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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

hope, cities and leadership. . .

Jerry Brown, former California Governor, Presidential candidate and Mayor of Oakland, shared the following comments in an interview with oral historian, Studs Terkel for his book, Hope Dies Last. We'll be discussing this book this Thursday at our montly Urban Engagement Book Club meeting.

I found Brown's observations interesting, practical and hopeful in very ordinary ways. We've seen what he describes here in Dallas among the people with whom we work.

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“We try to deal with (our problems) neighborhood by neighborhood. What I find as mayor, it’s not abstract, it’s block by block. It’s just people living their lives. They don’t live their lives in ideology. They live their lives by what they face every day. Very few people generalize, or stand back and look at the big picture. It’s getting rid of a drug dealer on the corner, or creating a group to watch out for the neighbors, or working to fix up a local school. All these things build community life. At the same time, the media, national entertainment, advertising, brand shopping – and work people have to do – occupies a lot of daily life, so people don’t have much energy left over to organize their neighborhoods or work on civic issues. But there are thousands of people in a place like Oakland who do just that: they find the time.” (p. 223).

"In some of these lower—income neighborhoods, it’s like a continuing disaster that pulls people together, while at the same time fostering a lot of antagonism and anger.” (p. 224).

“In a city like Oakland, where we have eighty different languages in our public schools, all different races, ethnicities, religions, and political ideologies, somehow we’re holding it together. That’s hopeful. Why can’t we do the same with the world at large?” (p. 224).



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe it is going to take communities working together to end some of the problems that we face today. I am a minister on government assistance because without it I would be unable to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I live in one of the poorest town's in Texas. Living near the boarder we need help each other find jobs, when we can. It is hard. But, yes, I do think it will take communities and cities working on issues of medicine, vacines, wic, and paying bills.
All the drugs do is numb the pain of poverty. God be with the churches in poor communities that we may reach out to those in need.
Let us see that small towns in the U.S. are mission points.