Why neighborhood presidents are more important than a mayor

Tomorrow we swear in a neighborhood president as mayor of Dayton. In terms of his ability to effect change in his area of responsibility, he’ll find he just took a demotion. Now, he’ll have to get two of four people to agree with him- and their constituencies- which include a myriad of political backers with agendas- something Mr. Leitzell is relatively free of.

New York Time columnist David Brooks talks about our idealized dream of a government that can take care of and protect us from terrorism. Substitute urban entropy- and you have the same herculean task- and false expectations of what can logically be accomplished.

Brooks ends with the realization that if we really want change, it’s up to the neighborhoods to pull themselves up-not for the leaders to do it from the top down. It’s the same thing that’s fracked our corporate machinery up- the idyllic, mythical, omnipotent CEO and his magic wand.

Brooks:

For better or worse, over the past 50 years we have concentrated authority in centralized agencies and reduced the role of decentralized citizen action. We’ve done this in many spheres of life. Maybe that’s wise, maybe it’s not. But we shouldn’t imagine that these centralized institutions are going to work perfectly or even well most of the time. It would be nice if we reacted to their inevitable failures not with rabid denunciation and cynicism, but with a little resiliency, an awareness that human systems fail and bad things will happen and we don’t have to lose our heads every time they do.

via Op-Ed Columnist – The God That Fails – NYTimes.com.

Brooks calls his piece “The God That Fails”- which takes us into a whole other realm of divine belief, and dreams of intervention of a power greater than us. This country was built by people like you and me- and immigrants who came over with nothing more than a dream of what was possible.

If we really want change, it’s time to start dreaming again. And it’s our leaders’ jobs to empower us to have those dreams.

So, Gary, if you’re listening- talk about the dream and celebrate the dreamers. The cynics have been in power for too long.

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1 Response

  1. Matt January 4, 2010 / 8:52 am
    Hopefully Gary will remember the role of neighborhood presidents. If anything, it’s where his passion has been. I know he’s been disappointed with the city in recent years for cutting neighborhood and festival budgets and for constantly re-arranging the staffing and support of priority boards. Hopefully in his new position he won’t forget all of that. Hopefully he’ll remember that Dayton is strong when the neighborhoods are strong (in addition to business, economy, etc.). Maybe he’ll find ways to make neighborhoods a prioirty. Maybe he could even take some of your ideas, David, and truly empower neighborhood leaders and citizens to work toward changes that will improve standards around the city.

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