Village Square’s next tactic: A ball pit?!

(H/T to Lea Marshall)

Recalling the Day JFK Died, 50 Years Ago

slide_264933_1788378_freeOK, here’s my contribution to the “Where Were You When President Kennedy Was Shot?” discussion. It being a Friday, I was driving to the bank in Oklahoma City to deposit my paycheck before heading to work. I had just completed my first year as a reporter for the Daily Oklahoman, the state’s leading daily newspaper. Glued to my car radio for more details, I hurriedly completed my transaction at the drive-up window and raced to the office, which I knew would be in all-hands-on-deck mode.

It was. The newsroom was in bedlam as editors on the afternoon paper, the Oklahoma City Times, frantically tore up their front page to get details of the assassination into at least a portion of the press run. Meanwhile, editors of the morning paper on which I worked, the Daily Oklahoman, were huddled to draw up plans for the next day’s paper. While we awaited our assignments, we reporters eagerly snatched bulletins from the AP and UPI teletypes from the hands of the copyboys whose job it was to monitor “the wires.”

Eventually, my City Editor began handing out assignments. The star writer and a photographer were quickly dispatched to Dallas, which is just 300 miles from “The City,” as Oklahoma City was known. Others were assigned to do the stories on the transition of power to Lyndon B. Johnson, the grieving widow Jackie, the nation in shock and mourning. A couple of reporters were assigned to gather reaction from leaders in our state: members of Congress, state legislators, city and county officials, federal judges and law enforcement officers. Two or three others went out into stores and bars for the man-in-the-street reaction.

My assignment: Write a story about LBJ’s last visit to Oklahoma City. The Vice President had been to the state a few months before, for what I no longer remember. Researching our clip-files for stories on the visit and calling local dignitaries who had met with LBJ, I put together a 15-inch story that was published deep inside that Saturday morning paper. I was grateful to have something productive to do, and the concentration required to report and write the story took my mind off the horror of the events in Dallas. I thought of my sister Joan, who lived in Greenville, just a few miles east of Dallas, and her husband Dick, whose parents lived in Dallas.

Most of us worked all weekend to continue to report what was certainly the biggest story any of us had ever covered. By Sunday, we were wrung-out, exhausted after two days of 12- to 15-hour shifts, thinking that on Sunday there might be time to relax, unwind, maybe even smile. But of course there wasn’t, because Jack Ruby decided to take justice into his own hands in the Dallas Police Station that day.

And the presidential funeral – that terrible day of national mourning marked by a 2-year-old boy’s salute to his father’s passing coffin and a riderless horse with empty boots turned backward in the stirrups — still lay ahead on Monday.

David Klement, Executive Director

Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions

St. Petersburg College


World Peace Forum a Success

Little did we know when we came up with the title for our world peace forum that it would capture the essence of the program’s conclusion. But it absolutely did.

“World Peace: Let It Begin with Me.” That was the title and it was the take-home message for the nearly 200 students and members of the public attending Thursday’s (Nov. 14) forum that the Institute co-sponsored with Rotary International, Seeds of Peace, and Tri-Sense Medical, LLC. Besides a nearly full house at the Digitorium, which seats 200 with chairs along the back wall, the forum was webcast to three other campuses in the SPC system.  The results exceeded our expectations.

The forum was moderated by Roy Slater, Associate Professor of Social Science at SPC. Other panel members were Randy Lightfoot, American Government and Model UN Instructor at Tarpon Springs; Sane Haidara, SPC international student from Mali, and Dustin Lemke, Communication and Leadership instructor at Hillsborough Community College.

Sane Haidara, SPC Student from Timbuktu, Mali

Sane Haidara, SPC Student from Timbuktu, Mali

Contrary to hopes, it seems that world peace may not be achievable, because conflict between humans is inevitable. But, the panelists agreed, it is the responsibility of each person to live and act in ways that promote peace instead of war, dialogue instead of violence, in pursuit of the ultimate goal of a peaceful world.

There was general consensus among panelists that war is a blot on global society no matter how distant or isolated the location of the conflict. Asked about Americans’ responsibility to the people of Mali, beset by a jihadist uprising in 2012, Prof. Lightfoot said, “We have a moral responsibility to prevent war. Pain in one country is a pain felt by all. We are a global community.”

Haidara, who has seen war up close in his hometown of Timbuktu, Mali, had a readyanswer for Moderator Slater’s question about the cause of conflict: Inequality. “In Mali, a common denominator is lack of education, access to clean water and adequate food, inequality between men and women, lack of jobs, denial of social justice.”

Lemke said civil behavior in day-to-day life, such as traffic encounters or relationships with friends and family, contributes to peace in small but meaningful ways. “You probably already have had 15 chances to show peace today,” he told the mostly-student audience. He also encouraged students to become civicly engaged in their communities in pursuit of peace. “As students you have more power than you think,” he said. “Call up the mayor. He is more likely to listen to student voices than to a 40-year-old like me,” he said.

The level of interest shown in the issue of world peace told us we have only scratched the surface. Therefore, we are already looking at the next phase for this initiative. Stay tuned.

–David Klement, Executive Director

Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions

St. Petersburg College

Check out St. Petersburg Village Square’s television ad

Next Tuesday the Gettysburg Address is 150… A wish that we might take “increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion”

The distribution of wealth in the United States (it will surprise you)

Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 2

On election eve:

"Let me tell you, if you’re looking for the candidate that you agree with 100% of the time, then I want you to do something for me tonight: Go home and look in the mirror, because that’s the only person you agree with 100% of the time. But sometimes we make political candidates feel like that’s what you want. Like you want us to agree with you 100% of the time or you won’t vote for us. You know what happens then? If you make politicians believe that, you know what they’ll do, they’ll just lie to you. They’ll just look you in the eye and they’ll say ‘hm, I wonder what she wants to hear."’..

Chris Christie gets Village Square points: Part 1

Part 2 comes tomorrow.

From last night’s New Jersey gubernatorial victory speech:

We still fight, we still yell. But when we fight, we fight for those things that really matter in people’s lives. And while we may not always agree, we show up everywhere. We just don’t show up in the places that vote for us a lot, we show up in the places that vote for us a little. We don’t just show up in the places where we’re comfortable, we show up in the places where we’re uncomfortable.

FairVote: Fixing Congress with Fair Representation Voting

“Caucus” this Sunday @ Challenger Center; humanizing rather than demonizing?

This coming Sunday, Tallahassee Film Festival is bringing Caucus to Tallahassee, 3:30 pm at the Challenger Center. Jump below the trailer for all the details.

Caucus – A New Film by AJ Schnack from AJ Schnack on Vimeo.

When: November 3, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Where: Challenger Learning Center IMAX, 200 S Duval St
Tickets are available online or at the show:
$10 – General admission
$8 – Students/seniors/active military (w/ valid ID)
$7 – TFF Members

Jeb on Hillary. Two old families feeling a little new right about now?

Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush shared a stage in September. Jeb Bush awarded Clinton the 2013 Liberty Metal (awarded by the National Constitution Center, which Bush chairs) at the event, honoring her commitment to civic engagement, particularly with women and girls. Apparently he took some grief for it, mortal enemies (rather than civic partners) that we’ve become. Here’s his comment at the time:

“While Secretary Clinton and I disagree on many issues, we certainly agree on the importance of civic engagement.”

This week former Governor Bush was interviewed by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl about the experience:

Jonathan Karl: “What was that conversation like?”

Jeb Bush: “It was very friendly. Treating people fairly and with civility is not a bad thing. It would be good for our country if political leaders actually took that to heart.”

Starting today, keep an eye on the sky (the Air Force won’t be…)

Sequestration Asteroid

From Fox News:

“The Air Force says it can no longer afford to scan the sky for extraterrestrial threats that could doom the planet, all because of the sequester cuts Washington forced on itself when it failed to rein in the exploding national deficit. Called the Air Force Space Surveillance System, it’s “critical” to defense, the Air Force has said. By October 1, they’ll have to pull the plug.”

Apparently the extraterrestrial threats include about 1,000 asteroids large enough to “potentially unleash global catastrophic devastation to the planet upon impact.”

Kind of a big deal, yes? From this bit of asteroid news you probably shouldn’t expect much of a reaction from our elected officials. Last spring, when one asteroid actually did hit earth and one closely missed us on the same day, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) asked NASA chief Charles Bolden what NASA would do if a large asteroid was expected to collide with earth in three weeks.

“The answer to you is, ‘if it’s coming in three weeks, pray.’ The reason I can’t do anything in the next three weeks is because for decades we have put it off.”

So break out the space suits, America, and give Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck a heads up. Looks like we’re on our own again.

From Twain’s “The Gilded Age”

Join us for a discussion of rising economic inequality in our Dinner at the Square season kickoff “American Dream Lost?” Tuesday, October 15th. Get more information HERE.

“In America nearly every man has his dream – his pet scheme – whereby he is to advance himself socially or pecuniarily. It is this all-pervading speculativeness which we tried to illustrate in “The Gilded Age.” It is a characteristic which is both bad and good for both the individual and the nation. Good, because it allows neither to stand still but drives both forever on to some point which is ahead, not behind nor to one side. Bad, because the chosen point is often badly chosen and then the individual is wrecked. The aggregation of such cases affects the nation and thus is bad for the nation. Still, it is a trait which is – of course – better for a people to have and sometimes suffer from than to be without.”