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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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



Tallahassee Democrat: Village Square meeting addresses morality, corruption

Tallahassee-Democrat-logo-squareBy Karl Etters:

At the Village Square’s final meeting of the year, a crowd of several hundred addressed common community problems, moral character and the rise of public corruption.

Members of The Asteroid Club, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lucy Morgan and Bill Shiell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, welcomed a conversation on the staples of democracy and how they fit into our ever-changing society.

Taking into account political, religious and socio-economic differences is all part of the equation said Village Square Board of Directors member and moderator Steve Seibert.

“Public corruption, public morality, these are things that are almost impossible things to talk about,” Seibert said. “We dance around this subject a lot, and we dance with it in our tribes where people agree with us, but it’s very hard to talk about those things.”

Read the entire article online at Tallahassee.com.



Independent Voter Network: The Village Square

Screen shot 2014-04-06 at 3.32.56 PM


A profile of the Village Square by Glenn Davis published by Independent Voter Network:

“All politics is local.” – former House Speaker Tip O’Neill

The Village Square is about as local and as grassroots as an organization can get, taking a very bottom-up approach to problem-solving. They serve as brokers of conversation with the goal of setting a friendly tone in civic debate. They are about agreeing to disagree, but doing so in a manner where opposing views are respected and listened to. They are about discussing facts, not distortions, and reaching conclusions after the facts are understood. They are about celebrating what unites us, and engaging in civil, open discussions of what may divide us.

Read the entire article at IVN.us



Tallahassee Democrat: Pub gathering energizes Village Square’s town hall meetings

Club of Honest Citizens 1From the Tallahassee Democrat, Friday March 28, by Karl Etters: (Photo credit: Amanda Rodriguez, Leon County)

In the pub-centric style of town hall gatherings in the 1700s, Tallahassee-area residents, dubbed The Club of Honest Citizens, met Thursday night to discuss issues that affect the capital city.

But there were no powdered wigs or declarations, just a host of ideas on how to better the community based on four topics — economic development, library services, growth and health care with the theme “What is the proper role of government?”

Part of a formal partnership between the Village Square and the Leon County Commission, the first of three meetings is meant to be a place for open social discourse and engagement about the community.

Village Square Executive Director Liz Joyner said the old way of civil engagement surrounding formal meetings needed a revamp and a more positive way to bring people who differ together.

Read the entire article online at Tallahassee.com.



Our Opinion: Engaged

Tallahassee-Democrat-logo-squareFrom the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board:

“In the hubbub over the mute button with which the mayor can silence citizens speaking at City Commission meetings, there is a point that may be overlooked: Citizens should feel engaged with their government long before arguing over who has control of a microphone.

“That’s why city and county commissioners, as well as other officials, take part in the town hall forums and “Speed Date Your Local Leaders” events sponsored by The Village Square. It’s why the county offered its Citizen Engagement Series in 2012 and 2013. And it’s why the county and The Village Square now are teaming up for a new series called “The Club of Honest Citizens.”

Read the entire editorial at Tallahassee.com



Tallahassee Democrat: Leaders mix, chat, mingle and learn at speed date event

Tallahassee-Democrat-logo-squareFrom today’s Tallahassee Democrat, by TaMaryn Waters:

Forget about matchmaking: Thursday’s “Speed Date Your Local Leaders” event gave residents face time with some of Tallahassee’s most powerful leaders over pizza and cold drinks.

A bell dinged every seven minutes, signaling a table change for leaders. The setup — one table, one leader, seven citizens and seven minutes of civil conversation — created a low-key dialogue at St. John’s Episcopal Church downtown.

The free event was sponsored by The Village Square and Leadership Tallahassee. Last year, the unique concept attracted roughly 60 attendees. This year, coordinators were forced to cap registration at 120 people.

Read the entire article online at Tallahassee.com.



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