Throughout history, the village square was the spot where citizens gather, feel welcomed, catch up on local happenings, and look for social interaction with fellow citizens. The village square was the place where celebrations took place, sometimes where justice was served, and often where diversity of opinion was shared.
Founded in 2006 in Tallahassee, Florida, The Village Square is a community program that has earned national acclaim by convening a series of conversations on important topics in a forum where anyone can participate and feel welcomed. Valley Vision has long been the Sacramento region’s convener of honest conversations around tough public policy topics and social equity issues. That’s why when we were recruited in 2014 as the first West Coast presence for The Village Square, we felt it was a natural fit.
What is the goal?
The goal is to reduce tensions, increase tolerance, build respectful relationships, and instill a stronger sense of community and common purpose among neighbors across the Sacramento region.
Why is this important?
This is important because tensions can run high around contentious issues, making it difficult—or even impossible—to reach common ground solutions. When our belief systems start to silo us into neighborhoods, they can also have the same effect on our workplace, our friend circles, and our ability to discern fact from fury. To create a community that respects and values differences, we don’t need to always agree necessarily, but we do need to build relationships with those “not like us” and collectively seek solutions to complex problems facing our communities. The Village Square gatherings enable authentic dialog (not debates)—even around deeply politicized issues—so that people can hear different perspectives and gain new insight. The Village Square is about considering all sides and sharing diverse viewpoints in order to strengthen the Sacramento region.
What is Valley Vision doing about it?
Valley Vision launched The Village Square Sacramento in 2014 to facilitate civil engagement on matters of local, state and national importance. The series of events bring community members with different worldviews and experiences together to discuss important social or policy issues. Past topics include homelessness, voter turnout, hunger and more. In 2016, The Village Square Sacramento will host a collection of local faith-based leaders in a series of events that are both educational and communal.
What is our desired impact?
To build a community of tolerance and respect, where all citizens can contribute their voice and help make our communities stronger and more resilient.
How does this effort affect triple-bottom-line objectives?
Economy: The clustering of people with similar opinions creates homogenized regions that lend to polarization, class segregation, and stagnation. The Village Square Sacramento is about creating a forum where people can openly participate in civic discussions and start to break down the walls that divide us, thus laying the foundation for a stronger economy.
Equity: The Village Square is about giving all voices a chance to be heard. That means everyone from civic and elected leaders to neighborhood groups and community citizens. We believe that decisions that affect people’s lives must be considerate of those who are most affected. By assembling community members representing different opinions, faiths, and values, we can have constructive and inclusive conversations that deepen our understanding and allow us to find appropriate solutions for all.
Valley Vision launched The Village Square Sacramento in the fall of 2014 and lasted through the summer of 2015. Hundreds of community members were enagaged in these community conversations that dealt with topics including the importance of voting, homelessness, and hunger.
- Launched the website and social media presence. Find Village Square on Facebook, read the blog, check out the website, peruse Twitter… we’re busy starting conversations already.
- Recruited our earliest fans and supporters. If we haven’t found YOU yet, please consider joining our Founding Members today. Founding Members play a key role in helping to launch this program in its first year in Sacramento (and California!).
- The original Village Square in Tallahassee, FL has achieved many wins and earned national attention. You can learn more on the News page of their website. We’re aiming to be just as awesome.