GRACE or our Global Responsibility for Advancing Community Enrichment
We live in the State of Oregon. Our State has the current, dubious distinction of being second only to the State of Michigan in unemployment. The tri-county area where we reside has some of the highest unemployment rates in our State. One in six residents in the State of Oregon are now receiving food stamps. People are coping and adapting.
This morning, an editorial in one of our newspapers reported that the sole Business Development Officer representing the State in our region (central Oregon) has been “let go” due to budget cuts. All of the above caused me to pause and think about people, leadership, innovation, ideas and the necessity for change.
As I was pondering this theme, a quote from a book I recently devoured came to mind. The book is entitled, The Age of the Unthinkable – Why The New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It“ by Joshua Cooper Ramo. (Copyright © 2009 by Joshua Cooper Ramo – Little, Brown and Company New York, NY). Here’s the quote: :
“We are entering, in short, a revolutionary age. And we are doing so with ideas, leaders and institutions that are better suited for a world now several centuries behind us. On the one hand, this revolution is creating unprecedented disruption and dislocation. But it is also creating new fortunes, new power, fresh hope and a new global order. Revolutions after all don’t produce only losers – they produce a whole new cast of historical champions.” P. 8.
We are very fortunate in my city and region to have leadership that is not afraid to share their hopes and visionary thinking for a better tomorrow today. They are the champions of a better way — understanding at a very deep level that we can and must change — together.
Within the “Clear and Urgent Themes” section of the Redmond Education Vision (REV – see http://www.redmond.k12.or.us/14541013164911523/lib/14541013164911523/Themes.pdf ), the following is the first item displayed on the list. It reads:
“Global Perspective – Accelerating student knowledge of global dynamics is critical to education in the 21st century. It is important to consider global shifts when prioritizing our studies in world languages, history, economics, science, and geography. The significant increase in global interdependence is acknowledged and addressed.”
As characterized by Redmond School District Superintendent Fleming in her introductory letter within the REV report:
“The ideas drawn from these many interactions are synthesized and presented here. They will be used to guide and direct the allocation of resources, the creation of programs and accountability for progress. We are delighted to present you with the Redmond Educational Vision – a blueprint for action for our staff and community. Together, let’s declare a new chapter in our children’s education by exemplifying our mission to “Ensure a rigorous and relevant education that develops productive citizens for a local and global community.” (emphasis is mine).
Furthermore, Ms. Fleming also writes in the same letter, “Global economic interdependence is changing our daily lives and outlook for the future. Living peacefully together in a world that is becoming smaller and smaller has become an elusive challenge. In spite of all this, the great American gift of public education provides us with hope and possibility.”
In light of the above, over the past several months I have asked: Does Redmond have an official sister-city program? I have asked this question to dozens of people in Redmond and the answer is “I don’t know! Maybe we should.” If we do have a sister city program that most residents are unaware of, we need to create a program that is more than a piece of paper mounted on a wall or an entry on a website somewhere.
In terms of the relevance to the results of the acting upon the Clear and Urgent Theme of developing a Global Perspective, I believe the sister-city concept, if properly defined and administered, can contribute mightily to making this observation a reality. Allow me to provide some food for thought:
- Sister-City designations are typically an accomplishment of bureaucratic protocol, gathering dust rather than producing anything tangibly, mutually beneficial. They don’t have to be.
- Imagine if Redmond would go through a process of recognizing the necessity for creating partnerships via sister-city designations with say 12 cities in 12 different countries around the globe by virtue of acting on the fact that we must engage and develop mutually beneficial relationships with cities and countries around the globe.
- We must act on our recognition of our role and responsibility to actively develop relationships with global partners – intentionally engaged in the responsibility to reach-out and experience the wonders that only interaction within the realm of (to use Ms. Fleming’s term) global dynamics might provide — with other global cities, citizens, communities and cultures.
- As I contemplate the above, the term grace comes to mind. Characteristics of the term grace include the dimensions of words like helpful, generosity, and goodwill. When you take the root term grace and look at its sister, graciousness, you find a DNA link that contains strands that include the terms kindness, courtesy, welcoming, warmth, considerate and compassionate. It has been said that grace is a responsibility that we have toward one another. Yet, grace is simply not an attitude. On the contrary, it is an active form of behavior. Grace need not be solely defined as a reaction to the behavior of another. Grace may be projected as an intentional, inviting display of behavior toward another.
- As citizens of the global community, charged with the responsibility to enhance our active participation in (to use Ms. Fleming’s term) global economic interdependence … Perhaps we might term this initiative GRACE or our Global Responsibility for Advancing Community Enrichment.
- What are the qualifications of the 12 sister cities we might evaluate/solicit for inclusion into this initiative:
1. A recognition of the importance of acting upon Ms. Fleming’s/REV’s Clear and Urgent Theme of developing a Global Perspective within our respective student populations. What might this include:
a. International student exchanges for high school age students among the GRACE participants.
b. Teacher exchanges among the GRACE participants.
c. The opportunity for summer sessions that involve travel-study for students/teachers and families among the GRACE participants.
d. An annual conference for GRACE participants here in Redmond (rotating to other member communities/countries on an annual basis).
e. The creation of GRACE portals (web technology) designed to provide a central point for the throughput of cultural/educational materials that can be shared among GRACE participants (students/teachers/families) on an ongoing basis, including an archive of previously shared video/art/poems/stories. (PERFECT project to jumpstart the Redmond Technology Center — as a “resident community project – developed and administered by students and residents who have the skill set to contribute — may also serve as a “live” learning forum for RHS students in the future.
f. The creation of GRACE student groups within the high schools of participating cities.
g. Community events whereby visiting students provide host community members a display of either personal talents or their home country cultural treasures.
2. A penchant by each community to enhance their participation in the prospects for further global economic interdependence. What might this include:
a. Provide an opportunity for public and private sector business and community members to develop interaction, relationships, exchanges with others in the global community regarding:
i. Common challenges confronting GRACE community participants and the solutions being contemplated/implemented.
ii. Visits by GRACE community and business leaders to Redmond/central Oregon.
iii. Develop a familiarity and sharing of the economic development strengths/weaknesses/challenges and solutions that GRACE members.
iv. Enhance “boots on the ground – face-to-face” interactions with businesses in other countries seeking to develop a base of operations in the U.S. (Redmond).
v. The creation of GRACE community/business leader groups within the group of participating cities.
vi. Develop a pool of business and civic leaders who may visit one another to provide private/public learning events on issues specific to the needs of certain participating GRACE communities.
vii. The creation of GRACE portals (web technology) designed to provide a central point/forum for the throughput for the exchange of information regarding real-world business/civic issues that can be shared among GRACE participants (Business and civic leaders) on an ongoing basis, including an archive of previously shared materials.
viii. Economic development conferences held in Redmond for GRACE community participants – civic and business leader exchange.
3. A deep desire to learn from others and share knowledge.
4. There would be three member communities whose countries are NOT members of the G-20.
5. A desire to develop global partnerships and new global relationships
6. A dedication to develop the opportunity to promote academic and cross-cultural learning through its worldwide collaborative network of higher education institutions.
7. Develops a resource network for the mutual benefit of all GRACE participants.
8. Inspires innovation, collaboration and flexible approaches that enable civic and business leaders to access and benefit from.
9. Raises the global and regional visibility of Redmond and central Oregon for academic, business and cross-cultural learning outcomes.
10. Act upon the opportunity to explore the treasures of economic and cultural diversity.
11. Keep the promise made to this community via REV.
12. Provides a focal point that serves to integrate all stakeholders – those involved in public education, the ordinary citizen, students, parents, business and civic leaders.
13. Provides stimulus for GRACE participants to obtain appropriate grants annually to government agencies, corporations, private or corporate foundations to maintain support and expand the GRACE network and the collaboration and creativity spawned thereby.
14. Utilize conferences and other events to generate sponsor revenue and to raise GRACE’s visibility.
15. Develop and sustain investment and budget strategies to support an operational reserve equal to six months of operating expenses.
16. Create and build a reserve fund for scholarships and organizational development.
17. Members are dedicated to sustainable development, defined as: “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development encompasses three areas: economic development, social development and environmental protection”
Visionary communities who embrace social, economic and environmental responsibilities with the knowledge that the intentional effort to develop new and enduring global relationships are not only good for the existing community, but they also bode well for the future of our community, our children, our state and the region. The GRACE initiative outlined herein may provide benefits help to build new markets, enhance central Oregon’s brand value, as well as provide the impetus for further innovations on the theme that are not contemplated in this writing. Finally, the motivation behind GRACE is not receiving — it is giving — extending an open hand of welcome to the world around us.
Something to think about. GRACE community members would have to pay annual dues. Budget preparation with projected costs and revenues (dues and sponsor ads via Google© on the web portal).
REV changed the rules for Redmond — it also changed our respective responsibility to make the REV, REDI, EDCO etc. contracts with this community happen.
Maybe it’s time to think out loud — together. Perhaps it’s time for the use of some some intentional imagination – challenging our ideas — throwing some new one’s on the table — displaying the courage to disagree and engage in the collective challenge of creating a better way. As Joshua Cooper Ramno writes:
…(paraphrasing here….) “The explanation for this shared “wrong view” – a delusion, really – was social rather than factual. People agreed because they wanted to be part of the community more than they wanted to be right: a set of shared, wrong ideas clung to loyally by people who couldn’t quite see past their illusions or the imagination-killing need to agree and fit in.” p. 62