You are the Village Square. Our project We the People, awarded a highly competitive Knight Foundation grant through the Community Foundation of North Florida as one of this year’s 24 innovative ideas, is fundamentally about you. Small contributions x a community of people = BIG results. Here’s how (more detailed links are coming soon):
1. Tell us your ideas
We already have a lot of our own ideas about how to bring Tallahassee together into a strong community where constructive disagreement is the lifeblood of democracy (in the great tradition of the founding of our country). But your ideas will be the ones that will make the difference between whether we succeed or fail. Find our idea blog HERE. We’ll read everything (that is civil) with an open mind. (Coming soon: a big idea in an online tool we can use together as neighbors for just such brainstorming…)
The Village Square is a nervy group of liberals and conservatives who believe that civil dialogue, disagreement and discernment of fact make for a good conversation, a good country (and a good time). We’d like you to come on in and pull up a chair. But it is a dedication to civility that makes strong disagreement constructive in building countries and communities (yellers don’t actually ever convince anyone). We think we’re on firm ground here as our very own first president George Washington wrote 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation. For example:
69th If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion.
86th In Disputes, be not So Desireous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion.
9th Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.
Help us make our goal of 300 memberships, a support level that will sustain us. A $68 tax-deductible donation makes you part of what we’re calling “the 68% solution.” Our strange number refers to the 68.2% of a population that is within one standard deviation of the mean. This approach considers the more challenging engagement between the political left and right critical to creating intelligent solutions. 68% solutions are more durable solutions that transcend ideology, discourage political gutterball, outlast the next election cycle and create a strong foundation on which to build lasting results.
Memberships come with a year-long 10% off discount at our four very civil restaurant partners: Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille, Mozaik, Bella Bella & St. John’s Cafe, an invitation to all of our pre-dinner speaker receptions (and meet cool guests like NEH Chairman Jim Leach) Become an annual member HERE.
4. Attend our events…
…and bring your friends. “We the People” needs – uh “we the people” to show up. Be a part of getting the buzz going. We have different programs for different preferences. Here’s a sampling: Dinner at the Square: The cornerstone of the Village Square, our quarterly dinner series. We pick a new theme each season (seasons start in the fall). Season tickets sell between the summer and fall dinner (scholarship tickets available too). Politics, Partisans & A Pint: A happy hour in keeping with the founders’ vision that our diversity is a creative force. (Put another way, George Washington would want you to have a drink across the aisle E Pluribus Unum and all.) Get an update on a current local or state issue straight from the horse’s mouth while you have a drink across the aisle and save democracy (we even draw for free drinks for people who have a bipartisan conversation). It’s a tough job, but we are nothing if not stunningly self-sacrificing. Take-out Tuesday: A relaxed forum open to the public at no charge tackling local and state issues all while you enjoy your favorite take-out meal. There will be events for everyone, every budget, no budget at all… (we’ll treat you as often as we can).
How in the world will you be able to hang out with us if you don’t know where to go? Our monthly (and we really mean monthly, no extra emails) email newsletter means you get the info, we save the stamp. How smart is that. Subscribe HERE. If you don’t want to miss the latest breaking news & posts, become a fan of The Village Square on Facebook and begin following us on Twitter.
6. Learn more about us.
Read this stirring true story of our founding HERE (queue up birds singing).
7. Become a community partner
$250 a year makes you a Community Partner, puts you on our website and in our programs and gets you in the company of cool (and extremely civil) people. We’ll have the community partner link up soon, but until then, make your donation by mail at PO Box 10352, Tallahassee, FL 32302 OR online HERE. See some of the cool people and organizations who have helped us get this far HERE.
8. Join Team WIKI
An exciting part of our project We the People will be building a cutting edge community Wiki, a tool to take good citizenship online to solve problems rather than e-scream at each other. We’ll take this model to new communities, so you’ll be the start of breaking new ground on the internet nationally. Confused about a local issue or clueless about a state vote? Look it up on the Wiki for a basic primer built by fellow citizens in constructive partnership. Your part? As simple as adding what you know to the mix. You can sign up to test drive the contraption (currently busy building it) when you sign up for our newsletter HERE. Good behavior is mandatory, so if you want to hurl putrid names at the people you disagree with, you’ll have to go to the whole rest of the internet. Much more later, so stay tuned… (Help us name the Wiki which we hope goes national HERE. Right now, it’s “We the Wiki” in a hat tip to the whole “We the People” notion that made us America.)
9. Start a Sunday Night Supper Club
Invite a politically diverse group of your friends, decide the topic (current events, health care, environment, economy, whatever) and the number of weeks it will run. Find tools online to invite and remind your friends and to submit blog posts about your experience. We’ll treat for one night of pizza to start you off, after that it’s Potluck. Consider taking on a local topic and have a real chance to influence the debate. More details and link to page to organize coming soon.
10. Blog with us
We’re auditioning across-the-aisle blogging partners, so grab a friend and a pen and take a go at it. We’ll also be looking for a single Village Square-ish writer or two. We go national, maybe you get famous? Get more info HERE.
11. Have lunch across the aisle
Good democracy is built on relationships between people with different views. In the words of historian Patricia Nelson Limerick, it’s time that we “Let Friendship Redeem the Republic.” (Write about your bipartisan lunch and get a chance to win dinner tickets.)
12. Volunteer your talent
We need moderators, panelists on many different topics, computer whizzes, videographers, sound technicians, bloggers, drivers, and even windows to put our event posters in. Whatever your particular talent, a small contribution of your time can yield big results.
13. Suggest issues for forums
Community leaders and engaged citizens are often in the unique position to know when there is an issue that would benefit from a factual, civil discussion. See one, give us a yell. This project is all about getting our city talking about what matters.
14. Read “The Big Sort” by Bill Bishop
Bishop’s tour de force The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-minded America is Tearing Us Apart issues an important warning & shows why The Village Square is mandatory rather than optional. It will change the way you think about politics forever. Really.
15. Invite us to come speak to your group or your class.
We’ll fill you in on the project and on how you can get involved and why it is so important.
16. Teen Square
A great opportunity for high school seniors. Earn a minimum of 25 volunteer hours for college without breaking a sweat. Get info HERE.
17. Doing good Village Square-ish work or would you like to start? Bring your project in to sit under our umbrella.
Call Liz at 264-8785 to discuss this stunning possibility. (And while you’re at it, read about “The Big Umbrella,” designed to shield up to 16 people from the rain, which “proved useful as a tool for plucking down stray balls from trees” but the unwieldy size turned out to have “turned altruistic motives into harassment…” )