I value like-minded individuals. I stumbled across a TED Talk in which the speaker, Cormac Russell discusses the importance of community members taking ownership in problem solving within their own communities by focusing on using what they already have rather than the things they don’t have. I’ve said it before, the top down approach rarely yields the results communities need because they miss the context of the actual abilities and needs of the people within the communities. Russell says “Focus on what’s strong rather than what’s wrong”. This is the premise of Gold in the Ghetto. Our communities are filled with people who have skills and talents that can be beneficial to the community. The communities themselves also have valuable resources. If ever there is a question of where to start the process of improving our communities, all we have to do is look within. Russell also offers a quote,
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
We have to save ourselves before we consider allowing outsiders to come in and implement the things THEY think will “fix” OUR communities. The second part of that quote is important because once groups of people get together, identify not only a problem but the role each of them had to play in it, then and only then can they work to find a solution that actually works. This approach will not allow band-aids to be put on the problem while the outsider walks away patting their back about the good they’ve done while the community lives to see it slowly unravel. Not only that, but as Russell said, when people identify with a problem and create the solution for the problem, they own them and are more committed to their success. Have you ever paid attention to a child who is new to receiving allowance? They may still want as many things as they did prior to the allowance, as long as someone else is paying for it. They have a greater appreciation for what the money they earned can do (they want to keep it), than they have for what the money of other people can do.
There is Gold in the Ghetto. WE should mine it if we want to rebuild our communities!