GRACE or our Global Responsibility for Advancing Community Enrichment


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 ), the following is the first item displayed on the list. It reads:

Global PerspectiveAccelerating 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

The Age of the Unthinkable


I just finished reading a book 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). As I read this book, I keep recalling how pertinent some of the authors remarks are regarding the discussions we are having in my community, and in this country.

I distinctly enjoyed this book and look for more insightful, stimulating works from Ramo. I would recommend this work to you.

Ramo is Managing Director at Kissinger & Associates, former Foreign Editor and Assistant Managing Editor of Time magazine etc. etc. – degreed from University of Chicago and NYU. Consider the following:

“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’ve left our future, in other words, largely in the hands of people whose single greatest characteristic is that they are bewildered by the present.” P. 9.

“The main argument of this book is not particularly complicated: it is that in a revolutionary era of surprise and innovation, you need to learn to think and act like a revolutionary (People at revolutions who don’t act that way have a particular name: victims). P. 11

…(paraphrasing here….) Elites who are descendants of the former era engaged in public policy making make poor revolutionaries. In the present era, the most dynamic forces in society come from outside elite circles, from geeks, who might have been thought of in the past as outsiders or losers — to exclude these folks is an error of catastrophic proportions.” P. 37

“In a revolutionary age, our architects tools are deadly. It’s time for us to put them down and follow the injunction to live and think as gardeners.” P. 40.

“When we find that we have reached the end of the bookshelf, then it’s time to write new books.” P. 46

“Systems might look good for a while, but when they are hit with the unexpected, they react in ways that doom them. They simply can’t shed their wrong ideas fast enough. Sound familiar?” p. 61.

…(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

“Once barriers — which consist in a sense only in man’s ignorance of the possible — are torn down, they are not easily set up again.” P. 96

Read this book

What’s a Blessing?


The following is the Baccalaureate address I shared on June 4, 2009:

What’s A Blessing?

  1. Good evening ladies and gentlemen, students, teachers, administrators, family and friends of Redmond High School’s Graduating  Class of 2009!
  2. As we gather here this evening in the safety and security of these surroundings, I am reminded of the evening of my own high school graduation — an evening that my father and my two uncles attended together. Three very different men with one thing in common — they had each served our country in the Armed Forces. My father was in the Navy while one uncle was a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and the other was a corporal in Army. I am reminded this evening that our country is at war. A war that may all too often seems remote, distant and “out there somewhere.” We would be remiss if we didn’t pause during this time to recognize those who have or are presently serving in the Armed Forces of this great nation of ours. ( audience – Please hold your applause until I give you the high sign) Will you please stand and remain standing if I describe you in the following few sentences:

a.       I you have previously served our country in any branch of our armed forces. – Please stand up.

b.      If you are presently serving in an active or reserve duty capacity – Please stand up.

c.       If you have a family member who has served or is presently serving (reserve or active duty) in our armed forces – Please stand up.

d.      If you are presently enrolled in an ROTC program or a current member of our National Guard or Coast Guard – Please stand up.

Now – Let’s honor these folks with a tremendous round of applause.

Oh, what a blessing it is to enjoy the blessing of being a citizen of this country and to be here tonight. This subject, this gift, this privilege of being blessed is what I intend to share with you this evening. If you will bear with me for a few minutes and focus on the screen to my left and listen very carefully, I will begin after we watch the following together:

You Tube Video:

What a blessing. Were you blessed by that? I certainly was. There are so many things we pretend to understand today. The meaning of certain words has a long history of changing over time, between cultures, among people.

There is nothing more uplifting to the human spirit than an unanticipated blessing. As the video of Scotland’s Susan Boyle reveals, when you open your mouth, everything changes. Within 72 hours of this video’s posting on the ITN Network’s site (as well as YouTube) there were over 20 million viewers of what we just watched together.

The word blessing, has several forms and meanings. Let’s take a look at a few:

  1. In our culture today, everybody wants to receive a blessing – particularly in economic times like these. Things like money, a job, a car, a place to live, a new cell phone, the newest MP3 player.
  2. For others, the blessing we yearn to receive is less tangible -like peace of mind, getting our parents and teachers off our case, the resolution of conflict, happiness, joy and serenity. We’ve all been in this position. Frankly, it’s part of life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring to be blessed.
  3. However, today in our culture, some have developed this mindset that they are entitled to receive a blessing. They expect it. They deserve it. This sense of entitlement has a voice: it says, “I am better than you are. It provides some with a perch to look down upon others. I affects the way some people walk….example strut…It certainly is recognizable by what people say.” We have all heard the voice of those infected with the disease of somehow being entitled to receive a blessing.

When Susan Boyle opened her mouth, nobody expected the blessing they received. It was the kind of blessing that possessed those very, very special elements that make certain blessings particularly unique:

a.       It was completely unanticipated – completely unexpected and surprising.

b.      It touched the soul of all concerned. It was infectious and became much larger than anyone had anticipated.

c.       It was an act of courage.

d.      It was authentic and sincere — It was — simply Susan.

Yes, a frumpy, middle-aged church volunteer from a small village in Scotland blessed the world recently by demonstrating that when you open your mouth, everything changes – depending upon what comes out of your mouth when you do open it – of course.

There are also those today who suggest that when you open your mind, everything changes – Well, that depends upon what you fill it with. In our culture today, knowledge seems to have gained a high place on the cultural pedestal many people have come to worship.

However, as the recent crisis across the spectrum of our financial system and the global economy has demonstrated, even the brightest, most knowledgeable people can get it wrong — diabolically wrong — when knowledge is not informed by time-tested wisdom and guided by moral truths that safeguard against the propensity of some very knowledgeable folks to fall prey to selfishness, greed, dishonesty, and the creation of myths and illusions — whose end result is the infliction of pain and despair upon tens of millions of others.

Remember – when you open your mind, everything changes – depending upon what you fill it with.

Finally, think about this for a moment — When you open your heart, everything changes. During the past four years, I have had the opportunity to be a first-hand witness to this truth — by observing the actions of many of you — the students, parents, families of this Class of 2009. I would be remiss if I did not mention the staff, teachers and administrators of the Redmond School District, as well as a number of our citizens, community leaders and elected officials. Let me share a few examples:

  1. I have seen you raise money for innumerable worthy causes – for example, the Sparrow Club — We need more hearts like yours in this country, on this campus and in this city.
  2. I have seen you come together and comfort one another in times of personal and familial tragedy, sharing one another’s pain. We need more compassionate citizens like you in this community and in this country.
  3. I have seen students from diverse ethnic backgrounds practice together for athletic events, and enjoy one another’s company socially afterwards — Friendships spawned across barriers that many in my generation have had a hand in erecting and maintaining — We need you to continue to show us the way where we seemed to have lost ours.
  4. I have witnessed students come together and make a moving film about the scourge of racism – a film that required guts, brutal honesty and the courage to stand up in front of family and community. We need you to continue to be bold, speak up and take action on issues where societal ills continue to hide behind the veil of silence.
  5. In this graduating class of 2009, I have seen students who subscribe to the Mormon, Muslim, and various Christian faith persuasions hang out, laugh and live life together. We need you to continue to teach us to cherish one another for who we are as individuals, spanning the crevasse that the people who subscribe to certain religious belief systems sometimes create.
  6. This class of 2009 has warmly welcomed students from other countries like Thailand, Germany, Turkey, China, Brazil, Chile and Finland into your midst who have chosen Redmond, and Redmond High School as the place where they can become more familiar with the United States of America. The only problem is that you have done this so well, many of these students don’t want to return to their country of origin when their stay here has concluded. We need you to continue to be ambassadors for Redmond, for central Oregon, for this country — to continue to teach us what it means to be global citizens in a world that desperately needs a kind word and warm embrace to others who come from a different place than we do, who look different than us, and may speak a different language.
  7. I have witnessed many in this class of 2009 become participants in the Redmond Education Vision community forums, and march from this campus to Redmond City Hall carrying banners urging voters to approve the $110 million dollar school facilities improvement bond that was passed in 2008. We need you to continue to come together and advocate constructively for desperately needed resource and infrastructure improvements within this community and any community you may reside in the future.

These are just a few, simple examples — This Class of 2009, as a resident of Redmond, it is my honor and privilege to declare unequivocally that we have been blessed by you.

As Redmond Mayor George Endicott shared in his State of the City address earlier this year, Redmond has a vision for its future. A cornerstone of this vision is the creation of 10,000 new century jobs here in Redmond by the year 2020. To make that happen, We need you.

We need:

Agricultural expertise, actors and actresses, architects, artists, actors, auto dealers, mechanics and repair personnel, aircraft industry specialists and those who make the honorable decision to serve in our country’s Armed Forces.

Bartenders, Baristas, bus drivers, bakers, barbers, bankers, business owners and band instructors.

Cattle ranchers, contractors, chefs, chiropractors, civil servants, childcare professionals, cowboys (cowgirls), crafts persons, computer specialists, community organizers and counselors.

Doctors, Developers, Dancers, Dentists, Designers and those gifted in working with our developmentally disabled.

Entrepreneurs, event planners, equestrians, excavators, engineers, entertainers, environmental professionals, escrow officers, persons dedicated to economic development where unemployment rates in central Oregon higher than the national average become a distant memory — and somebody to keep making Eberhard Dairy Products for me and my family.

Fair and Expo Center employees, fund raisers, firefighters, farmers, food and beverage industry personnel, foresters and forest service employees.

Grocers, Graphic artists, gardeners, guides and greens keepers.

Hairdressers, Hay and seed producers, hospice workers, hotel managers, hospitality industry workers, homemakers, those who work with the helpless, the hungry and the homeless,  as well as skilled healthcare professionals.

Innovators, Internet gurus, Innkeepers and people who provide inspiration to others

Jewelers, Journalists, Jokers and those who have the gift of bringing joy to others.

Landscapers, lawyers, loggers, laborers legislators and lawmakers —who possess the ingenuity and courage to revise Oregon’s tax code so that it encourages business investment, bolsters economic vitality and the expansion of the state’s revenue stream, and no longer confronts us with huge cyclical revenue swings that cause massive budget cuts — threatening the livelihoods of our educators and the quality of the education we deliver to our students.

Mechanics, mortgage specialists, managers, musicians, manufacturers, metal fabricators and mental health professionals

Nutritionists, nurses, National Guard personnel and non-profit employees.

Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, Obstetricians and those skilled in working with our Octogenarians.

Pastors, Programmers, Planners, Poultry producers, Photographers, Painters, Physical Therapists and Police Officers

Quarry workers

Rabbis, Researchers, Retailers, Realtors, Restaraunteurs, Ranchers and Recreation leaders

Social workers, singers, social networking specialists, story tellers, scientists, compassionate people equipped to serve our seniors – and somebody to repair my shoes when Jerry at Redmond Shoe Repair retires.

Teachers – the truly talented professionals who inspire us to become all we can be. Transportation and telecommunications specialists.

Veterinarians, Volunteers, Vendors, Vegetable growers, veterans — and a variety of other occupations that don’t even exist yet. We also need vision casters – those gifted in outlining the possibilities that a path to progress may provide — a path that most of us cannot currently see.

Water quality specialists, wildlife management professionals, web designers, writers and wood workers.

X – people who will develop the unexpected breakthrough, solution, cure, product or service that does not currently exist today.

Youth workers

And last but not least, Zebra ranchers and Zookeepers…..well maybe not. Who knows?

The list of occupations I have just shared is a reminder that Redmond is Rising and we need the blessing that only you students can bring to the future of this community.

What’s a blessing? This is what the Redmond Class of 2009 has taught me:

  1. It’s not a material thing, as some would lead us to believe.
  2. It’s not the amount of knowledge you cram your mind with.
  3. It’s not the ability to spin illusions and manipulate others by virtue of the fancy, persuasive words that come out of your mouth.
  4. It’s not something a selfish, arrogant sense of entitlement will bring to you and yours.

What’s a blessing? Let me spell it out for you, as observing your actions over the past four years have defined it for me:

Born to


to Encourage – to explore

to Serve

to Sacrifice, and to share

to Innovate and invigorate

to Nourish and nurture

to Give with Gratitude and Grace

It takes Guts to live as a Blessing. It’s a way of lifeA way of living that this Redmond High School Class of 2009 has taught me to deeply appreciate. You have spelled it out for me by the way you have lived — through your actions — your behavior. This is the nature of the other war that each of us fight – to live our lives as a blessing for the benefit of others. It is not a war that is out there somewhere and remote — it in here (point at your heart). This is a war that can be won – as this class has demonstrated to me and this community.

This Redmond High School Class of 2009 has what Redmond requires to make Mayor George Endicott’s vision become a reality. Whatever path your journey may take after graduation, it is my hope, my prayer, that many of you will return to Redmond to lead this community into the future.

We need you. Redmond needs the gift of the blessing that only you can provide.

May God bless you on whatever path you take from here. May your lives speak the definition of a blessing in the future, as they have here during the past 4 years.

Thank you for blessing us Class of 2009.

May God give you the wisdom, guidance and guts to continue to live your life as a blessing to others.

Thank you.

Just Jesus

I wrote a book several years ago. A friend told me to put it in the oven and let it bake for a while. Well, I’m taking it out for a rewrite. Here’s the trademarked logo for the book that my wife created. I really like it…Whaddaya think? The book will be very different than the original one I penned. Seasoning literary work is a lesson I continue to learn.


"How might words, images and ideas open minds, warm hearts and inspire imagination? May you find them refreshing and share them among your people."


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