Quantcast
Header Main

World Congress of Families as an Opportunity for Dialogue



by: Jacob Hess, Living Room Conversations & Kendall Wilcox, Empathy First Initiative. 

To those who support the World Congress of Families as it arrives in  Salt Lake City, Utah next week, it may seem strange and even malicious to witness such relentless opposition to the conference.  And to those who find the messages promoted by the World Congress of Families to be hostile, any pushback from WCF supporters may seem callous and threatening to their very existence.

Although legitimate concerns have been raised by all sides, the atmosphere has come to  resemble more of a political campaign than a constructive conversation, with offensive and defensive maneuvers – and exceedingly scarce levels of curiosity and inquiry.    

As two friends who hold different views on the World Congress of Families, we share a strong belief that the WCF in Salt Lake City could be a great opportunity to have meaningful, productive conversations about significant things that get lost in the rancor – even seemingly simple questions such as, ‘What does it actually mean to be anti-gay?’   

We often use this term and other similar words (“bigoted” or “hateful”) as if we all have a common understanding of what they mean. As illustrated by the WCF debate, clearly this is not the case – with very different meanings of “anti-gay” and “hate” at play.

If that’s true, it might be helpful to map out the various ways these words are being used.  In partnership with Living Room Conversations and various members of the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation, we are finalizing this fall a Red Blue Dictionary in time for the 2016 Presidential Election season that will help clarify these kinds of different meanings across many contested words.

In the case of “anti-gay,” the word is most commonly used to describe anything that condemns or critiques homosexuality.  For instance, one commentator recently stated: “Let’s just be very clear here —if you are against marriage equality you are anti-gay. Done.”

By contrast, one gay journalist, Brandon Ambrosino, wrote in response, “I found myself disappointed with this definition—that anyone with any sort of moral reservations about gay marriage is by definition anti-gay.” He went on to quote another gay colleague who said, “if it’s ‘anti-gay’ to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word ‘homophobic’ is exhausted on…polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them?”  

We think that’s an important question – especially in light of a tendency (on both sides) to over-apply hot-button words like “hateful” or “perverted.”  Gay journalist Jonathan Rausch has similarly cautioned about, “throwing around charges of bigotry promiscuously.”  

By contrast, a more bounded sense of the word “anti-gay” emphasizes the presence of tangible animus or hostility. From this vantage point, someone might disagree about gay marriage and other aspects of gay rights without being anti-gay.  

But is that fair?  Many object to this narrowing of the term ‘anti-gay’ – seeing any opposition or questioning of gay rights as an inherent expression of hostility.  As they put it, ‘how would you feel if someone questioned the legitimacy of your family and opposed your civil right to legal recognition of your most intimate relationship?’  

Supporters of WCF, of course, would describe their efforts quite differently – describing the desire and effort to share a message about man-woman marriage as an innate expression of faith – one that can and should be done without overt hostility toward the LGBT community.

This can be difficult to believe for those in the LGBT community who experience the term “natural family” as inherently prejudicial toward their lives and families.  From this place, it’s not hard to understand why they view efforts to share this message around the world as harmful.  

So what to do at such an impasse?  Call us crazy – but we still have a thing for serious listening – like we recently did by co-hosting a Living Room Conversation earlier this summer.

It wasn’t easy.  But it totally beats the alternative!  Chronic resentment sucks the life out of so many of us.  By sitting with the embodiment of ideas that make-us-mad, by encountering that very person face to face and hearing their truth (and sharing our own), we are together pressed in more productive directions, such as exploring questions like:  

  • What are the appropriate cautions to take when ‘pro-traditional marriage’ groups are involved in parts of the world where violence against the gay community is common?  
  • To what degree (or not) might the gay community more proactively support the freedom of religious conservatives to disagree with them?  
  • Is there any common ground between liberal and conservative groups on limits to free speech – or on criteria of “hate speech” that we can all accept?  

Our purpose here is not to resolve or settle these big questions – and certainly not to settle once and for all the “true meaning” of a given term like “anti-gay.”  

But we do believe these kinds of questions deserve our attention and our best thinking.  If a reasonable conversation with ‘the other side’ feels impossible, then we throw out this challenge – using the World Congress of Families as a starting point.  

For those in support of the World Congress of Families, stretch your willingness to seek understanding by spending some time reading this account of how gay individuals were brutalized by a community, while asking yourself, “is there anything here that helps me better understand the gay community’s concerns?”

And for those concerned about the World Congress of Families, stretch your own willingness to seek understanding by reading the WCF’s own responses to what they experience as unfair and exaggerated critiques, while asking yourself, “is there anything here that helps me better understand where they are coming from?”     

Then when you run into that person on the other side, you’ll be ready.  Not with talking points…but with honest questions:  “Hey – can you help me understand…”

We’ll be rooting for you!   


 

Jacob Hess is a liberal-loving conservative guy – proud to be a partner of Living Room Conversations and enjoying the opportunity to direct Village Square, Salt Lake City.  He co-facilitated the nation’s first college course on liberal-conservative dialogue at the University of Illinois – publishing research on class outcomes and the larger contrast in socio-political narratives. He later co-authored You’re Not As Crazy as I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong) with Phil Neisser and a discourse analysis on romance entitled, Once Upon a Time, He Wasn’t Feeling It Anymore. Coming out of recent dialogue work with Tracy Hollister and other colleagues at the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation, Jacob is currently launching a blog to help promote more understanding between religious conservatives and the gay community.  

Kendall Wilcox is a gay Mormon filmmaker who once produced media content for the World Congress of Families and is currently producing the documentary Far Between about what it means to be LGBTQI/SSA and Mormon as well as the upcoming documentary The Kitchen Case: Utah’s Battle Over Same Sex Marriage. Kendall has helped create several platforms for dialogue along the divisive issue of sexual orientation and the Mormon Church with such efforts as the Empathy First Initiative, Mormons Building Bridges, Circles of Empathy, and the ongoing partnership with the Utah Pride Center called Utah LGBTQ Stories. Kendall is also a co-organizer of the Utah Commission on LGBT Suicide Awareness and Prevention. Kendall will be attending the WCF, inviting fellow attendees to engage in dialogue and will be live-tweeting the experience.



Tallahassee Democrat: Village Square’s God Squad is on duty for lunch today



fff-eventThe communal hall in the elegantly appointed First Baptist Church in downtown Tallahassee is packed with noontime listeners this mid-September Friday. They are also lunchers, filling their plastic plates with tacos as they prepare to listen to ‘The God Squad’, five Tallahassee faith leaders perched on stools, who, as they have monthly for the last five years will talk about those places where religion, politics and societal issues bounce against each other like so many boats on a stormy sea. For this Faith.Food.Friday program, the crowd of nearly 200 people seems ready to eat it up. Today’s program (Friday, Oct. 9) is on Religious Freedom and will be held at Good Samaritan United Methodist Church. Tickets for food are $8 with reservations and $10 at the door.

Read the full article in the Tallahassee Democrat.



Tallahassee Democrat: Food, Conversation a Plenty at the Longest Table



longest-table-oct-4Under the sweeping canopy of live oaks, the 350-feet long table, bridging two downtown blocks, was filled with trays of brownies, berries piled atop cheesecake squares and powdered snow-white desserts. Sweet tea, Southern barbecue and conversation were plentiful.

The Longest Table, Tallahassee’s first community-wide dinner party of sorts, asked nearly 500 local politicians, faith leaders, educators, agency representatives and residents from all neighborhoods and backgrounds to go beyond small talk and discuss what was most at stake in their city.

A reel of paper rolled the entire length of the table, filled with tough conversation-starters, questions like, “What’s the biggest challenge facing our community?” and the fill-in-the blank, “Race relations in our community are ___.” to spark honest dialogue.

For many attendees, the event offered an opportunity to examine how Tallahassee has evolved in the last decade.

Read the entire article at Tallahassee.com.



Quotable: David Brooks on Pope Francis



“[Pope Francis] is operating on a different axis than the rest of us. We’re on a horizontal axis – left/right; he’s up and down. And so what he is doing is to defeat polarization in the right way by lifting hearts and uplifting souls.”

–David Brooks on Meet the Press



Village Square co-founder Bryan Desloge in the Tallahassee Democrat: Proud to meet with Pope and President



desloge-squareThere was a time in our nation’s not too distant past when meeting with the President of the United States or even the Pope himself would be seen – without question – as an honor and a true privilege.

Yet, as I made the humbling journey to our nation’s capital to attend a meeting of both Pope Francis and President Obama, I felt somewhat uneasy and, frankly, a little worried about how this visit would be received by those in the body politic.

It shouldn’t be that way.

Read the entire editorial at Tallahassee.com.



News Release: Village Square’s “Faith, Food, Friday” launches fifth season of programming



NEWS RELEASE

‘FAITH, FOOD, FRIDAY’ LAUCHES NEW SEASON LINEUP WITH NEW VENUES
Local clergy join The Village Square in hosting lunch series on hot topics

(TALLAHASSEE, FL) – September 14, 2015 – This Friday, September 18, a diverse group of local clergy – affectionately known as “The God Squad” – will begin its fifth year of talking about the topics your mother warned you to never discuss in polite company: politics and religion. This season, “Faith, Food, Friday” programs will be crossing thresholds, sharing food with those outside of our usual circles, and welcoming the stranger – whether we don’t know him because of color, class or politics – as a new friend. The season will include several programs focused on racial and economic divides, and will move among new locations in order to broaden accessibility and participation.

The series began in 2011 with the hope that neighbors breaking bread together could begin to heal the civic division that has so paralyzed our nation, our states and our hometowns. Four years and many meals later, everyone is still speaking to each other. People from across the community, no matter what their background, are invited to participate in these improbable conversations “for people of faith and no faith at all.”

“The God Squad” includes Dr. Bill Shiell of First Baptist Church, Rabbi Jack Romberg of Temple Israel, Pastor Darrick McGhee of Bible Based Church, Rev. Betsy Ouellette-Zierden of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church, and Fr. Tim Holeda, Parochial Vicar at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. The series is hosted by local nonprofit The Village Square, dedicated to building community across the partisan divide in order to improve the quality of the civic conversation in America. Organized in Tallahassee in 2006, The Village Square is expanding nationwide with locations in Fort Lauderdale; Sacramento, CA; and Salt Lake City, UT.

The first program this season is titled “Food, Food, Food” and will be held on Friday, September 18 from noon to 1 pm at First Baptist Church (108 W. College Avenue) with lunch available beginning at 11:30. Rev. Betsy Ouellette-Zierden of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church will moderate. From the American South to the Middle East to the African plains, in all cultures, hospitality around food is a central principle of civil society. And at The Village Square, food is considered one of the most essential elements to the effort to seek reconciliation across the partisan divide.

Other topics this season include Religious Liberty; Income Disparity, Poverty, Race and Our Children; The Hidden Wound; Police and Community; Rights of Passage: Raising our Children; and An Inconvenient Truth: End of Life Issues. The April 2016 program is currently a Wild Card, with the public invited to submit topic ideas. The location and lunch menu vary for each program and are posted online.

All Faith, Food, Friday forums are free and open to the public. Lunch is available for $8 for those who RSVP by the Tuesday ahead of the program and $10 with a late reservation or at the door. All lunches are paid cash or check at the door. Guests may also bring their own lunch. For menus, more information or to reserve your seat, go online to wiki.tothevillagesquare.org/x/BwGvAQ, call 590-6646 or email fff@tothevillagesquare.org.

-30-



Jacob Hess: Ten Reasons to Spend Time with Your Political Opposite



info graphicHere’s a little preview of Part 2 of a smart piece written by the Director of our newest Salt Lake City Village Square Director, Jacob Hess (find Part 1 here):

So why would anyone be crazy enough to spend significant time with someone on the other side of the political fence? Why funny you should ask…

1. To Hear it from the Horse’s Mouth. While some people seem increasingly satisfied with a daily download about what-those-dumb-people-are-up-to-now, others are hungry for something more.

“When my like-minded friends all share the same talking points,” our colleague Debilyn Molineaux writes, “I start wondering if there isn’t more to the story…”

Is there? Well, there’s one sure-fire way to find out.

2. To (Really) Be Heard Yourself. In addition to deeply hearing out your political opposite, it’s also surprisingly refreshing to have someone do that for you too – especially one of ‘those people.’ This starts, ironically, by making a shared commitment to seeking to understand each other as the first priority.

Read the entire article at Huffington Post.



Jacob Hess: Ten Reasons to Stay Away from Your Political Opposite



new yorker elephant donkeyThe Director of our newest Salt Lake City Village Square Director, Jacob Hess, has written a smart and thoughtful piece posted at the Huffington Post. Here’s a sneak peak:

In discussions of political polarization in America, it’s often widely assumed that ‘most Americans’ want to see the hostility change.

Do they? On the one hand, a 2013 American survey found 70% of respondents believing that incivility had reached crisis proportions in the country.

On the other hand, when these same Americans are offered a chance of hearing out their own political opposite in a generous and productive setting, we have observed a striking level of resistance.

One woman told us just yesterday, “I cannot even begin to imagine trying something like that…” Another person insisted, “Most people don’t want to sit and have a real conversation with their political opposite…They just don’t!”

Could that be true? That even though (most of us) are worried about political tensions, for different reasons (most of us) don’t feel able or willing or interested in doing anything about it?

Read Jacob’s entire article at Huffington Post.
____________

Photo credit: New Yorker Magazine



Leon County wins Eleven National Awards (and we helped)



As we work toward launching our 9th season at the Village Square in Tallahassee, we’re recapping this summer’s cool news (that happened while we were – uh – fishing). Here’s some of it:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 16, 2015

CONTACT:
Jon D. Brown, Director
Community and Media Relations
(850) 606-5300

Leon County Recognized as Model Local Government with Eleven National Awards

Recently, Leon County Government received eleven national awards recognizing outstanding county programs and services. In addition, one of these awards was designated “Best in Category” as the most outstanding program nationwide in its award category. The National Association of Counties (NACo) presented Achievement Awards to Leon County in categories ranging from Civic Education to Information Technology. NACo’s awards recognize how Leon County provides the most cost-effective, high-quality service to citizens.
“We are so proud to see our Leon County local services and programs recognized as national benchmarks for effectiveness and innovation,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Mary Ann Lindley.

    This year, the following Leon County Government programs and services received awards:

    9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, winning best of category in Volunteer,

    Club of Honest Citizens in the category of Civic Education and Public Information,

    Community Legislative Dialogue in the category of Civic Education and Public Information,

    Domi Station, Leon County’s Startup Business Incubator in the category of Community and Economic Development,

    Leon LEADS: ‘People Focused. Performance Driven.’ in the category of County Administration and Management,

    Penny Sales Tax Public Education Effort in the category of County Administration and Management,

    Leon County Sustainable Communities Summit in the category of County Resilience: Infrastructure, Energy & Sustainability,

    Leon County Veterans Resource Center in the category of Employment and Training for County Residents,

    Procurement Connect in the category of Financial Management,

    Trailahassee.com in the category of Information Technology, and

    Leon County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Policy in the category of Personnel Management, Employee Training and Employee Benefits.

“These national awards reflect the effort and commitment of talented and dedicated County employees who actively engage our citizens on the most important challenges and opportunities facing our community,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long.

One award that stood out recognized Leon County’s 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, which received highest honors as Best in Category. Through this annual program, Leon County encourages citizens to remember and honor the sacrifices of 9/11 by volunteering locally and giving back to the community. Since the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the program has consisted of a remembrance ceremony and day of service. Over the past four years, 976 volunteers have contributed over 4,400 hours of volunteer service to veterans, low-income seniors, disabled individuals and families of active-duty military personnel in the Leon County community through service projects ranging from creating “garden buckets” for growing vegetables at home to housing rehabilitation for disabled veterans.

Many of the NACo awards highlight programs, services and initiatives that have been in place for years. Such awards recognize how Leon County Government listens to citizens’ needs, anticipates challenges and engages citizens to collaboratively shape the community for future generations. One such example was the multi-year penny sales tax education effort that involved hundreds of hours of citizen input to determine infrastructure projects that County residents not only need, but want. Moreover, Leon County was nationally recognized for programs such as the Sustainable Communities Summit, Community Legislative Dialogue and the Veterans Resource Center, all of which are programs or initiatives that engage many different County departments and divisions to succeed.

These national awards recognize not only effective services, but highlight the successes of Leon County Government during the slow economic recovery. Since the Great Recession, the County has managed to reduce its budget while at the same time exceeding expectations with key infrastructure projects and citizen engagement. Leon County remains committed to strengthening what works, abandoning what does not, receiving citizen feedback, leveraging partnerships and listening to changing needs.
Founded in 1970, the annual NACo Achievement Award Program is an award series that recognizes innovative county government programs that increase services to county residents. Leon County will be recognized at NACo’s 80th Annual Conference in July in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For more information, contact Shington Lamy, Assistant to the County Administrator, at (850) 606-5300 / LamyS@LeonCountyFL.gov or Jon D. Brown, Director of Leon County Community and Media Relations, at (850) 606-5300 / cmr@LeonCountyFL.gov .



Leadership Florida: Leadership Florida honors The Village Square with the Florida Impact Award



LF logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Wendy Walker
Leadership Florida
850-521-1220 ext 103
wwalker@leadershipflorida.org

Leadership Florida® honors The Village Square
with the Florida Impact Award

Tallahassee, Fla. — On June 14, at its annual meeting in St. Petersburg, Leadership Florida presented the The Village Square Tallahassee with its 2015 Florida Impact Award, recognizing the organization’s efforts to bring together those with opposing viewpoints by using civil, respectful, fact-based discourse.

Leadership Florida established the Florida Impact Award to recognize a business or non-profit organization that has created a body of work whose impact is currently transforming the future of its region and has the potential to impact Florida as a whole. It was created to promote a heightened sense of appreciation for the possibilities available when Floridians work together as a single statewide community.

The Village Square was founded by Tallahassee leaders with differing political affiliations, but united in the belief that education and civil discourse on topics of public policy among our diverse citizenry is vitally important, particularly in a society that has become increasingly polarized. In a non-partisan fashion, The Village Square convenes discussions on matters of local, state and national importance, which create a myriad of opportunities for constructive conversations that build understanding and trust among those with disparate views.

The Village Square idea of differing perspectives leading to united goals is growing throughout the state and beyond. Already, it has “franchised” its model by establishing a Village Square in the Florida cities of St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale, as well as the out of state cities of Sacramento, Kansas City and Salt Lake City.

Leadership Florida is proud to honor The Village Square as its 2015 Florida Impact Award winner.

_____________

About Leadership Florida
For thirty-four years, Leadership Florida has developed a reputation as a builder of a stronger, diverse statewide sense of community. A respected non-partisan convener of committed individuals, Leadership Florida enhances the knowledge and leadership abilities of Florida’s leaders through educational programs and by encouraging collaborative work for the betterment of our state. Leadership Florida provides Floridians essential information and a meaningful forum for their opinions, and creates opportunities for shared experiences that are inviting, inspiring and of lasting value. Leadership Florida is a federally registered trademark.

Find Leadership Florida online at leadershipflorida.org

Village Square receives Leadership Florida award



Joan Blades: Stepping Away from the Fight



web-slideshow-living-roomFounder of MoveOn.org and Living Room Conversations (now a Village Square partner – check out how we partner here) writes about her decision to step away from partisanship and work on bridging the divide.

As a founder of MoveOn.org I have seen partisan fight rage back and forth for better than 15 years. I don’t see that either side is decisively winning in the near term. In fact I’ve concluded that we are losing too much. We are losing treasured relationships. We are losing goodwill toward our fellow citizen. We are losing our recognition that we are one country — so many of us see red states and blue states rather than the United States.

Read Joan’s entire article online at Huffington Post.



Florence Snyder: Florence’s Handy Dandy Father’s Day Shopping Compendium



3520871459_ed2586d917_zHey kids! Just six more shopping days until Father’s Day. Step away from the tie counter, please, because your father does not want another tie, unless it’s the one Jim Morrison wore at his high school graduation.

Here are some other things your father does not want: belts, bathrobes, T-shirts, cuff links, coffee mugs, and electronic devices that were on the shelves before Mothers Day and cost less than $500.

If you’re old enough to be reading this, you’re old enough to get it through your head that what you father wants from you is time.

Give him as much of that as you can spare, because God counts the years, and you never know when his number—or yours—will be up.

Here’s some stuff your father wants you to ask about:

  • What’s the first thing you remember?
  • When did you decide to become a butcher (or baker or candlestick maker)?
  • What’s your favorite movie?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
  • If you could do anything, what would you do?



For best results, have these conversations in person, and remember to shut off your father’s device, as well as your own.

And kids, while you’re home, don’t forget to clean up your room. Your father is very tired of hearing your mother wringing her hands about whether it would be ok to give away your stuffed animals.

_____________

Florence Snyder is a corporate and First Amendment lawyer. Contact her at lawyerflo@gmail.com

(Photo credit: Easa Shamih)



News Release: Village Square Salt Lake City Announces Its Formation



NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2015

Media Contact: Jacob Hess
Director
Village Square, Salt Lake City
Phone: 801.712.1346

VILLAGE SQUARE, SALT LAKE CITY ANNOUNCES ITS FORMATION
Inaugural Dinner Event, June 18th – focused on LGBT/Religious Dialogue

(SALT LAKE CITY, UT) – May 22, 2015 – Utah has recently been recognized nationally for an historic deliberation between political leaders associated with the LGBT and religious communities. Since then, some have wondered: how can the larger spirit of that event be multiplied to involve more Utah citizens in the same kind of generous, open-hearted conversations?

We are excited to announce the creation of a Salt Lake City chapter of The Village Square – a nationally known nonpartisan 501(c) 3 public educational forum dedicated to raising the quality of civic discussion on issues of local, state and national importance.
Since 2006, the Village Square has been innovating unique methods to create a “Town Hall for the 21st Century” – helping communities move beyond the polarized bickering and diatribes that often characterize these events. Senator Olympia Snow called the Village Square one of 8 national organizations to support if you’re concerned about healing the partisan divide. Village Square advisor Jonathan Haidt, professor at New York University, says the Village Square “helps open hearts, then minds by fostering the mutual recognition of everyone’s decency and sincerity.”

On Thursday, June 18th, Village Square Salt Lake City will host our inaugural event, “Reaching Across America’s Deepest Divide: Former Adversaries Tell Their Story of Coming Together to Explore Sexual Orientation-Faith Conflicts.” This dinner event, open to the public, will be held at the Salt Lake Acting Company (168 W, 500 N) – with dinner starting at 6:30 and the program beginning at 7:15. The program will be co-moderated by Jacob Hess, Director of Village Square SLC, and Jay Jacobsen, Director of Circling the Wagons.

Co-sponsored by Living Room Conversations and the Salt Lake Civil Network, this event will offer a chance to participants to ‘listen in’ to the story of members of the Reconciliation and Growth Project – a collaborative effort to deepen understanding across the LGBT/religious divide, including: Jerry Buie (Pride Counseling), Lee Beckstead & Jim Struve (The LGBTQ-Affirmative Psychotherapist Guild of Utah), Shirley Cox (Brigham Young University instructor), David Matheson (Journey into Manhood), David Pruden (Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity) and Marybeth Raynes (Crossroads Psychotherapy).

Unlike an information-based “panel discussion,” this event will prioritize relationship building and FUN – with cabaret-style tables and dessert served to punctuate the conversation. Unique mobile-phone-based methods will be used to solicit questions and prompt interaction throughout, with two civility bells held by left and right-leaning audience members.

Future events being planned in Salt Lake City include “Speed Date Your Local Leaders” and similar dinner forums exploring potential common ground on policing, climate change & religious freedom. A “Sticky Issues in Civil Society” lunch series will also begin this summer, featuring topics such as “What to Do When We Disagree on the ‘Facts’?” and “Are there Some Issues it is NOT Okay to Disagree About?” In all Village Square events, the aim will be to focus on issues of importance to Utahans about which misunderstandings exist and questions that may perhaps uniquely benefit from a creative, trans-partisan exploration.

In a time when increasing political animosities continue to be documented nationally, it is time for communities to take more proactive measures to nurture and bolster our collective capacity for productive disagreement. Like the preservation of our precious natural and environmental resources in the state, we believe this civic space in our communities also deserves careful protection – indeed, as a national heritage dating back to the colonial “village square” where a diverse people came together to explore the future of this country.

For more information or to reserve your seat, go to www.old.utah.tothevillagesquare.org. With limited seating, some spots are being held for journalists. With questions, contact Jacob Hess or Liz Joyner at the numbers above (between May 27 and June 5, please contact Liz).