Friday, April 26, 2013

“Better Than”: An Everyday Goal

In our community, we often encounter difficulties and tribulations that disappoint and dishearten many of us. Facing these situations on a daily basis is a challenge, yet these same things lead us to come together to make things better.

Once in a while, the community wakes up to a new day with newfound hope. Thanks to neighborhood groups, local churches and other advocates for local development, we join forces to make a difference in society. When this happens, it becomes an occasion to be celebrated. One of the best examples is the Neighborhoods Rising Summit. This and other similar events allow us to rise up and proclaim our desire for a better Detroit.

Once in a While is not Enough

However, one day of solidarity is not going to cut it regardless of how much hard work we put in. Things may get better for a while but without our sustained effort, things may go back to how they were. One day’s worth of cleaning will not keep your house clean forever. The same holds true for our neighborhood.

Does that mean we should not try at all? The answer is no. The fact that your house gets messy after you clean it should not discourage you from straightening it out. The key is to understand that “better than” should never be just a one-time target but a constant goal, a habit that should be encouraged.

Getting into the Habit

Improvement is not a job that takes zero energy. With our everyday struggles in our personal lives, it is often easy to just let the concerns of the community fall by the wayside. However, though it may seem like a chore in the beginning, you'll eventually get the hang of it.

The community is composed of you, me and everyone we hold dear. What we do affects the community, and vice-versa. Anything we do to make Detroit better will benefit all of us in the end. All we have to do is to believe.

Conducting the Neighborhoods Rising Summit daily may not be practical, but each good deed we do for Detroit counts, no matter how small. One act of goodness every day from every individual can make a huge difference.

When striving for “better than” becomes a habit, it should not turn into a meaningless routine. Even if it becomes as typical as putting on our shoes, its importance should stay in our hearts. No matter who you are or what role you play, aiming for “better than” every day may be the most meaningful thing you can ever do for Detroit.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How the Sum of Many Makes a Difference

Face it: Detroit has got a bad rap. Poverty is an ongoing problem in our city. Just like quicksand, it is a problem that tends to pull us in the longer we stay in. Sometimes it feels like struggling so hard and making only a little progress (or even worse, sinking further in) is not worth it. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the fight. Better to just accept the label as the truth.

Nowhere to Go but Up

Even if we feel frustrated at our poverty today, our frustration should not feed feelings of hopelessness and defeat. It is tempting to let that happen, but our frustration should be the fire that drives us. When we see problems, we must believe that we can solve them. That was ARISEDetroit’s vision for the Neighborhoods Rising Summit, a vision which the group hopes to make real.

In Detroit, many outreach groups have been set up to solve different problems related to poverty. They see a gap between the present situation and the dream of a better future, and do all they can to close that gap.

Reach Out by Reaching Together

In spite of their intentions, these groups fall short of their goals. It is not for lack of effort, or lack of will. It is because there is competition. With limited resources and so many problems like violence, illiteracy, poor parenting, misdirected youth, and inferior education, it is no surprise that the struggle is so hard.

Each person has only a limited reach and influence. However, by joining hands with others, individuals gain greater potential to lift up their community. In the same way, groups that are connected will be stronger than groups that work separately.

The Whole is Greater than the Parts

At ARISEDetroit, we believe in the power of sums. It is important to participate in the efforts of different outreach groups. Working together, we can pull our community up faster. With enough people helping, there will be another Neighborhoods Rising Summit soon. We can make the future better; it is a change that will not happen on its own. As fellow Detroit citizens, we hope that you’ll be part of that change.