April 8, 1998
LOCAL CONVERSATION ON THE AMERICAN SITUATION SCHEDULED
New York, NY ? The stage is being set for New York City's first session ever of the annual event known as National Deliberation Day (NDD), a nationwide event involving hundreds of young adults and students meeting in discussion forums across the country.
National Deliberation Day is a project of the Foundation for Individual Responsibility and Social Trust (FIRST) of Philadelphia, and will be held in towns and campuses across the nation around April 19th. It will bring together young adults, 18-35 years old, to participate in half day discussions that are designed to forge a new national discussion between members of this generation.
FIRST members are coordinating conversations at over two dozen sites across the nation. In New York, a session is scheduled for May 3 at 12 noon, at PS 3, located at 490 Hudson St. at Christopher St. in Greenwich Village. City Councilman Gifford Miller is scheduled to speak.
FIRST is a non-partisan, non-profit organization devoted to enabling young adults to get more involved with politics and become more aware of the issues. FIRST has already hosted two national issues conventions for young adults in Philadelphia.
The conventions brought together delegates from around the country of every political stripe, from business, non-profit groups, community groups, unions and universities. Now it wants to make the same thing happen on a national scale, in the event known as National Deliberation Day.
At NDD sites around the country, delegates from all backgrounds and fields will be invited to express their views and concerns on a wide range of issues. The idea is to restore the tradition of the old-fashioned town meeting, but on the scale of a national happening, through simultaneous sessions across the nation.
The meetings go further than the traditional town meeting by going beyond a single neighborhood and town, to include members of a wide variety of groups, both those which shape or affect policy, those in the private sector, and the general public.
"The time has come for young adults to put an end to the myth that our generation is apathetic and uninterested in the political process," said Meredith Keiser, FIRST Executive Director. "The support we have received for National Deliberation Day proves that young adults do care about politics and the issues facing our country."
"What we're trying to do is provide a setting where young adults can meet and exchange ideas with others from a wide range of backgrounds and communities. " said Shlomo Mantz, Regional Coordinator for New York City. "What makes it really worthwhile is the chance for discussions between people with diverse experiences?different social, economic and ethnic groups, different neighborhoods, and various professional groups, both in public service and business."
"It's a chance to meet with people they might never have met before, to get their viewpoints and to exchange ideas. We're open to all political affiliations, but the only rule is that everyone expresses their views in the form of positive ideas for improvement. There's a lot of potential. You could get the ideas of a social worker based on years of policy experience, or a businessman's based on his knowledge of what works."
"I think there's a real opening for this type of group. People often say they're unhappy with having to get all their information through the filter of tv or the media. You say 'town meeting' to people, they're all eager, yet no one figures out how to actually make it happen. This is one way. This is the chance to get out of their houses, get away from the labels and the sound-bites, and find out about other groups and issues first-hand."
"Another benefit is that, on a wide enough scale, this process might lead to real original ideas for changing society. The key is to get enough people from the right mix of groups with a role in society, with their own concrete ideas on social or business issues. Then you might find ideas emerging which can really change things?ideas arising from this process which might not otherwise have been thought of."
"I think this is a moment with real opportunities. Across the country, there's a sense among people that we're in a new era, that now we should see new initiatives being fired up to improve society. A lot of that is due to the end of the Cold War, and the feeling that now we ought to see new resources and energy freed up to really tackle our problems."
"Well, where are those resources? Where are those new ideas? You don't hear about them. They're not on the radar. Power bounces from one party to the other, yet no one grabs the moment. The Republicans won a huge victory over Democrats in 1994, then threw it away with a lot of abrasiveness."
"There's a mood building out there, from a lot of different quarters. Over the last few years, there are more and more signs that Americans want new outlets, new ideas. You hear these big build-ups for new national dialogues; on race, on voluntarism, on social security, on the town meeting itself. Yet a few months later, they melt away."
"You hear others on the right rejecting the role of government and calling for some way for ordinary citizens to organize on their own. You hear these constant calls. Yet it doesn't seem to pick up a lot of steam. Well this is our answer."
"People feel there's a chance being missed here, and that's what we want to channel. We want to harness that sense of aspiration out there, that desire to see more being accomplished and to exchange new ideas."
Following NDD, a public report of deliberation findings will be compiled and distributed to FIRST's regional chapters. Further, the results will be targeted for discussion at FIRST's National Issues Convention in October, and incorporated into a Generational Action Plan.
National Deliberation Day is part of FIRST's continuing effort to create a new and meaningful way for young adults to add their voice to the political process. With headquarters in Philadelphia, FIRST promotes the use of dialogue about the future of the nation in order to stimulate involvement of young adults in creating new ways to resolve national issues. Additional information may be found at www.libertynet.org/~first.
For Immediate Release Contact: Shlomo Mantz or Chris Nadeau
Philadelphia Contact: Meredith Keiser or Melinda Scott
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