I’m a QR Code

I just visited http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ and created a QR Code for my name. Here it is:


Taylor L. Willingham

Diane Miller and I will be the keynote speakers for the Austin Coffee Party on October 9 at 1:00 p.m. at the Austin History Center. Below is the description of what we will cover.

Understanding Public Deliberation
Most people think of deliberation as something juries do after hearing all of the evidence. Juries are tasked to weigh the evidence because their decisions may have profound consequences on people’s lives.

In our personal lives, we often weigh the costs and consequence of our decisions – whether to accept a job in another town even if it means uprooting our family. We weigh the costs of one university and the value of the education we might receive against other factors, like location, proximity to activities we value, etc.
What if we applied that same thoughtful consideration to the decisions we confront in our public lives?
The goal of public deliberation is to frame the tough choices we face in our public life to reveal the costs and consequences of various options. We may prefer one choice over another, but how much do we really know about how our preference will affect others? Plus, our choices could have unintended consequences that we never considered. Shouldn’t we sort that out before we implement policies and actions, and are forced to live with an unforeseen and unpleasant outcome?
This brief workshop will introduce participants to the idea of public deliberation, the role that values play in how we form opinions and make decisions, and strategies for helping people find common ground with others who hold very different perspectives.
Diane Miller and Taylor Willingham collectively bring thirty years of experience in public engagement with a special emphasis on creating meaningful public dialogues.

I’m sitting here listening to someone try to convince a single mother who just returned to college and is here with her young daughter that she, does indeed have something to contribute to the conversation. She came with her teacher, but her teacher has not reached out to her to draw her in (or direct her to a table where she can participate. I commend her teacher for inviting her here and exposing her to this experience, but being in the room does not equal being at the table.

Fortunately, she is in capable hands. He is a facilitator/ non-profit consultant from El Paso working on the teen pregnancy issue.

With so many moving parts, how can the organizers have support mechanisms to prevent anyone from being left out?

BTW, in the time it took me to write this, a spontaneous group of three formed when an outsider pulled up his chair and suggested, “let’s form our own group!” and another gentleman joined them.

A community that can boast it has been named one of the most recession-proof cities in the country could easily rest on its laurels. And indeed there is much to celebrate in San Antonio. The “eds and meds” effect described in the National Journal Magazine article (September 11, 2010) explains how the economy’s emphasis on jobs in education and health care have buffered this city from some of the drastic boom and bust economies or the “hares” in this article’s “tortoise and hare” metaphor. But according to the popular Mayor Julien Castro, this is only half of the story. He cited distinguishing traits of SA that are not the City’s source of pride:

  • the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation with high repeat pregnancies,
  • 40% drop out rate
  • low rates of literacy
  • low average income

Judge Nelson Wolff, County Judge further charged the group to find ways to build a children’s hospital, figure out how to stop the flow of inmates and to rehabilitate the 4,000 that are incarcerated, to pull up those who (despite their best efforts) have still not been lifted up. Reflecting on the many positives in San Antonio, he challenged the group to not forget the many shortcomings that need to be addressed, but to build on the community’s assets. For example, as the City Manager pointed out, SA is one of the few communities to have a AAA Bond rating.

Nice to see that they are starting from a position of strength, but also that they are realistic about the challenges.

A good start to the day!

If you are interested, follow the webcast at: