“The police, the people who are angry at the police, the people who support us but want us to be better, even a madman who assassinated two men because all he could see was two uniforms, even though they were so much more. We don’t see each other. If we can learn to see each other, to see that our cops are people like Officer Ramos and Officer Liu, to see that our communities are filled with people just like them, too. If we can learn to see each other, then when we see each other, we’ll heal. We’ll heal as a department. We’ll heal as a city. We’ll heal as a country.”
News from our Village Square Davenport Institute grantee, the City of Palmdale!
PALMDALE – The City of Palmdale has been named as one of two cities in California to receive a 2014 Village Square Grant through Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute.
Along with Palo Alto, Palmdale will receive services and expenses valued at $15,000 through the Village Square’s “Dinner at the Square” program, which is designed to improve the way residents in diverse communities engage with one another.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our 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.
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.
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.