On Tuesday October 18th, the DMC hosted a Coaching Community Innovation (CCI) workshop for Dr. Meredith Tetloff’s advanced social work course at the University of Montevallo. DMC Assistant Program Director Rebecca Cleveland taught and moderated the workshop, while Civic Fellow Gabrielle Lamplugh took recorded notes highlighting the workshop’s emergent themes.

Together the class explored the process of deliberation, how it’s different from other discussion formats such as debate, and how deliberation is garnering renewed relevance in fields of public service. The deliberation process, Cleveland explained,  is designed to bring people with differing perspectives and backgrounds together in public spaces; the purpose is not to teach, but to understand each other and to find common ground for addressing local issues.

After working through a guided deliberation exercise on the issue of public safety and justice, everyone agreed that more needs to be done to promote social welfare and provide for public accountability. The group agreed that a more diverse group of people need to be part of the conversation, and any potential actions need to be citizen-structured rather than institutionally-structured.

“When it comes to civic engagement,” Cleveland concluded, “it’s the small things–the many conversations we have–that bring about lasting impact. As David Mathews said, ‘Changing the way people talk can change the way they relate to each other and their problems—and that can eventually change the community.’”

A warm thank you to the University of Montevallo, to Dr. Tetloff, and Department of Social Work Seniors, for your incredible hospitality and participation.

If you would like to see a Coaching Community Innovation workshop in your community, classroom or workplace, please contact DMC Assistant Program Director Rebecca Cleveland at rcleveland@mathewscenter.org