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Sender: David Nevins
Subject: Re: Decreasing traffic on the Transpartisan list
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014
Msg: 101111

To all, I started a dialogue a few weeks ago about the relationship of action versus intellectual debate on listserv. In that posting I said "It is my hope that a structure can be brought to the transpartisan dynamic that is more than just an intellectual sharing of ideas, but instead results in the creation of an organizational framework that will serve as the conceptual plan for a powerful national political movement." There were many listings in response to mine, voicing differing opinions on the merits of calls to action versus discussion, and as one person so deftly stated the "tension between "action" and "talk". I believe the discussion has been helpful. I believe that no tension needs to exist. As individuals we all approach the mission of the NCDD of how to best " bring people together across divides to discuss, decide, and take action together effectively on today's toughest issues" based on our own perspective and abilities. No one perspective is better than another, nor are they mutually exclusive. Our goal should be to "build collaborative relationships that have a greater impact", through whatever process will achieve this end. With the above mission in mind, and building upon what Mark Gerson proposed last week, I would like to ask any readers who are interested in participating in a group that I am forming, or are interested in just observing the functioning of the group, to contact me directly. The focus of the group will be to: Discuss and analyze the need for a National Strategic agenda generally, with a specific emphasis on the No Labels strategic agenda based on the following four goals: -Growing 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years -Securing Medicare and Social Security for another 75 years -Balancing the federal budget by 2030 -Making America energy secure by 2035 I agree with both Mark Gerson and Sandy Heierbacher who have suggested that the listserv serves a very valuable function but is not the best format for coordinating action. Therefore, please write to me directly if the above interests you. My goal, assuming that anyone is interested in participating in the group, is to dialogue and deliberate for 3 to 6 weeks and then report back to Mark Gerson or Debilyn Molineaux with our findings, and then perhaps have the findings shared with other members of the NCDD. Thank you. David L. Nevins

From: Jed Miller > Reply-To: Jed Miller > Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM To: "TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG" > Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Decreasing traffic on the Transpartisan list

Hi, Transpartisan champions,

I've been a lurker til now and include a basic bio below. I've been involved in social change projects online and on the "bridge" between online and offline dialogue for many years, mostly as a digital strategist.

Two things I think the group might consider. First, I strongly agree with Phil, below. Dialogue can be an end in itself, but I saw this list as a planning and action group more than a "norming" or "defining" group. (More matter, with less art, as to-the-point Gertrude says to over-sharer Polonius.)

Second, in web and comms work, we often talk about "user-driven design." With the understanding that the "users" of transpartisanship really ought to be everyone, I think it could help the group identify concrete steps or experiments to think in terms of specific potential users (or audiences, if a more passive word doesn't risk diluting focus).

What are, say, 3 types of person that transpartisn tactics could reach? Who are some possible priority users of the work (by demographics, or by political interest, or by civic role/influence)?

There are almost infinite answers, of course, but when we prioritize, we can create specific, achievable tactics that are suited to the prioritized groups. Then, by assessing those people's uptake, we can learn, revise and reiterate.

Jed Miller | @jedmiller

Jed Miller (@jedmiller) is an Internet strategist focused on the effective of adoption of digital and social media by NGOs. He currently consults to the Open Society Foundations, Global Witness and the Revenue Watch Institute, where he served as Internet Director from 2007 to 2012. He was previously director of Internet programs for the American Civil Liberties Union, where he oversaw strategy and publishing for, and helped to plan online communications, fundraising and advocacy. As interactive editor of from 1996 to 2001 he managed all reader discussions, including forums for the Pulitzer-winning 2000 series on race in America. As community director at Web Lab he created online dialogues on civic and social issues, including for the 2002 "Listening to the City" citizen summit on the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Jed has taught digital strategy for development communications at Columbia's School for International Public Affairs (SIPA) and has written or consulted for, the General Services Administration,, The Harwood Institute and The New York Times Company Foundation, among others. He is a native New Yorker currently living in San Francisco and is a graduate of Amherst College.

On Aug 12, 2014, at 10:47 AM, Phil Neisser > wrote:

Dear Friends of Transpartisanship

To my mind, or from my point of view, there is a confusion in our discussion, because two laudable goals are in play at once (also it is of course very possible that it is just me who is confused).:-) To wit: We (the listserve discussion group) seem to be operating as (1) a group having a discussion about society and politics and (2) a group discussing how it is that we might best go about encouraging/fostering/creating transpartisan discussions among citizens more generally, also about society and politics. And that, by my observation, has created some confusion.

More specifically, our pursuit of both of those goals has perhaps muddied our discussion of the the talk/action distinction. I entirely agree that transpartisan talk should be understood as form of action in itself, not merely instrumental or a "waste of time." On the other hand I am one of those who thought that the specific job at hand for us D and D talkers is not so much to engage in intrinsically valuable discussions as it is to engage in actions that create that kind of talk among the citizenry. And I only hanker for "more action" relative to that goal. And I DO find our discussions intrinsically valuable.

I hope that's clear.

Yours Phil

Dr. Phil Neisser Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Chair, Department of Politics Coordinator, Environmental Studies Dunn 103/Satterlee 307 SUNY Potsdam Potsdam, NY 13676 315-267-2230 (o) 315-854-3520 (c) 315-379-9713 (h)

On 8/10/2014 1:30 AM, Jacob Hess wrote: Thanks all, for such thoughtful responses this week. As Sandy, Michael and others pointed out, listserv (and vacation) traffic varies naturally for lots of reasons. Equally clear in the comments is the wide variation in expectations of a listserv (and transpartisan work itself).

Although I'm excited to explore these powerful action proposals David, Mark and Tom have each raised, I'm personally still a little preoccupied by the tension between "action" and "talk" itself (or between a "practice-focus" vs. "intellectual discussion/abstraction").

I understand how a connection to "action" is often crucial to drawing citizens into discussion - and appreciate the synergy Tom described, with "conversation shaping action and action informing the next wave of action-shaping conversation." What I'm struggling to understand is why dialogue itself is so often framed as somehow alternative to action or something other than action. Is it because we're sitting still as we talk?! (:

I recently started teaching mindfulness meditation to people with stress-related conditions. One of the barriers that sometimes comes up with students is that being still and silent can seem an awful lot like "doing nothing." To those who do it, of course, sitting with oneself in silence, as Jon Kabat-Zinn often points out, is just about "the hardest work in the world."

And that's often how transpartisan dialogue-for-understanding feels to me - the hardest of work - and, I would argue, the most important of actions. Without it (or without the investment of time and energy to do it right), it seems to me that so many (other) actions simply may not happen. Indeed, they may not even be "thinkable."

If that's true, then it might be helpful to make more explicit the various kinds of actions that constitute this transpartisan movement and relish the interplay between "collective action" and the "radical act" of dialogue itself.

My two and a half cents, Jacob

p.s. Rick, Michael, I didn't read Sandy as discouraging theoretical/intellectual exploration in our exchanges - only reminding us of our beginning intentions as a listserv to tie these kinds of discussions to the practice of transpartisan work itself. I appreciated hearing from her why some people have reported distancing themselves from the conversation. Why not take her feedback seriously and work together to make this listserv an (even more) welcoming and accessible "watering hole" for transpartisans of many stripes?...including theoretical/philosophically-inclined ones! In the spirit of Aristotle's "practical philosophy," surely thinking carefully together about various interpretations of practice will continue to be a helpful (and inescapable) part of high-quality deliberative work?


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