Buzz + Ideas

Commentary + Concepts

Being connected to your town is a blessing

Ross Rant March 2018.png

I have no idea who the mayor of Alexandria is.

I couldn't tell you who represents me in the state house in either chamber in Richmond.

I know more about what is happening in Theresa May's Number 10 cabinet meetings that I do with my local school board, city council, and planning commission meetings.

Maybe it is because I cover, engage, and care about global politics and its intersection with global business.

Maybe it is because I have more allegiance and affinity for Michigan than Virginia.

Maybe it is because I don't have children that I don't have a vested interest in my city.

Regardless, it is a generally an odd way to move through life. Especially for someone who is so passionate about democracy and the American experience. I am sensing I am missing out on something powerful.

Recently, James Fallows in The Atlantic penned "The Reinvention of America." You can (and should) read it here: https://theatln.tc/2qUkFtC. He suggests something powerful is happening with America.

Yes, the problems facing our nation are serious and the challenges real, but in fact, more Americans are hopeful then the national news coverage would suggest. Pollsters have reported this disparity for a long time. The Atlantic with the Aspen Institute commissioned a polling which showed that two-thirds of Americans were satisfied with their financial situation, and 85 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their general position in life and their ability to pursue the American dream. Other polls in the past half-dozen years have found that most Americans believe the country to be on the wrong course—but that their own communities are improving.

Fallows writes: "America is becoming more like itself again. More Americans are trying to make it so, in more places, than most Americans are aware. Even as the country is becoming worse in obvious ways—angrier, more divided, less able to do the basic business of governing itself—it is becoming distinctly better on a range of other indicators that are harder to perceive. The pattern these efforts create also remains hidden. Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself."

I saw this type of local civic engagement Fallows is speaking about for myself this week.

Chris Keldorf (Brigadoon Sundance 2017) has launched Dads on the Rise where he has engaged his fellow citizens of El Segundo, California to be part of a platform to share stories of success, failure, and daily gratitude. The idea of the grassroots group is to empower and the enlighten the next generation of fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons through conversation, engagement, and reflection.

So on this past Thursday night, I found myself sitting on a folding chair surrounded by 40 guys in the back of exercise gym listening to a highly trained and highly serious entrepreneur and special operations Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps sharing with us how to be better in business and in relationships.

The presentation and ideas shared were impactful, but what was more impactful for me was the fact that a good friend of mine launched this dynamic platform and his fellow citizens responded. 

It was refreshing to know beyond the noise and craziness of America’s national political and intense foreign affairs, local citizens are gathering to share in brotherhood and to share in conversation with a simple commitment to be a better person and to take steps to make their community better.

It was a blessing to be reminded that America is moving toward becoming a better version of itself one folding chair at a time.