It is no secret that Baltimore has more than its share of serious social and economic problems—ask anyone who lives here what’s wrong with this city and you’re sure to hear a litany of ills from violence in the streets, rampant drug addiction and HIV infection rates, unacceptably high numbers of children dropping out of school, low skill levels among too many in the workforce, overpopulated jails and underperforming schools, to unreliable public transportation.
But how often do you hear about the incredibly smart, often collaborative work being done by organizations across the city to solve these problems?
Not nearly often enough! The city actually has made headway, but all too frequently, we keep the good work under wraps.
Presumably, there is a corps of people serving these organizations as board members and in other volunteer roles. I would like to see each person among this committed corps take their service one step further by making it their business to ensure that no fewer than 20 of their friends and neighbors learn about the goals, strategies, successes and struggles of their organizations —and let those people know how they can help to move the work further.
Salons and coffee klatches, could be going on every weeknight in living and dining rooms all over Baltimore, connecting thousands of thoughtful, results-oriented individuals from disciplines far removed from social service together with key policymakers and advocates to learn how we can work together effectively to solve our city’s most daunting challenges.
Human beings are hard wired to respond to emotional cues from other human beings. We need to share our enthusiasm for the work of the organizations we serve, and model the compassion and generosity of spirit that underlies the commitments we’ve made to these organizations. A surefire way to reach the point that tips our city toward success is by adding more and more people to the group who will do whatever it takes to achieve it.
In Baltimore, we’ve been asked to believe all sorts of things over the years. What I’d like is for us to believe in ourselves, and the power we have, one by one, to create the kind of city we will be proud to live in.