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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

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.

Senator Olympia Snowe names Village Square as one of eight groups working for political common ground

fighting for common groundThis week The Christian Science Monitor launched a new commentary series “Common Ground, Common Good.” We love the name and the concept.

But most of all we love that they wrote about Senator Olympia Snowe in their inaugural column, who named the Village Square as one of eight groups helping to define a political center in America. Even cooler yet is that we’re the only locally-based organization of the eight. From The Christian Science Monitor:

In her book, “Fighting for Common Ground,” Olympia Snowe, the former senator from Maine, writes that the “fastest way” for citizens to push for compromise in Congress is to “support the efforts of existing national groups” that advocate bipartisanship. She recommends the following eight organizations, urging people to “browse their websites, visit them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.”

Read the list online HERE.


Photo credits: Senator Jay Rockefeller and Fighting for Common Ground book jacket.

Elena Novak: Changing the Political Atmosphere

Village Square at Florida State University LOGOFrom ULoop:

When I was in high school, I wanted to go into politics. The fast-paced environment, the constant challenge, the promise of a better tomorrow, the false sense of importance, the manipulation, the lying and conniving… okay, I digress. You can see I changed my mind.

That is until I started volunteering my freshman year with a Tallahassee non-profit called The Village Square. I was looking to volunteer with any non-profit as a means of getting involved in the community during my college years, and this politically-oriented organization found me, not the other way around. Read the rest of the article online here.


Elena is the Village Square FSU Ambassador. She is currently launching The Village Square at FSU.

Tallahassee Democrat: Village Square workshop seeks understanding on immigration

Tallahassee-Democrat-logo-squareFrom Wednesday’s Tallahassee Democrat, by Arek Sarkissian II.

About 150 people gathered on Tuesday night to better understand what’s at stake in the ongoing immigration debate on Capitol Hill.

“I think we needed to get the information out and I think we needed to understand what the issues at stake are,” said Temple Israel Rabbi Jack Romberg, who moderated the panel. “I think that you will find very few people who are truly anti-immigrant — I think more do not understand the depth of the issue.”

The panel and its audience were gathered by The Village Square at St. John’s Episcopal Church for “Immigration & the American Melting Pot.”

Read the entire story online at Tallahassee.com. Find information about the program and listen to an audio recording online here.

USA Today: Residents Make a Date with City Leaders

Screen shot 2013-04-14 at 11.20.49 AMFrom USA Today, by TaMaryn Waters

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It wasn’t really a dating scene.

But a non-profit here borrowed the concept of speed dating to allow a dozen officials and leaders to get some face time with about five dozen constituents Thursday.

Some participants quizzed leaders on water and air quality, budget issues, the homeless, development in rural areas, educational programs and police officers in schools. Others said little and allowed the leaders to share unknown facts about themselves or their stance on issues. Read the rest of the article at USA Today.

Watch the Video: HERE

Tallahassee Democrat: Locals bring questions, mingle with leaders at speed dating event

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 10.57.46 PMBy TaMaryn Waters

It wasn’t really a dating scene.

Although, every seven minutes, a bell sounded to alert a dozen featured officials and leaders that it was time to switch tables at The Village Square’s “Speed Date Your Local Leaders” event Thursday night. The inaugural event attracted more than 60 people, all eager to pose questions and get face time with some of Tallahassee’s most influential people.

Read the entire article at Tallahassee.com

Tallahassee Democrat: Our Town forum fosters discussion between community, commissioners

Screen shot 2013-04-06 at 9.00.36 AMFrom today’s Tallahassee Democrat, by TaMaryn Waters (page 1, above the fold; photos Mike Ewen, Democrat): “For a second consecutive year, residents saw a glimpse of how local leaders feel on issues that matter most to them during the OUR TOWN: Local Leadership Forum, sponsored by Village Square.

“City and county commissioners fielded random questions Thursday evening as nearly 200 attendees listened with keen interest. Residents, many watching the event live on Tallahassee.com, asked officials how they plan to foster more tolerance, preserve Tallahassee’s precious trees as development grows and address the community’s most dire needs beyond jobs and economic development.” Read the entire article online at Tallahassee.com.

Tallahassee Democrat: The town meeting won’t work without you

our-town-2chairsFrom the Tallahassee Democrat, April 3rd 2013, by Liz Joyner:

In “Democracy in America”, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of the uniquely American habit of “forever forming associations.”

There’s good reason for that. In a new country without a king, someone was going to have to make a few decisions.

Our first and strongest associations in America were with the people who shared a common geography and, amid many threats, likely a common fate: our neighbors. The town hall meeting was born early in our republic, and in one form or the other they’ve been happening ever since.

As metaphor, the town hall perfectly captures the very essence of the freedom we won from European monarchs – it’s the triumph of the common man over the sovereign. And, as a practical matter, it’s been how the business of American community has gotten done for hundreds of years now. Read all »

Tallahassee Democrat: Gun debate stays civil at community forum

coming-events-gunsThursday’s Tallahassee community conversation about firearms did its job in opening the dialogue on how student safety and the Second Amendment play off each other on a local level.

The panel, made up of local community leaders in school safety, law enforcement, faith, education and law addressed an American culture that hinges on violence.

“Being an American community, we are addicted to violence, especially gun violence,” said panel member Rev. Brant Copeland. “We have invited violence into our culture. Why should we be surprised that we can’t protect our children from violence?” Read the whole article in the Tallahassee Democrat here.

Bob Gabordi: Forum to address gun rights and school safety

gabordi_bobIn case you didn’t see it yesterday, read the Tallahassee Democrat’s Bob Gabordi on our upcoming forum on guns, sponsored by the Democrat and the Village Square.

“Living in America, I have long believed, is about the art of defending the rights of those with whom we most strongly disagree. Now, I would add, it is also the art of sitting down with and engaging in conversation with those same opinion holders.
We hope that is what we will do as a community Feb. 28 as the Tallahassee Democrat and Tallahassee.com join with The Village Square to present a public forum and discussion on “Students, Safety and the Second Amendment.”

Read the entire post at Tallahassee.com and register for the forum here.