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Rich Harwood challenges us to make hope real

May 7, 2009

Congratulations to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham on 50 years of service to the community.

It is a compelling thing to ask, as you do, people to come together to “imagine a brighter future.” My own organization (The Harwood Institute) has for years used a mantra of “imagine and act for the public good.” Through your work you have to potential to create new norms, and new ways of engaging with one another. And as you ask the community to imagine a better Birmingham, it creates an opportunity for public-minded organizations play an even more critical role to play.

How can your work support this new vision? Ask yourself what it would take for Birmingham’s organizations, foundations, institutions to be even more effective in their public work. Ask yourself – how can we make hope real?

Working and speaking in communities across the country, I believe that we must turn outward toward the community if we are going to make hope real. To turn outward and make hope real requires four key building blocks:

Community Context – Do we understand people’s issues and concerns as they express them?

Authentic Engagement – Are we authentically engaging people so that we can hear their voices and help provide pathways for meaningful action or have we slipped into window dressing?

Impact: How can we have impact on specific issues and on our community’s capacity for change

Sustainability: Do we have metrics that help us make decisions, and keep us focused on impact?

This is a critical moment for the Foundation, the city and our country. It is a time when people are looking for leaders who are willing to step forward, to see their reality and make hope real. This is your opportunity, this is your moment.

Get a free copy of Rich Harwood’s essay Make Hope Real and join the campaign to make hope real by downloading a Make Hope Real poster from The Harwood Institute site.

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