Building Community & Building Trust

UnityWithout building up communities that can work cooperatively, without increasing our trust in each other and in ourselves collectively, we are unlikely to see our democracy successfully cope with the challenges before us. Our problem is that muddling through won't be nearly good enough. Our democratic institutions in fact must perform better than they ever have before in order to deal with emerging challenges more complex and difficult than we have ever faced.

Getting to a very high level of democratic functionality is inconceivable unless we also achieve what amounts to a national reconciliation. The organizations below are excellent examples of work toward this end. At the same time, many of the organizations listed in other articles in this series also focus on this core issue: We simply must stand down from hostilities and turn to working together, before it is too late.

National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation

NCDD is a network of innovators who use dialogue and deliberation to promote cooperation across the divides that obstruct action on today's toughest issues. With growing partisanship and increased conflict, the skills and techniques of dialogue and deliberation are vital. NCDD offers a clearinghouse for thousands of resources and best practices, and it sponsors an annual national conference. The Coalition also offers free 1-hour online programs called Tech Tuesdays focusing on how dialogue proponents can take advantage of online engagement tools. They include many tool creators excited to share their innovations. You do not have to be a member of NCDD to participate.

Visit their website >>

National Institute for Civil Discourse

NICD promotes civil discourse, with a focus on elected officials who, as they put it, "are capable of working to solve the big issues facing our country." They also work for a news media that accurately informs citizens and for public attitudes that demand both civil discourse and a government that works for the whole country. NICD created the National Civility Network, a dozen university based institutes and centers committed to a more robust democracy. The NCN collaborates on projects related to political dysfunction, civility, and civic engagement.

Visit the NICD website >>

Everyday Democracy

Partners with communities in promoting civic engagement, dialogue and deliberation, and racial equity, and provides assistance to selected communities working to bring together diverse groups to address community needs. Their process, called Dialogue To Change, has been used with more than 600 communities to generate community-driven solutions to local issues.

Visit their website >>

More Community & Trust Builders

Center for New Democratic Processes

International Association for Public Participation: IAP2

Kitchen Table Democracy

National Civic League

NDN: Affiliate of New Policy Institute

Public Agenda

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Published: August 2019
Revised: July 2023

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