City of Decatur Selected by Emory’s Barkley Forum as “Speaker of the Year”

The City of Decatur made this announcement late last week…

The City of Decatur has been selected, by members of the Barkley Forum of Emory University, as the 2016 Georgia Speaker of the Year for its “innovative and ethical leadership in implementing the Better Together Action Plan”.

Since 1967, the Barkley Forum has recognized individuals or groups that exemplify outstanding and effective communication that aligns with the organization’s values: creating space for deliberative dialogue in pursuit of the public good.

The Georgia Speaker of the Year Award is presented at an annual banquet. Past recipients who have been honored include Ralph McGill, Andrew Young, President Jimmy Carter, Benjamin Mays, Senator Zell Miller, Ted Turner, Johnnetta Cole, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, and Mayor Shirley Franklin. Decatur will be the first city to receive the award.

Better Together is a citizen-led, government supported effort to build deeper connection, understanding, and mutual respect among the Decatur community. The process facilitated a substantive community conversation around the myriad differences — in culture, race, age, abilities, politics, economic resources, and more — that make us who we are.

The community conversation culminated in the creation of a tangible Community Action Plan that focuses on cultivating a more just, welcoming, inclusive, equitable and compassionate experience for all who visit, live or work in the City of Decatur. This action plan is a policy and implementation guide for the community, consisting of facts about Decatur’s populations, background on the Better Together process and the people behind it, key findings and recommendations that emerge from the process, the community’s suggested actions moving forward, and the individuals or organizations responsible for implementation.

According to its website, the award has been given each year since 1967 to “honor the power of communication in intelligent, responsible, and effective civic speech”.  The Georgia Speaker of the Year represents these skills in the public sphere.