4 ways to implement small group dialogues

A group of people all seated in round tables and talking

As part of a community change effort, small group dialogues can happen in many ways:

1. Rounds:

Many dialogue circles occur simultaneously in the community, with multiple small groups talking about the same issue during the same 4 – 6 week period. This process is often followed by a large group meeting or action forum, bringing all participants together to share ideas for change. After this, teams begin working on a range of action ideas. The goal is sustainability, with dialogues used as a tool to address future community issues.


2. Rolling or ongoing dialogue circles:

In this approach, a few dialogue circles happen at a time, on a continuing basis. Some communities have 5 or 6 rounds of discussions happening throughout the year. From time to time, participants gather in large group meetings to share ideas and begin action. Occasionally, a dialogue group shifts its focus, and decides to work on a particular action idea.


3. Summits or other one-day events:

Small group, facilitated dialogues are included in day-long events featuring panel discussions, data presentation, and action planning. This format sometimes results in action teams forming; often, however, summits are used to obtain community input.


4. Integrating dialogues into public meetings:

You may choose to build in a small group dialogue component into traditional public meetings, such as town meetings or public hearings. This option provides an opportunity for meaningful exchange between officials/experts and local residents.

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Connecticut Civic Ambassadors are everyday people who care about and engage others in their communities by creating opportunities for civic participation that strengthens our state’s "civic health."

Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and our tools, advice, and resources foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change process, using a racial equity lens, can help.