10 Ways to Live United
From Rich Harwood’s Redeeming Hope Blog
This resource —10 Ways to Live United —is taken from Rich Harwood’s Redeeming Hope Blog (www.redeeminghope.org). 10 Ways to Live United lays out what it will take for us to turn outward and become more intentional in our choices and judgments in creating change so that we can have greater impact, increase our relevance and significance communities and Live United.
- See and hear all people: We must help people in our communities to see and hear those individuals who are different from themselves, or live in other parts of the community. At the heart of living united is the ability to see beyond ourselves so we can begin to understand and work on common challenges, or support others who face challenges different from ours.
- Root our work in public knowledge of the community: We must root our work in the public knowledge of our community – for instance, in how people see and defi ne their concerns, the values they wrestle with, the aspirations they hold for themselves, their neighbors, and their community. This public knowledge then must be used to inform the ways in which we do our work internally and the how we shape our programs and initiatives.
- Span boundaries: We must act as boundary spanners in our communities, working to bring people and organizations together across real and imagined dividing lines. Too many efforts these days are fragmented, isolated, or even redundant. We must fi nd ways to work across boundaries and leverage one another’s efforts.
- Undertake “galvanizing projects:” We must focus on undertaking “galvanizing projects” – efforts that by their very nature bring people together and demonstrate that we can step forward and work collectively. In these efforts, impact is less important than galvanizing people’s sense of connection and momentum. We need early wins and they must visible to everyone.
- Orient ourselves toward the “public good:” We must orient ourselves toward the “public good,” whichin practice means seeing people as citizens not “consumers.” Too often our volunteer programs become more focused on the “volunteer experience” rather than creating positive impact for communities.
- Be hard-nosed about selecting partners: We must be incredibly hard-nosed about selecting the right partners. Well-meaning partnerships and coalitions often die from too much talk, too little action, and overblown promises. Stay focused on who you can run with.
- Root our work in people’s reality: We must not confuse our desire to imagine a better world with the need to root our work in the daily realities in which people live. False starts or false promises made because of our own hubris or fantasies will only bring about more cynicism and lead to further retreat from public life. For us to live more united demands our willingness to face up to the hard truths of reality.
- Tap the energy and enthusiasm of young Americans: We must tap the energy and enthusiasm of young Americans, who bring into public life a sense of tolerance, can-do spirit, and a practical bent. Thus, our challenge is to redefine “public service” for this new generation, rather than trotting out warmed-over ideas from the past.
- Learn to tell stories of hope and change: We must learn to tell stories of hope and change – what might be called civic parables – so that people can see themselves in public life. But this requires us to reject the usual hype and glossed-over public relations, and instead turn to authentic refl ections of people’s journeys around change, including why they started out where they did, how they progressed, what went wrong along the way, and what worked. Then maybe more people will step forward.
- Take on enemies of the public good: We must be willing to take on enemies of the public good – like inertia, cynicism, mechanized responses to human problems, false hope, distorted reality, and superficial efforts to take on real challenges. Bringing about hope and change was never easy, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that our current time will be any different.
To “Live United” is a call for each of us to step forward to engage with one another and to do our best to repair breaches in our lives and society. It is an entreaty to turn outward, toward one another and make hope real.