Forum Foundation Announces Micro-Grant Awardees


Updated: January 30, 2017

The Forum Foundation, in cooperation with the National Dialogue Network, has completed its review of four applications and has awarded a total of $20,000 to the following organizations who agree to collaborate and incorporate the versatile Opinionnaire® Survey and Fast Forum® Reports into their public projects beginning in 2017. All organizations agreed to become members of NCDD; chose to repeat their projects during 2017 and 2018 to receive additional funding; and to apply to present their public results at the next NCDD conference in 2018.

Larger forum-foundation-ff-logo

The following organization received awards:

  1. The Interactivity Foundation
  2. The Linner Foundation
  3. The Listening Corps
  4. The Russian-American Education Forum: An Online Journal

(more information will be provided shortly)


Poverty and Wealth in America – final report published by the National Dialogue Network


The culminating results and insights from the National Dialogue Network (NDN) about its 2013 inaugural national conversation on Poverty and Wealth in America were presented during the NCDD conference in Reston, VA, October 17-19, 2014.

A PDF copy of that report is available through this link.

Thank you again to all the people that helped make the National Dialogue Network, and its inaugural effort, a success. Your names are documented on the cover page of the referenced report.

And just to document again how the NDN came to be, I wanted to leave this trail of links to previous posts about the idea (see below)… creating a national scale infrastructure, that is decentralized and collaborative, and that can help the most locally focused groups of people, organizations, and institutions, better engage their natural scale of constituents or members about issues important to themselves. AND THEN taking locally developed materials and inserting a national scale “Opinionnaire® Survey”, packaging it all up, and distributing it all to anyone else, ANYWHERE ELSE, that wants to engage their (other) constituents and community members in a similar conversation.
Contact me if you want to unpack this last paragraph further.




If you have other thoughts about any of this, please either leave a comment below or contact me privately. I continue to refine the tools and infrastructure of the National Dialogue Network… this is all available without charge to NCDD members. Please let me know how I can help you do something similar with your community — big or small —
“Because We Are All In This Together!”


Poverty and Crime


NEW COMMENTS RECEIVED: Is there a connection?

(originally published Oct 12, 2013)
Poverty and crime have a very “intimate” relationship that has been described by experts from all fields, from sociologists to economists. The UN and the World Bank both rank crime high on the list of obstacles to a country’s development. This means that governments trying to deal with poverty often also have to face the issue of crime as they try to develop their country’s economy and society.

Crime prevents businesses from thriving by generating instability and uncertainty (at micro and macroeconomic levels). This is true in markets of all sizes, national, regional, municipal and even neighborhood-al (okay the word doesn’t exist). Which is why having a business in a ghetto is rarely a good idea, is it?

The whole world also blames crime and corruption for putting at risk Africa’s chances of development nowadays. The same goes for Latin America. Crime has this capacity to generate vicious cycles causing unemployment, economic downturns and instability. Poverty and crime combined together leave people with two choices: either take part in criminal activities or try to find legal but quite limited sources of income – when there are any available at all.

Unemployment = Poverty = Crime:

Starting from the 1970s, studies in the US pointed more and more at the link between unemployment, poverty and crime. After that other connections with income level, time spent at school, quality of neighborhood and education were revealed as well. Fresh research from the UK even indicates that economic cycles may affect variations in property and violent crimes.

But most importantly, what reveals the unmistakable connection between poverty and crime is that they’re both geographically concentrated – in a strikingly consistent way. In other words, where you find poverty (minority neighborhoods) is also exactly where you find crime. Of course this doesn’t include “softer” crimes such as corruption which causes massive damage to people’s lives but in a more indirect type of violence.

In the 1990s, the “first wave” (of immigrants) has rarely shown such outburst of violence. In theory the main difference with the first generation of these immigrants’ children is that they have spent much more time at school, as research has often concluded that education tends to reduce violent crime.

On average, the more time a youth spends at school the less violent he/she will become. Schools don’t just teach you about history or maths, they teach you how to live in society. But the real problem is: are kids in poor urban areas even going to school at all? Are they learning any social skills when being systematically discriminated against? Research dating back to 1966 – with the famous Coleman Report – shows integration into society is key to better grades and successful education.

What is the right path?

Why would anyone follow the “right path” (i.e. schools) if you see that your parents did so and are still jobless or at best exploited and humiliated? Or if your identity and your place in society are constantly questioned, often by the government itself? It certainly won’t help you feel good at home.

Does poverty causes crime?

In the countries where the social discrimination factor isn’t very strong, results have shown that less education meant more criminal offenses ranging from property crime to “casual” theft and drug-related offenses (again, mostly theft). But not violence. It appears that in fact, poverty itself is more tied with violence, criminal damage and also drug use – as a catalyst for violence.

There are huge consequences of this kind of research for public policy and the positive impact of keeping children in school and reducing poverty. But for that we would need governments to actually read the research their universities produce! It shouldn’t seem like too much of a stretch to argue that having kids actually graduate from school will in itself contribute to reduce poverty, no?

The effect of poverty and inequalities on mixed populations:

Another study across 20 cities in the US analyses how local inequalities and heterogeneous populations can influence crime rates. As ever more countries face problems related to immigration, policymakers should be aware that inequality, even within one ethnic group, is a major cause of crime.

It’s also crucial to take into account how many ethnic groups live within a single neighborhood to understand local dynamics. Some are more likely to clash against others, depending on where they live. When inequalities are great, crime goes over the roof both within and between different ethnic populations. The more heterogeneous, the more jealousy, the more misunderstandings and the more crime there can be in a given place.

The spectacle of wealth

It is generally when people witness the starkest wealth differences in society that they can begin complaining about injustice. In fact, often time’s crime is even worse within communities. Perhaps because it’s easier, but maybe also because inequalities are felt all the more intensely when it happens between people living in the same group.

For example, in China some 90,000 demonstrations occur every year and what the media never mention is that the bulk of it it happens at the “border” between urban and rural areas, where poor farmers can see firsthand the massive inequalities between rich urban residents and themselves.

The Cost Benefit Analysis:

As of recent, it cost $123,400 to incarcerate a youth in a correctional facility in Ohio and only $19,800 to send the same youth to Ohio State University. Under this scenario, the state of Ohio could send every youth to college all the way up to their Master’s degree in place of a single year in a juvenile facility.

But obviously, no tax payer is going to allow their hard earned money to provide a free education to an at-risk youth regardless of the $1,000,000 (return on investment) benefit to society that would follow after the youth completes his education and transitions successfully into the workforce. It is quite strange that communities never have to vote on some levy or special funds to keep paying for prison beds.

And finally, why does a state, county, or city (school district) have to be sued or forced to finally invest into the education of its youth, but rarely ever question building another prison to house the youth we know will be coming if we continue to not provide an adequate intervention to these youth at an early enough age to all collectively reap the benefits of supporting youth to become successful adults.



The Great Net Neutrality Debate (Oct 11th, 2014 in NYC)


Visit to Join and RSVP.

Background: All of us rely on the internet for various aspects of our lives. However, the internet, as we know it, may soon be changing. Although not many people are well-versed in this topic, it’s not overly complicated — it isn’t as highly-technical as it appears at the first blush.

Wikipedia defines it as “it is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content . . .”

This debate has been brewing for the past decade and now it’s heating up in light of the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet. The FCC deadline for a public comment period ended on September 15, 2014.

The FCC will then review the comments and make adjustments (if any) based on the input they’ve received from the businesses, lobbyists, and the public interest groups.

Next, they’ll put the rules on their open meeting agenda for an official vote. The FCC is expected to make their final decision by the end of the year. With that being said, the time is ripe for us to debate this topic.

The debate subtopics will include:

• Is net neutrality a “free speech” issue of our time?

• Should the internet be considered as a “public utility”?; similarly, should the internet service providers (ISPs) be considered as a “common carrier”?

• Do you support the prioritized “tiered-service” system?

• Should the mobile devices and smartphones be subject to the same net neutrality rules?


Is Healthcare a Right or a Privilege? (August 30 in New York City)


Join the 3pm conversation at Bryant Park in NYC on August 30, 2014

At the heart of the health care debate in America lies the perennially-thorny issue regarding the proper role of the government. In its landmark case, Nat’l Fed’n of Indep. Business V. Sebelius, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Individual Mandate penalty under the Affordable Care Act is a tax and it constitutes a valid exercise of the Congressional authority.

So it logically follows that health care is a “good” or a product that can be taxed and regulated — but can it also be a “right”? For that question, let’s examine the philosophical notions of:

• What is a “right“?
• What is a “good“?
• Are both mutually exclusive?
• Or is it a false logic to describe in such absolute terms?

These questions pose a moral dilemma, as we grapple with the competing notions of:
1) the economic, social, and cultural right to a universal minimum standard of health; versus
2) the traditional limited role of the government with respect to resources and entitlements.

This contentious and important public policy will be discussed on August 30, 2014. This event is held in conjunction with the Conversation Day celebration at the beautiful Bryant Park in New York City.

RSVP (required to reserve a place) to grossassoc [AT] and RSVP to


Constitutional Amendment on Campaign Finance Reform?


Check out to learn about a new project from the National Dialogue Network!

The National Dialogue Network recently used a form of “crowdsourcing” from to solicit ideas from as many people as possible about whether or not a constitutional amendment is necessary to either limit or protect current practices of election campaign spending.

The purpose of this project is to solicit statements from all sides, edit and rank them using Codigital, and create a summary of the results for delivery to the Senate Judiciary Committee which, in June, is debating the value of a constitutional amendment limiting campaign spending.

Results after July 3 will be repackaged to create materials for local public review, public engagement, and national feedback. NDN wants our political representatives to understand the opinions and values of those who care deeply about this issue — from all sides.

This is the same general process successfully used recently by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD). Their experience with the process can be reviewed at this link.

Thanks for checking us out — again:


Peace Education Center in Lansing, Michigan, holds community dialogues on Poverty and Wealth in April


An exciting message from Terry Link in Lansing, Michigan, describes upcoming community events at Michigan State University (on April 4) and Lansing Community College (on April 9) that are organized by the Peace Education Center and co-sponsored by big name community supporters.

Hello John,
Just wanted to let you know that we finally have all the pieces aligned to run the NDN program on Poverty and Wealth here in Lansing, MI. We have two sessions organized – the first at MSU for the larger campus community , nearly 60,000 potential participants, although we’ll be happy with any more than 50. The second to be held at the local community college on downtown Lansing. The local Peace Education Center is the organizing force for both (I am a board member) but as you will see from the flyers we’ve solicited co-sponsorship from different entities for each event.

We hope to have the surveys completed and will find volunteers to submit them online back to NDN. We will also be doing an interview in advance of the events on our public radio station’s public affairs show at a date yet to be determined. I will keep you both posted as we move ahead. I will be travelling March 13-27, so you likely won’t hear anything further back from me until I return. Below is the note I sent out to campus sponsors this morning. For more info see the website

All good things,
Terry Link

The problem of an ever expanding disparity between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” has become the issue of the day.

Please join us in a respectful conversation about a problem that affects us all. We will use a process and materials designed by the National Dialogue Network, funded by a grant from the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation. Seated in small groups, we will listen to each other’s perspectives to further our own understanding of the concerns and possibilities surrounding this important issue.
There will be two sessions, one for the Michigan State University (MSU) community and a second one for the larger Lansing community.

MSU Session, APRIL 4, 3–5 PM, MSU Main Library, North Conference Room, 4th Floor West. This event co-sponsored College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Social Science, Residential College of Arts and Humanities, Peace and Justice Studies program, Philosophy, and the Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing.

Seating is limited so reserve a seat please send your name and email to: The event flyer can be downloaded here.

Greater Lansing Community Session, APRIL 9, 7-9 PM, Lansing Community College, Administration Building Board Room. This event is hosted by Lansing Community College and sponsored by the Peace Education Center, Michigan League for Public Policy, Capital Area District Library, Power of We Consortium, Justice & Peace Task Force at Edgewood United Church, League of Women Voters – Lansing Area, Red Cedar Friends Meeting, and Common Cause of Michigan. Seating is limited, so to reserve a seat please send your name and email to: The event flyer can be downloaded here.


Zilino demonstration dialogue on Poverty and Wealth in America


Zilino begins demonstration dialogue on Poverty and Wealth in America.

Zilino Invite

Zilino is a new web-based solution for hosting deliberative online forums that enables practitioners to design and manage well structured, well facilitated group conversations.

Please join us for our next Zilino demo dialogue on “Poverty and Wealth in America”, March 3-7, 2014. We’ll be following the materials created by the National Dialogue Network. The expected time commitment for the average participant is roughly three hours total (approx. 15-30 minutes per day), less if you’d prefer to join as a passive observer.

Email, and we’ll send you an invite.


Continuing the conversation on Poverty and Wealth


Maurice Ward at the Department of Social and Health Services in Washington State, has provided a detailed response to a comment about his previous post on “Poverty and Crime.”
One quote from Maurice:

In my personal life I can tell you that almost every single African-American and Latino youth that I have ever met are born with nearly half of the precursors and held responsible on day one for the environment they cannot afford to escape. I don’t suggest we buy every one of them a father, a home, a low drug use neighborhood, or parents who stay married, but I would suggest providing equitable opportunities to all youth in all communities.

Please follow this link to read the original article and add your own thoughts:


Wealth and Poverty in America: A Collective Narrative


Community Conversation on Wealth and Poverty in America at Kaiser Center in Oakland, CA

Community Conversation on Wealth and Poverty in America at Kaiser Center in Oakland, CA



This collective narrative presents ideas that were brought to or emerged in the conversation on Poverty and Wealth in America hosted by Fedor OvchinnikovDana PearlmanAntoine MooreKathleen Paylor, and Steve Snider at the Kaiser Center Garden Room in Oakland, CA on November 8, 2013. This narrative is based on the notes taken by Rani Croager, Nathan Heinz, Betsy Morris, Elizabeth Banks, and Josie Smith Malave. All participants had an opportunity to review the draft and suggest their own edits, and then our professional editor Amber Vyn polished the final text. We realize that there are many ideas and points of view that were not part of this particular conversation, and we aspire for this collective narrative to grow and evolve as data from more conversations on wealth and poverty become available. If you have any questions about this text or want to take part in its ongoing development, please contact Fedor Ovchinnikov at Amber Vyn can be contacted at

On November 8, 2013, around 20 individuals from a broad cross-section of the Bay Area community came together to discuss the difficult subject of wealth and poverty in America.  Our hosts asked us to bring our burning questions about wealth and poverty to small group discussions and suggested a process called World Café to help us deeply listen to one another and tap into the collective intelligence of the whole group – to truly connect with what was emerging from our conversations.

The room was set with mood lighting, a circle of chairs, a potluck table and windows that looked onto a garden. We began with an opening circle to center ourselves and connect with each other, and a group consciousness emerged. We realized that we were in this room, in this circle, for a reason passionately or curiously alight deep inside of us all.

Then we moved from the opening circle to cafe tables to share our questions and personal stories behind them. Our questions were around the causes of income disparity as well as different options about what would allow us to reduce poverty on a systemic level, like redistribution through increased taxation, localized wealth creation, competitive cooperatives, various grassroots economic programs or even fundamental changes suggested by thought leaders like Robert Reich and Charles Eisenstein. One of us recalled how Martin Luther King, Jr. wove his own story into the big questions, The Big Why, which was a crystallized intention to dig deep.

We also brought questions about the nature of wealth and poverty, about barriers to work and advancement like incarceration and lack of access to certain types of education, about how different people got to the economic levels they are at, about how we would like to change and what we can do to make things better in our society. Some of us wondered why we do not usually talk about wealth and poverty, while others suggested that a conversation about disparity itself might be a source of division and the perpetuation of bias. It was not an easy conversation, but at the end it was clear that we were longing for it to continue.

Five dedicated note takers did their best to capture all table conversations. When these notes were put together, the following patterns clearly manifested.

If we think about wealth and power in monetary terms, we see a ridiculous concentration of wealth. A recent study by Mark Rank of Washington University showed that 79% of all Americans will face economic insecurity by the time they are 60. That means that the majority of all Americans will face either joblessness, dependency on public assistance or an income that falls below the poverty line. While poverty does not discriminate, how does such disparity happen? Not just in the US, but worldwide? How does it grow? What are the systems that perpetuate our economic inequality?

We recognized numerous needs in terms of housing, hunger, education and policy making. Most of all, we realized not only the number but the profound complexity of the barriers to reducing or eliminating income disparity. Sometimes, the problem feels like a runaway train, and attempting to halt it or even keep it on the rails seems futile. However, we did arrive at some themes that offer hope.

The solution to these systemic issues though is not obvious and depends on how we define the problem and the push for change. Are we pushing for socialism? A growth economy? Do we need to restore the middle class or to reinvent it? Depending on what side you are on, what you are doing is going to be a very different thing. So, how we define the problem and what the different perspectives are for the people involved are all very important.

Untapped Talent
On a personal level, there needs to be a better understanding of where we all are. We all have basic human needs that must be met, and people in poverty, by definition, cannot meet even their basic needs. Often, they don’t feel like full participants in society because their needs are not met.

Poverty is in your face, so you may be in one role or another, but that role is constantly being reminded. It is a persistent wound. Once in poverty, occupation with where the next meal will come from and if there will be shelter for another day eliminates the possibility of enjoying opportunities associated with good nutrition, educational options and creative exploration. Each day is occupied with concern about surviving instead of living. With basic needs unmet, the wound cuts through any sense of self-worth. This creates a situation where people are coming from decades and decades of not feeling worthy while they, on a daily basis, demonstrate their resilience and persistence.

It should be commonly recognized that the skills and talents required to survive under poverty can be cultivated into success in industry. Our society has shamed people around being poor, but there is an untapped well of supercharged leaders when that shame is stripped away. There is a need to get away from the pervasive savior complex suggesting that “those poor folks are empty vessels to be filled by my bounty” and to acknowledge that all people have a right to be active agents, free to express their talents and create the life they envision for themselves.

However, this brings up another question: Who gets to create? Who gets the space, time and privilege to fail without their family becoming homeless? People have got to make a living, and the desperation that results from the inability to accomplish this becomes homelessness, imprisonment or even death. When an individual is shamed or crushed by it all, it is cruel to view the economy as a game where there is a clear demarcation between privileged winners and losers who have no one but themselves to blame because they didn’t play the game right. Obviously, we need a massive restructuring of our economy, but where to start?

We really need to focus on creating a safe environment, connecting people’s skills and talents with opportunities through accessible and effective education and other services, and, maybe, a guaranteed annual income so that the wounded could regain self-worth, be creative without putting their basic living conditions at risk and ultimately step onto a path to prosperity.

Spiritual Wealth
The path to prosperity also spurred a new question about wealth and well-being. Yes, poor people obviously need more money, but to what end? As they move out of their previous situation and onto the spectrum of wealth, we come into all sorts of questions about how much wealth is enough for us to feel happy. Are we going to feel happy when we are in the far end on the spectrum, or are we going to feel more happy when we are in this other end of the spectrum, or is there somewhere in the middle that we need to work towards? Where does fear of falling into poverty lead to greed?

So there was a shift from a place of quick blame – it’s the corporations; it’s the rich who need to change; the tax code needs fixing — to inner conditions and solutions within ourselves and other’s inner lives: that the root causes of growing wealth and poverty come from people’s inner sense of fear and manifest as greed.

It is fascinating how our perception of wealth and value motivate us in different ways. Home ownership or material possession often becomes a goal in itself, in order to feel that you have something. We now have Land Lords where previously we had feudal lords. The entire way that our economic system is set up is based on scarcity and ownership, making money off of someone else’s labor. When we’re talking about change, we’re not just talking about mandating a “living wage” but completely redefining “work”. What does “one hour” mean? Why is an hour of one person’s life more valuable than one hour of someone else’s? We’re talking about an hour of someone’s life.

These questions appeared to be in the intersection of the economy as a system and our worldview, our spiritual life. Scarcity and abundance don’t necessarily come with our income; scarcity and abundance are also about spiritual values vs. economic values. If we want to create change, do we need to focus on the former or the latter, or do we need to pay attention to both? Is there perhaps some totally new concept emerging to replace the two and help us turn the fear and greed within us and the scarcity within our economy into universal abundance? People need different morals, more humanity, connections with others, community and spiritual connection. So what would be the definition of “spiritual wealth”?

When we talk about wealth and poverty in America, we should also talk about separation and segregation. This means you may be in a particular class and not even really have any idea about it because you’re never exposed to anything different. In the United States, the communities of wealth are isolated from impoverished communities in a more substantial way than in other countries.

In some countries, you might have a lot of money but every day you walk down the street and interact with twenty people who are in poverty, so you are in it and used to it. It’s a day to day reality. And in some other countries there is this division, so that separation of our various communities is something that we have as a barrier to actually trying to work with this issue. How do we overcome this barrier so that we can work on it?

When we focus on money, we fear that things might get harder, so we tend to just take care of our piece of the world: our family and our neighborhood. When things are going wrong in these areas, we just focus on taking care of ourselves. To make it even worse, modern technology gives us plenty of opportunity to sacrifice real connection and substitute it with an ever-glowing iPhone screen.

So what do we lose by focusing only on money? How can we reclaim what we’ve lost? This is a philosophical question but also a practical one. How do we change it so it doesn’t revert? How do we change it at the root, not just address symptoms, so that we create a system that prevents poverty instead of one that tries to cure it after the fact? How do we break the illusion that the impoverished are The Other and show the reality that we are all one community that functions in unison?

Although the wealthy and the impoverished are deeply interconnected, it is often hard to see that interconnectedness because the very way our society functions seeks to render this connection invisible. For example, take the clothing that we are wearing: we don’t see where it comes from at all. The same is true with the meat that we buy in our stores – it is just there provided for us; we don’t know the process that it took to get it. These days, we see the stories of separation increasing, and a greater polarization is taking place. So we are longing for a consensus around the interconnectedness of everyone, and we are longing for more visibility.

When the spiritual sense of connection is recognized, conversations organically evolve towards people’s common themes about community. Community has to be examined more carefully. If you have community, how much cash do you need? And who do we actually share with?

Community is about voluntary collaboration; it’s not about changing the tax code and forcing people to do something. It is about whom do we share with, whom do we actually collaborate with? When are we actually willing to hand over cash, time and assets to let people work with those resources as their own intelligence, talent and creativity allows?

But if community is voluntary cooperation, then how do we avoid the same racial and class lines seen in churches on Sunday? Whom do we cooperate with, hire for jobs, lend money to and give gifts to without strings attached? If community is the solution, then we need to learn how to cross community lines.

There can be absolutely no community if we continue to emphasize the otherness of those who do no share our appearance, education, beliefs or lifestyles. Community must be a unified thing, so finger pointing is a guaranteed path to failure. Community building means voluntary sharing and collaboration, not intentional regulation of the process through facilitation, but it does not mean the rest of the system cannot be shifted as a result of our learning the ability to do this kind of sharing.

Keep the Conversation Going
A lot of this comes down to points of view, the perspective gained by actually talking to strangers and connecting to people rather than having merely economic relationships with our fellow human beings. We need to have a national conversation on class and money, to keep the conversation going beyond the limits of our circle. It does not matter whether you are talking with one person or a large group of people, we need to find these human connections and keep bringing that to the group.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! Keep the conversation going… please let the author know what you think about this piece. Add your comments below! Thank you!!]

You’ve got (future) mail! A message from 2188 to 2013


Dear People of 2013:
We got your letter! No need for forgiveness or apologies, we understand how difficult it can be to only see part of a trend. Wish we could answer each question, but we are limited to 2 pages. When we think we have touched on a question we put its number in brackets like this: [Q14].

[Q3, Q4, Q10-Q13] In the US, the implicit criminalization of poverty threatened to return us to debtors’ prisons of yesteryear. One of the writers from your times saw this coming:

Homelessness is illegal. In my city no-one is homeless although there are an increasing number of criminals living on the streets. It was smart to turn an abandoned class into a criminal class, sometimes people feel sorry for down and outs, they never feel sorry for criminals, it has been a great stabilizer. (Winterson, p. 19)

All that started to change in 2065. The crowdsourced fourth Complete National Count included all the empty homes that wealthy people owned but didn’t live in. Backing that up with data on the traumatic effects of homelessness we were able to pass the One Home per Owner law in 2101 over the objections of many wealthy people. But, when wealthy people sold surplus homes to avoid the added taxes housing markets stabilized. People were not taxed out of their homes, and we had fewer people thrown to the curb by evictions and foreclosures.

Another great spiral of social evolution began with a simple idea: partnerships—mutual, voluntary, co-equal partnerships. For inspiration we looked back to 1992 and Imagine Chicago. [Q6] Because of the power of partnerships, national and international ideas about sovereign governments morphed to consider each person, each family, etc. as sovereign. Gradually, rather than laws which relied on compelling behavior, pledges, which relied on voluntary good and mutual faith, began to get significant traction.

[Q4] Beginning in 2125 up until today, the Shared Fate Pledge has cut unemployment down to under 4 percent. For companies, this means in lean times everyone working for the company, executives included, accepts an hour and pay cut, with those in better paid positions taking more of a cut as a percentage of pay than those in less well paid positions. The key is everyone keeps their jobs. This isn’t new, of course, Lincoln Electric (since 1958 has had a no layoff policy), Southwest Airlines, and the Seattle Public Library were using something similar (though without public pledges) back in your day.

Philosophy and History departments in 2120 engaged the public in conversations keyed to the 500th Anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. Their theme was “What cultural legacies did those 17th Century Calvinist Puritans leave us?” For example, John Winthrop, speaking on board the Arabella in 1640 led off his remarks with

GOD ALMIGHTY in His most holy and wise providence, hath so disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in submission.

Winthrop said their colony could become the “city upon a hill” but many people questioned if these attitudes led to American Exceptionalism to always strive to be dominant and the separation of people not only by race but also by status or class.

The professors turned matters around and asked what American Humility might mean. “How would the main branches of government act?” “How would citizens view other cultures and nations?” “How would corporations act?”

[Q13] Around 2140, a spontaneous national longing arose to get out and meet each other “in the valleys.” A framework was resurrected from an activity used in high schools in the 2000s called Mix-It-Up Day. Sports teams began to encourage tailgate parties to “mix-it-up” and by 2157 brave families up and down and across the economic levels were “mixing-it-up” on Thanksgiving.

Much evolved from the combination of mix-it-up events and partnerships, but we’re out of space! Thank you for initiating a National Dialogue Network discussion on Wealth and Poverty in the US “back in the day.” Is that how you said it?

Say hello to President Obama from 2188 if you see him!
Letter Back 7 Generations High School – College Partnership


The 2013 NDN public analysis phase begins


Submitted by John Spady: The 2013 National Dialogue Network (NDN) process has now entered “Cycle 4” of a five cycle process where our volunteer working group releases a preliminary graphic report of all responses received as of November 23, 2013 along with the underlying Excel spreadsheet used to create it.

Focusing on Cycle 4

(click to enlarge)

During this phase, the general public is strongly urged to help intrepret the results and submit any and all insights to the working group for review and inclusion in the final summary report that is due before the end of 2013.

I am asking readers of this post to make a small contribution of time to this public analysis phase. Click on both of the following links and just focus on what interests you. Try to understand “what the data is saying.” Then post a comment below with any insights that you are able to glean from the preliminary report.

If you want to see another type of cross tab or have any other questions either ask them below or leave a private comment at 800-369-2342.

Total number of participants who completed the national survey: 105

Preliminary report:

Final Excel data (XLS) download:

View 2013 NDN Participant Responses (105) in a full screen map

Thank you!
John Spady
Volunteer Coordinator for the National Dialogue Network


Race, Poverty, & Wealth — Insights From a Virtual Conversation


Submitted by Ben Roberts: Throughout the months of September and October, 2013, I hosted a national conversation “experiment” on the subject of Poverty and Wealth in America. The overall purpose of the conversation (in cooperation with the new National Dialogue Network) was to generate valuable insights, explore initiatives that might have positive impact, connect people to one another in meaningful ways, and experiment with new approaches to large group dialogue.

Approximately sixty people participated through a combination of online, in-person, and phone-based conversations. All of these various discussions were connected and coordinated via the online platform “hackpad.” Here is a link to the welcome page, from which you can access all the other “pads”:  The dialogue took place in three “rounds,” each focused on a particular set of questions.

In Round One, we asked the following:

“when you imagine a national dialogue about poverty and wealth in America, what question(s) would you most like to explore with others?”

Our various conversations generated a long list of questions that covered a number of themes. A list of resources was also compiled based on participant suggestions.

The diverse array of themes and questions identified in Round One led to a challenging decision about how to focus the conversation going forward. There were many compelling possibilities, as well as the option of pursuing more than one line of inquiry. Meanwhile, one participant who joined the conversation at the point where we were reviewing the notes from the first round’s discussions observed that the subject of “race” had not come up at all.

This omission is indeed striking since, according to Census data, the percentage of Black, Latino, and Native American households that fall below the poverty line is roughly three times higher than that of Whites, while the average wealth of White households is six times that of Blacks and Latinos. And so in Round two, we asked:

“how do you explain these statistics?  And how might an exploration of the relationship between race, poverty and wealth in America help us to examine our own beliefs, understand those of others and discover new possibilities together?

The Round Two conversations were challenging. In the process of wrestling with these questions, a second set of resources was complied from participant suggestions, and I consider this list to be one of the most valuable outcomes of this round and of the “experiment” as a whole. Still, it seemed that, as this round drew to a close in mid-October, there was still much more to explore in this terrain.

For Round Three, we stayed with the race theme, but changed the questions, making them more directly personal:

  • What is the story about race, poverty and wealth that you hear yourself most often telling? The one that you are wedded to and maybe even take part of your identity from?
  • What are the payoffs you receive from holding on to this story?
  • What is your attachment to this story costing you?

A number of stories were complied and discussed in this round. We also brought in Barry Spector, author of Madness at the City Gates, as a special guest conversation starter on one of our interactive conference calls. Participants found it especially challenging to address the questions about payoffs and costs.

By our concluding call on October 31, 2013, a core tension had emerged in our exploration of the race theme. On the one hand, it was clear to most (if not all) participants that racism, both past and present, has taken a terrible toll on the communities of people of color. On the other hand, there was a strong  concern around the possibility that any focus on race leads to division, and that the causes of poverty extend well beyond that single factor.

Thus the dilemma: how do we address the issues that remain unresolved in terms of race in this country in a way that also support our moving forward together as one nation? 

We did not come to any consensus on this final question, but I believe our dialogue moved us forward by calling it out so clearly.

Ben Roberts
Conversation Collaborative

[Editor’s note: Please let Ben know what you think of his post. Add your comments below.]


NDN conversation in Olympia, WA


John Spady joined the conversation on Wealth and Poverty in downtown Olympia this Saturday, October 26. Hosted by Faith Trimble, CEO of The Athena Group and co-facilitated by Galen Radtke, creator of the game of conversation, Wamerjam. The small group of 11 spent 2 hours discussing questions related to the disparity of wealth in America.

The evening started out with two video clips: Wealth and Inequality in America:

What Wasn’t Said in Wealth and Inequality in America:

The group then split into two, and played a round of Wamerjam – a card game that teaches the art of conversation. The topic of conversation was “What Is the Meaning/Purpose of Wealth?” There was a general sense from the group that wealth means something much more than financial wealth. Social wealth would include things like community networks, family, happiness, spirituality, sense of belonging, civic infrastructure, access to education, etc.

Conversations also led to the question of “how much wealth is enough?” and “Who is responsible for distribution of wealth?”

Next the group split up into 3 groups. Participants selected their own roles. They could either be a table host (stay at the same table), participant (contribute fully to a 10 minute conversation at each table), or a bumble bee (bounce around from one table to the next). Each table hosted one question.

The questions were:

  1. How can we transition to wealth being a tool for innovation;
  2. What should our society aspire to for future generations?
  3. What are the patterns of generating wealth?

The conversations were open with no decision points or points of consensus. But many ideas were postulated and several themes emerged:

  • Positive Deviance: Let’s look at who is doing it differently and doing it right – like Scandinavia.
  • We need a mindshift around basic income; basic needs must be met.
  • Need equal access and free education.
  • Free birth control or stop having kids.
  • A need for collective currency/complementary resource sharing.
  • Need a culture shift that values community and human life, creativity and critical thinking, connectedness to the land, gratitude and contentment.
  • Change mentality of conquest and competition.
  • Transition from a fear-based culture to a life-based culture. What do we want to achieve in life, not what do we want to avoid and protect against.
  • Sustainable Thurston is on the right track.
  • Money is a substitute for human energy.
  • Society should aspire to have grandchildren who grow up happy, contribute to society, and forgive us and appreciate us for trying.
  • The bigger we are, the more disconnected we become. Are we too big for social responsibility? Can it just happen at the community level?
  • Past patterns of generating wealth seem negative; are there more positive patterns of alternative wealth that we can achieve in the future? Like community capital, care of basic needs, connection to the earth, spirituality, a new form of currency, everyone being a functioning component of society.

The original meeting was scheduled from 1.5 hours. The group decided to meet for 2 hours, and some stayed past that time frame. There seemed to be a sincere interest in have an ongoing forum for community conversations like this. The Athena Group will consider hosting additional conversation on other topics of a more local or regional nature. The group also agreed that the card game Wamerjam was a fun and useful way to host a conversation.

Thanks to all that attended!


Local NDN Discussion (WI)


Submitted by Dennis Boyer: We held our poverty and wealth discussion last night (Oct 23, 2013). Eight participants comprised of four couples in rural area. About half had previously participated in test discussion of draft discussion guide entitled “Fairness” (work in progress of the Interactivity Foundation). It lasted about 3 1/2 hours and went very well. Dennis Boyer, IF Fellow and member of the Public Participatory Learning Community.


Demographics of 2013 NDN Opinionnaire® Survey


This is an experimental report showing just the current demographic tallies of the 2013 Opinionnaire® Survey’s completed so far. Values are expected to be automatically updated each day. Your comments are invited at the bottom of this post or can be left on the NDN message line at +1-800-369-2342. Thank you!

“We are all in this together” — contribute your opinions and insights to the Opinionnaire® Survey on Poverty & Wealth in America. Visit: to begin the survey.




Questions to Future Sons and Daughters


Submitted for NDN contributor Dyck Dewid:

Preface to my questions:  I must apologize for hurting you.  I am from a time when a body of fathers, mothers, and single adults are (collectively) just beginning to use our miraculous intellects to examine our discontent, anger, sadness, shame and suffering, etc…  Many of us are discovering our inner selves and our role in the external world.  I am/we are (difficultly, reluctantly) growing beyond what (we think) we know.  Perhaps soon we’ll stop hurting you.  Of course there has always been the producers of light and beauty, the visionaries, composers, inventors, researchers, writers, artists of all kinds… geniuses of the classics in our history.  Perhaps we in 2013 are now at beginning baby steps of a collective seeing humanity and earth in a different light… one that is not grounded in individuality and self interest.  In this light I ask:

  1. Can you… or have you forgiven me for the human suffering I’ve caused?  (as one of your many forefathers or mothers)
  2. Are arts and ‘the classics’ still revered, and what has been added since my time to light the way?
  3. Please name several most significant happenings since 2013, such as events, works, people, tragedies, that have contributed to sustaining a world civilization.
  4. Has the idea of Capitalism changed?  (i.e. Competing ideas of individual wealth & competition versus generosity & fairness)  Please consider in 2013 the influence of the corporation… its wealth purchasing favorable & clever legislation, its thirst for profit, its dependence on socially accepted (& advertised) ideas of ambition, competition, wealth, comfort, fear, individuality, w/o responsibility or accountability for plunder of earth or society… versus (unprofitable) primarily social responsibility to humanity and earth.  Examples are, consequences of: A government unrepresentative of the people; Continued use of fossil fuels on earth climate; Fracking; Unsustainable use of earth resources for short term gains; Waste disposal and Avoidance of Life Cycle product planning shifting those costs to the public; etc. etc..
  5. What  have people come to know about where to place ultimate responsibility  for systems of government and social disfunction or disharmony?
  6. Are there still individual countries/states or is there one world governing body?
  7. Is there a different, perhaps world economy and please describe what you have?
  8. Is low price still boss in your time?   (versus real value and fairness)
  9. In your opinion, what are the connections you see between ambition for wealth, or having influence of wealth (money and property) and the problems we’re facing in 2013… Global Warming, Large Uprisings around the world against those in power, War, Poverty and hunger and homelessness.
  10. How would you define Wealth and Poverty in your time?  Does it consider Abundance of earth as wealth, and Lack of Realizing that Abundance as poverty?
  11. Do you look at Wealth & Poverty, as most do in 2013, being the ultimate, perhaps insatiable measure of success (where Wealth is money, property and power.. and Poverty is lack of it)?  And although obviously ineffective at achieving happiness and peace, these seem to have been our values through much of our history.
  12. Has society (governance) changed to deal justly and fairly with civil rights and biases that rob women and minorities of their power, their land, their heritage, their freedoms, their just treatment under law?  Is there a connection in this to Wealth and/or Poverty?
  13. In 2013 we have a big problem: seeing diversity as a problem instead of rich in content and ‘another’ truth.  This causes havoc in our ability to achieve harmony in dialogue (and life).  Have you overcome this social diasability?

Infrastructure for Sustaining the National Conversation


There is a great deal of innovation around giving Americans a greater voice in their government, but we still have a long way to go.  That’s why I’m excited to see the National Dialogue Network (NDN) breaking new ground and the Conversation Collaborative’s online experiment from Ben Roberts (a member of the NDN working group.)

The closest thing we currently have to a “national conversation” is the comment section of the NY Times and other major newspapers.  Comments aren’t a conversation.  There isn’t enough back-and-forth exchange for participants to inquire more deeply with each other about comments they don’t understand or to explore opposing opinions in a productive way.

Blended models of online, phone-based, and in-person participation are emerging, and there is so much potential there.  As a board member for the 1700-member National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, I look forward to watching NDN develop and share its lessons learned as it explores ways to fill in the gaps of this vital infrastructure for sustaining the national conversation.  Without such infrastructure for earnest and important dialogue, we cannot bring our nation’s collective intelligence to bear on our collective challenges.


Announcement Sept 20, 2013


Recipient of the 2012 Catalyst Award for Civic Infrastructure, National Dialogue Network (NDN) volunteer John Spady announces that the NDN achieved a major milestone on September 18 when it released its public Conversation Kit on the topic of Poverty & Wealth in America for voluntary and coordinated national conversations. Revisit the May post on NCDD to remember how and why this topic was selected. Groups and individuals are now invited to “Get Involved.” Follow this link and take an action on the topic — and an important first action is to simply download the Conversation Kit, then ask your friends, family, neighbors, or community to join in and help inform the national dialogue. The NDN coordinates distinct individual and community conversations — giving everyone a “sense of place” and voice within the larger national dialogue. NDN’s dedicated volunteer’s seek to revitalize and promote civic infrastructures within communities where all who choose to participate will impact the national conversation by:

  • Focusing intently on an issue over time with others;
  • Listening to the opinions and ideas being discussed in your community and across the United States; and
  • Speaking up about your own opinions and ideas in conversations with your family, friends & community.

Jim Wallis, President and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners Magazine, appears prescient on the topic when he writes in the March-April 1999 issue:

“The growing economic inequality of American life presents the most crucial moral issue for the health of democracy, according to historian James MacGregor Burns. It’s an issue that affects almost every other issue, from campaign finance to corporate welfare to the daily priorities of the U.S. Congress. The widening gap between the top and bottom of American society is now the 900-pound gorilla lurking in the background of every political discussion. It’s just sitting there, but nobody is talking about it. It’s time we started talking about it. Our moral integrity demands it.  And the common good requires it.”

The NDN is appealing to participants and the general public to raise at least another $10,000 for 2014 so they can continue to develop processes and content for another year of national dialogue. Any amounts raised over $15,000 will be used to develop more professional content, coordination, and promotional grants. Donations can be made online at

Finally, NDN is grateful to the people who volunteered their hearts and hands to make this project a reality. Their collaborations are exactly what NCDD intended when it created the Catalyst Awards and the National Dialogue Network acknowledges their contributions on its About-Us page.


Wealth, Capital Flight, and the Rise of the Information Society: Beyond Borders


“[B]y the year 2012, projected outlays for entitlements and interest on the national debt will consume all tax revenues collected by the federal government… There will not be one cent left over for education, children’s programs, highways, national defense, or any other discretionary program.”
— Bipartisan U.S. Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform (1994)

The Sequester – What Is It” – U.S. White House (2013)

While governments struggle to develop budgets that they imagine will serve the interests of most of their constituents, the rest of the world races ahead, with unrelenting and quickening progress, developing new tools to transform society.

The U.S. government, like other governments, seeks out and punishes those who publish information it does not like, and engages in attempts to regulate the internet. Yet despite such efforts, technological progress ultimately surpasses the capacity of government to regulate it. We live in a world in which kindergartners are learning to develop computer applications before they can read and where children are capable of printing objects using their minds.

Considering the technological developments in society, issues related to capital flight are important, but traditional methods of movement of capital will become less relevant as technology enhancements and the development of the information society result in information itself being adopted as new currency.  This was alluded to in July of 2001 by D K Matai of mi2g at a Lloyd’s of London keynote speech and more recently has been discussed in numerous articles (examples: CNN, 2009; Estreitinho, 2013) discussing the concept of information as currency and the notion of the relationship as the ultimate technology (Gallagher, 2009).

(( Additional information: (1:)  How Millennial Are You?  | (2:) 2013 Millenial Impact Report ))

The following paragraphs are excerpts from “The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the transition to the Information Age” by James Dale Davidson & Lord William Rees-Mogg (published by Touchstone, 1999).

“As ever more economic activity is drawn into cyberspace, the value of the state’s monopoly power within borders will shrink, giving states a growing incentive to franchise and fragment their sovereignty.” (p. 179)

“If a 747 jetliner filled with one investor from each jurisdiction on earth touched down in a newly independent country, and each investor risked $1,000 in a start-up venture in the new economy, the American would face a far higher tax than anyone else on any gains. Special, penal taxation of foreign investment, exemplified by the so-called PFIC taxation, plus the US nationality tax, can result in tax liabilities of 200 percent or more on long-term assets held outside the United States. A successful American could reduce his total lifetime tax burden as a citizen of any of more than 280 jurisdictions on the globe.” (p. 306)


  • What do discussions of a transaction tax mean to you? 
  • If a transaction tax were to exist, what kind of transactions should be subject to tax?
  • If a transaction tax were to exist and most transactions were to be subject to such a tax, what changes should be made to our current tax system to modify or reduce taxes collected in other areas, or other ways?

 “The competitive conditions of the Information Age will render it possible to earn high incomes almost anywhere. In effect, the locational monopolies that nation-states exploited to impose extremely high taxes will be broken by technology. They are already breaking down.” (p. 307)

“Contrary to the popular impression in rich economies today, income inequality rose rapidly during the industrial period. An estimate cited by the World Bank suggests that per-capita income in the richest countries ballooned from eleven times that in the poorest countries in 1870 to fifty-two times in 1985. While inequality increased dramatically on a global basis, it often appeared otherwise to the fraction of the world inhabiting wealthy industrial countries. Income inequality rose among countries rather than within them.” (…)
Equal Opportunity in the Information Age:  In the Information Age, familiar locational advantages will rapidly be transformed by technology. (…)
Earning capacity for persons of similar skills will become much more equal, no matter in what jurisdiction they live.” (pp. 234-237)


  • Has technology provided you with enhanced earning capacity?  How so or how not?
  •  Have certain effects of technology impaired or reduced your earning capacity?
  • In your opinion, or your dialogue group’s collective opinion, has society made the best use of technology available to us today?  Why or why not?

Today’s movements of capital around the globe in efforts to avoid taxation, combined with jurisdictions that traditionally shield the identity of individuals and corporations that hold accounts, have bumped into the advancement of the information society. This has resulted in leaks of information about the practice of offshoring, with various governmental reactions, including a US Treasury effort to address the issue.

As time goes on, changes in how people use technology in connection with currency will mean that individuals will need to spend less and less effort to reduce their liability. This is due in part to the growth of widely available encryption, and the eventual development of decentralized virtual currencies that do not rely upon governments or banks. (A discussion paper on various types of virtual currencies was published by the European Central Bank in 2012.)

As just one example, on March 28, 2013, the total value of bitcoins (a decentralized virtual cryptocurrency in use around the globe) in circulation passed 1 billion dollars.  Because technology (such as TorWallet and ZeroCoin) is now available to anonymize the transactions of these virtual currencies, and because many technologies that do so begin as decentralized code with no single location, it is generally infeasible for governments to trace, control, or tax transactions involving decentralized virtual currencies.  These are not based on gold or trust in a central authority, but rather, are based on how people value information, processing power, and relationships.


  • What does the term ‘reduction of liability’ mean to you? 
  • In a world where an increasing number of transactions are conducted in a virtual realm, and where transactions and systems are becoming more difficult to track or control, what values or relationships would enable a “giving” or “donor” culture?
  • What kind of organizations or services do you presently support voluntarily, by monetary donation, gift, or contribution of time and effort?]

Ultimately, it is likely that this liberating aspect of technology will eventually place even more control of development, production, and maintenance of currency systems in the hands of individuals, in essence resulting in governments being more subject to the interests of individuals, associations, and different types of corporations.

The question remains, what will networks of individuals do with this newfound ability?

  • As information becomes currency, how do you think people should develop consensus to both operate their business and manage public resources?
  • What will take the place of systems that traditionally were managed by the state, but will no longer be sustained due to diminishing governmental capacity to tax in a post-national climate?
  • Can existing systems that government fails to maintain be “picked up” and maintained for the public good by non-governmental entities without risking the quality or quantity public service or resource in question? What are some of the pitfalls of privatization as traditionally conducted?
  • In such a situation, who or what should handle parks, health, and / or educational systems?
  • In an environment characterized by decentralization of systems, what is the individual’s role in the maintenance of public resources, or alternatively, public order? In such conditions, what would you do to help prevent or remedy any problems or adverse conditions associated with economic inequality, including poverty?
  • Do you view the increases in the potential of individuals and networks to help others as Opportunity?

Wrapping Up

  • What does Economic Inequality mean to me (or to the people I am exploring the issue with in this dialogue session)?
  • What does Opportunity mean to me (or to the people I am with in this dialogue session)?
  • (If exploring these issues with a small group of dialogue participants:)
    Did your group arrive at consensus on these meanings? How did this occur?
  • How does Economic Inequality relate to Poverty and Wealth in the United States?

Extending the Dialogue

(The following steps assume that the participants have additional time to explore the issues further or in greater depth over different sessions.)

  • Describe your concerns, and to the extent that you developed shared concerns with others in a group while deliberating on these topics in this dialogue, describe any concerns that your group resolved or arrived at a consensus on.
  • If there is more than one concern or issue, describe visually how they are connected. Use post-its, computer drawing tool(s), or anything that seems appropriate to visually characterize how the concerns or issues you discussed relate to each other. As part of this, visually describe the human relationships or connections that are relevant to these concerns as well as the connections between the concerns or issues.
  • Tentatively determine some ways in which the relationships you are describing can be put to use, or alternatively, changed, to address the concerns in a meaningful way. Establish a “direction” that you’d like to go.
  • Together, consider some scenarios involving steps that could help you move in the preferred direction that you tentatively determined above.

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.


Communications to the 7th Generation



Seven generations is about 175-200 years. This is seven cycles of one generation’s children growing up and having children of their own. What they have to work with—or our legacy and their inheritance—is directly connected to who we are and the choices we make or allow or that get imposed today in our time.

The Wranglers for this thread (Dyck Dewid & John Perkins) set ourselves two tasks: composing a letter from today to this future generation and imagining a letter in return from this future time to today. Let these letters incite your own imagination.


As I write this first letter to a generation far into the distant future, I find myself making up some presumptions. If I was comfortable using the word Hope, I’d use it instead. More accurately I say, “I’ll be surprised if there are living human offspring (sons and daughters) to answer my letter.”

My first presumption is that there still is human life on this planet (earth) past about 2100 in spite of the plunder of earth and inhabitants by my generation and those before mine.

Another presumption is that humans are actively engaged in learning and know more than we do in 2013 about the interdependence of every thing in nature.

Another presumption is that either a leader of supreme intelligence has come from without earth environment, or that humanity has developed intelligence to govern in & for harmony.

Another presumption is that humans will have learned to share all earth resources and how humans are integrally connected.

Another presumption is that humans will have progressed to be able to deal with technology primarily in humanistic ways rather than in primarily economic driven ways.


[Please use the login link below to register and add your comments below -Editor]

Next post: Questions for future sons and daughters.

Yours, Dyck Dewid & John Perkins