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What makes an extraordinary workshop?

We’ll be putting a call out soon for workshop presenters for NCDD Seattle (October 12-14), and I’d love to get some NCDDers’ help thinking about what makes a great workshop. Your comments and ideas will help the conference team with the selection process, and will help session leaders start thinking about how best to frame and organize their workshops.

Below are examples of just a few of the workshops we offered at the 2008 NCDD conference in Austin (our last national conference, since we hold them biennially and we ran 5 regional events in 2010 rather than a national event). I selected these because I recall them as all being well attended and highly rated.

Please take a look at them. If you’ve attended an NCDD conference before, hopefully they’ll remind you about the types of workshops you appreciated most at the event, and why — and what might not have worked so well at some. And if you haven’t attended an NCDD conference before, this will give you an idea of the quality of sessions, calibur of presenters, and variety of formats you’ll see at NCDD workshops.

Once you look over the sessions described below, add a comment or two about what you think makes a great workshop (especially on D&D-related topics!). Feel free to also share ideas about the kinds of workshops you’d love to see at the conference.

– Sandy

A Few of the Workshops Offered at NCDD Austin in 2008…

How Can WE Revitalize Democracy with D&D? – Part 1

DeAnna Martin, Executive Director of the Center for Wise Democracy and Adin Rogovin, Board Member of the Co-Intelligence Institute

NCDD draws together amazing practitioners using many methodologies to improve and transform democracy. We will be exploring how we can collaborate to enable a thriving democracy. This two-part session seeks to begin the conversation among leaders of various methods, those with the passion to transform democracy, and those with resources to discover how we can collaborate to enable a democracy that is truly of, by, and for the people. In 2 sessions over the course of the conference, method and organization leaders from groups like the Co-Intelligence Institute, the Jefferson Center, and the Forum Foundation will be dynamically facilitated in a creative, fishbowl conversation about what might be possible if we were to work together and may achieve concrete next steps for moving forward. Participants are invited to join in the fishbowl if they feel moved to contribute to the conversation and can attend part 1, 2 or both. The session aims to charter an ongoing conversation and collaborative relationships to extend beyond the conference. Strategies will be explored that may lead to local, regional, and national partnerships that will produce results and demonstrate D&D effectiveness on the issues we face.

Raising Revenue, Raising Awareness, Raising Expectations: Supporting Growth Through Business Development, Branding, and Stakeholder Engagement

Cherry Muse, President of the Public Conversations Project; Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Founder and President of AmericaSpeaks; and Amy Malick, Communication Director at Everyday Democracy

Organizational sustainability, always a concern in the non-profit world, takes on added urgency during challenging economic times. This three-person panel will address sustainability in the context of business development, marketing and communications, and thoughtful planning that involves many stakeholders. This workshop is a panel of representatives from three organizations: AmericaSpeaks (Carolyn Lukensmeyer), Everyday Democracy (Amy Malick) and Public Conversations Project (Cherry Muse). Carolyn will talk about the relationship between strategic planning, social entrepreneurship and business development for a non-profit organization. Amy will share the work that went into the evolution of Everyday Democracy from Study Circles Resource Center. Cherry will outline an initiative of the Public Conversations Project that involved every stakeholder, including board members, staff and practitioners, in charting the organization’s course over the next 20 years. After the panelists have spoken, there will be fifteen minutes for Q&A. The final 30 minutes will be open for attendees to share best (or worst!) practices around fundraising, communications and strategic planning in groups of 2-3. Staff members who are responsible for raising funds, communicating their organization’s mission or strategic planning will be able to speak with, listen to, and gain support from colleagues who face similar challenges.

Exploring How our Work in D&D Contributes to Social Change

Philip Thomas and Bettye Pruitt, Co-Coordinators of the Generative Change Community

This interactive workshop will explore and extend the question raised by the NCDD Streams of Engagement framework: when we facilitate D&D, what are we using the tools for? Recognizing that all we may do with D&D is necessary but not sufficient to bring about the larger social change goals we hold, we will uncover and reflect on some of the assumptions we hold about how change happens and how D&D can contribute. As a group, we will map strategies for change and draw distinctions among different approaches, considering their differences, similarities, and complementarities. We will work on more effective ways to articulate and talk about what we are doing, and what we hope to achieve when we employ different D&D methodologies. The session hosts, from the Generative Change Community, will share ideas and insights that have emerged from similar sessions in other parts of the world (e.g., Canada, Australia, the Philippines).

Fireside Chat on Embedding Citizen’s Voices in Our Governing Systems

Carolyn Lukensmeyer, President of AmericaSpeaks

Now is a unique time in history with a surge of citizen involvement and increased voter turnout. If we care about dialogue and deliberation we need to embed new procedures, processes and practices in all levels of governance: local, state, regional and national. As we design new approaches on one level how can we be mindful of the impacts on other levels of governance? We must be strategic on the initiatives we design and support. Come chat with Carolyn Lukensmeyer about her latest thoughts on institutionalizing new government mechanisms that will sustain citizen engagement long past the 2008 election.

Attracting Conservative Citizens to Dialogue Events: Liberal-Conservative Campus Dialogue & Mormon-Evangelical Interfaith Initiatives

Jacob Hess, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Illinois and Rev. Greg Johnson, Pastor and Director of Standing Together

Although dialogue events may be arguably beneficial to citizens from any background, many communities still face unique barriers to participation. With a growing attention to the limited participation of conservative-leaning individuals in such events, there has been much speculation and theorizing as to “why conservatives don’t like dialogue?!” As conservative practitioners of dialogue ourselves, we offer insights from our own work in two dialogue initiatives across Liberal-Conservative and Mormon-Evangelical lines. After describing each project and sharing a brief video illustration, we will share stories and results (both positive and negative) that reflect a full picture of their impact. Next, we will discuss together unique lessons learned about structuring and framing dialogue events to be attractive to a broad range of citizens – including in their socio-political diversity. Finally, we will facilitate an open discussion with participants to explore questions and wisdom from experiences other people bring.

And since this is getting a bit longer than I anticipated, here are just the titles and presenters of a few more to serve as a reminder (you can also see all the NCDD Austin workshops here)…

  • Transforming Tensions: Enhancing Dialogue and Deliberation Practice through Practical Communication Theory, Barnett Pearce, Kimberly Pearce, and Linda Blong
  • How to Teach a Course on Deliberation, John Gastil, University of Washington and William Keith, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Vets4Vets: Iraq-Era Vets Show How They Use “Deep Democracy 2″, Jim Driscoll, Coordinator of Vets4Vets, and several Iraq-era vets who are V4V leaders
  • Beyond the Tools: Applying D&D Principles to Online Engagement, Brian Sullivan, Founder of Practical Evolution, LLC and Janette Hartz-Karp, Professor at Curtin University in Western Australia
  • Speaking Truth to Power: Authentic Voices, Responsive Ears, Robert Stains and Dave Joseph, Public Conversations Project
  • Café U, Donald Proffit, The World Café and Eric Haltmeier, performing musician and educator
  • University and College Centers as Platforms for Deliberative Democracy, John Stephens, UNC at Chapel Hill; Martin Carcasson, Colorado State University; and Windy Lawrence, University of Houston-Downtown

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