By| Aliyah Glover
The Village Square held their 6th annual Town Hall meeting, at Florida State’s WFSU, sponsored by Bible Based Church and AARP Tallahassee. A panel of eight; filled with elected officials were able to come out and speak with the community. There were three city commissioners and five county commissioners.
The meeting began with a series of questions given by the moderator Skip Foster, Publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat. He led with the subject of school violence.
“What at the local level, if anything, can we do to address this issue?”
County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley said, “we can require background information at gun shows, I think it will be worth the effort.”
They also discussed improvement in the community, funding programs geared towards helping citizen with mental health. How to make the community safer, and future plans for the city of Tallahassee.
Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Richardson said, “We have a lot to do, we can fund programs for mental health services and the people of the community who may need it.”
Florida State student Jazmin Kemp a history major said, “I enjoyed tonight’s town hall. It’s nice to know that I’m able to voice my questions and concerns and actually receive a response.”
Being a non-profit organization focused on civic engagement and civility. The Village Square has been around since 2006. They hold forums to get the community involved in the general coverage about things going on in the community.
Liz Joyner Executive Director of The Village Square said, “I think we are a very lucky community to have the capacity to be able to come together when the temperature is high in civil discourse, and we can still talk as neighbors.”
Some may wonder how has the village square or these annual town halls made a difference and what is the overall goal.
Deputy Director Christen White said, “giving citizens the opportunity to meet people that they wouldn’t otherwise meet is the goal. People that look different than them, live totally different lives than they do, lives in different parts of town so that they can come together and have these conversations and unite.”
The Village square has had a lot of successful events over the years holding town halls with over 600 people in attendance. Community Service with over 100 volunteers.
“We have been doing this for 12 years. We are really a nationally unique model because there are very few communities that have this kind of ability, to regularly talk about controversial issues with their elected officials,” said Joyner.
“Our town halls are a bit unique from most communities because we bring together the city and the county elected officials at the same time on one panel. So that citizens can come out and address all the issues that are going on locally and have that dialogue that they wouldn’t normally be able to at the commissioners own meetings,” said White.
For more information on The Village Square visit their website tlh.villagesquare.us