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Announcing the Winners of the 2013 Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Award

We would like you to join our friends at the National Issues Forums Institute in congratulating the three winners of the Taylor  L. Willingham Legacy Award.  The 2013 winners are Michael Baldwin, Krysta Best, and Erin Katherine Sykes.  This is the second year that the fund has provided $1,000 grants in memory of Taylor Willingham’s contribution to the deliberative movement, and you can read more about the exciting projects that the winners will be creating with their grants in the NIFI’s write-up on this year’s winners, which is shared below.


 National Issues Forums Institute Announces Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund Winners for 2013

NIF-logoThe National Issues Forums Institute has announced the winners of the Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund for 2013. This is the second year that the fund has provided grants to individuals who desire to get involved in the deliberative democracy movement by learning to moderate and conduct forums and to promote this form of dialogue among new audiences. The grants are typically for amounts up to $1,000.

The 2013 winners are:

Michael Baldwin, Director of the Benbrook Library in Benbrook, Texas. Mr. Baldwin, the founder of Libraries for Democracy, plans to develop a certification for librarians that produce a specified number of deliberative democracy programs for their libraries.

Krysta Best, Student Director of an Environmental Ethics Outreach program at Northern Arizona University. Ms. Best plans to develop forums for high school students to introduce them to democratic deliberation concerning environmental issues in Arizona.

Here is what Krysta Best said about some of her recent work and the Taylor Willingham Legacy Award:

On April 12, we began a series of three forums in which a group of Environmental Ethics students from Northern Arizona University visited Ponderosa High School, a local accommodation school for at-risk teenagers, to facilitate a discussion with the high school students on environmental issues affecting northern Arizona. The topics were: Colorado River Dams, Uranium Mining at the Grand Canyon, and the Navajo Generation Station. In all three forums, we looked at how these issues affect Native people, particularly the Navajo Nation. The Environmental Ethics mentors provided the high school students with some background on each issue and showed them multiple arguments for and against these sources of energy. We were very pleased to facilitate a fruitful conversation between the Ponderosa High School students, who demonstrated an understanding of the complexity of these issues and a genuine concern for how their communities are affected.

Our program aims to give a voice to these students who may not otherwise get the chance to be heard. From their Environmental Science teacher, Rachel Steagall: “At this point we [the Ponderosa High School faculty] are very pleased with how the discussions went, the ability of your students to lead discussions and the quality responses and thoughts that were elicited from our students. It has been a real pleasure to see students that normally are not very participatory getting involved in these discussions.” It is my hope that this program will empower these young students to stand up and speak out in their own communities.

This Friday, April 26, we will be taking the Ponderosa students, faculty, and NAU mentors (close to 80 people!) on a field trip to the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness in northern Arizona. As I said, this trip is only possible because of the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy grant.

Erin Katherine Sykes, Zero Waste Projects and Communications Manager for Rural Action, the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative. Ms. Sykes plans to participate in a training program provided by the Public Conversations Project and then to moderate five community forums that will result in a draft of a Zero Waste Action Plan.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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