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Welcome to our newest Village Square at Broward College



Broward College logoTomorrow night our newest Village Square location launches in Ft. Lauderdale under the leadership of Broward College. We are thrilled to be partnering with them.

From South Florida Business Journal:

Broward College and Village Square, a non-partisan public educational forum, are hosting a series of events designed to spark fact-based debates on a variety of topics, beginning with Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.

The first event, is Nov. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Huizenga Pavilion, 201 SW 5th Ave, Fort Lauderdale.

Read the whole article online here.



For those who served.



korean war memorial

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

(Photo credit.)



National Journal: THE BATTLE FOR YOUR BRAIN



national-journalIf you missed it earlier, there is a MUST READ piece in the National Journal written by Brian Resnik about what the Village Square does. Here’s an excerpt about the Village Square:

When people consider themselves to be part of the same team, they do a much better job of dropping their combative stance and processing the world through a less partisan lens.

“You’re not trying to turn liberals into conservatives or vice versa,” Katz says. “But the only way to get people to see the other point of view, even if they don’t agree with it, is to do it in person.”

Katz and his fellow organizers are relying on people finding a common humanity, and in so doing, he is playing to one of the brain’s great strengths: The same tribal cognitive processes that make it easy to turn people against one another can also be harnessed to bring them together.

When people consider themselves to be part of the same team, be it as Village Square participants, as fellow Americans, or even—one might dream—as fellow members of Congress, they do a much better job of dropping their combative stance and processing the world through a less partisan lens.

And we make those identity jumps all the time, as our brains are wired to let us do.

Read the entire, smart, important National Journal piece online.



What are your plans this election night?



My friend Shari sent me this first thing this morning. She agreed to share without excessive royalties.



Kansas City Star: Village Square chapter in KC will hold its first dinner and public conversation Thursday



blue starFrom The Kansas City Star:

Think of the Village Square as a Southern front porch or a small town’s diner counter — a place where folks can come together and talk civilly about community and world issues.

That’s what Allan Katz, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, intends to bring back across the country with the launch of Village Square events. Katz is a co-founder of Village Square, a national organization started seven years ago in Tallahassee, Fla., as a way to restore civil discourse to national politics. The organization’s headquarters are at UMKC.

On Thursday, Katz, a UMKC alum and a former U.S. ambassador to Portugal, and Kansas City’s newly formed chapter of Village Square will have its first local event — Dinner at the Square at 6 p.m. at Kansas City’s Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Read the entire article in the Kansas City Star.



We could all learn something from the Scots today.



scottish flagFrom today’s Washington Post:

The announcement of results came just hours after nearly all (emphasis added) of Scotland turned out to vote on Thursday in a referendum marked by civility and passion… on the whole, the referendum debate was remarkable for the seriousness with which voters weighed such a stark choice, and the peaceful manner in which they expressed it on Thursday.



Mark Schlakman: Get past extreme partisan politics



From Sunday’s Tallahassee Democrat, Mark Schlakman of FSU’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights writes about extreme partisanship and mentions The Village Square:

Closer to home, The Village Square, a project conceived by former Tallahassee city commissioner and U.S. ambassador to Portugal Allan Katz and spearheaded by Liz Joyner, has drawn national acclaim for its efforts to bridge the partisan divide. It was cited by Olympia Snowe, a Republican and former U.S. senator from Maine, who identified both The Village Square and No Labels among eight noteworthy organizations across the nation for their engagement on point.

Read the entire article online at Tallahassee.com.



A Lament for Peace



romberg-ahmedOur regular guest panelist Dr. Parvez Ahmed writes this powerful piece with Village Square’s board member and “Faith, Food, Friday” co-founder Rabbi Jack Romberg:

We write this as two friends, a Jew and a Muslim, both with leadership roles in our respective communities. Together we have broken bread, facilitated interfaith dialogue, and come to the realization that we have the same goal of peace, understanding and respect for people of all faiths and backgrounds. The recent spate of violence between Hamas and Israel presents a new test for us. Yet, in the end, even as we might have some disagreement on the details, or in parsing the conflict, we find that we share the same hopes, ideals and values. We both must wrestle with some inconvenient truths.

Read the entire article online at The Huffington Post.



Tallahassee Democrat: The Village Square expands to new cities



flying-pigFrom yesterday’s Tallahassee Democrat:

What grew out of a contentious 2006 coal-plant debate, is now being embraced elsewhere as a model for fostering civil discourse.

The Village Square, a Tallahassee-based civic and social-engagement organization now in its eighth year, is expanding to Fort Lauderdale, Sacramento and Kansas City, which will serve as the nonprofit’s national hub.

The organization hosts about 20 local programs a year, from the quirky “Speed Date Your Local Leaders” to more serious discussions on public corruption, immigration and Florida’s future. Its purpose is to engage the community in a civil debate on divisive issues in a factual and nonpartisan way.

Read the entire article online at Tallahassee.com.



UMKC Village Square National Center Founders Event launch



This month, University of Missouri at Kansas City is launching the national headquarters for the Village Square and our Kansas City Village Square location. Special guest panelists at the founding members event were Kansas Republican U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder and Missouri Democratic U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver.



Citizens for Political Reform: Tired of partisan bickering and political gridlock?



The Bipartisan Policy Center has launched an initiative called Citizens for Political Reform to empower regular people to do something about the current political environment (other than scream and throw objects at your television set). Sign up to get information from them here. Also tune in next Tuesday, June 24th from 10am to noon as the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform presents a “Bipartisan Blueprint.” Click here for livestream and registration information.

Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.



The Christian Science Monitor: Civil discourse that doesn’t taste like broccoli



The Christian Science MonitorVillage Square co-founder Liz Joyner in The Christian Science Monitor:

From TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — In the early 1800s, things weren’t looking particularly good for the American experiment in self-governance. Coming to Washington with differences of opinion natural to a vast new land, early legislators lived and ate in boarding houses that became entrenched voting blocs. Thomas Jefferson wrote that these men came to work “in a spirit of avowed misunderstanding, without the smallest wish to agree.”

Apparently neither human nature nor legislatures have changed much since.

Read the entire article online at csmonitor.com.



Quotable: Apparently something some people knew a really (really) long time ago.



jefferson_bw

“The more men of good hearts associate, the better they think of each other.”

–Unnamed Federalist Senator, during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson (from The Washington Community, James Sterling Young)

________

This is a topic near and dear to our hearts at the Village Square, as the notion of the Village Square was philosophically drawn from the Jeffersonian dinners hosted by the third president, partly in an effort to get the early “tribal” legislators to interact with each other. Our motive at the Village Square is to engage liberals and conservatives. Here’s a fabulous description of the events written by newly-created Washington Intelligencer Publisher Margaret Bayard Smith, a frequent dinner guest of Jefferson:

At his usual dinner parties the company seldom or ever exceeded fourteen, including himself and his secretary. The invitations were not given promiscuously, or as has been done of late years, alphabetically, but his guests were generally selected in reference to their tastes, habits and suitability in all respects, which attention had a wonderful effect in making his parties more agreeable, than dinner parties usually are; this limited number prevented the company’s forming little knots and carrying on in undertones separate conversations, a custom so common and almost unavoidable in a large party. At Mr. Jefferson’s table the conversation was general; every guest was entertained and interested in whatever topic was discussed.

One circumstance, though minute in itself, had certainly a great influence on the conversational powers of Mr. Jefferson’s guests. Instead of being arrayed in strait parallel lines, where they could not see the countenances of those who sat on the same side, they encircled a round, or oval table where all could see each others faces, and feel the animating influence of looks as well as of words. Let any dinner giver try the experiment and he will certainly be convinced of the truth of this fact. A small, well assorted company, seated around a circular table will ensure more social enjoyment, than any of the appliances of wealth and splendor, without these concomitants.

YES. We say, yes.