ImagineÂ thousands of people meeting in small groups deliberating our country’s economic future and the impact that the federal debt will have on future generations. Imagine that these intimate groups are connected by satellite and webcast so that they are part of a larger town hall meeting taking place across a country as large as the US. Imagine that the participants are collectively setting priorities by weighing in on policy options that are presented in a non-partisan way. Imagine that the participants are a demographically representation of the country.
Now imagine a role for librarians!
Imagine librarians who understand the importance of dialogue and deliberation, who can research the complex intricacies of the federal budget and make that information available to their constituents, who have acquired knowledge and experience in facilitation either through the early work of the ALA Civic Engagement Initiative or through their skills in reference questioning…in short…
imagine yourself as a facilitator or a convener of such a dialogue!
OnÂ June 26th,Â thousands of Americans who represent every walk of life will sit together at tables in communities across the countryÂ simultaneouslyÂ talking about the values and priorities important to us as Americans.
AmericaSpeaks: Our Budget, Our Economy
will be a national discussion to find common ground on tough choices about our federal budget. Americans from across the country will come together to weigh-in on strategies to ensure a sustainable fiscal future and a strong economic recovery.
This non-partisan discussion about our federal budget will lead to solutions developed by thousands of people that will be shared with leaders in Washington.
AmericaSpeaks is currently recruiting table facilitators for the following Town Meeting locations:
Des Moines, IA
Grand Forks, ND
Overland Park, KS
San Jose, CA
The training process involves a 90 minute telephone call and additional training varies by site. For more information and to apply,Â click here!
A National Advisory Committee is providing guidance to the project and a National Content Team is making sure that the materials are accurate, fair, balanced and easy-to-understand. The materials are still in development, but the day will involve presentations streamed to multiple site, interspersed with facilitated dialogue about policy options to reduce the nation’s debt, culminating in participant-determined priorities using hand held keypads.
At the end of the day, every participant will walk out of the Town Hall Meeting with a brief report on the day and the decisions that they made.
But the reporting doesn’t stop there. (And here’s where it really gets historic.)
The results will also be shared with theÂ President’s Bipartisan Fiscal Commission that is meeting monthly with the goal of recommendations in December 2010 and members of Congress.
Librarians are in the information and education business. This project needs librarians who are serious about connecting people with information that affects their lives and helps them interpret and use that information productively. The mounting federal debt will have major short term impacts and even more devastating long-term impacts if we don’t start making tough decisions now. This is a quagmire and librarians are well-equipped guides to lead us forward.
For more information about the project, see the USABudget Discussion website.