LOCAL CONVERSATION ON THE AMERICAN SITUATION SET
Philadelphia PA -- Preparations are under way across the nation for the next annual occurrence of National Deliberation Day (NDD), a project of the Foundation for Individual Responsibility and Social Trust (FIRST).
National Deliberation Day will be held in towns and campuses across the nation around April 19th, and 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 is a non-partisan, non-profit organization devoted to giving young adults a voice in and greater involvement with the political process. FIRST members are coordinating conversations at over two dozen sites across the nation.
FIRST has already hosted two national issues convention 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, delgates 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.
"I think there are some major historical opportunities right now favoring this type of organization," said Shlomo Mantz, New York City regional coordinator. "First, the defining fact of this era, of my generation, is the end of the Cold War, and the new, huge opportunity it offers to free our resources for new goals."
"Yet no one talks about that opportunity, simply because no one knows what to do with it. Where are those new resources? They're not on the radar. Because no one has really forged a new direction for this country. In the last six years, power in Washington has bounced back and forth like a ping-pong ball between the two main parties, yet no one seems to know what to do with it."
"Well, this is our first step towards laying out some new course. We believe the first step is to get everyone's concrete ideas onto the table and go from there. You can't truly say that the way to forge a new course is to start with one group's ideology--well, you can say that, but it's been done, rather exhaustively."
"We say, get the concrete ideas from those who deal directly with the issues and with social problems, and then open them up to discussion in a forum which includes all sectors of society. It's in the free open discussion where new efforts start; in the clash of ideas. You don't find real solutions if you start with one group's ideology and then just pick and choose whichever ideas happen to fit in with that."
Following NDD, a public report of deliberation findings will be compiled and distributed to FIRST's regional chapters. Further, the results will be integrated into discussion materials for FIRST's National Issues Convention scheduled for October.
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.
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