Editor's Note: Over the past 30 years, Rich Harwood has innovated and developed a new philosophy and practice of how communities can solve shared problems, create a culture of shared responsibility, and deepen people’s civic faith. As an investment in our community through The Patterson Foundation's Aspirations to Actions Initiative, on October 29th and 30th, The Patterson Foundation is bringing Rich Harwood to the region to discuss his new book, Stepping Forward. RSVP here to join the community at one of the live Rich Harwood events.
“The people themselves must be the ultimate makers of their own constitution.” – Theodore Roosevelt 1912
Everywhere I looked in the days following the Harwood Summit, I saw hope rising in a variety of places, some so subtle and often overlooked.
I saw hope in a wall quote at Independence Center:
“Well done is better than well said.”
I saw hope in a poster challenging us to:
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
I saw hope in a company billboard pointing out the obvious and committing to help:
“America can’t afford unaffordable housing.”
I saw hope on t-shirts worn by everyday citizens:
“Serving together makes everyone better.”
“It’s always a good day to read.”
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
And then there’s the huge chalkboard placed outside of Christ Church asking us all to consider:
“How will you change the world?” The chalkboard was already filled with different responses.
Hope blooms even in the darkest circumstances. Seeds of promise that continue to bloom into transformation. Surrounded by our strength and history, I was reminded of the indomitable human spirit. We can be down, but not counted out.
People want to share, connect, engage. I believe that this is our preferred state of being. We want to find a way to come together, to solve tough challenges, to continue working toward ‘a more perfect union’ as Rich Harwood pointed out. Our Founding Fathers did not say ‘a perfect union.’
After two days of intentional, thoughtful, planful, and transformative conversation, we were challenged to write an ‘entreaty’ to others to ask them to Step Forward. Not because we had the answers or because we believed we had a solution. Simply an entreaty.
Here is my entreaty to you:
I believe there is a stirring of civic engagement in our country. I sense that you are feeling that as well. Will you Step Forward with me to learn, discover, and challenge?
We don’t have to take on the entire world.... just ask, what can I do today to make a difference?