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Tallahassee Democrat: Tallahassee in “Fast Forward”

squares-ff-2015Byron Block writes in today’s Tallahassee Democrat:

If you’ve been struggling to keep up with all that is taking shape in Tallahassee and wonder what’s coming next, hold on. You’re not alone.

Tallahassee is experiencing a spurt of growth that is changing the face of retail, housing, entertainment, neighborhood life and more. To help residents upgrade their scorecards and get a glimpse of what’s ahead, the Village Square is hosting “Our Town, Fast Forward” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s part civics and part sporting event,” Liz Joyner, founder and executive director of The Village Square said. “This is the most popular program we do all year long.”

The free event is being held at St. John’s Episcopal Church; co-partners are the Tallahassee Democrat/Tallahassee.com, Leadership Tallahassee and Knight Creative Communities Institute (KCCI).

Read the entire article online HERE.



Tallahassee Democrat: Town hall format allows for face-to-face interaction

From today’s Tallahassee Democrat:

Tallahassee-Democrat-logo-squareWilnick SaintCharles, 34, was a student at Florida A&M University when Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was student government president, but he never took the time to discuss issues.

SaintCharles, who stayed in Tallahassee and now works at Citizen Insurance Corp., got that chance Thursday night while attending the annual “Speed Date Your Local Leaders” event hosted by the Village Square at St. John’s Church. Nearly 80 people attended the event that drew several local elected and appointed government leaders.

Read the entire article at Tallahasssee.com.



Tallahassee Democrat: Join the Town Hall

If you’re in Tallahassee and want to attend Thursday night’s Tallahassee Town Hall, click here.

From today’s Tallahassee Democrat (print edition only):

rachel redcoatWhen it comes to getting things done in a country, there were actually some advantages to having a king.

If a kingdom had a problem, a good king could send for the most brilliant scholars in the land, commission them to scribble mathematical formulas into the wee hours, apply his royal intellect and issue an edict. Of course, there were the bad kings and the heads that rolled… which, more or less, gets us to where the American story begins.

As they went about the business of building a country without a king, our founding fathers had more than a little trouble agreeing with each other. Democracy turns out to be a pretty sloppy business. But no matter how unpleasant they found it, the framers never had the luxury to avoid the difficult conversations.

There was every reason to think they would fail – the notion that a diverse people could self-govern was a nearly insane idea at the time. Still, the founders did more that believe we could muddle our way through our diversity; they bet our future that diversity of opinion could become a strength for their new country.

They designed our form of government around that bet.

In America, political foes become partners in ensuring “deliberation and circumspection” as they engage in order to govern. This clashing of opinion creates a competition of ideas that deepens thinking, sharpens solutions & moderates extremes. James Madison saw the Bill of Rights as a “mere parchment barrier” compared to the power of this factionalism to check the power of the majority and insure freedom for the minority.

So, despite the differences between the framers and the odds against them, in this new country the king was no longer the seat of power – it was now the humble town square. This was the unlikely place where our first citizens went about the business of building a country “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Almost 250 years later, that’s exactly what you’ll find Thursday night, when the Village Square, the Tallahassee Democrat and Leadership Tallahassee join forces to host the fourth annual Tallahassee Town Hall. It’s free and open to the public (go to tallahassee.tothevillagesquare.org to print your ticket). You’re invited to bring take-out and a drink, roll up your sleeves and dive into our local conversation of democracy.

Facilitated by the publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat, Skip Foster, the program is at St. John’s Episcopal Church downtown.

Joining the panel are Leon County Commissioners Mary Ann Lindley, Nick Maddox and Kristin Dozier; and from the City of Tallahassee, Mayor Andrew Gillum and Commissioner Curtis Richardson.

The program will be live-streamed at Tallahassee.com and you can even tweet your questions from home – in your slippers if you like (a cool freedom George Washington might not have imagined).

Sure, navigating hometown democracy probably isn’t your first choice on how to spend an evening. But if you come by St. John’s Thursday night, we hope you’ll take a moment to consider that you’ll be at the very heart of what makes us America.

A kind and intelligent ruler might not do a bad job deciding how things should run in our hometown, but there is no king; there will be no writ from on high. It’s up to people like us in this place we call home to care about the city we share.

_____________________

Liz Joyner is Co-founder and Executive Director of the Village Square, dedicated to reviving civil discourse across the partisan divide. Created in Tallahassee in 2006, the Village Square now has five locations nationally. Contact Liz at liz@tothevillagesquare.org

_____________________

IF YOU GO info:

OUR TOWN Tallahassee Town Hall
Thursday, February 19th
5:30 to 7:30 pm
Free and open to the public
St. John’s Episcopal Church
211 N Monroe Street, downtown Tallahassee
For more information or to reserve your seat http://www.tallahassee.tothevillagesquare.org
Watch livestream at Tallahassee.com
Stay for dessert and coffee after the program



Antelope Valley Times: Palmdale awarded Village Square grant

Palmdale-city-logo-300x300News 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.

Read the entire article online at the AV Times.



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.