The cacophony of distracting noise from Washington and many state capitols makes it hard to discern between reality and rhetoric. Especially with a "reality" show President. It's too easy for us to be thrown off guard by soundbites and intentional misleading statements...from a multitude of sources. Real and imagined. We can only hope for those moments of clarity and perspective to help us reset for the challenges at hand.
I believe in the uncoincidental coincidences that grace me from time to time, tapping my heart, mind and spirit. An early morning walk through the Santa Fe Square introduced me to this rooftop Kiva ladder...a great visual metaphor. I frequently summon it up from my photo library and heart/mind's eye when I need inspiration.
Considering A Boost Up The Ladder
Our Country and our communities need a boost right now, and we've got to call on creative thinking and collaborative partnerships to achieve those goals that government can't or won't. A huge group of middle-class workers were left behind by globalism, technology and lack of progressive education. These folks were the genesis of the angry electorate who lost faith in their governments at every level and demanded change. The rest is an unfortunate, but necessary bit of history that is slapping us back to reality and responsibility. Lots of folks and institutions need a boost, and we're realizing that "WE" are the "THEY" that will have to pull this off. But, we're eminently capable.
But What About Government?
We can't rely on the Federal Government, but neither should we give up. Our traditional political parties have defaulted to big money and special interests and have neglected the basics of education, healthcare and jobs. Too many of our elected reps have had to focus on fund-raising and reelection, to the exclusion of responsive public service. We could ignore the profligates, but they're spending too much of our tax money. So, we've got to keep an eye out, guard our wallets and strive to vote in better public servants, while shifting our energies locally. I'm encouraged that many outstanding, progressive candidates (both D & R) are joining the political fray.
Bringing Our Energy Back Home
While the media noise emanates from Washington, the greatest influences on our lives come at the local level. Our county, city officials, local legislative reps and school boards have more direct influence on our lives than Washington, and we have a considerably higher potential to influence local decisions. Our faith-based organizations, non-profits and business community are best-suited to complement the needs and priorities of our communities. And we all can influence the success of their efforts.
So, What Can We Do To Give Some Ladder Boosts?
Workforce Pipeline...Make sure that community colleges are working with business to meet current and future job opportunities. Work with high schools, colleges/universities to create apprenticeships/internships to jumpstart access to careers.
Corporate Social Responsibility...Make sure our largest businesses have an active constructive presence in community affairs. In corporate philanthropy, voluntarism and support of their employees and their families.
Collaborative Partnerships...Creative collaborations among government, business, non-profits and faith-based groups can prompt effective problem-solving, and directly address community challenges.
Community Issue Priority Assessment...Challenge groups such as the Chambers of Commerce, United Ways, City and County governance and faith-based/non-profit consortiums to determine community need priorities.
Creative Philanthropy...There are many people of wealth, family foundations, and seasoned philanthropists who need to be brought into more active support of diverse community programs. It is my experience that considerable underwriting potential is not accessed for a number of reasons, including presumption of limited issue giver focus, lack of menu to broaden giving options, and lack of peer to peer asks. Creative philanthropy must be utilized to offset lack of governmental funding.
Arts & Recreation Programs...Healthy communities are typified by significant arts programs, accessible parks and recreation opportunities.
Community Starts At Home...Check in with your Friend in the Mirror, and audit the efforts of you and your family to build and promote community. Your outreach starts at home, complements your neighborhood and inspires others.
PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE UP THE LADDER
Angry politics, tribalism, racism, bigotry and fear of "others" have typified too much of our recent National conversation. A growing majority are tired of this, know we're better than this, and are ready to enlist our Better Angels to work together to reclaim our communities. To appreciate the diversity that has built this great Country, and to channel our energies into constructive programs to enable more folks to climb the ladder of independence and success. Our efforts to localize our attention will give us many more direct opportunities to model and practice civility, kindness, generosity and inclusion. We all win in the process.