Category

For the upcoming NCDD Conference in Austin October 3-5, I’m doing two workshops – one on libraries and extension using dialogue, and one on the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Project. I am hosting a tech meeting, conducting a pre-conference with four colleagues, running a hospitality suite, sponsoring a poetry slam, videotaping events, blogging on site, and planning two tables for the marketplace. Like all of the dedicated volunteers on the Central Texas planning team, I have a crazy, crazy amount of work to do.

So how am I spending my time?

Contemplating goodie bag stuffing, of course! (Hey, it’s labor day weekend. This is about as much time off as I’ll get for the next three months.)

I’m stealing from the LBJ Library staff idea to have jelly beans at the LBJ 100 Celebration last Wednesday. (President Johnson’s gift to the Head Start kids he visited at Stonewall.)

So below are a couple of options. I need some advice. Which way to go??

Option 1

Option 1

This option is very cute, but also time consuming – punching the cards and cutting and tying the raffia. It also has the added expense of the blue raffia.

Option 2

Option 2

This option is in a resealable bag which is nice since people probably won’t eat 2 oz. of jelly beans at once. It’s also easier and lies flat in the bag.

I’m also looking for cheap options for jelly beans. I’ll need about 50 lbs. of jelly beans!

OK, now back to serious work – finishing uploading my photos from the LBJ 100 Celebration.

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We are only nine days away from the 100th celebration of the birthday of President Johnson next Wednesday, August 27. During this countdown, I have been monitoring the important events of his life as documented by the LBJ 100th Centennial Celebration. On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Hill-Burton Act which provided resources to build hospitals, mental health facilities, medical and dental schools and to support the education of future doctors, nurses and dentists.

As I read his comments at the signing, I am struck by how the same issues he tried to address in 1964 are still with us in 2008.

On this day in August 1964, President Johnson signed a bill extending the Hill-Burton Act.

The President said,

We have many new hospitals today in cities that are large and small. But many of our most important hospitals are too old. The hospitals which serve more than two-thirds of our population in nearly 200 metropolitan areas are obsolete, are out of date, are desperately in need of modernization. This legislation that I am signing today will help us get started on that long overdue job. …

The Hill-Burton hospital construction program has been extended another 5 years, but Congress has also provided assistance for constructing mental health facilities, mental retardation facilities, the medical and dental schools that we need.

And Congress has helped to meet our health manpower needs by a program to overcome our critical shortage of nurses, a program to train more graduate public health personnel, and by providing assistance to students attending medical and dental and nursing schools.

We are supporting, as no nation on earth has ever supported, the strength of our medical profession. We are supporting them with modern facilities, with more and better trained manpower, and productive research in more and more fields. I believe that we are pursuing a sensible and yet a most responsible course.

Texas Forums will host forums on The Cost of Health Care on October 7, 2008 at the LBJ Library Atrium on the 10th floor from 6:00 – 8:30. We will be using the National Issues Forums discussion guide, Coping with the Cost of Health Care: How Do We Pay for What We Need? From 6:00 – 6:30 our partners will be on hand with information about health care in Texas. So far, we are partnering with the following organizations and our list is growing:

Our colleagues at the University of Houston Downtown Center for Public Deliberation will be holding forums on this same issue on September 18, 2008 giving us a glimpse into how Texans in two different communities are thinking about the cost of health care and possible remedies that they would be willing to support. This will provide talking points that our partners can use to inform the Texas Legislature about the concerns of Texans who come together to deliberate this critical issue.

On the national front, dozens of Public Policy Institutes in the National Issues Forums network and all twelve Presidential Libraries will also be hosting forums on Coping with the Cost of Health Care. The results of these forums will be reported in a national report commissioned by the Kettering Foundation and prepared by Public Agenda.

If you would like more information about these upcoming forums or about partnering with us to encourage public forums on this critical issue, contact Taylor L. Willingham at taylor [at] austin-pacific. [dot] com or leave a comment here.

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On Sunday June 29, I will be traveling to Dayton, OH for a meeting with representatives of all 12 Presidential Libraries. We will be planning a series of National Issues Forums to take place in each of our libraries prior to the November election. Texas Forums will be hosting forums on Health Care at the LBJ Library on September 17 from 6-8 p.m.

Below is the press release for this upcoming meeting.

pres logo

nifi

From: Bob Daley, Diane Eisenberg, Mary Kring


Some 30 Representatives of the nation’s Presidential Libraries and the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) will gather in Dayton, Ohio, June 30-July 1 for a workshop designed to prepare for a series of forums in all 12 Presidential Libraries between Labor Day and Election Day this fall.

The workshop will introduce representatives of the Presidential Libraries to the philosophy of public deliberation and plans developed by the libraries’ representatives and NIF coordinators for the fall forums will be shared.

During the run-up to the presidential election, each of the Presidential Libraries will host a series of three forums with some Libraries hosting additional forums. Forums will be on a range of topics including health care, immigration, federal debt, education and energy.

All forums are free and open to the public.

“Hosting National Issues Forums at the Presidential Libraries is consistent with our emphasis on civic education,” Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, said. “Presidential Libraries are public places and it is appropriate for citizens to engage in discussions about major public policy issues in the midst of a presidential campaign.”

“Participants in a forum,” NIFI chairman William Winter, said, “deliberate with one another eye-to-eye, face-to-face, exploring options, weighing others’ views, considering the costs and consequences of public policy decisions. In a democracy, citizens have a responsibility to make choices about how to solve problems and forums help enrich participants’ thinking on public issues. By offering citizens a framework for deliberative forums, NIFI helps the public take an active role in acting on public issues.”

The Presidential Libraries of the National Archives are not libraries in the usual sense. They are archives and museums, bringing together in one place the documents and artifacts of a President and his administration and presenting them to the public for study and discussion without regard for political considerations or affiliations. Presidential Libraries and Museums, like their holdings, belong to the American people. They promote understanding of the presidency and the American experience, preserving and providing access to historical materials, support research, and create interactive programs and exhibits that educate and inspire.

NIFI is a 25-year-old nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored forums for the consideration of public policy issues. Forums are rooted in the simple notion that citizens need to come together to reason and talk -to deliberate about common problems.

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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.

attendees
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 3th Annual Technology, Colleges, and Community (TCC) Worldwide Online Conference will be held April 15-17. The theme of this year’s conference is “The New Internet: Collaboration, Convergence, Creativity, Contrast , and Challenges”. While TCC is a worldwide online conference designed for university and college practitioners, several of the workshops have application to the online dialogue and deliberation world and those of us interested in using technology for professional development, networking, and collaboration. Just a few examples:

Here’s a brief description of the conference theme this year:

The new Internet is a global workspace for collaboration and sharing while providing forums for different voices, new challenges, and creativity. People, technologies, and perspectives have converged, and yet there is a greater diversity of tools to communicate, collaborate, create, and compete. Today, the Internet is proliferated with “weapons of mass collaboration.” (See Wikinomics by Don Tapscott & Anthony Williams, 2006)

My experience with this conference last year was very positive and I’m intrigued by the way the University of Hawaii is using this distance education platform for an online conference.

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[This report is being filed by Erin Kreeger, a member of Texas Forums, graduate of the Fielding Graduate University’s Certification in Dialogue, Deliberation and Public Engagement and an adviser to the University of Houston Downtown’s Center for Public Deliberation. Erin will be an ongoing guest blogger for Texas Forums so check back often to hear her insights!]

On April 4th and 5th around 25 incredible people gathered at The University of Houston – Downtown Center for Public Deliberation for a powerful workshop on moderating and recording public deliberation forums. These forums are opportunities for people to join together with others to talk about difficult issues, gain new insights on ways to approach those issues and to choose ways to work towards creating powerful individual and group action, including influencing public policy. The workshop provided an opportunity for people who may not have done something like this before to learn from some seasoned experts, to learn from each other, to practice participating in two deliberative forums (one on the achievement gap in education and one of the energy problem), to moderate a forum, to record insights and themes from the forums and to begin building a community of practice. How great is that!

Though two day workshops can be challenging to design in a way that’s flexible enough to adapt to people’s needs and questions yet structured enough to end on time, this planning team did that brilliantly – keeping us engaged for the entire 2 days – including 7 hours of Saturday time. Here’s what participants had to say about what worked really well and what could be done differently next time.

What I’m taking with me/Keep It!

  • Role playing/Practice moderating forums
  • Intentional prep activities – not arbitrary
  • I was engaged
  • Power of communication
  • The workshop kept moving
  • Good to have to jump into activities
  • Having multiple instructors
  • The printed materials to read later instead of being read to
  • Applicable – can apply ideas right away
  • Great modeling of practices
  • Food
  • Strength of moderators and their stories

What I’m leaving behind/Drop it

  • Need clearer directions to get to the center
  • More vegetarian food options/easy to identify veggie food
  • More signs in building directing to room
  • Want video of the practice forum

At the end of the workshop, one participant said that she felt she had found her public deliberation family.  I find that feeling of community is inspiring and happens a lot in this line of work.  But what’s especially exciting to me about this particular workshop is that The University of Houston Downtown Center for Public Deliberation in partnership with Texas Forums has the skill, desire and dedication to provide those family member with the resources they need to stay connected and to convene, moderate and record public deliberation forums so that community members of all backgrounds have the opportunity to meet with each other in a public dialogue, to identify the concerns they hold in common and to create action on issues that are important to them.  That’s something I’m excited to be a part of.  It’s a great example of inviting change.

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At the UHD workshop on Day 1 we had people work in small groups to craft responses to challenges that a moderator might encounter. Tom Workman did a fabulous job of leading this exercise. I’m glad that we have a video recording so I can go back and harvest his pearls of wisdom.

People are just waiting their turn to “have their say” 

Ask the participants to relate their comments to what they heard earlier. Listening is not just reloading. Talk about what good listening is during the groundrules. The investment in the groundrules up front is really critical. We may need to return to the groundrules, but need to do so in a way that doesn’t make it sound like we are the groundrule police.

The moderator can say, who else has a story that relates to what we are hearing. This is bridging. another tactic is to ask if there are other perspectives.

All comments are directed to the moderator

Encourage responses from others non-verbally. Redirect the comment. Sometimes the moderator needs to step back so that they don’t seem to be the center of attention. There are some non-verbal cues we can use such as literally stepping back. Chairs are set in a circle which takes the moderator out of the “front of the room.” Also, don’t be afraid of silence. Trust the silence. If the moderator is too quick to speak up, then it puts them back into the driver seat. Remaining silent tells the group that it is ok that no one has anything to say right now. Also, spreading hands out to the group and using “we” language.

There are “sidebar” conversations or interruptions

Invite the sidebar conversation into the larger conversation. Ask them if they have something to add. “You seem to be having a lively conversation. Would you like to share?” “Can I get the group to bring this back into one conversation?” We are nice people and worry about someone getting offended, but allowing sidebar conversations is unfair to the rest of the group. Remember that some people are not accustomed to speaking to the large group. Perhaps those engaged in sidebar conversations want to speak and do so with a subset of the group. Help them feel comfortable contributing to the larger group.

The group mainly concurs on each choice

Push beyond the ramifications; press for details. Provide motivation for understanding an alternative point of view. At some point they will have to take their deliberation to a wider audience so moving beyond full agreement would be excellent preparation for going out into the community. Some moderators use an empty chair to symbolize who might have a different perspective.

The pro arguments have no negative consequences

Moderator can serve as a devil’s advocate. How do we get people to think about the outcome? There is a difference between agreement and consequences, so perhaps we need a different strategy than playing devil’s advocate. “Consequences” may not be a term that people can relate to so be prepared to use different terms such as “side effects.” The NIF materials are stuctured so that there are consequences or downsides for each approach.

People speak theoretically/analytically

Ask people to give an example. Reframe the ultimate question. Ask “why?” and “why is that important to you?” Bring people back to the stories.

The forum is cerebral and lacking feeling

Ask for a personal story that relates to whatever is being discussed. Ask what people are willing to give up. These strategies help to make the issue real. We can ask people to share feelings. But we have to be careful because it is an odd experience going through a forum because you are revealing yourself, but you are still holding something back. This is not a group therapy session, after all.  Another counter point is that sometimes people don’t want to talk about their feelings because they don’t want to generalize their feelings onto the group. They often appreciate the chance to divorce from their feelings so that they can be more open. We need to talk more about the role of emotion in public deliberation. The quest that we want to continue to talk about is, how do we incorporate safely issues related to emotions.

Remember, that it is important for the moderator to feel comfortable and to develop their own style.

Comments ignore prior comments

Reframe the comments, and summarize. Refer back to earlier comments. Return to the earlier comment and ask the person if they could say more.

Reflection on the exercise: 

All of the ways in which things can go off track are just part of human nature. These are not bad, nor are they malicious. These things just happen and we carry on.
Part of the problem is that this is not how we are conditioned to talk. We have been taught to sit down and shut up or stand up and shout. Where do we go to practice the skill of deliberation?

Tom’s charge to moderators. However you do this is good. There is something valuable in the stumbling. So what if we never get to #3. Something may have happened in that group that is valuable information. It is our desire to make it work, but we need to allow ourselves to live in the ambiguity. Going off track is not a sin. It is a knowledge opportunity.

How cool is that?! Beautiful, Tom!

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I’ve asked Virginia York to take notes here of the debrief of the Everyday Deliberation exercise we are doing at UHD where people tell stories of a time when they had to make a difficult decision and deliberated personally. The participants work in triads. One person tells their story, another person is the questioner who listens carefully and asks questions to help the storyteller reveal the reason why the decision was difficult and the third person serves as the observer.

Here’s Virginia’s notes of the debrief of this exercise…

Hi—here goes:

Stories of every day deliberation dealt with divorce, real estate purchases, elderly parents, illness, etc.

What made this decision difficult:

  • Commitment
  • fear
  • responsibility
  • there were bad things on both sides
  • values were in tension
  • I had to consider other people
  • goals can be uncertain

What values were in conflict:

  • reason vs emotion was an example of tension
  • other examples were to lay out potential outcomes
  • more reasoned risks
  • values can be in conflict,
  • long range goals and short term needs,
  • my values may not be the same as others,
  • what I want to do vs what I should do,
  • duty vs pleasure,
  • are all of the options being explored?
  • are there too many options,
  • uncomfortable

What images of deliberation come to mind?

  • Disagreement
  • Compromise
  • Controlled passion
  • Never actually seen deliberation happen because there is always an element of persuasion. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time at the capitol.
  • Deliberation always brings up the term “calm”.
  • Recently was part of a jury where we deliberated very well. We listened to the three dissenters and came to a common ground and both parties were happy with our final decision.
  • Togas! The Greek Columns. The Socratic approach of knowledge for its own sake where the answer emerges.
  • Barbara Jordan was the most deliberate person – slow, calm, thoughtful
  • Trying to reach a destination – there is a commitment to reach that destination through the dialogue process where everyone is engaged

Now on to a forum on Too Many Children Left Behind: How Can We Close the Achievement Gap?

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I am writing this from the University of Houston Downtown’s Center for Public Deliberation training for new moderators. For the past two months, I have been working with Windy Lawrence and Tom Workman, the co-directors of this new endeavor. We are finally doing our first training session for moderators in Houston. We have 25 participants with a significant representation from the Houston Public Library. We are also joined by a representative from the Clinton and Bush Presidential Libraries.

We just introduced the participants to the cast of characters involved in public deliberation and the work we will be doing with Texas Forums and UHD Center for Public Deliberation. We also introduced them to the key areas that the partners will work on independently and in collaboration.

Texas Forums and the University of Houston Downtown will collaborate and work on the following key areas:

  • Research and Development
  • Training and Professional Development
  • Support Local Initiatives by Building Capacity
  • Develop and Support Statewide Issues
  • Communication and Public Information

We invited the participants asked questions about the partners, but they immediately jumped into offering ideas about who else should be involved. Very exciting energy!!!!

Can’t wait to post more, but it’s time for me to lead my session on Everyday Deliberation.

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