More great resources on dialogue and deliberation

Three weeks ago I wrote about the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) as a great resource for co-intelligence-oriented professionals and change agents. I want to reiterate my respect for this organization and alert you to several new NCDD resources and NCDD’s upcoming national conference, attended by people from all over the world.

NCDD’s gatherings, which happen every two years, are the one conference I refuse to miss. I’ve been to every one since the first one in 2002 and have met some of my most important colleagues and mentors there. I consider it the premier network for leading-edge advocates and practitioners of conversations that matter. I believe conversation is the primary medium through which life-serving social transformation happens. Knowing how to do it better is a fundamental skill and inquiry for all of us. Not all NCDD folks focus on social transformation and evolution, but so many of them do, and they are so creative and resourceful in their ideas and work, that I want to track where their work is taking them and to add my own two cents into our collective journey.

The 2012 NCDD conference for civic innovators, which will be held in Seattle October 12-14, costs $350 for the next ten days and $450 after that. The deadline for workshop proposals is June 29th. I’m still reflecting on what workshop(s) I might do, such as exploring how to use dialogue and deliberation to generate collective wisdom in society, politics, governance, and economics. I may also co-convene a workshop or two with colleagues. You can find out more about the conference at

The other two recent NCDD resources I want to share with you are

1. NCDD director Sandy Heierbacher’s “Top 10 NCDD offerings you should know about” at (text below, but if anything catches your interest, go to the online version which is filled with links).

2. Three essays on the kinds of legislation that can and do support citizen engagement in governance and decision-making I’m including below the first essay – actually a list – to give you a taste. It was compiled by NCDDer Jessica Prue from responses from other NCDDers on the NCDD listserv a couple of years ago. In addition to being interesting material in its own right, it shows the kind of crowdsourced information and understandings that can emerge from people pooling their knowledge in a supportive shared environment, which is one of the many things NCDD is.

I hope you find these useful and interesting. If so, you might consider joining NCDD (see if you aren’t already a member). Then you can track further NCDD developments and resources yourself. Who knows, I might not forward that one hot tip or link from NCDD that is the perfect one for you!

Blessings on the Journey.




1. NCDD’s Beginner’s Guide
Our Resource Center can be a bit overwhelming, with over 2,600 resources on dialogue & deliberation now indexed. Those new to the site or newer to this work should start at the Beginner’s Guide at

2. The “Participatory Practices” Category
Here you’ll find detailed, useful descriptions of more than 150 tools and methods used for dialogue and deliberation.

3. The Discounts Page
See all of the discounts we’ve negotiated for supporting NCDD members on the best training programs, workshops and courses in our field, at

4. Our Quick Reference Glossary
At, you’ll find concise definitions of more than 150 terms used in our field: discourse, e-democracy, convenor, framing, public engagement, social capital, civic infrastructure, civility, systems thinking…

5. The Main NCDD Discussion List
NCDD’s main listserv is a popular resource for more than 1,200 practitioners, scholars, activists and students of dialogue and deliberation. It is a valued source for advice, inspiration, support, and food-for-thought to many in the field. Just like dialogue and deliberation, it’s one of those things you have to experience before you understand just how amazing it is!

6. Listserv Archives
Archives of the NCDD Discussion list are available online, going back as far as March 2006.

7. How-to-Post Page
There are a whole slew of ways to share relevant news, resources and thought pieces with the dialogue & deliberation community through NCDD. This page provides a valuable how-to guide — though we strongly encourage you to become a member (even better, a supporting member) if you’re going to use NCDD’s resources to spread the word about your projects.

8. The “Gems” Tags
We recently added new tags for gems to both the NCDD Community blog and the Resource Center — so you can quickly find the absolute best stories, opportunities, and resources by simply selecting a tag. See the blog gems here, and the Resource Center gems here.

9. The Making-A-Living Listserv
If you are looking for work in dialogue & deliberation, we recommend you subscribe to this list. We now use this list to primarily share job openings we hear about in the field. Subscribe by sending a blank message to this email address.

10. NCDD’s Social Media Page
Here’s your guide to what NCDD is up to on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flicker, and more — and how you can get involved. See, for instance, how we’ve taken the time to create public playlists in YouTube to help you find videos about dialogue and deliberation, demonstrating graphic facilitation, covering online D&D techniques, and so on.



Summary of NCDD Listserv thread
Prepared by Jessica Prue 
Syracuse University 


1. U.S. Federal Level

• The Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) found that by the end of 1978, citizen participation requirements were included in 155 separate federal programs, which involved over 80 percent of all grant funds at that level.

• National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969: Requires public participation in the planning process for new Forest Management Plans every 10-15 years

• Like NEPA, there are thousands of laws, ordinances, and state and federal regulations that mandate citizen participation. In other words, with the same ordinance language, some/most municipalities do a simple formal notice to affected neighbors, identify a date for a formal public hearing, and put a check in the check box.

• See Lisa Bingham’s attached article from the Wisconsin Law Review about the legal infrastructure supporting Collaborative Governance.

2. Washington State: Growth Management Act (GMA)

• The GMA was enacted in 1990 to guide planning for growth and development in the state. The Act requires local governments in fast growing and densely populated counties to develop and adopt comprehensive plans with citizen input.

• Many areas launched extensive public participation programs in order to obtain the maximum amount of citizen part
ipation to develop Comprehensive Growth Management Plans.

3. Oregon State: HB 2895, created an opportunity for a statewide pilot of the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR).

• The Oregon CIR is a process designed to allow citizens of Oregon to evaluate statewide ballot measures.

• A panel for the Oregon CIR is made up of 18-24 randomly selected voters. Participants are first contacted at random, and if interested, they are added to a large ‘jury pool’

• Oregon CIR is a five-day professionally mediated process

• Healthy Democracy Oregon helped pass this bill.

4. Portland, Oregon:

• Portland City Council unanimously adopted principles to guide the City’s public involvement processes on August 4, 2010.

• Principles include partnership, early involvement, building relationships and community capacity, inclusiveness and equity, good quality process design and implementation, transparency, and accountability.

• Public involvement reports must be submitted each time a measure is considered at City Council.

• More information is available at:

5. New Orleans, Louisiana: Home Rule Charter, § 5-411: mandates citizen participation, particularly for land use/planning issues.

• The master plan is available at:

• Includes a section titled “Community Participation Program,” which recommends a basic structure for the neighborhood participation requirement now in the City Charter. The details of this section do not have the “force of law” because the charter requires that the neighborhood participation system be established by ordinance.

6. San Francisco, California: In 2001, legislation established a grant program, funded by the City, which would invite neighborhood assemblies to self-organize.

• Invites all neighborhoods to incorporate a non-profit Neighborhood Assembly Planning Council

• Provides neighborhood delegates to citywide Congresses

• The City, County or other Sponsor provide the assemblies with a Department or Center that supplies technical support to neighborhood assemblies

• More information is available at:

7. Massachusetts (and New England) Town Meetings:

• In 300 Massachusetts towns (of 351 towns and cities total), citizens gather to deliberate and decide the budget for the town, the zoning laws, and other matters.

• In addition, there are Town Meetings held throughout New England.


• King County, Washington: “Citizen Councilor Network” was adopted with a unanimous vote by the King County Council on September 9, 2007, after receiving over 80,000 signed petitions to Initiative 24. The newly created network organized the “Countywide Community Forums” (CCF) to engage self-selected residents from across the county in discussions and dialogue about important regional issues. Round 6 of CCF began this September 11, 2010.


1. Law 69/2007, Italian region of Tuscany: Invites citizens to petition for deliberative, participatory processes to address local problems. A local Authority helps determine an appropriate process format and provides public funding. The agency at the center of the problem is obliged to act on the ensuing recommendations.

2. LogoLinks Resources Document, “Legal Frameworks Supporting Citizen Participation: Synthesis Report) (see attached)

• Report contains information about citizen participation laws in several regions and nations

3. UK’s Local Government Act 1999:

• Introduced best value reviews, including consultation with local taxpayers and service users, as one of the key ways of improving the quality and effectiveness of council services. • In July 2002, the House of Commons jumped on the bandwagon with their, “In the Service of Democracy” consultation (engagement) which represented the most comprehensive effort by a national government to gain input on their policy options.

4. European Charter of Local Self-Government (1985): enacted by The Council of Europe.

• Provides that the principle of local self-government shall be recognized in domestic legislation and, where practicable, in the constitution

• Considers that public responsibilities should be exercised preferably by the authorities closest to the citizens


Additional Resources

Beth Offenbacker’s Database: (Click on Current Research for the page about the Mandated Engagement Database).

Cooper, Terry L. 1983. Citizen participation. In Organization Theory and Management, Edited by Thomas D. Lynch, 13-46. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker.

Bingham, Lisa (2010). The Next Generation of Administrative Law: Building the Legal Infrastructure for Collaborative Governance.” Wisconsin Law Review. (see attached article)

USDOT FHWA web site,, Best Practices and Recommended Guidelines

Kettering Foundation. Citizens and Politics: A View from Main Street.

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