Over at the New American City blog, Hayley Richardson writes about some things she learned spending time in New Hampshire during this primary election season:
We fill up coffeeshops with jagged haircuts and laptops, we keep boutiques in business and performance houses booked solid. We ride bikes, we do art –sort of. But the question asked of me over and over again by New Hampshirites was a fair one; what am I doing in Philadelphia to better my community? An astounding number of quality of life issues are decided at the local level, yet I was forced to admit that I don’t know the names of my neighborhood council members, have never been to a city council meeting. This post isn’t about the political apathy of my generation; that subject has certainly been exhausted. What I’m more concerned with is how to harness the power of the so-called creative class to make a difference that transcends the aesthetic.
Amen! I agree wholeheartedly with the post, and will gladly attest that I surely am not a "messiah" of any sort.
Note to Hayley: This is exactly what the last chapter of Rise asserts. In Flight I argue for a new model of pro-active inclusion where people plug in and communities massively lower the barriers for participation. It's also what a good deal of our practical work with communities has tried to do, by building teams of empowered catalysts who can plug into local efforts and act as a spur to broader community wide participation. And, if you're looking for models of how to spur real change at the local level by tapping into broad based community energy have a look at what's happening here in Toronto.