Q: What is one antidote to being overcome by hopelessness and despair about situations and events happening in our world that are distressing, that we have no control over and feel we can do nothing about?
A: Spend time building relationships and collaborating with people who are acting together to positively influence situations and events that we can do something about, bit by bit, step by step.
This morning a roundtable of roughly 30 local faith, corporate and government leaders gathered in our Parish Hall, including Tom Geddes, CEO, Plank Industries; Don Fry, President & CEO, Greater Baltimore Committee; David Warnock, businessman and founder of Green Street Academy and the Warnock Foundation; Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke; and Councilman Zeke Cohen, with beautiful baby Maya in tow. It was the third time this particular group has met, upon the invitation and coordination of BUILD (Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development) in partnership with Councilman Cohen’s office.
We were joined by Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director (Metropolitan Policy Program) at the Brookings Institution, who shared an informative presentation about Baltimore City and our differing narratives – the story of two Baltimores – through the lens of data and statistics.
In his presentation, Alan included a recent observation from a Cleveland op-ed columnist, who noted that research and studies show that communities and cities that thrive in the face of significant socio-economic challenges, instead of remaining stuck and falling behind, have one key thing in common: a healthy civic table, founded on trust (Chris Thompson, Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 26, 2018).
After Alan’s presentation, our large group broke into 3 smaller groups to reflect on what we’d learned and offer next steps. The consensus was to continue to commit to spending time with one another, building trust across lines and cultivating relationships via one-on-one meetings and informal small gatherings. We also committed to stepping out into our neighborhoods and communities together, to convene roundtable listening sessions and to visit organizations and institutions such as Turnaround Tuesday, which has helped 450+ Baltimoreans secure employment with living wages at Johns Hopkins Hospital and other partnering institutions over the last 4 years. David Ware then closed us in prayer.
I left our time together feeling encouraged. Who knows where this will all lead? All I know is we are taking the time to intentionally build relationship and trust across faith, corporate and government lines, bit by bit, step by step. It feels good, worthwhile and Spirit-filled. Stay tuned …