Fictionalized Description of Another Way
Diversity can be America's strength, but shared values are necessary for a supportive culture. We have a crisis of meaning and values.
- Children and adults are guarded around one another. Adults sell Girl Scout cookies to their colleagues at work because kids aren't permitted to knock on neighborhood doors--most neighbors are strangers.
- Technology keeps us apart--we can be entertained at home instead of relating to other human beings. Kids today know celebrities, not their neighbors. There is a new kind of loneliness in America.
- Parents used to introduce their children to the values of society, but not today. Today parents who attempt to teach their children values, teach values that differ from the culture at-large.
- Families used to provide shelter from the storm outside, but families today live in houses without walls. The average child is exposed to 400 advertisements each day. Electronics bring the outside world in and parents can do little to prevent the intrusion. All television is educational, but television may not always present the kind of education a family wants for its children.
- Some people claim that electronics are deconstructing childhood--there are no children and no adults--everyone is an adolescent. Many Americans are accepting freedom but denying the responsibility that should accompany it.
- Since the 1970s it has become progressively harder for children in the inner cities to grow up--let alone grow up to be good American citizens. They are constantly exposed to gangs, drugs and abuse by familiar and unfamiliar adults.
- There is too little civility.
- An old man makes his way across a busy street while cars honk and drivers swear.
- A teen is hurt on a basketball court and the coach wants him off the floor because his blood is causing a mess and his team mates want to get on with the game.
Work used to make sense and produced concrete results and satisfaction. Marriage used to be for life. Obligation to others provided a stable family base. Today responsibility to parents, spouse and children has been replaced by responsibility to self--to realizing potential.
So maybe it's time to work together as a nation--to share common goals--to create a supportive culture that all Americans can be proud of. Maybe its time for a nationally recognized effort where Americans from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds join in concert to create a common culture--to mobilize as Americans. There are so many wonderful things going on all over the United States, but one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing.
The Pfizer Corporation provides cash grants and uses its employees' time and expertise in developing science and math curricula, sponsoring teacher internships and building new science labs. It contributes over 25,000 prescriptions per month to over 350 community health centers serving the needy. It awards up to $1,000 to organizations that already benefit from it's employees' volunteer efforts. Timberland supports City Year (young adults who give full-time effort to community service) with millions of dollars and gives its employees 40 hours of paid leave to volunteer in their own communities. These companies are the tip of the business philanthropy iceberg. They are representative of thousands of other companies, large and small who are eager and willing to make a difference in the nation's neighborhoods. There is no lack of goodwill or resources.
The problem is delivery
Soviet: Problems with the delivery system were primarily problems with the roads, equipment and the over abundance of regulations.
They had a way of looking at things that was not conducive to productivity = government should and will take care of us.
USA: Problems with the delivery system are problems with the way we acquire and communicate knowledge and how we coordinate activities.
The American view of government in the 1990s = "We already gave" in the form of taxes, local bonds, and charitable contributions.
There is Another Way!
We can improve the delivery system--we can supply the missing knowledge, communication and coordination by using new technology. We can encourage young people, especially high school students, to use their capabilities more fully. Their energy and goodwill may be the nation's greatest untapped resource.
A ten year involvement with high school students has convinced the Harry Singer Foundation that young people have the ability to research, analyze and recommend solutions to social problems. The Foundation polled students across the country in the spring of 1997, and found that many teens are willing to give time and energy to their communities but they don't know where to go or what to do.
In the following pages I explain how, by incorporating community-based learning into the curricula, students nationwide can provide information that would be too costly to obtain without them. The effective delivery of resources to need depends on this detailed information. I explain how locally organized volunteer corps can change the way nonprofits do business. No more grant makers and grant seekers; only traders. You will discover how the business community and other donors can be assured of getting more bang for their buck and understand why those bucks, without one to one mentor relationships, may be wasted.
As a side benefit, Another Way reduces the need for:
- job training programs
- additional taxes
- more recreational facilities for youth and the elderly
- gangs where lonely youth seek acceptance and approval
- drug abuse and vandalism, by-products of hopelessness
- federal subsidies for local community services
- unproductive hours writing grant proposals
- more detention facilities for bored, unsupervised youth
- employers to go off-shore to find a reliable work force
As a side benefit, this concept fosters:
- character development
- employment skills
- trade and interdependence rather than the dependence
- higher education opportunities
- recognition and honor
- safer communities and friendlier neighbors
- efficiency and dollar-stretching
- a nation of better educated and optimistic citizens
- a more prosperous economy
- long-range thinking
- more freedom
- the ability to assume risk and to experiment
Communities can learn from the farmer who year after year distributed his prize winning seed to other farmers at the end of each county fair. When questioned about this practice he explained, "Pollen from other fields sets on my fields. What's good for my neighbor is good for me." We will prosper if we learn to cooperate.
You have just browsed the Preface to a fictional account of Another Way written by the first Director and Co-Founder of the Harry Singer Foundation. You may click here to browse/print the entire text immediately or an 80 page soft cover edition may be purchased by giving the ISBN number to your favorite bookstore so they can order the book. ISBN:0-915915-34-0