Bormann has worked
professionally in the field of interracial and intercultural human
relations for 18 years. She began her life's work with the National
Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) in the Greater Boston
regional office and then moved to New York City to accept a position
as a program consultant with NCCJ's national office. In 1995, Tammy
became the first woman to serve as NCCJ's Vice President for Programs,
a position she subsequently left to begin her own consulting practice.
As a white
woman who feels both called to and responsible for the work of social
justice in the world, Tammy works with a variety of clients, including
NCCJ, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cornell
University, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum Slave Gallery Project,
the Urban Bush Women, City Lore, New York University, the Knight
Foundation, New York University, Louisville Presbyterian Theological
Seminary, and the Ford Foundation's Animating Democracy Initiative,
among others. She researches, designs and facilitates learning processes
that educate, challenge and support whites and people of color who
seek to dismantle the oppressive institutions and social structures
that threaten equality and justice for all people. She has also
conducted national research on the issue of racial reconciliation
and its potential in the United States. Tammy is also actively involved
with the re-energized Dialogue Movement in the United States, and
has been called to facilitate and teach others to facilitate effective
dialogic learning processes in a variety of contexts. In this capacity,
she has led visioning and planning processes for the boards and
staff of several organizations including City Lore, the Myhelan
Cultural Arts Center, and Muhlenberg College, among others.
In 1994, Tammy
and a colleague co-founded and currently co-direct the Workplace
Diversity Network, a joint project of NCCJ and Cornell University.
The Workplace Diversity Network was founded on the belief that people
from different work sectors and organizations have much to teach
and learn from one another about creating diverse and inclusive
workplaces. Rather than provide traditional diversity training programs,
the Network is dedicated to exploring the difficult and risky proposition
of creating inclusive workplaces within an exclusive society. Under
Tammy's leadership and that of her Cornell co-director, the Workplace
Diversity Network has led ground-breaking participant action research
in the area of structural inclusion in the workplace.
her Bachelor's degree in French and Communications from Muhlenberg
College, where she now serves on the Board of Trustees. She earned
a Master's degree in Education from the Harvard University. She
uses English, French, Spanish and American Sign Language to communicate.
Tammy currently chairs the Board of Directors of the Myhelan Cultural
Arts Center; co-chairs the National Steering Committee of NABRE:
The Network of Alliances Bridging Race and Ethnicity; serves on
the Executive Committee and chairs the Campus Affairs Committee
of the Muhlenberg College Board of Trustees; and chairs the Administrative
Board and the Council on Ministries of Trinity United Methodist
in Learning; Dialogue is Conflict
Tammy Bormann and David Campt, independent dialogue
consultants, led small groups in two separate conference sessions.
These were lively workshops in which participants learned dialogue
process techniques and design and explored ways dialogue can enhance
and strengthen visitor experiences at historic sites. The sessions
began with an explanation of what dialogue is and what can make
it uncomfortable for the facilitator.
Participants learned that dialogue is the sharing through words,
experiences and assumptions. Dialogue is more than a communication
tool; it is a learning process. To start the dialogue process, "you
need to be willing to be curious" and ask questions relevant
to the people engaged in the dialogue. According to David, "in
dialogue, a group of people can explore the individual and collective
presuppositions, ideas, beliefs, and feelings that subtly control
their interaction." The group was assured that conflict happens,
but we should not be afraid of it.
Campt in middle and Tammy Boorman at left, dialogue skills trainers,
listen intently to the dialogue amongst the session participants.
of Facilitator or Facilitator's Matters
One important key to an effective dialogue is the facilitator. A
facilitator must have emotional and intellectual interaction with
the group, as well as competencies in building consensus -- not
to have everyone agree on one issue, but to find common ground and
maintain focus. Tammy and David showed how co-facilitation can bring
different perspectives to a dialogue. Depending on the group, co-facilitators
should be selected to reflect the range of people and issues.This
is especially effective when the issue being discussed represents
a social divide. Co-facilitators can resonate with the audience
to balance perspectives and leadership.
Good facilitators help the participants find their words - they
don't provide the actual words, but they help them find their language.
The facilitator must be neutral; even if he has a perspective or
opinion; it shouldn't matter for the purposes of the dialogue.Good
dialogue needs to have the right people in the room to ask the right
questions. The heart of good facilitation is asking really good,
To create a dialogue
there must be preparation. The facilitator should communicate with
the participants and ask key questions in order to create a safe
environment for groups of people with different backgrounds.
Put to Work
Tammy and David
followed their brief overview of the dialogue process by leading
the group through several exercises. One, an icebreaker, began with
the participants talking about which historic sites had inspired
them. Later in the workshop, the facilitators divided everyone into
two groups for the "fishbowl" exercise. One group formed
an inner circle and was instructed to recall a time when they had
a dialogue around a historic site or a historic issue and to share
their experiences of when dialogue fostered connection with a historic
site. The second group formed a ring around the first, and served
as observers as the inner circle discussed their issues. The outer
circle was asked to pay specific attention to the general tenor
of the group and to think about how they would intervene as a facilitator
to probe an issue further.
One issue discussed in
the "fishbowl" pertained to sites of African-American
significance that are evaluated and defined by European-Americans
during the designation of historic sites. Could one culture understand
the significance of another culture? A related issue sprang up about
historic buildings originally built by European-Americans, but which
were infused with later histories and cultures of other ethnic groups.
The concern was that this "later" history would be forgotten
if the building was designated or "landmarked" for its
original European-American construction or use. After the exercise,
both groups provided feedback and comments to the larger group.
The exercise resulted in sharing of experiences and ideas in an
atmosphere of support and encouragement.
Adds "People" Dimension to Historic Sites
Tammy and David followed the ''fishbowl' exercise by outlining the
benefits of dialogue at historic sites. The benefits include adding
a new, "people" dimension to a physical place and adding
a new depth of understanding that relates to the future of a society/culture.
Dialogue has the power to transform a place of hurt to a place of
healing. Tammy and David warned of the risks, too. For example,
unless the dialogue is with the immediate community or a group that
has a relationship with the site, the dialogue could "unleash"
issues without any control or follow-up. One should also guard against
the artificial creation of dialogue just for the sake of dialogue.
Historic sites are, by their nature, counter to dialogue. Many sites
have been designated to tell a specific history, which can only
sometimes be expanded to include other histories. But done well,
dialogue can enrich the stories the historic site has to tell.
Know What You Want to Accomplish
Tammy and David finished by summarizing the main elements of successful
dialogue. They reminded the group that when designing the dialogue,
one should always keep in mind the purpose of the dialogue. You
should ask yourself, "What is it that you want to achieve?"
For example, the purpose for a person making a single visit to a
historic site is different than the purpose for the surrounding
community. The dialogue must focus on "meaning-making,"
e.g. helping the visitor make meaning of the site. The site may
be a metaphor for other experiences; the challenge is to make a
direct link or connection to the individual. Finally, there should
be clarity when designing dialogue and a clear focus on what you
are trying to accomplish.
Tammy and David provided
written guidance on dialoguing for the Great Places, Great Debate
conference notebook. The materials are available below as .pdf files.
Dialogue vs. Common Communication
Characteristics of Dialogue
the Arc of Dialogue
Sample Facilitation Techniques
Ten Potholes of the Mind
Summary of Dialogue Training Skills
from Hope in the Cities
The National Park Service has as a part of its Community Toolbox,
guidance on effective Dialogue. Dialogue is a part of a series of
48 tools that were developed by the Rivers and Trail Conservation
Assistance program to help people work together in their communities
to improve the quality of life.
Last Updated: October 19, 2004