For Immediate Release
August 15, 2023
Liz Joyner, Founder & CEO
Who: The Village Square
What: “Healing Starts Here” Initiative begins with August 25 Screening of “Join or Die” Movie ($10 or free)
When: August 25, 6:45 PM
Where: Challenger Learning Center IMAX Theater, 200 S Duval St, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Village Square launches “Healing Starts Here” Pluralism Initiative
Project to Build Trust and Belonging Launches on August 25 with “Join or Die” Screening at Challenger Center
(TALLAHASSEE, FL) – August 15, 2023 – The accelerating political division in America is on a 24-hour loop that permeates all of our lives — and it’s left most of us exhausted. But as the political chattering class awaits the next smackdown from one side or the other, another America is fighting to rise—and it’s the one we see signs of every day in the hometown we share.
This year, The Village Square will be offering Tallahassee residents unique opportunities to move past the toxicity as we build a community where everyone belongs, where we know each other well enough to see our differences across color, creed and ideology as beautiful strengths to be embraced — differences that create the core of a thriving pluralistic democracy of, by and for a free people.
Founded in Tallahassee in 2006 to build civic trust between people who don’t look or think alike, The Village Square is one of 32 grantees nationwide funded by New Pluralists, a collaborative of funders, researchers and innovators advancing pluralism in our culture and committed to helping us recognize our shared humanity. “Healing Starts Here” is their first major granting initiative focused on empowering local action — where neighbors can know each other — rather than waiting for Washington to fix it. The two-year project will offer continuous opportunities for citizens to start or join small groups around shared interests or common concerns, along with The Village Square’s large town hall style programming.
“Healing Starts Here” will launch on Friday, August 25 at 6:45 p.m. with a free screening of the film “Join or Die,” a film about why you should join a club — and why the fate of America depends on it. The lighthearted, inspiring film follows the insights of living legend Harvard University’s Dr. Robert D. Putnam, who wrote about the decline of the civic relationships that support a democracy in his iconic book “Bowling Alone.” Additionally, Dr. Putnam and “The Upswing” co-author Shaylyn Romney Garrett will join The Village Square and Florida Humanities for a special digital program on October 5th at 7 p.m.
The “Healing Starts Here” project launch marks the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington (on Monday, August 28), in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to “learn to live as brothers” or “perish as fools.” Small groups already formed in response to the initiative include “Civic Stitch ‘n Bitch” (hosted by politically opposite friends), podcast clubs, a “Collective Illusions” book club (participants can meet the author Todd Rose at the October 17 Dinner at the Square) and a dinner club. Citizens who participate in a club or group this fall will be invited to a big shindig at the end of the year—of course, it will involve bowling, together. Other new programs and opportunities will be announced as they launch.
In this time of deep division, loss and despair — when we are struggling to hold citizens together in mutual toleration — it will ultimately be in hometowns like this one, between neighbors like us, where we can find each other again and live into our highest values as a people. To learn more and register for the screening, visit https://tlh.villagesquare.us/join-or-die/.
About The Village Square: Founded 17 years ago in Tallahassee, The Village Square is building the town hall of the 21st century across societal divisions that are tearing communities apart. With a second location in Fort Lauderdale, The Village Square is a national leader in designing programming that brings hometowns together across color, creed and ideology. Hosting mostly free civic events throughout the year, The Village Square is led by a politically and racially diverse group of community leaders.
Dr. Robert D. Putnam, of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, is the author of “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.” A film centered on Putnam’s work will screen at The Challenger Center on Friday, August 25 at 6:45 p.m. Following that event, Putnam will join The Village Square digitally on October 5.