CDS President Update March, 2017
Greetings Community Development Colleagues,
As we move through tides of change with politics, and weather--dare I suggest “climate change”, I bring you a message of hope, encouragement, and a call for getting involved locally. Change is in air, literally. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), February, 2017, was the second warmest February on record. The United States (U.S.) had the 6th warmest winter on record. This news following regular notices of more extremely warm, and cold, seasons, and dare I point out—severe storms, as Winter Storm Stella reminded the East Coast of the U.S. this week. I was in Washington D.C. two weeks ago. One day with 76 degree temperature, 40 mile per hour wind, and rain falling sideways, then it all passed within a few hours. Two days later we had freezing temperature overnight with snow flurries. Spring coming I suppose. Change does happen in Washington D.C. after all, and I am pleased to report an overall positive experience during my visit to D.C. I was conducting Congressional outreach regarding rural programs, infrastructure, housing, economic development, and funding programs which benefit rural communities. Overall my 12 visits with Senate and House Representative offices were encouraging, as the rural vote has brought more consideration of these areas of the country, and we hear “infrastructure” spoken by the new Administration. Indeed, some of what I talked about were issues that offer some common ground which felt like it was taken as a breath of fresh air by Congressional staffers amidst the political divisions, intense differences, and uncertainty. Like in the movie, The Graduate (for those of you who know this classic film of the 1970’s starring Dustin Hoffman, and for those who don’t it is recommended if only to know it), when Benjamin’s girlfriend’s father (husband of Mrs. Robinson) says a word of wisdom for the future to the new graduate, “Benjamin, I have one word: plastics”. My pitch became “I have two words: ‘rural infrastructure’”. My Senators appreciated it. I want to expand on this somewhat unexpected positive experience in “the swamp” and bring it back to my work and life, and share it with others. I still recognize we have an extraordinarily challenging environment, and indications of drastic cuts with potentially profound impacts on programs and services for communities, organizations, and agencies. Upon returning to Portland, Oregon, I have been thinking more about local control--local control of systems we in communities can manage to support livelihoods locally. We should be talking about local banking, locally managed financial systems for local people and communities, supporting local businesses, local community decision-making. As community developers we have much to offer, and in in some ways, it is our duty to get more involved, if we indeed have one. With proposed cuts to arts, education, public broadcasting, and other forms of culture represented locally, consider donating to your public broadcasting stations, and local organizations which are supporting arts and culture. Support your local food markets, businesses which promote local products, distribution, and consumption—recycling and reuse. These suggestions harken to reflections on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) the Community Development Society (CDS) and International Association for Community Development (IACD) highlighted at our conference on Sustaining Community Change in Minnesota last year. Speaking of which, we will be highlighting positivity in culture with great diverse speakers involved with music, culture, and hip hop, including reflections on Standing Rock, at the CDS and National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) Conference: Big Skies, Bold Partnerships; Moving Mountains Together in Big Sky, Montana, June 11 – 14, 2017. Think big thoughts, bring your bold ideas, and get inspired by colleagues involved with community development across the U.S. and from around the world as we address challenges of our time, like climbing a mountain, or roping a calf— which I can tell you first hand is not as easy at looks based on my experience at the Big Sky Resort last September. Register for the conference at www.comm-dev.org. The deadline for Early Bird registration dealine is March 31st so register and make your plans for Big Sky today. Keep inspired. In darkness the light shines brighter. Get involved and contribute locally. Support your community, businesses, and local resources. Seek better understanding of local systems, how things work, and make a difference. It’s up to you!