Interactivity Foundation https://www.interactivityfoundation.org Engaging citizens in the exploration and development of possibilities for public policy. Fri, 15 Nov 2019 17:08:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 106091496 Nine Minutes of Wisdom with Jack Byrd https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/nine-minutes-of-wisdom-with-jack-byrd/ Fri, 15 Nov 2019 13:49:00 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9830 Nine minutes of wisdom, a conversation with Jack Byrd, President of the Interactivity Foundation, with insights from his 50+ years of teaching at WVU.  The Main Thing Podcast, Episode 3

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Nine minutes of wisdom, a conversation with Jack Byrd, President of the Interactivity Foundation, with insights from his 50+ years of teaching at WVU.  The Main Thing Podcast, Episode 3

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Financial Fragility and the Future of Retirement Discussions https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/financial-fragility-and-the-future-of-retirement-discussions/ Fri, 04 Oct 2019 16:15:14 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9814 You have probably heard that 40% of Americans cannot cover a $400 emergency expense, or that about half of Americans are not saving anything for their retirement, or, which might be worse, that there is a shame in our society associated with talking about finances and money. Yet financial fragility and the future of retirement ... Read more »

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You have probably heard that 40% of Americans cannot cover a $400 emergency expense, or that about half of Americans are not saving anything for their retirement, or, which might be worse, that there is a shame in our society associated with talking about finances and money.

Yet financial fragility and the future of retirement are some of the most fundamental areas of not only individual, but also public concern. So early this Fall, IF partnered with Elizabeth White, author of 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal, IONA, and the D.C. Public Libraries to launch an IF discussion/book-club series focusing on the issues of financial fragility and the future of retirement.

We have begun two parallel discussion series at two D.C. public libraries. Each began with talks about financial fragility and the future of retirement by Elizabeth White. She brought up issues she had already shared in a PBS episode and a TED talk. We then broke down into small group IF conversations and explored not only questions and concerns raised by White’s talks, but also some of the personal financial problems and social concerns that our participants have.

The series will continue through the Fall. Each time we will meet, IF facilitators will help the groups to explore questions and concerns about financial fragility and the future of retirement.

These are important conversations, but we are not going to conclude them. One of our goals in this discussion series is to launch what Elizabeth White calls ‘resilience circles’, and to encourage the participants to carry on conversations of their own.

If you want to join one of these conversations, or learn about other IF conversations, find us on Facebook or email us directly.

 

 

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Summer Concert, Conversation, and Lunch Series https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/summer-concert-conversation-and-lunch-series/ Fri, 04 Oct 2019 16:14:05 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9812 What’s a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon? There are many. Last summer, IF, in partnership with Culture Saves, IONA, the D.C. Public Libraries, and the D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living, invited Washington residents to a series of four events featuring beautiful music, delicious food, and stimulating conversations. We met at the ... Read more »

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What’s a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon? There are many. Last summer, IF, in partnership with Culture Saves, IONA, the D.C. Public Libraries, and the D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living, invited Washington residents to a series of four events featuring beautiful music, delicious food, and stimulating conversations.

We met at the West End Neighborhood Library, the Tenley/Friendship Neighborhood Library, the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, and the Georgetown Neighborhood Library. The first three have recently been rebuilt, but all of them are stunningly beautiful spaces bustling with community events and activities. As one participant said “gone are the days when public libraries were only about the books.”

The music part of each event was an exciting and intimate treat. Each time we listened to a different music program performed by different musicians. For the sake of brevity, let me mention just two. One program featured Musalliance—a string duo consisting of Peter Omelchenko on dorma (Russian mandolin) and Anna Kusner on guitar—who offered virtuoso interpretations of classical, international, and folk favorites. Another offered modern compositions for flute and harp beautifully played by Adria Sternstein Foster on flute and Susan Robinson on harp. Each program also had an educational component. Michelle Kim, founder of Culture Saves and a violinist at the Kennedy Center, introduced the musical program and commented about individual pieces. We also engaged with musicians directly in a short Q&A.

The music program was followed by small group conversations led by IF facilitators. About 200 people participated in these discussions. Yet we kept the IF spirit of intimate and thoughtful small group conversations. Each group had lunch together while talking about issues concerning our society. The overarching theme for this series was things that shape our towns and cities. Yet each event focused on different aspects of it, such as transportation and mobility, arts and society, human migration, and the future of our towns and cities. We explored many contrasting ideas and possibilities.

Now we are in the mist of Fall Concert, Conversation, and Lunch Series. Stay tuned for the new series coming up in 2020!

 

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The High Rocks Academy & Collaborative Discussion Program https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/the-high-rocks-academy-collaborative-discussion-program/ Tue, 24 Sep 2019 18:33:21 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9798 This summer the Interactivity Foundation partnered with the High Rocks Academy in West Virginia to offer a pilot program in Collaborative Discussion. Instructors Tristan Nutter and Thea Rossman worked with the Interactivity Foundation to create a new summer camp track focused on collaborative discussions skills. Since 1996, High Rocks has offered a residential summer camp ... Read more »

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This summer the Interactivity Foundation partnered with the High Rocks Academy in West Virginia to offer a pilot program in Collaborative Discussion. Instructors Tristan Nutter and Thea Rossman worked with the Interactivity Foundation to create a new summer camp track focused on collaborative discussions skills.

Since 1996, High Rocks has offered a residential summer camp on a West Virginia  mountainside to help girls prepare for high school and college. This track in Collaborative Discussion was one of several programs offered to young campers this summer. Like all tracks, the program was student-centered, focused on learning by doing, and developed skills that will help participants succeed in educational environments, home life, and the work place.

The pilot program was designed to meet the specific needs of participants. Module topics were selected and built upon by the camp instructors and included:

  • Essential Elements of Collaborative Discussion
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Suspending Assumptions and Opening Pathways
  • Listening to Understand
  • Disagreeing Respectfully
  • Building on the Ideas of Others
  • Asking Questions to Promote Curiosity
  • Power Dynamics in a Discussion

Participants in this program created a zine as part of their final project. Here is a sample of how they processed some of the information from this track:

This partnership allowed the Interactivity Foundation to test module materials that are under development for a Certification Program in Collaborative Discussion. To learn more about the IF Certification Program (under development) or particular modules in Collaborative Discussion or Small Group Facilitation, please contact Shannon Wheatley Hartman @ esw@interactivityfoundation.org

 

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‘Communicating Across Cultures’ collaboration with Humanities DC and Howard University launches https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/communicating-across-cultures-collaboration-with-humanities-dc-and-howard-university-launches/ Tue, 24 Sep 2019 18:28:08 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9794 COMMUNICATING ACROSS CULTURES (GENTRIFICATION) DISCUSSIONS Some 75 DC residents came out for the launch of the “Vision Grant” award-winning partnership between IF, Howard University and Humanities DC. BRINK Media designed an advertising campaign that included promotional videos that framed the discussion. The Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office of African American Affairs arranged to make the Frank ... Read more »

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COMMUNICATING ACROSS CULTURES (GENTRIFICATION) DISCUSSIONS

Some 75 DC residents came out for the launch of the “Vision Grant” award-winning partnership between IF, Howard University and Humanities DC. BRINK Media designed an advertising campaign that included promotional videos that framed the discussion. The Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office of African American Affairs arranged to make the Frank D. Reeves Center open for the forum. After two hours of discussion, there was live music provided by a go-go band, Preservir.

The next forum will take place November 12. The theme will be how technology is changing what it means to be neighbors. If you are a DC resident and would like to join, RSVP here at Bitly.com/DCCULTURES2

You may watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/356274201/02ec63259c

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Promoting Good Mental Health in Communities https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/promoting-good-mental-health-in-communities/ Tue, 24 Sep 2019 18:21:12 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9791 IF Fellow Sue Goodney Lea has completed a project exploring ways by which we might best promote good mental health in our communities.  What resources might communities leverage to help individual and families deal with mental health crises that they might face?  We do not, as a rule, do a lot of preventative mental health ... Read more »

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IF Fellow Sue Goodney Lea has completed a project exploring ways by which we might best promote good mental health in our communities.  What resources might communities leverage to help individual and families deal with mental health crises that they might face?  We do not, as a rule, do a lot of preventative mental health care in this country; instead, we often take a reactive approach, attempting to intervene when there is a problem.  But what if we did more screenings of young (and not-so-young) people, partnered more with churches and other community agents, and ensured that people had knowledge and access to resources that would help to ensure better mental health for themselves and their families?  What sorts of interventions might make the biggest difference?  This guide invites community members to explore these questions and more.  I hope you will consider facilitating a discussion of it in your neighborhood, church, synagogue, or mosque, school, or community center.  Please contact Sue if you’d like more details– you can also freely download the guide here.

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Concert, Conversation, and Lunch Series https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/concert-conversation-and-lunch-series/ Mon, 08 Jul 2019 21:37:38 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9760 How better to spend an afternoon than with music, conversation and lunch in beautiful spaces filled with literature and learning? I am the founder of Culture Saves. I’ve been organizing music performances for several years now to inspire people, restore hope and unite different communities through the arts.  And, as a violinist in the Kennedy ... Read more »

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How better to spend an afternoon than with music, conversation and lunch in beautiful spaces filled with literature and learning?

I am the founder of Culture Saves. I’ve been organizing music performances for several years now to inspire people, restore hope and unite different communities through the arts.  And, as a violinist in the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra (aka Washington National Opera Orchestra), I’ve performed and collaborated with international artists in my own events.

With shared goals of uniting people and for the love of the arts, Culture Saves partnered with Iona Senior Services and the Interactivity Foundation for a series of noontime events this past spring at various DC Public Libraries.

Through Iona Senior Services, these events catered to DC residents age 60+ but were open to all adults.  The Spring Concert, Conversation and Lunch Series started with a 30-minute music program before breaking into group discussions facilitated by the Interactivity Foundation over boxed lunch.

The West End, Georgetown, Cleveland Park and Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Libraries each hosted an event.  I organized short concerts and spoke briefly on the history of the featured instruments, the composers and the pieces.  We presented music from periods ranging from Bach to modern American compositions (including my own Con Spero) to romantic Latin American classic songs to Piazzolla’s tangos.  The musicians – all from the Kennedy Center – were cellist Igor Zubkovsky, bassoonists Joseph Grimmer and Samuel Blair, baritone Jose Sacin, clarinetist Benjamin Chen, and me on the violin.

According to Iona Senior Services Education and Wellness Program Manager Lena Frumin, the conversations drew some participants to this series.  Interactivity Foundation Fellow Ieva Notturno organized the roundtable discussions on topics including “the future of the arts and society” and “the relationship of the arts to community, loneliness, and mental well-being”.

Back by popular demand, we organized the summer series. We kicked off the Summer Concert, Conversation and Lunch Series on June 13th.  Our next event will be on Friday, July 12th at the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library. It will feature the mandolin and guitar duo Musalliance, which offers virtuoso interpretations of classical, international, and folk favorites. There are over 70 people already registered to attend this event!

You can register for our future events at https://www.aroundtowndc.org/summer-lunchtime-music-programs/

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IF Helps Train Summer Camp Counselors https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/if-helps-train-summer-camp-councilors/ Mon, 08 Jul 2019 15:43:37 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9757 IF Fellows Ieva Notturno and Jeff Prudhomme worked with Lauren Wilson, Director of Community Engagement at the National Building Museum in D.C. to prepare 8 counselors for an upcoming summer camp, Investigate Where We Live, in which teens from D.C. will explore outdoor public spaces around the city. The National Building Museum’s training lasted several days, and IF’s ... Read more »

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IF Fellows Ieva Notturno and Jeff Prudhomme worked with Lauren Wilson, Director of Community Engagement at the National Building Museum in D.C. to prepare 8 counselors for an upcoming summer camp, Investigate Where We Live, in which teens from D.C. will explore outdoor public spaces around the city.

The National Building Museum’s training lasted several days, and IF’s participation was just one part of it. During the training, the IF facilitators first helped the group explore different things that make outdoor spaces feel welcoming and/or unwelcoming. Then, going deeper, we helped them generate a few possibilities for creating welcoming outdoor spaces. Finally, we helped them to explore different IF facilitation techniques and to brainstorm about how to connect our techniques with their summer program activities.

We are wishing the counselors success with their summer camp!

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Community Conversations on Eviction at the National Building Museum https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/community-conversations-on-eviction-at-the-national-building-museum/ Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:57:57 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9743 Before the Community Conversation I… “thought that there were few solutions to the eviction epidemic in the US.”  Now I…“realize there are many ways to institute change and policy to eradicate homelessness and decrease evictions nationwide.” —Discussion Participant, April 2019 These words from our first Community Conversation on the National Building Museum’s Evicted exhibit are ... Read more »

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Before the Community Conversation I… “thought that there were few solutions to the eviction epidemic in the US.” 

Now I…“realize there are many ways to institute change and policy to eradicate homelessness and decrease evictions nationwide.”

—Discussion Participant, April 2019

These words from our first Community Conversation on the National Building Museum’s Evicted exhibit are just the sort of response we hoped for when the Museum and the Interactivity Foundation began collaborating on civic engagement programming surrounding the exhibit. Let’s face it, the eviction epidemic, and the broader issue of housing instability, is a downer. How could we engage exhibit visitors in an exploration of the complexity of these topics without leaving them hopeless of any path forward? That was the question that set us on our way.

“Crystal, Annie and Renee” by Miami Workers Center is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The first stop on the way was to convene a pair of exploratory discussions with interested K-12 faculty members. Our intent was twofold. First, we wanted to test an approach to facilitated small-group discussions to dive into the complexity of eviction and to collaboratively generate alternative ideas for addressing the eviction epidemic. Second, we wanted to use those discussions to develop a discussion guide for classroom discussions—something educators could use when visiting the exhibit.

Andrew Constanzo, Director of P-12 programming, and I worked together to convene the faculty discussions over a pair of evening sessions. The discussions were rich—providing a successful test of our discussion approach, as well as generating enough material to help us co-create a Teaching Guide for grades 6-12. The guide includes: topical information to set the context for the discussions, “how-to” guidance about facilitating and participating in an exploratory discussion (in contrast to a debate), and a series of prompts and discussion activities to focus the discussion. We worked with Caitlin Miller, Senior Educator of P-12 Programming, to test the guide as part of the training the museum’s teaching staff to facilitate student conversations. 

The second stop was to engage members of the public directly in conversations, using the approach embodied in our discussion guide. Patrick Kraich, the museum’s Senior Educator, took care of the logistics and set-up, and I took care of the discussion facilitation. Together we hosted a pair 90-minute small-group Community Conversations, the first with five participants, the second with nine.

These Community Conversations followed the trajectory we set out in the guide for educators. The first half of each conversation explored different dimensions of housing, eviction, and housing instability. The second half shifted to imagining different possibilities to address housing instability. We did this by using the “history of the future” approach. I asked them to imagine we were in a future when the eviction epidemic was no more. It was up to the participants as individuals to picture what this might look like. They might imagine it meant there were no longer any evictions—or that they were much less frequent than they are today. I stressed that this was a time to be bold and to imagine possibilities beyond the status quo. Once we talked about some of their visions of the future, I asked them to consider the building blocks from our own time—realities that could be built upon to reach their visions of the future.

This overall trajectory of the conversation helped to shift the mood beyond the sense of being mired in an intractable situation to a more optimistic projection of possibilities. We’re hopeful about the prospects for such conversations and how they could create a sense of civic optimism—around this issue and others. We’re also hopeful about the prospects for collaborations between the Museum—and museums in general—and those of us working in the fields of civic engagement and dialogue and deliberation.

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Busy Times at EnCiv https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/busy-times-at-enciv/ Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:54:34 +0000 https://www.interactivityfoundation.org/?p=9742 Between projects, design, and testing, it’s a busy—and exciting—time at EnCiv. Regular newsletter readers will remember that EnCiv is an attempt to build an integrated online civic platform, supported by a network of civic groups.  IF was among EnCiv’s founding organizations, along with Ballotpedia (which provides election coverage to millions throughout the US), and ProCon ... Read more »

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Between projects, design, and testing, it’s a busy—and exciting—time at EnCiv.

Regular newsletter readers will remember that EnCiv is an attempt to build an integrated online civic platform, supported by a network of civic groups.  IF was among EnCiv’s founding organizations, along with Ballotpedia (which provides election coverage to millions throughout the US), and ProCon (which provides information on both sides of a wide range of issues).

EnCiv’s project work continues.  Currently EnCiv is considering a repeat of its major election project earlier this year in Chicago, which involved an active collaboration between IF and Ballotpedia.  EnCiv is also working with Ballotpedia on other ways to expand its informational offerings.

While these projects mature EnCiv has been focusing greater attention on platform development and testing.

Development involves working through use cases and designing reproducible sequences that can be made to work online.  Progress on this front has been significant in recent weeks, largely due the addition to the EnCiv team of David Fridley, a software engineer intimately familiar with the ins and outs of online discussion.

Testing means experimenting with citizens to see which sequences work best.  Advances here have come more slowly, mostly due to the familiar problem of recruiting participants.  Still, more than half a dozen options have been identified.  We expect actual experimentation to commence with some or all of them soon.

For a fuller picture of what EnCiv’s been up to and why we’re excited about it, have a look at “Recent Articles” at http://usatalk.org/.

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