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Tallahassee Democrat, Our Opinion: Interacting



From today’s Tallahassee Democrat editorial:

How often have you wished for a few minutes with Tallahassee’s community leaders, to share an opinion, offer a suggestion or even learn more about them? Sure, you see them at community events, fundraisers or in the supermarket, but that’s not real access.

You get your chance tonight in “Speed Date Your Local Leaders” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 211 N. Monroe St. It’s the second year for the event, which earned Tallahassee national exposure last year for its originality. This free event, sponsored by Leadership Tallahassee and The Village Square, follows the town hall forum earlier this month.

Read the rest of the editorial online at Tallahassee.com.



Tallahassee Democrat Editorial: Input makes ‘Our Town’ forum valuable



Tallahassee-Democrat-logo-square“Decisions made by local elected officials play a huge part in our everyday lives, but think about it: How often do you get to interact with these officials?

Usually, it’s not until there’s some crisis like a rezoning issue, a fee-increase proposal or a looming decision affecting canopy roads or recreation.

And in how many of those cases did you help set the agenda?

Well, you get your chance Thursday night by participating in The Village Square’s “Our Town” forum co-sponsored by the Tallahassee Democrat and Leadership Tallahassee. It runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 211 N. Monroe St. There still are seats available, so go to http://tothevillagesquare.org to register and print your free ticket.”

Read the rest of the article online at Tallahassee.com



Press Release: Tallahassee Town Hall 2.13



THE VILLAGE SQUARE CONTINUES ‘OUR TOWN’ FORUM SERIES
Leadership Tallahassee and Tallahassee Democrat partner in Tallahassee Town Hall

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) – February 10, 2014 – If you want to participate in civic life in Tallahassee but aren’t interested in preparing a three-minute speech for a commission meeting, what options do you have? Thursday night, February 13, citizens will have a rare opportunity to talk informally with both Tallahassee City Commissioners and Leon County Commissioners.“OUR TOWN: Tallahassee Town Hall” will be moderated by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Politics and Policy Editor Paul Flemming. The program will pair commissioners from both the city and the county for a cross-governmental discussion about where Tallahassee is as a community, where we’re going, and what challenges we face in getting there. Scheduled to join the conversation are City Commissioners Andrew Gillum, Scott Maddox, Nancy Miller and Gil Ziffer; and County Commissioners John Dailey, Bryan Desloge, Kristin Dozier, Mary Ann Lindley and Nick Maddox.

The town hall program is a continuation of an ongoing series of unique local forums sponsored by The Village Square, a nonprofit formed by local leaders – from both sides of the political divide – to improve the civility and factual accuracy of the civic dialogue. The forum, co-sponsored by Leadership Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Democrat, is part of a grant funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Fund at the Community Foundation of North Florida to foster an informed, engaged community. Programming continues on Thursday, February 27 with “Speed Date Your Local Leaders.”

The program is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 211 N. Monroe Street (use rear Calhoun Street entrance). It is free and open to the public, but a reservation is required. Participants are welcome to bring a take-out dinner and a drink.

Those who are unable to attend can watch the program livestream at www.Tallahassee.com or follow an online discussion on Twitter, hashtag #TDvsq.

For more information and to reserve your seat and print your ticket, go online to www.tallahassee.tothevillagesquare.org or call 850-590-6646.

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Check out St. Pete Village Square’s upcoming event





Florence Snyder: Palm Beach Post’s O’Meilia leaves his mark in scrapbooks – and hearts – across America



O'MeiliaMuckraking matters, but the true test of a newspaper’s mettle is its day to day commitment to telling ordinary stories in extraordinary ways.

Florida lost one of its most gifted—and beloved—storytellers Saturday when Tim O’Meilia, 65, succumbed to cancer.

O’Meilia leaves behind wife Debbie, sons Rolly and Casey, and generations of Florida journalists who took instruction and inspiration from the body of work he produced for The Palm Beach Post from 1972- 2008.

A look at the guest book for people wishing to leave condolences on The Post’s website could double as a textbook for what makes a great reporter.

“I had the express joy of knowing him for a decade,” wrote Elizabeth Dashiell of Jupiter. “He covered the Science Museum, and came out for all of our major (and minor!) events. He was a gentleman, brilliant writer and warm caring person. I loved reading his articles and loved even more spending time with him, talking about local places and strange things. He shared my love of the unusual and knew the best way to describe Florida’s uniqueness.”

O’Meilia was a low-maintainence general assignment guy who could always be counted upon to produce a high-impact story.

“Because of his ability to turn a non-story into a great read for the front page, Tim was always picked to handle the quirky piece. He was the “go-to guy” in the newsroom. He never complained — not once — and always turned the story into something worth taking the time to read. He was a real pro, a great guy and I don’t know anyone who didn’t enjoy working with him,” wrote Pete Ebel, one of the many editors who loved to handle O’Meilia’s consistently close-to-perfect copy.

Kathryn Quigley of Deptford, New Jersey “…had the pleasure of sitting next to Tim in The Post newsroom from 2000-2002. I loved seeing his sly smile and hearing his confident, quiet way with sources on the phone. ”

Investigative reporter-turned filmmaker Gary Kane weighed in from New York: “…..Yes, you CAN believe everything he wrote, whether it was a story about a Lake Worth zoning squabble or the mating rituals of turkey vultures. No factual errors. No misquotes. He wrote with a clear, concise style. His storytelling was honest, thoughtful, clever. I imagine that countless stories carrying the Tim O’Meilia byline have been clipped and pasted in scrapbooks or tucked in boxes of mementos. Tim wasn’t a newsroom prima donna. He….wasn’t obsessed with becoming a brand. He was simply a journalist. A damn fine one….”

An especially poignant tribute comes from The Post’s veteran courts reporter, Susan Spencer-Wendel, who reported her own story of living with purpose and joy following a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Tim made writing look easy,” wrote Wendel, who tapped her best-selling memoir, “Before I Say Goodbye” out on an iPhone, one character at a time. “I loved his stories about a comet buzzing by or the new jaguar born at the zoo. There was such delight in them. He was a true gentleman and a fine and fair reporter.”

Post Director of Administration Lynn Kalber speaks for many others who think “Tim was part of that small, unique percentage of newspaper writers: Everything he wrote was gold. He made it look easy. He made us care about all of it. He taught us all kinds of things without letting us know we were learning. And to cap all of it off, he was one of the nicest guys around….”

O’Meilia, a Notre Dame graduate, could have spent most of his career at bigger papers with bigger audiences for bigger money. But as the condolences continue to pour in from all over the country, it’s hard to imagine any way he could have left a bigger mark.

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Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at lawyerflo@gmail.com



Civil Politics is talking about Tuesday night’s dinner in Tallahassee



From Civil Politics:

One of the most general and robust findings in social psychology is the power of situations to shape behavior. For example, if you are in a situation where you are competing with others, you will tend to dislike them, whereas when you are cooperating with them, you will tend to like them. This is relatively intuitive, yet we often fail to appreciate this in practice, and then we end up amazed when arbitrary groups put in competition end up in deep conflict. If artificially created competitions can inflame divisions (e.g. sports fandom usually pits very similar people against each other), perhaps we can also manufacture cooperation to reduce division.

Read the whole post here.



Jonathan Haidt in the Tallahassee Democrat: It helps if you can see the other side’s asteroids



Screen shot 2014-01-10 at 9.29.35 AMThe asteroids are coming! The asteroids are coming!

OK, I don’t mean literal asteroids made of rock and metal. I mean big problems that polarize us and therefore paralyze us.

If you’re on the left, you probably have extremely acute vision for threats such as global warming and rising inequality. You’ve tried to draw attention to the rising levels of carbon dioxide, the rising average global surface temperature and the rising seas. You’ve also grown increasingly disturbed by the percentage of the national income taken home by the richest 1 percent. In fact, I’ll bet you spotted those two asteroids back in the 1990s, when it would have been so much easier to deflect them, and you’re angry that conservatives are still deep in denial. What’s wrong with those conservatives?

On the other hand, if you’re on the right, you’ve probably been tracking our nation’s entitlement spending and the rise of nonmarital births for a long time now. You’ve been ringing alarms about those two asteroids since the 1970s, but liberals have treated you like Chicken Little, completely unconcerned. Caring is spending, they seem to believe. All forms of family are equally good for kids, they assert in spite of the evidence. What’s wrong with those liberals? Read the whole piece online at Tallahassee.com.



62 years of global warming in 13 seconds



Join us on Tuesday, January 14th for “FEARS: Where not everyone shares your pain” – get details and reserve your seat HERE.



Fareed Zakaria nails the climate change, entitlement spending asteroid connection: They’re both about our preference for instant gratification.



Join us on Tuesday, January 14th for “FEARS: Where not everyone shares your pain” – get details and reserve your seat HERE.

Fareed Zakaria has an answer to the question of why, if the science is not really in dispute, it is so difficult for us to actually do something about it? It also explains why economic reforms are so hard to make. It’s because we don’t delay gratification well anymore…

“It wasn’t always thus. The great sociologist Daniel Bell once wrote that the best way to describe the Protestant ethic that produced capitalism and the industrial revolution and the Rise of the West was one phrase, two words – delayed gratification. But there are few Calvinists left today, and the spirit of our age might be better described with one word change – instant gratification.”



Rolling Stone on our climate change “asteroid” | Goodbye, Miami!



8622594370_3bddfefc36Join us on Tuesday, January 14th for our 2nd Dinner at the Square of our season “Asteroids Club” – the dinner is “FEARS: Where not everyone shares your pain” – get details and reserve your seat HERE. In the meantime, here’s a must-read on the impact of the climate change “asteroid” on our state.

“Even more than Silicon Valley, Miami embodies the central technological myth of our time – that nature can not only be tamed but made irrelevant. Miami was a mosquito-and-crocodile-filled swampland for thousands of years, virtually uninhabited until the late 1800s. Then developers arrived, canals were dug, swamps were drained, and a city emerged that was unlike any other place on the planet, an edge-of-the-world, air-conditioned dreamland of sunshine and beaches and drugs and money; Jan Nijman, the former director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Miami, called 20th-century Miami “a citadel of fantastical consumption.” Floods would come and go and hurricanes might blow through, but the city would survive, if only because no one could imagine a force more powerful than human ingenuity. That defiance of nature – the sense that the rules don’t apply here – gave the city its great energy. But it is also what will cause its demise…”

“Protecting the city, if it is possible, will require innovative solutions.” Those solutions are not likely to be forthcoming from the political realm. The statehouse in Tallahassee is a monument to climate-change denial. “You can’t even say the words ‘climate change’ on the House floor without being run out of the building,” says Gustafson.”

From Rolling Stone, July 2013 by Jeff Goodell (Photo credit.)



Adam Davidson @TED: Surprisingly we agree on entitlements and it’s a “solvable math problem”



We hope you’ll be joining us for the continuation of our “Asteroids Club” season? The dinner is Tuesday, January 14th “FEARS: Where not everyone shares your pain” – get details and reserve your seat HERE. It will be a conversation on entitlement spending and climate change like none other. In the meantime, here’s a video from Planet Money’s Adam Davidson that offers hope we can “deflect” the climate change asteroid.

Davidson: “a tiny tiny percentage of ancient economists and misrepresentative ideologues have captured the process… but they don’t represent what our views are.”



Press Release: Join the Gang at FEARS



VILLAGE SQUARE CONTINUES “THE ASTEROIDS CLUB” SEASON
Programs examine six American “asteroids” that threaten our future

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) – January 7, 2014 – Imagine there is a giant asteroid heading to earth, expected to destroy life as we know it. We’d stop the incessant partisan bickering and do everything within our power to deflect the asteroid, right? Like in the movies?

During its 2013-14 Dinner at the Square season, The Village Square examines six American “asteroids” headed directly at us – each a problem that will only grow bigger and harder to “deflect” the longer we ignore it. Stuck inside our feuding partisan tribes, we’ve failed to find common cause against common threats – preferring instead to argue in the public debate about whose asteroid is real; all while the threats continue to build.

This year’s season of programming is a joint project of The Village Square and Dr. Jonathan Haidt of NYU’s Stern School of Business and author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” The Village Square’s unique model of civic engagement continues to draw national attention, recently named by Senator Olympia Snowe as one of eight organizations in America seeking to grow political common ground (the only one hometown-based).

The second program of the season will be held on Tuesday, January 14, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church downtown. “FEARS: Where not everyone shares your pain” will take a look at the liberal “asteroid” of climate change and the conservative “asteroid” of entitlement spending – both data-supported problems that one side of the political aisle warns has put future generations at serious risk and the other side simply fails to see.

Panelists include attorney Brian Armstrong of Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson and his good friend Dr. Ed Moore, President of Independent Colleges of Florida. We’ll be posing them the question: “What if manmade climate change is real and the social welfare state is doomed?” Two experts will assist them – Dr. Randy Holcombe, the Devoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University and Susan Glickman, the Florida Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

“The Asteroids Club” season will continue through the school year with other asteroids, including money in politics and moral behavior. Last fall the series examined rising economic inequality and family breakdown.

For more information, visit www.tothevillagesquare.org, call 590-6646 or email info@tothevillagesquare.org. To learn more about the Asteroids Club project go to www.asteroidsclub.org. A limited number of scholarship tickets are available through Friday, January 10th.

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Village Square Dinner at the Square video: Oh Florida! Capital of Weirdness