Interactivity Foundation's Newsletter 2.2
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Community and Dialog: 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement Meeting 
- Nneka Edwards

In this training workshop, IF Fellow Suzanne Goodney Lea, PhD and Project Coordinator, Nneka Edwards outlined a dynamic and accessible method by which students can learn to engage the citizens of their communities.  They provided strategies to be used both on and off campuses and in public dialogues exploring a range of policy issues. Approximately 55 people attended the workshop.  Suzanne and Nneka  employed a learning-by-doing approach to inspire faculty to imagine ways of incorporating such dialogues into their courses and of coaching their students to develop the skills and confidence to engage a diverse citizenry to address even the most controversial issues.  
Visit the organization's site to learn more..

Major Milestone Reached by Inclusive Dubuque Community Dialogue Program

- Adolf G. Gundersen 
This past April IF’s collaboration with Inclusive Dubuque (ID) reached a major milestone when responsibility for train facilitators was handed over from IF Fellows to ID after a mere four months.  This is IF’s first experience of successfully employing a “train the trainer” model.  An unexpected but welcome development, the transition resulted from ID’s clear overall purpose, ongoing program refinement, dedicated and capable staff, and rapidly accumulating experience with community dialogues.  

Prior to handing over facilitation training to ID, IF Fellows Adolf Gundersen and Pete Shively had trained 20 volunteer facilitators who by the end of April had conducted 18 community dialogues involving approximately 550 participants. Each month between now and this August another 10 dialogues are planned, and although demand for the dialogues is in general increasing, special efforts are in the works to reach groups that haven’t been included in the dialogues to date.
The actual content of the dialogues is being distilled for inclusion in ID’s Community Equity Profile alongside quantitative data and expert commentary.  The Profile will be the focal point for a second round of community dialogues in 2016, which will in turn suggest ways local groups, organizations, and businesses can address the issues and concerns identified in the Profile.
You can learn more about ID, their community dialogues, and the Community Equity Profile here:


Updates on New Reports and IF International

- Mark Notturno

IF recently published two new discussion guides that were developed in sanctuary projects conducted by IF Fellow Mark Notturno—one on ‘The Future of Employment’ and the other on ‘Global Responsibility for Children’. Dr. Notturno conducted the two projects simultaneously. But the two projects were very different, and the project  on ‘Global Responsibility for Children’ had two unique components. It was, first of all, IF’s first fully international, or global, sanctuary project, involving twelve panelists from twelve different countries around the world. It was also the first IF sanctuary project to be conducted entirely online via video-conference calls, with all panel meetings convening on the video-conferencing platform Webex. The project, however, was otherwise conducted as a regular IF sanctuary project, with each panel meeting once a month on Webex for four hour discussion sessions.
(read more)
Run your first community dialog with the support of the Education Coordinator at IF! 

Join fellow facilitators in an online community.  We will share ideas, triumphs, and challenges across campuses.  Meanwhile, specific guidance will be provided by Suzanne Goodney Lea, PhD., IF Fellow and Education Coordinator.  This one month training begins in August.. email Suzanne Goodney Lea, PhD to register

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IF Talks and the Baltimore Uprisings

- Natalie Hopkinson

The newly renovated grounds of the campus of the old St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Washington, D.C. was packed with residents who came to explore the policy opportunities that have surfaced in the wake of several urban uprisings around the country during a #BlackMomsMatter conversation.
Demonstrations against police brutality 40 miles away in Baltimore put the focus on a mother of six whose viral video abusing her son during the riots earned her plaudits as Mom of the Year. The discussions–led by anti-child abuse activist Dr. Stacey Patton, a family judge Errol Arthur,DC Rape Crisis Center policy advisor Indira Henard, psychologist Dr. Jennifer Joyner-Hall, curator Melani Douglass, school activist Iris Jacob, and more– critically examined the myths and policy opportunities in urban communities through the lens of mothers. As moderator Jess Solomon, founder of Art in Praxis explained in her opening remarks: “This conversation is a fractal of a larger series of conversations happening all over the country, all over the world right now. So we are part of a larger vibration.”

The event, hosted by IF Fellow Dr. Natalie Hopkinson (Future of Sex Policy) and Ronald Moten (Art Of Peace) was a collaboration between the Interactivity Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and more than a dozen community organizations based in Washington’s Southeast community. (Check out the video HERE. And you can read the Washington Informer’s coverage of the event HERE. ) The next in the ongoing series of conversations about gender policy will take place 6:30 p.m.  June 30 at the Anacostia Community Museum. Please email for more details.
Dennis Boyer's Book Review : 
The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future,
Kettering Foundation Press, Dayton, Ohio, 2014 - By David Mathews
One sizeable shelf in my office bookcase is devoted entirely to recent works addressing the woes afflicting America’s system of governance. Many dimensions and symptoms are charted and explored: social isolation, breakdown of civil society, corruption of politics by big money, polarization of political attitudes, shallow media coverage, and so on. Few of these works would provide much in the way of hopeful or practical advice for those engaged in the nitty-gritty work of democratic participation. David Mathew’s The Ecology of Democracy is a great start on filling that gap.
Mathews, the President of Kettering Foundation, does not dwell on ills recounted elsewhere. He acknowledges that citizens feel marginalized and reviews the systemic problems of self-rule and the ever-shifting nature of the political ecosystem. His chief contribution here is in calling attention to the citizen models and institutional practices that are attainable and may lead to the civic capacity-building that he hopes to see come about. In a time when some find the very notion of small “d” democracy radical and impractical in a large, globally engaged nation such as ours, Mathews strikes notes that are decidedly non-radical and workable.
My own views on our democratic experiment are more radical than Mathews’, but his are useful starting points that are digestible for those who are not in the fulltime business of thinking about how things work (or don’t work). Many of us immersed in citizen participatory work are constantly taught the lesson to start where people are at and then trust them to spot dysfunction and alternative remedies as they work together through possible approaches to democratic decision-making. (read more)

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  • Spotlight on an IF Fellow
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