The Village Square recently launched our new “Our Town” project, and now we need YOUR help. If you’re taking the time (and interest) to read this blog, than you likely have something to contribute to the discussion of our local issues. We invite you to add good, factual (and civil, of course) information about local issues that most interest you in the “Get Local” Tallahassee section of our cool “We the Wiki” tool. We’ve started a few sample issues for you already – red light cameras, utility rates, internet cafes – and encourage you to add to these or even start new ones.
How great would it be if this tool could become the go-to comprehensive guide on issues big and small in our town? And you could give yourself a big pat on the back for being a part of it. Voters, elected officials and community leaders could use this as a one-stop shop to get up to speed on important issues and make critical decisions based on fact rather than one-sided arguments, stump speeches or divisive rantings that have come to inundate the mainstream rather than remaining on the fringe. But we need YOU to contribute to it – did we mention that already?
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by all that our Wiki has to offer. Just take it in bite-sized pieces, starting with one issue that moves you and adding one item that you that you think is critical to debates about that issue. It could be a reputable, reliable source on the topic that you think people should check out. It could be an addition to a pro-con list. It could be an update on recent activity involving a current issue. It could even be a brief op-ed expressing your (civil) opinion on the issue.
If you haven’t checked out our Wiki yet, what are you waiting for? There’s no need to sign in if you just want to browse around. And when you’re ready to add to it, just create an account and navigate over to the Get Local section for Tallahassee. You’ll see that the content is fully editable by you (with the exception of some formatting and issues homepages), and the options are almost endless for incorporating the kind of solid information that people need to become better educated about the highly debated issues of our town. There’s even a Tools & Tips page that’s particularly helpful for first-time users. If you have trouble with the site using Internet Explorer, try switching over to Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
So, before you even have a chance to get distracted by goings-on on your Facebook page or who’s Tweeting what, click on over to a social medium with a real impact on our life – and Our Town.
This week presidential candidate Rick Santorum made a fairly audacious claim, were it true: President Obama wants to send more kids to college because he wants to indoctrinate them against faith. Santorum:
“I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country… 62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”
One of my enduring frustrations driving the invention of The Village Square concept is the all-too-human tendency to assume we know the malevolent motivation of another individual we don’t agree with. Of course we don’t. Usually people at least consciously exercise good will, even if it’s shot-full of distortion, rationalization and self-interest (again, alas, all human).
Likely the determinative factor in Santorum’s decision to blurt this particular bit of hostile mind-reading out there is that he was on the Glenn Beck show… we’ve covered the subject of how like-minded company can twist and torque rational thinking (click here for C.S. Lewis on the topic). In this particular case this is – of course – just making stuff up, whether Glenn Beck was nodding his head at the time or not (studies show like-minded groups make stuff up too). (more…)
“It’s a funny thing how life can be a drag one minute and a solid sender the next.” — Louis Armstrong, in “Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans”
Louis Armstrong was a man of character. And that’s the most important thing about him. Granted, he was a genius, an impeccable composer of great hits and riveting trumpet solos. But his character was what made his genius work. Let me say from the jump: This is not some isolated, historically obtuse reminisce on a long-forgotten figure.
Always alive, always mortal, always there, because he’s multifaceted, a man to be studied, with much to be taken from his life; it holding complexity and simplicity in a pose of paradox. That maybe the most apt description of genius, which Armstrong personifies, or him. Whichever it is, it occurs to me there’s much for this community’s black teenagers to draw inspiration and purpose from in his early life.
Black History Month has its generic purpose, drawing attention to the lives of singular black figures, thus showcasing and celebrating the cultural contributions of black Americans. The month-long affair maybe archaic, a well-intentioned but still, poignant insult —black history being American history as its oft-said —and history being hard to pigeonhole in the first place. But it’s there, so why not use it. In this case, as a way of showing the enduring lessons a wonderful life, holds? (more…)
If you missed Thursday’s “Our Town” meeting, you can watch it online HERE. From Friday’s Tallahassee Democrat, by Desiree Stennett (who also filmed the program):
“Men and women from all over Tallahassee and Leon County met at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Thursday evening with many questions but one goal — to talk to local elected officials about the day-to-day problems that affect them and their families. The Village Square held the event to give residents a chance to speak with city and county commissioners in an informal setting over pizza and soft drinks…”
Published in the Tallahassee Democrat, February 15, 2012 - There’s nothing more quintessentially American than a town hall meeting. It’s how the business of American community has gotten done from just about the moment the first disaffected European foot hit ground in the New World.
Even if you’ve never attended one, the town meeting is buried so deep in our country’s psyche that you can probably immediately call up its intimate details – rows of folding chairs, town council up front with only a school lunch table to define their status, a charmless but functional meeting room. Someone probably saw to it that there would be coffee and cookies. Overachievers might organize a potluck. (more…)
Monday was a momentous day in FSU history. The university was visited by Vice President Joe Biden, who gave an impassioned speech on education and its rising costs.
He attacked the issue without a party slant, choosing instead to reach the audience through personal anecdotes and appeals to parenthood. He did, however, make light reference to “the other team,” without malice but with slight complaint.
He discussed the “domestic priority” that education holds for the Administration, despite receiving criticism for a misplaced focus. He defended making education a priority by stressing the pivotal role that good education plays in maintaining America’s security and freedom. He proudly quoted his wife, who once said, “Any nation that out-educates us will out-compete us.” (more…)
“Of course you do. These days, everyone has questions or comments for their city and county commissioners. There is a lot to talk about. That’s really all this forum from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church is all about.
“No big long speeches. No campaign rhetoric. No frills. Just conversation, questions and answers. I’m the moderator; I run a tight ship. Oh, and there is free pizza. Order yours by when you RSVP at www.tothevillagesquare.org or by calling 264-8785.”
THE VILLAGE SQUARE LAUNCHES ‘OUR TOWN’ FORUM SERIES Leadership Tallahassee and Tallahassee Democrat partner in local leadership forum
(TALLAHASSEE, FL) – February 13, 2012 – 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? This Thursday night, February 16, citizens will have a rare opportunity to talk over pizza with both Tallahassee City Commissioners and Leon County Commissioners.
“OUR TOWN: Local Leadership Forum” is the first in an ongoing series of unique local issues forums being launched 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 civic dialogue. The series 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. (more…)
This unique New York Times blog by Maira Kalman makes me tear up a bit every time I re-read it. America is such a Big Idea. And our country’s greatness really is fundamentally located in our communities, with our humble town hall or wherever it is we manage to make civic connections to our neighbors. We’re launching OUR TOWN this Thursday night because we believe it’s time to live up to that legacy of greatness. We hope you’ll join us for our first event on February 16th. We want you there so badly, we’re buying the pizza.