Thursday, November 25, 2010

National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation meeting in Portland

180 practitioners of dialogue, deliberation, and public engagement gathered for the NCDD conference in Portland Oregon in November 13th. The organizers did a wonderful job of organizing the conference and having the opportunity to gather with so many people dedicated to furthering dialogue and public participation in our political process was fantastic. To start off the conference a World Cafe was convened in Friday night which was open to the public. I can in early to participate as there was no way that I would miss a World Cafe session. The conversation was excellent even though the turnout was not as big as I had hoped. The harvest from that Cafe was used to frame some of the questions posted for the next day.

The next day, the day of the conference, turned out to be a great gathering and sharing of ideas and practices. We had excellent speakers in the morning outlining creative public engagement practices and then an Open Space session in the afternoon where participants self-organized to talk about topics of interest. For both the World Cafe on Friday and for the speakers on Saturday, graphic recorders recorded the conversations which can be seen on the NCDD conference site. To see the details of the session visit the agenda for the conference.

Outside of having the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful event with others interested in the field of dialogue, deliberation and public engagement, it was nice to be able to visit with all of these folks that I had never met. As I live 3 hours away from Portland, only those few from Bend who ventured over were familiar to me. The conversations that we engaged in were excellent and the co-generation of new ideas and sharing of ideas made the trip worth it. I will certainly go next year particularly if regional events are held again. In closing I would highly recommend that if interested in the field that you join NCDD and start helping this community do the excellent work being done to create conversations that matter.

I would also recommend that to get an in depth education in the field, join the DDPE certification program at Fielding Graduate University. The program is embedded within the Fielding HOD doctoral program that I am participating in full time or the master program in HOD but if you have a bachelors degree you can join a cohort and gain mastery in this fantastic field. And if interested in The World Cafe visit the World Cafe site or the World Cafe community and join in the conversation.

A World Cafe for fellow Fielding doctoral students and faculty

My friend and fellow doctoral traveler Bart Buechner hosted the November San Francisco Fielding Cluster meeting at the VA center in Yountville just north of Napa Calif. We had two faculty that came in to deliver a workshop on Critical Theory and I was to host a World Cafe after lunch. I did make it down but it was an arduous trip. I got to the airport in Redmond Oregon at 5:30 am and the plane was delayed and did not leave until 9:15. I got lots of reading in at least. I did make it down to the Bay Area and after picking up a car made it to the meeting at just after 1 pm, 4 hours late. But I did make it in time for some of the workshop, lunch, conversation, and then the delivery of the World Cafe. Most of the participants, 14 in all, had not experienced The World Cafe and one of those who had did not have a good experience so I was excited to introduce the fantastic dialogic process to the group.

We as a group came up with a question which focused on power differentials and the Obama election and whether Obama could make a difference and what our hopes and dreams had been in supporting the Obama election. We had a short amount of time so I did a quick philosophical introduction to The World Cafe as a dialogic process and then set 15 minute rounds and a 10 minute harvest. The conversation was outstanding and again based on the results it was clear that the power of dialogue is what can drive the healing of the world. Although it was a short meeting for me, the trip down was invaluable.

At 3:45 I hit the road to go to Woodside to have dinner and visit with my friend Deborah and her husband Stephen at the home of one of their dear friends. After driving in pouring rain the whole way I got there at 6 pm and stayed until just after 8 pm. Wonderful conversations with Deborah and the hosts. Let for the airport and got to the terminal at 9 pm. Noticed that my flight was delayed, thank God, as it had been scheduled to leave at 9:05. I have no idea how I thought that it left at 10. Well it was delayed until 10 and then until 11 and by the time I got home it was 1:30 am and I was exhausted. But it was well worth it.

The trip although a busy, was a reminder of how important dialogue is and how important gathering in friendship is to us. Have wonderful conversations and a great holiday season.