Why?

Democracy takes ongoing care and feeding.

The Public Square Academy (PSA) promotes a robust democracy by helping individuals become better all-around citizens. Our mission of The Public Square Academy is to “educate, empower, and engage people in their personal, economic, and civic lives.” Additionally, we seek to make a more perfect union by promoting liberal democracy, increasing economic opportunity, and nurturing a highly educated populace.

Who?

PSA is a collaboration of individuals and organizations that develop and provide education programs, build and host communities, and lead learning experiences for those who want to defend and advocate for democracy. For our members, we offer advanced knowledge, skills, and perspectives, a highly engaging learning and solution-oriented environment, the strength and support of the PSA community, and the specific benefits of our programs. We seek to inform and delight you. Join our community as we develop the program democratically.

For our partners and collaborators, we offer development and revenue opportunities through membership growth, enhanced reputation, an LMS platform, program development and delivery guidance, a partner’s community, and collaborative marketing of programs and content dedicated to improving the common good.

What?

The PSA is an education and development institution that develops and offers courses, workshops, forums, and a variety of solution-oriented communities. We bring program providers together with our members to provide expert knowledge, skills, and perspectives to advance our members and inform our partners. Our members develop their overall citizenship, economic standing, and civic participation. Our role is to guide, coordinate, and communicate the activities of the PSA. Think of the PSA as part think tank and part advocacy collective with nine focus areas serving individuals, small groups, and the public.

There are nine key “pillars,” our focus areas stemming from our mission statement. These pillars represent a comprehensive approach to helping us become healthier, more economically empowered, better educated, and civically engaged.

Each of these nine focus areas includes a summary statement, an overview, and a discussion of current status, challenges, and opportunities. To delve deeper into these subjects, and learn more about our platform, processes, and people, enroll in our orientation course The Democracy Challenge.

Personal Development

Character & Culture

Character is shaped by families, schools, and culture: including art, literature, religion, and philosophy. Although our unique character is deeply embedded in each of us, character is learned and thus grows and changes with experience over time, intention, and influence. Character shows in our morality, integrity, choices, and courage to do the right thing. Character is destiny: Your values and beliefs frame how you see the world, shape your thoughts and choices, and over time, forge your destiny.

A primary value of our culture is expressed in the U.S. motto: “e Pluribus Unum,” out of many, one. Diversity is our strength economically and socially. Responsible capitalism brings out the best in us to solve economic problems and has built the most robust economy on Earth. This applies culturally as well. America has a tradition of welcoming immigrants who bring the best of their cultures to ours, and by adopting the best of the best, we all benefit.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage people to value and pursue good character in self and others through reflection, right action, and personal engagement in the affairs of society and through art and cultural activities.

Learning & Growth

The primary elements of personal growth are education, personal development, and lifelong learning. Education is the foundation for the successful lives we provide our citizens through skill building, knowledge transfer, and perspective development. The goals of education include academic preparation, training for careers, and the development of citizenship. 

Health & Environment

The well-being of all is in our collective interest. A healthy environment with an educated, safe, responsible, and wise population makes human and economic sense as a healthy citizenry is productive and effective; an unhealthy population increases our collective cost of care and remediation.

We don’t live in harmony on the land and with each other. Our collective health is out of balance, personally and environmentally. Our ecosystems are suffering human-caused mass extinctions, groundwater depletion, and climate change. For some, disruption and disorder represent opportunities for power and economic gain.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage people in their pursuit of health and well-being and bring the power of our communities to advocate for more effective health care and environmental health.

Economic
Opportunity

Consumer Empowerment

Free and open markets are the foundation of a vibrant economy. A competitive market exists where there is a healthy balance between companies and consumers. Consumers shop among offers to make good purchase decisions, and organizations compete to attract consumers.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage people to become intelligent and savvy shoppers and to work towards a more equitable balance with companies through collective and individual consumer action, advocacy, and legislation.

Economic Opportunity

We are living in a period of rapid innovation in markets and products. Globalization has enabled companies to move jobs to countries with lower wages and fewer labor and environmental regulations. To make a living and stay in business, companies must perpetually innovate to add new products and services or to reduce the costs of existing products and services. This relentless march of progress results in the continued refinement of markets and the regular displacement of jobs and careers. In a healthy economy, industry practices or regulatory guidelines will provide benefits allowing employees to live economically secure lives even within chaotic and ever-shifting market conditions.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage people with financial literacy programs, develop (or change to) socially responsible careers, negotiate for and secure growing employment, and responsibly increase all citizens’ living standards – individually and collectively.

Health Economy

A healthy society and economy provides broad opportunities for all citizens: Livable wages, advancing careers that offer various choices for work-life balance, and the opportunity for all to become financially secure.

Private business is the primary engine for innovation and efficient growth, but there are some initiatives that business cannot or will not take on. Academic institutions, NGOs, and governments provide critical research, development, and operational services for society’s needs.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage citizens in understanding the more significant dynamics in the formula that greater well-being + economic empowerment = better citizens. We support democratic capitalism and will explore options for progress, and organizing to bring the voice of the consumer/citizen to the table.

The Common Good

The Common Good

The common good is an ethical concept that holds that, for a society to be prosperous, we must occasionally put the interests of our community over our interests, the interests of our country over our political parties, and the interests of the Earth over economic or nationalist interests. Too often, individuals and organizations behave in their own – typically economic – interests to the detriment of us all. If our citizens and organizations behaved ethically, we would need much less regulation and enforcement.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage citizens and organizations to make personal and organizational commitments to support the common good through local and systemic actions.

Journalism & Trust

The health of our democracy depends upon the oversight and reporting of journalists. As the “fourth estate,” Journalists represent the people and perform this oversight. As journalists struggle with an industry in viability and credibility, public trust in journalism continues to decline, thus creating a vicious cycle. Journalism has been fractured by technological change, undermined by de-regulation, and attacked by organizations and individuals seeking to increase their profit and power. Those motives alone undermine the idea of an independent news media and make it difficult for honest journalists to succeed.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage citizens as active consumers of news and current events, making good choices based on evidence and reason to exercise informed judgment over which media outlets to include in their “media diet.”

Democratic Values

We support and promote Liberal Democracy as the form of government that allows all citizens to live their best lives. Democracy must continually be renewed by each generation and defended vigorously when under attack.

The PSA will educate, empower, and engage to protect the values and ideas of democracy by guiding communities through this process of learning and growth. We are called to defend our freedoms and to extend the blessings of democracy to all.

Where?

This photo is called “Earthrise.” Earthrise is a photograph of Earth and some of the Moon’s surface taken from lunar orbit by astronaut William Anders on December 24, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. Through this photo, this art, we recognize the fragility of the Earth and the unity of all who live on the Earth. This iconic moment represents the transition from a domination ethic, the time of kill or be killed where might makes right, to collaboration and care for our common home and all of its inhabitants, informed by wisdom and backed by the rule of law.

“Last year, I had a life-changing experience at 90 years old. I went to space, after decades of playing an iconic science-fiction character who was exploring the universe. I thought I would experience a deep connection with the immensity around us, a deep call for endless exploration.

“I was absolutely wrong. The strongest feeling, that dominated everything else by far, was the deepest grief that I had ever experienced.

“I understood, in the clearest possible way, that we were living on a tiny oasis of life, surrounded by an immensity of death. I didn’t see infinite possibilities of worlds to explore, of adventures to have, or living creatures to connect with. I saw the deepest darkness I could have ever imagined, contrasting so starkly with the welcoming warmth of our nurturing home planet.

“This was an immensely powerful awakening for me. It filled me with sadness. I realized that we had spent decades, if not centuries, being obsessed with looking away, with looking outside. I did my share in popularizing the idea that space was the final frontier. But I had to get to space to understand that Earth is and will stay our only home. And that we have been ravaging it, relentlessly, making it uninhabitable.”

— William Shatner, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk

Meet Our Founder:

Hi, I’m Michael Freedman, Founder and Director of The Public Square Academy.

Our societal issues are deeply rooted, yet within our power to change, but this will take effort and work. As the founder of The Public Square Academy, I’m on a mission to pay it forward to help create a more perfect union and vibrant society.

This mission is rooted in my upbringing, my family, the time and place of my youth, and my academic background. I’ve always been an active participant in classes, at work, and in my community. I’m a long-time NPR buff, was the 4th-grade flag monitor, and a team player. I’ve been on the boards of non-profits involved in governance, and I am proud to have been the student Public Affairs Director at KCSB-FM (UCSB), which has a thrilling story to tell about another famous volunteer. I have a B.A. from UCSB and an M.A. from the Annenberg School at USC.

I’ve had two careers: as an operational manager in high-end tech businesses, I excelled in solving problems within and between departments. My favorite testimonial from a Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing:

“Michael delivers on time and under budget and, as a skilled matrix manager, does not cause collateral damage.”

When I had kids, I had the opportunity to be a hands-on Dad, so I changed careers to be a high school English teacher. That experience changed me: I saw these kids’ lives and families through their eyes and how our schools were ill-equipped to address these problems – 99% of which are poverty-related. Here’s another favorite testimonial – from a parent of one of my students:

“Mr. Freedman does a great job getting kids through school emotionally intact.”

I wasn’t a good fit as a public school teacher: I kept wanting to add value. So, I refined and tested a method for creating and delivering highly engaging classes that include and support all students. Since the model focuses on growing the individual (not core academic subjects), schools were not that interested. So, we’re applying the model to adult education and The Academy.

I am also the Director of the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy. The SEA distinguishes itself in our robust entrepreneurship ecosystem by being the longest-running entrepreneurship program – 37 years in our region. SEA provides our Fellows with hands-on, real-world, experienced mentors and speakers.

I believe that we can ALL do better. I’m bringing my twenty years of corporate work, fifteen years in education, passion, creative problem-solving and communication skills, and compassion for the future. What will you bring?

Association for Talented Develpment Award

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