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Archive for the ‘Federal Debt’ Category

In an earlier post, I proposed that the upcoming AmericaSpeaks Town Meeting on the federal debt in Dallas on June 26 was a chance to facilitate a part of history. I can now report that it will be even easier to participate than I earlier reported. Some of you have expressed an interest, but the mandatory on-site training in Dallas on Friday afternoon before our big Saturday event was almost a deal breaker.

Well, good news!

We have the good fortune of living in just the right time zone which means that Dallas facilitators can get their dose of on-site training on June 26, the day of the event at 8:30 a.m.! Of course, that makes for a very early wake-up call for the Austinites who volunteer, but if you leave comments here looking for shared ride opportunities, you can alternate driving and sleeping on the way.

Here is a complete list of the training times. There are three sessions and each session has a couple of options to make it easy on your schedule. All session are conducted via telephone and all times below are in CENTRAL.

Session 1: Telephone (Choose ONE of the following)

  • Sun, June 13, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. OR
  • Mon, June 14, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. OR
  • Tue, June 15, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. OR

Session 2: Telephone (Choose ONE of the following)

  • Sun, June 20,  5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. OR
  • Mon, June 21, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. OR
  • Tue, June 22, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. OR

Session 3 Conducted on-site at the Dallas Convention Center (Choose ONE of the following)

  • Fri, June 25, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. OR
  • Sat, June 26, 8:30 a.m.

I’m still working on securing host housing in Dallas if you’re interested in coming in on Friday. It will make for a much more relaxing experience, but I wanted you to know that there are options for the early birds.

If you want to be a facilitator, you must apply here.

Participants can register here.

BTW, check out the Facebook event page for more info and tidbits related to the Dallas experience (again, you can register on the Facebook page, but this is NOT the same as registering for the event! To make life even more confusing, we have a Dallas newsletter. Sign up for our Dallas Newsletter updates.

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OK, I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but when thousands of people connected by satellite and webcast join simultaneously across a country as large as the US to deliberate our economic future, being one of a select group of facilitators making it happen sounds like a pretty memorable opportunity.

You have that opportunity on June 26.

I am the site manager for the Dallas gathering of the AmericaSpeaks: Our Budget, Our Economy so naturally I’m strongly encouraging the Texas Forums network to participate, but many of you are outside of Texas and can also help the good citizens in your own community make some tough choices about how to reduce the federal debt.

We are currently recruiting table facilitators for the following Town Meeting locations:

Albuquerque, NM
Augusta, ME
Casper, WY
Chicago, IL
Columbia, SC
Dallas, TX
Des Moines, IA
Detroit, MI
Grand Forks, ND
Jackson, MS
Louisville, KY
Missoula, MT
Overland Park, KS
Philadelphia, PA
Portland, OR
Portsmouth, NH
Redlands, CA
Richmond, VA
San Jose, CA

AmericaSpeaks will provide a 90 minute training on the content – I’m assuming none of us are experts on the federal debt – and you will need to be on-site on June 25 for a few hours to become familiar with the venue and participate in the facilitator training. If you are bilingual, (Spanish, in particular in Dallas) your skills are definitely in need.

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 the President’s Bipartisan Fiscal Commission (Texas’ 5th District Congressional Representative Jeb Hensarling serves on this commission) and with other members of Congress (I’ve also been coordinating with Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson’s staff) and Organizations and Government offices that focus on the budget.

I know that many of you live in Austin, but this would be such a wonderful experience that it would be worth the trip, particularly if you’ve got friends in Dallas willing to put you up. Or, you might double up and share accommodations with other Austinites. I’ve been staying in Dallas about once a week and have found reasonable hotels.

AmericaSpeaks will provide a $100 stipend, thanks to the generosity of the project funders. It isn’t much, but since so many of you do this work as your passion, it’s nice to be able to offset the costs.

Plus, look at how much you’ll learn and what a treat it will be to say you had a hand in this unprecedented National Town Meeting about an issue that will determine so much of this country’s future.

For more information and to apply, click here!

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How many of us really spend a significant amount of our time thinking about the federal budget, in particular the escalating federal debt? It’s certainly been in the news lately. And I don’t think I’m just taking notice because of my new assignment working on this issue.

I’m noticing. I’m getting worried. I’m getting involved. And you can too.

Here’s why you should:

Unless we do something about it, America will be facing a fiscal train wreck over the next decade. Driven by rising health care costs, an aging population, and a habit of spending more than we have, our national debt is projected to reach unprecedented levels in the coming years that cannot be sustained.

If nothing is done:

  • uncontrolled deficit spending could lead to inflation, a collapsing dollar and even more debt,
  • rising interest rates could make it harder for young people to get student loans or for families to get a mortgage for a new home,
  • large and small companies might find it more difficult to hire workers without access to new investments,
  • other national priorities will go unfunded as we pay back the interest we owe.

So what can we do?

On June 26th, thousands of Americans who represent every walk of life will sit together at tables in communities across the country simultaneously 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.

If that’s not cool enough…(and this is for my Texas Friends)…

Texas (Dallas to be specific) is one of six sites hosting the largest of the forums, each of which will be linked together by satellite and the Internet for a truly national conversation!

I have been hired as the Site Manager for this event which means that I am working with a team (Public Relations, Event Logistics, Outreach, Facilitator Recruiters, Production Managers, and a Local Engagement Team) to assemble 500 people who are demographically representative of the Dallas region for a five hour discussion on June 26 at the Dallas Convention Center. Whew!

But when I’m not feeling overwhelmed by this daunting task, I am invigorated by the scope, breadth and potential impact.

This will be an unprecedented national town meeting in which every geographic region will be represented in the conversation at the same time. Not only that, but we will be recruiting a diverse group of participants that reflect the demographic make-up of their communities so each site will be a microcosm of the community and collectively we will reflect the tremendously rich diversity of our nation.

During the day, participants will deliberate this issue, set priorities with hand-held keypads, and make recommendations that will go to the President and Congress. Participants will look at the tough realities and propose solutions to the President’s Commission on Financial and Fiscal Responsibility. (If you are so inclined, check out the three hour video of their first meeting held on April 27.)

We are in conversation with members of Congress. I’ve had the good fortune to work with the staff of Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson and Jeb Hensarling who also serves as one of 18 member of the President’s bi-partisan commission.

And the Washington staff of AmericaSpeaks are also working with the Obama administration.

This is an amazing opportunity for the public to make a clear statement about the values that should drive tough fiscal decisions.

So how can you get involved?

I’d love to hear what you decide to do. Keep me posted!

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