Posts Tagged ‘deliberation’

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 The hospitals which serve more than two-thirds of our population in nearly 200 metropolitan areas are obsolete, are out of date, are desperately in need of modernization.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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For Immediate Release: June 12, 2008

* * * MEDIA ADVISORY * * *


logosAUSTIN, TX and SIMI VALLEY, CA – Mrs. Ronald Reagan, Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson have extended invitations to Senators John McCain and Barack Obama to speak at Town Hall meetings in July. These non-partisan meetings, to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California and at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, will provide voters with an opportunity to hear the presumptive nominees discuss the issues together prior to the two National Conventions later this summer and the start of the traditional series of Presidential Debates in September and October of this year.

“The Reagan Library is honored to participate in this historic bi-partisan dialogue,” said former first lady Nancy Reagan. “Ronnie always believed in the importance of face-to-face discussion on key issues that affect the American people.”

“My father wanted the LBJ Library & Museum to always be a place where leaders of the day would come and deliberate the great issues of our time in order that we might better serve future generations,” said Luci Baines Johnson.

Lynda Johnson Robb stated, “In the bipartisan spirit of the presidential library system, my father would be proud of this opportunity for Americans to embrace a Scripture verse he quoted often, ‘Come, now, let us reason together.'”

These forums will be open to all media outlets. A respected, independent polling organization will be brought on to ensure that the audiences will represent a cross-section of the American people. Candidates will be given equal access to address key issues through audience questions.

More details will be announced at a later date.

About the Johnson Library:

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum houses 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos, one million feet of motion picture film, and 5,000 hours of recording from the public career of Lyndon Baines Johnson and those of his associates. The museum provides year-round public viewing of its permanent historical and cultural exhibits. President Johnson insisted that the library bearing his name exist for the people to visit free of charge.

About the Reagan Library:

Located in Simi Valley, California, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library houses over 55 million pages of Gubernatorial, Presidential and personal papers, an extraordinary collection of photographs and film, and over 100,000 gifts and artifacts chronicling the lives of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Home to Air Force One 27000, it now also serves as the final resting place of America’s 40th President.

Media Contacts:

Melissa Giller
Ronald Reagan Foundation
(805) 390-6405

Anne Wheeler
Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation
(512) 731-2351

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One of the objectives of the Central Texas D&D Summit held on April 19 at the LBJ Library was to:

a) Identify specific local D&D efforts that could be used as examples of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation’s (NCDD) ‘Seven Challenges Facing the D&D Community’;
b) Members of the NCDD_CenTX team (to be determined) will then document these examples (according to a format yet to be determined) for presentation at the conference.

While we made great headway toward our other objectives to build a Central Texas Network, we didn’t specifically tie our practices and learning back to the seven challenges. NCDD and Civic Evolution have been hosting an online dialogue about these seven challenges, but that doesn’t satisfy our objective to draw on the expertise of the Central Texas region.

If you are a Central Texas D&D practitioner or scholar and have struggled with these issues, please let us know what you are learning and how we can pool our resources to tackle these challenges.

Here are the challenges:

Bringing D&D skills and perspectives into mainstream society and institutions

Challenge A: Embedding D&D in Systems

Embedding D&D in systems (governance, schools, organizations, etc.) – as opposed to just putting our energy into isolated D&D events and programs.

Challenge B: Framing this Work in an Accessible Way

Articulating the importance of this work to those beyond our immediate community (making D&D compelling to people of all income levels, education levels, and political perspectives, etc.) – and helping equip members of the D&D community to talk about this work in an accessible, effective way.

Challenge C: Proving This Stuff Works

Proving to power-holders (public officials, funders, CEOs) that D&D really does work, and creating/propagating quality evaluation tools for practitioners to use that can feed into research. In the private sector, demonstrating how D&D contributes to the bottom line.

Challenge D: D&D to Action and Policy Change

Strengthening the link between D&D and community action and policy change.

Strengthening the D&D community

Challenge E: Walking Our Talk

Addressing issues of oppression and bias within the D&D community.

Challenge F: Regional D&D Networks

Fostering the development of regional D&D networks and gatherings.

Challenge G: International Connections

Finding ways to readily learn from what D&D innovators outside of the U.S. are doing.

So what have we learned about these important challenges?

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On April 19, 2008, thirty advocates for dialogue, deliberation and community engagement in the Central Texas region gathered at the LBJ Library for a “learning summit.”

participantsParticipants represented a range of sectors – civic, government, business, non-profit/NGO, education – with a myriad of expertise and knowledge both on issues and approaches, from smaller-scale group dialogues to large, multi-stakeholder initiatives.

There was no magic or mystery to how participants were selected. The planning team simply brainstormed until we had 50 potential invitees with the understanding that 1) we could physically and design-wise handle 30-40 and 2) this was only the first gathering of what we hope will become a sustainable network.

The initiative for this gathering came from the growing number of people in Central Texas dedicated to engaging citizens in dialogue about deep-seated community problems and finding opportunities for people to meaningfully engage with each other in building relationships. Momentum has been building for five years and dozens of informal networks were already engaging with each other.

dianeBut the upcoming National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation 2008 conference in Austin; the resources of Patricia Wilson and students in the courses she teaches on participatory planning, civic engagement, facilitation, conflict resolution, and group process design; the leadership of the LBJ Presidential Library; and the persistent and gentle persuasion of Diane Miller (gentle? Diane? she may look it, but who are we kidding here?) ultimately led to a formal gathering of these amazing D&D practitioners. This unique gathering of regional practitioners even drew the attention of NCDD.

NCDD posting

The summit was organized and sponsored by:

We identified four outcomes for the day and Charles Knickerbocker (who is our much-appreciated “accountability guru”) provided potential metrics for measuring our movement toward those outcomes:

Inform: Acquaint participants with National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) and the upcoming conference in Austin.

Metric: Track with NCDD and record the number of participants that register for the conference.

Learn: Share and capture key learning, insights, and challenges related to dialogue and deliberation in community work.

a) Identify specific local D&D efforts that could be used as examples of NCDD’s ‘Seven Challenges Facing the D&D Community’;
b) Members of the NCDD_CenTX team (to be determined) will then document these examples (according to a format yet to be determined) for presentation at the conference.

Build: Strengthen professional connections and personal relationships.

Metric: All participants will have complete contact information for each other and will spend quality time in dialogue in small groups and with individuals from other small groups.
Provide the time and format for participants to identify opportunities for their continued collaboration

Sustain: Understand the assets within the Central Texas D&D network, ways to support each other, and possible next steps.

Metric: Document in report, refer to CentTex D&D Development committee for recommendations

The agenda for the day drew upon the best thinking of several experienced facilitators and meeting agenda designers. Consolidating the best thinking of so many talented, passionate individuals involved negotiation and compromise carried out through multiple phone conversations and face-to-face meetings. But the planning team recognized the huge potential of this meeting and remained committed to a collaborative process.

  • We “walked our talk”.
  • We left ego at the door, challenged our own assumptions, and put personal agendas aside for the larger common good.
  • Knowing that no agenda would ever be perfect, we were at least confident that we had integrated our best ideas.
  • We also agreed that magic was possible no matter what the agenda given the talents and expertise of the invitees.

Steven Fearing, Jenny Meigs and Charles Knickerbocker did the heavy lifting, creating extensive, thoughtful and comprehensive pathways to our proposed outcomes. If I could remember the quote or process, I could sound brilliant here, but I can only recollect that there is a process where the dialogue continues until the answer emerges. I think it is from a Native American culture, perhaps the talking circle describe below by wikipedia and amended with my reflections bracketed [ ] and italicized:

A large circle [that sounds like us!] may continue over successive days [goodness! That’s definitely us!]. Discussion continues until consensus is reached, that is, no one objects to the proposed decision (it may be obvious that consensus has been reached [or they may be worn out!]; or the speaker may say that they are “testing for consensus”, silence denotes agreement), or until the stick has been passed around the whole circle once in silence. [not sure we were ever silent, but we did agree to move forward.]

But the NAME of the process that we followed is NOT important. What IS important is the level of trust in our relationships that emerged, the learning we have shared, AND the fact that we successfully created a process for a powerful, creative day with talented individuals we want to include in our growing network of D&D practitioners!

We prepared an agenda for the facilitators that provided more extensive scripting and background information. We enlisted the support of Sunni Brown, founder of BrightSpot Information Design to provide graphic facilitation and to design templates to guide the small group work. We also asked Rod Reyna, Mary Thompson, Susan Schultz and Tobin Quereau to assist with facilitating the small group work.

Participants were invited via a personal e-mail from Diane Miller followed by an e-vite and a reminder one week before the event.

Prior to the meeting, participants received an agenda and a document, Emerging Themes prepared by UT student Jenny Meigs. This document was based on a dozen interviews with local D&D practitioners. A handful of people met over breakfast at Casa de Luz, (the only organic, vegan, macrobiotic restaurant in Austin) to identify recurring themes in the interviews. (Pretty tough on us coffee drinkers to meet that early in such a healthy place, but we’re confident with the quality of the work we did!)

The emergent themes were:

  • Designing Processes from a Systems Perspective
  • Moving from Dialogue to Action
  • Meeting Public Expectations and Changing Perceptions
  • Getting Real about Power and Diversity
  • Creating Safety to Allow Vulnerability
  • Going Deeper Towards Wholeness

While these themes did not drive the agenda, our hope was that we could replicate, on a larger scale and WITH caffeine, the experience several of us had at Casa de Luz.

So we gathered 30 participants on the 19th at the LBJ Library. We provided EXTRA strong coffee from Jason’s Deli (the difference between an event organized by caffeine-addicted Taylor vs. healthful-minded Patricia who is determined to poison us all with her good habits!) as well as fresh fruit (Patricia has had SOME impact on me), morning breads and orange juice. (Apologies to Oliver Markley for the lack of decaf. I haven’t gone THAT far to the healthful side, yet.)

Long-time Texas Forums member Mike Aaron served as the greeter welcoming participants, passing out name tags, providing introductions and confirming contact information.

room set up

The room was arranged such that we could accommodate up to five tables of eight people, but we consolidated our configuration to four tables of seven people, leaving the middle table open for the myriad of facilitators we called into action.

(“How many facilitators does it take to screw in a light bulb? We don’t know, they’re still designing the process!)

Within minutes of our scheduled start time of 9:00, LBJ Library Director Dr. Betty Sue Flowers welcomed the participants and invited them to enjoy the current museum display, Bills, Bills, Bills. Then everyone went to work sharing their stories and the lessons they were learning while Sunni worked her magic on the white chart paper posted along the glass wall of the LBJ Library’s Brown Room.

[note: this chart is this author’s chicken scratch layout of the room set up provided to the UT maintenance crew and should not be confused with the artistic charts prepared by Ms. Brown and posted in future blog updates!

The opening discussion of our session along with the really artistic recording of Ms. Brown will be covered in the next blog posting.

Stay tuned!

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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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