What is Public Dialogue?

When I was directing the Institute for Public Dialogue at The Relational Center in Los Angeles, CA, that was a question I was often asked.  Public Dialogue is when groups of people need to come together for complex and demanding conversations about interests they share.  Structured dialogic practices make a much richer exchange possible. The structures I use are based in my experience and knowledge encompassing a variety of practices.  My application of those practices is grounded in Relational Gestalt and Relational Constructionist theory and practice.  Some examples of Public Dialogues I’ve done include several within organizations.  These were designed to develop organizational practices that were more consistent with their mission, to design new projects, to redesign staffing and staff functions, to develop training models and to turn rancorous conflict into a positive direction.  Other dialogues have been done with communities to bridge long standing ruptures and build paths forward on the basis of shared values and aspirations.

There are many public dialogue practices in which I am trained and which I have implemented.  This week I have the opportunity to be a part of an Art of Hosting in Portland, Oregon.  The elements of this approach are very familiar to me.  The way Art of Hosting combines these elements and the flow it creates has a special effect.  I look forward to meeting new colleagues and learning more.


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