December 2018 Newsletter

December 2018 Newsletter

FAV Friends,

I wanted to share a theme, more of a feeling, that many of you probably experienced over the Thanksgiving holiday. That feeling was one of gratitude. I felt grateful for the opportunity to not only spend a wonderful dinner with family, but also to share a hiking and camping adventure with my son on Catalina Island. Given that Rob is now a working guy, Thanksgiving weekend was one of the few times during the year when he had four days off. Since the weather would also probably cooperate with us, we decided to hike the Trans Catalina Trail. Catalina Island lies 45 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.

Early Thanksgiving morning, Rob and I boarded a ferry bound for Avalon, the main town on the island. While that day would be arduous, we persevered through ten miles of mountainous terrain to make it to Blackjack campsite just before sunset. No leg of the remainder of the hike would challenge us like that. Gratefully, we feasted on a BBQ dinner and fell asleep early as a little rain drifted in. During the next three days, we enjoyed incredible sunsets, starlit nighttime skies, and raw nature. Wild bison surprised us, one of us walked into a cactus and needed some patching up, and shared hardship bonded us. While we both missed church that Sunday, we enjoyed a spiritual experience in nature that helped us reflect on the past year and dream about the next.

First Amendment Voice is looking forward to 2019 with gratitude, hoping that we can continue creating inclusive conversations that allows citizens to come together to bridge divides in our country. We hope you continue engaging with us as we educate and advocate for free expression, being able to freely practice our religions, press freedom, and the rights to assemble and petition government for change. We are thankful for your active participation in our Republic and hope you will help us inspire others to engage in the public square.

With appreciation for your support & interest,

Steve Miska and the FAV team


In the Media

Here is an interesting podcast exploring urban legends or other societal misperceptions – Perception Gaps by the Christian Science Monitor

On the value of our Constitution: This is an inspiring piece, published posthumously, from the late Charles Krauthammer about the rare reverence American citizens have for the Constitution. Enjoy.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Spring 2019 – FAV participation in the Global LA Summit sponsored by the Pacific Council on International Policy

October 2018 Newsletter

October 2018 Newsletter

FAV Family,

Michel Faulkner speaks on the NFL kneeling controversy panel at the 3rd annual National Symposium in Philadelphia

Many FAV supporters had the privilege of interacting with experts from the first amendment space in Philadelphia during our national Symposium, in addition to meeting lots of people interested in civil discourse. After Dr. Wilson Goode, the first African American Mayor of Philadelphia, provided a thought provoking keynote address, the opening plenary panelists explored the contours of first amendment trends on college campuses, in the media, and through the lenses of technology and social media. These nonpartisan experts agreed that America’s current state of political polarization could not be addressed with technological fixes or government involvement. They concluded that we as citizens needed to develop political and social paths forward to resolve some of the most vexing challenges facing our country. So, how do we do that?

After our breakout trainers provided tools for civic engagement, Kern Beare, Founder of Pop the Bubble, demonstrated how to engage in a “Difficult Conversation,” and Janessa Gans Wilder, Founder and Executive Director of the Euphrates Institute, led students on a journey of self-exploration to determine what in their personal stories shaped their current perspectives of the world. Following the Symposium, Kern led several Difficult Conversation workshops in the DMV area, including Capitol Hill on September 18th, Frederick, Maryland on September 27th, and Arlington, Virginia on September 28th. We seem to have a thirst for understanding how to bridge divides in our society. The partisan rhetoric alienates many people from wanting to engage in the public square. However, when we host events that establish norms of first seeking to understand andlisten, people tend to be willing to take the risk of venturing forth.

FAV will continue to collaborate in this space and is currently in discussions with strategic partners to bring our programming to the west coast. Don’t worry, we’ll return to Philly and DC, as well. Look for more opportunities to experience meaningful dialogue around sensitive issues like the conversation we hosted in Philadelphia. Kern moderated a discussion on the NFL Kneeling issue between Reverent Michel Faulkner, a former Jets Defensive Lineman, Scott Cooper, a retired Marine officer, and Mr. Alan Inman, a decade’s long leader and organizer in African American communities and Senior Advisor to the Global Peace Foundation. Speakers demonstrated civility to each other, as well as, audience members who asked questions or contributed to the discussion. Stay tuned for similar programming in future FAV events! The experience can be uplifting and contribute to healing some of the divisions within our present discourse.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in service,

Steve Miska and the FAV Team


3rd Annual First Amendment Voice National Symposium Highlights

 

View the full gallery HERE.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

“Difficult Conversations” workshop with Kern Beare, November 3rd in Coronado, CA. LEARN MORE HERE.

July 2018 Newsletter

July 2018 Newsletter

FAV Family,

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win an 18-piece set of Callaway Strata golf clubs!

Are you worried that our society is becoming more divided? Please consider joining FAV this Fall at our Third Annual National Symposium in Philadelphia. We have an exciting line up of speakers coming together around the theme of E. Pluribus Unum or Divided? Join us again or for the first time. We’ll tackle the issue of polarization head on.

Philadelphia is a historic town and wonderful place to consider the relevance of principles established in our country over two hundred years ago. The National Constitution Center (NCC) is a world class facility that provides a great venue to host our gathering. If you’re traveling from afar, the hotel this year, the Wyndham, is within walking distance of the NCC. We have a special discounted rate, so please consider the trip. You won’t regret it! The first fifteen people to register get a free ticket to the Museum of the American Revolution in downtown Philly. REGISTER NOW!

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in service,

Steve Miska and the FAV Team


Listen Up! 

Do you want to learn more about FAV or are you seeking more information about the Symposium this year? Hear Jim Hulton interview Steve Miska through radio station WFYL in Philadelphia during the Veteran’s Voice program on Saturday, July 21st at 10:00am Eastern Time. Not within radio antenna range of the station? It will also be live-streamed on the station website, http://www.1180wfyl.com.

Not available at that time because you’re still sleeping on the West Coast? We’ll send the link to the podcast the following week.


In the News

Freedom of the Press: 
Read the following research from Brookings that indicates small town newspaper closures increase local government spending. The authors speculate that closing local newspapers increase government borrowing costs because (1) less information is publicly available, and (2) local officials are no longer monitored as closely, reducing the quality of governance. The authors find suggestive evidence that alternative sources of media, such as the internet, are not acting as sufficient substitutes for local papers.

Polarization:
This is a lengthy piece from the New Yorker about Berkeley’s historic involvement in free speech what lengths the campus is taking to guarantee free speech.

When a small town in rural Virginia becomes a social media magnet for division and protest, read the Christina Science Monitor account of the Red Hen incident. Declining to serve a government official in a public restaurant.

Another indicator of division – harassment of a woman wearing a Puerto Rico shirt and the aftermath.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

Follow 1st Amendment Voice on Instagram so you can be a part of our August contest to win free tickets to the National Symposium!

First Amendment Voice Third Annual Symposium

Join us at our national convening in the City of Philadelphia,founded by William Penn as a place of religious tolerance, as we join people of faith and conscience to celebrate our Constitutional ideals; honor the annual Constitution/Citizenship Day; and address the erosion of our First Amendment Rights.

  • Date: September 14-15, 2018
  • Location: National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106)

Symposium Flyer 2018 – Save the Date

 

June 2018 Newsletter

June 2018 Newsletter

FAV Family,

In a recent trip to Philadelphia, I had the pleasure of meeting the new President of Valley Forge Military Academy and College. You might recall that I spoke at VFMAC in February about leadership as it relates to the First Amendment. We’re looking forward to deepening our partnership with cadet participation in this year’s Symposium in September. If you would like the opportunity to interact with young men and women seeking to serve our country, please consider joining us at the National Constitution Center on September 15th for our 3rd Annual FAV National Symposium. We’ve got some great speakers who have committed to raise awareness about first amendment trends, including Ms. Janessa Gans Wilder. Watch her Tedx Talk below! They will also provide tools for citizen engagement and hopefully, inspire attendees to get more involved in civic engagement. It’s going to be an exciting time.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in service,

Steve Miska and the FAV Team

 


In the News

Do students have freedom of speech? This story describes how a High School cut a valedictorian’s microphone after she deviated from the script during her commencement speech.

An article in USA Today on June 12th relates how some churches have attempted to address racism and how some churches promote white supremacy.

An interesting article shares a libertarian perspective about the current state of civil discourse. At this year’s symposium, we are excited to feature speakers who will address the current state of civic discourse and how we can all become more tolerant when we engage in our own causes.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

First Amendment Voice Third Annual Symposium

Join us at our national convening in the City of Philadelphia,founded by William Penn as a place of religious tolerance, as we join people of faith and conscience to celebrate our Constitutional ideals; honor the annual Constitution/Citizenship Day; and address the erosion of our First Amendment Rights.

  • Date: September 14-15, 2018
  • Location: National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106)

Symposium Flyer 2018 – Save the Date

May 2018 Newsletter

May 2018 Newsletter

FAV Family,

See Upcoming Events BELOW for more details

While lining up a coffee talk in partnership with PEN America to discuss Press Freedom and news consumption, I reached out to numerous organizations.

One individual called me back, and we had a long conversation about FAV, press freedom and the type of discussion we generally have with respect to first amendment issues and trends in how people consume news. Her organization was affiliated with a political party. After we scheduled a session for me to come speak, she asked if my wife planned to attend and whether she was a member of the party. I responded that my wife and I are not registered in any political party and remain nonpartisan in our political activity. This caused quite the reaction.

The woman cited a rule that only registered members of her party were allowed to speak to the organization. “I don’t make the rules; I’m just letting you know what they are.” I responded that as a 25-year veteran, having served 40 months in combat, maybe I had something to offer the group, regardless of political affiliation.

Her response, “I don’t make the rules; I’m just letting you know what they are.”

Maybe this is a new norm? Are people so insulated in their bubbles that they are afraid to hear what others might say? Planning for Philadelphia this September, we plan to tackle this issue head on. We recently secured a wonderful speaker, Kern Beare, who routinely hosts “Difficult Conversations” workshops; how to bridge divides and engage with those with whom we disagree. Learn more about Kern’s story

I hope you will consider joining us. We think you will find the experience meaningful.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in service,

Steve Miska and the FAV Team


Citizen’s Call to Action

It’s primary season in many states around the republic. Don’t forget to register and vote! Citizenship is not a spectator sport! #OwnYourLiberty


In the News

An article from the New York Times highlights the battlegrounds for free expression and technology. Read an excerpt:

BERLIN — Security is tight at this brick building on the western edge of Berlin. Inside, a sign warns: “Everybody without a badge is a potential spy!”
Spread over five floors, hundreds of men and women sit in rows of six scanning their computer screens. All have signed nondisclosure agreements. Four trauma specialists are at their disposal seven days a week.
They are the agents of Facebook. And they have the power to decide what is free speech and what is hate speech…
Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for public policy in Europe and the leader of the company’s lobbying effort against the German legislation, put it more simply: “We don’t want to be the arbiters of free speech.”  >>continue reading

UPCOMING EVENTS:

First Amendment Voice Third Annual Symposium

Join us at our national convening in the City of Philadelphia,founded by William Penn as a place of religious tolerance, as we join people of faith and conscience to celebrate our Constitutional ideals; honor the annual Constitution/Citizenship Day; and address the erosion of our First Amendment Rights.

  • Date: September 14-15, 2018
  • Location: National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106)

Symposium Flyer 2018 – Save the Date

April 2018 Newsletter

April 2018 Newsletter

FAV Family,

We have seen a massive uprising amongst students concerned about gun violence in schools and the fact that political leaders have not been able to develop effective solutions. As a result, students have activated and begun exercising their First Amendment rights with respect to freedom of assembly, petitioning the government for grievance, and ensuring that their voices are part of the national conversation. Some of these young leaders have been demonized in certain parts of the media and derisively attacked on social media. Regardless of your perspective on how to address gun violence in the United States, I would ask that you encourage young voices to join the conversation in civil ways. The country benefits when youth become involved in citizenship. By seeking understanding first, we can set a tone for constructive discussion about important issues in our society.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in service and civility,

The FAV Team


Critical Thinking Tip: Before reading a book/article/blog, know the author. Don’t waste your time reading until you understand the author’s background and history, essentially what biases they bring to their writing. THEN, read the book/article/blog and take into account the expected biases. Seek out alternative viewpoints, writers/speakers who you know DISAGREE with the author/speaker. In that way you can carefully consider different perspectives about the topic and form a more comprehensive opinion. SMILE. If you’re not getting shot at, it’s not that bad! We live in an amazing society. Only through striving to actively contribute to that society can we endeavor toward its aspirational ideals.


In the News

In the world of social media, firms collect an amazing amount of personal data about their users. Read this Buzzfeed article to learn more about how much information Facebook and other firms collect and how they use that data. You probably don’t have as much privacy as you think.

Countering campus bigotry. This article involves a student calling out a professor for alienating comments.


UPCOMING EVENTS:

FAV Coffee Talks – The Media sponsored by PEN America

Open to all: REGISTER NOW

Free breakfast for the first 20 registrants

Hosted by Saint Andrews By The Sea United Methodist Church in San Clemente, CA on April 21, 2018 from 8 – 9:30am PST

Other Stakeholders

Pop The Bubble Workshop, Kern Beare

Redding, CA on May 1, 2018

LEARN MORE