About John Spady

[John's bio] The National Dialogue Network seeks to coordinate collaborative local conversations into mindful national dialogues. Why? “Because we’re all in this together!” Our message line: 800-369-2342 www.ncdd.org/10940

Bridge Building and Other Civic Infrastructures


A different approach to national dialogue-

The title of this post is the same title of a presentation I’ll be making on September 23, 2013, at the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) conference in Salt Lake City. Will you be there?

Tim Bonnemann and I will be summarizing our efforts since receiving our different 2012 Catalyst Awards from the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD). If you are reading this then you have a clue as to the efforts that has been going on behind the scenes by the many “working group” volunteers and advisors to this new site of the National Dialogue Network.

What’s different about the National Dialogue Network?

My shortest response to this question is simply that, “the NDN seeks to coordinate collaborative local conversations into mindful national dialogue.” There is a lot contained in that statement that I hope you’ll take a moment more to think about.

Our current “5-cycle process” creates “basic core materials” for a national audience on one important public issue per year — ideas for a more rapid response model are invited! Core materials include (at a minimum) a Conversation Guide and a special “Opinionnaire® Survey” that are provided to all participants (physically at their own expense or online without cost.) One important feature of our process allows any group to privately extend the core materials and the survey with additional content that is important to their audience. A showcase of this feature in action is the Conversation Collaborative’s online experiment from Ben Roberts (a member of our NDN working group.)

That’s all I have for now… but please give me your comments. Blogs can be lonely activities without a little feedback!



Where’s the Opportunity?


Where is it?

Access to opportunity is seen by many as the solution to the increasing gap in annual income and compensations. A graphic, from page 25 of a presentation by the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, shows the growing pace of productivity (which implies growing consumption levels to absorb that productivity) and labor income provided (wages and compensation) to reward that productivity. For researchers at the Economic Policy Institute this growing “gap” between “real output and real compensation” is considered a major reason for the growing levels of economic inequality among Americans. The NDN Conversation Kit asks groups to consider this specific question.

Where are the opportunities emerging in your community?

How do you create opportunities for others in your family, church, or community?


Elephants in the room


What other issues intersect with those of Poverty & Wealth?

  • The use of prison labor in the U.S.?
  • High rates of part-time employment?
  • Increasing the use of unpaid internships?
  • Short-term and long-term impacts of delaying a generation from entry into the workforce?

The NDN Conversation Kit asks groups to consider similar ideas together. Let’s begin by looking at the many communities that comprise America and a few facts about what it’s like to live in them, move up, over, or out of them during one’s lifetime. In July 2013, the New York Times published a front-page article about economic opportunities and mobility in America. Citing researchers from Harvard University and the University of California Berkeley the article describes how “one’s starting place matters”…

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty. … All else being equal, upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods.”

Look up statistics for your own city with the interactive version created by the New York Times. Use their map to explore how place impacts poverty & wealth in your life, community, or region. Lighter colors represent areas where children from low-income families are more likely to move up in income distribution.