Penn Hosts “Our Budget, Our Economy,” National, Interactive Discussion in 18 Cities

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto-Haines | jdisanto@upenn.edu | 215-898-4820June 9, 2010

PHILADELPHIA — The Penn Project on Civic Engagement is co-chairing the local organizing team in Philadelphia, the origination city, for ”Our Budget, Our Economy,” an AmericaSpeaks national town meeting on Saturday, June 26, at 3801 Market St. 

The national town meeting will connect thousands of people, including residents of 17 other communities across the U.S., reflecting the nation’s demographic, geographic and political diversity, allowing participants to discuss issues surrounding the federal budget, including setting the budget on a sustainable path and developing recommendations that will be shared with President Obama and Congress.

In-person and online participants will work through a set of budget options.  Then they will discuss their priorities and which compromises they are willing to make.

The common-ground themes that emerge from these national discussions will reflect views that transcend population demographics.

“Civic engagement can be a powerful tool in a representative democracy,” Harris Sokoloff, director of the Penn Project on Civic Engagement and associate professor at Penn’s Graduate School of Education, said.  “It is an opportunity for people to come together across differences to speak their minds and to make the tough choices that will solidify America’s future. We will share with the federal government the common-ground priorities that emerge, as well as what we’re willing to sacrifice, as a nation, in order to support these priorities.  We really hope the Obama administration and Congress will take an in-depth look at what this research uncovers and respond to the ideas, practices and priorities regarding the deficit that emerge from this national town meeting.”

The 18 national town meeting cities will be linked together for this national discussion using interactive technologies.

 “The U.S. is on an unsustainable path and the fiscal challenges facing our nation stand out as issues that require compromise from the left and right in order to address the scale of the problems we face,” Carolyn Lukensmeyer, founder and president of AmericaSpeaks, said.  “Philadelphia’s participation represents an unprecedented opportunity for residents to get involved in the larger national discussion to start finding agreement about steps to redefine our fiscal future.”

The Project for Civic Engagement is housed at the Graduate School of Education at Penn.

Those who wish to participate may register at USABudgetDiscussion.org.

The other 17 cities are Albuquerque, Chicago, Columbia, S.C., Dallas, Portland, Ore., Augusta, Me., Casper, Wyo., Des Moines, Detroit, Grand Forks, N.D., Jackson, Miss., Los Angeles, Overland Park, Kan., Louisville, Missoula, Mont., Portsmouth, N.H., Richmond and San Jose.

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