I have been posting on this little blog every week for almost ten years. I rarely write about politics because the blog is supposed to be about creativity in its many forms and incarnations. And this post will (I hope) be no different. Not because I don’t have opinions, because I do. Very strong opinions shaped, in large part, by an insatiable curiosity about history and a career that enabled me to witness parts of American life that many of my fellow white middle class Americans don’t ever get to see. But I digress.
I went to Women’s March Philadelphia last week and came away with the feeling that people on both sides of the political arena are scared. Some are scared by globalization and the instability it brings. They want to move the clock back, but things can never be like they were before because the world has changed. Community has broken down, technology is racing ahead and people are migrating throughout the world on planes, boats and the Internet. The frightened response is to circle the wagons and hunker down. But this is not as simple as it seems because every action has consequences. The yearning for a simpler time raises the possibility of draconian measures that will imact public health, national security, women’s health and reproductive rights, funding for arts and eduction, and, some fear, racial relations and religious tolerance. No one knows what is going to happen. And prediction is hard, especially when it is about the future. Where does that leave us? I came away from the march with the feeling that it will be a long time before things settle down. Probably not in my lifetime.
My proposal: let’s get creative. In the future, all kinds of organizations are going to need help if funding is cut for health care, legal services for the poor, education, the arts, mental health and drug rehab, community groups, child care and similar things.
Right now, people are fired up to volunteer, give money and to get involved. That momentum must not be lost. Organizations that need help will have to be able to draw from beyond their traditional volunteer pool. People who want to volunteer need the ability to connect with the right organization for their skills and passions. Some organizations will be flooded and others will go begging unless there is a means by which they can make their needs known.
This also applies to fund raising. Groups must be able to raise money to serve their communities and clients. They need a way to reach beyond their traditional pool of donors.
We need something new. I envision a kind of Craig List to do the job. Why the Craig’s List model? It is local and it is national. It contains an abundance of categories to facilitate the exchange of goods and services and to connect people with one another. It is constantly updated by the people who use it. It is organized and easy to navigate.
A tool based on the Craig’s List model could also pair volunteers with programs, solicit donations of items like clothing, books and school supplies, publicize community events, and alert the public to vital issues related to the community, the nation and the world.
It goes without saying that there also has to be a way to maintain contact and to reach out to groups and individuals that are marginalized or feel uncomfortable getting involved or don’t use the internet.
Developing a tool like this is a huge undertaking that would need the expertise of programmers, tech companies, charitable foundations, libraries, designers and more. But things have changed drastically in the past year and new tools are called for. I ask everyone reading this post spread the word and get people thinking about how my proposal could be improved and implemented. There is no way that I could do it but I hope someone takes this idea or another one like it and runs with it. Maybe someone has already started!
And now, some creative posts about the past few weeks from around the Internet.
Sign making and the Boston Women’s March from the Be Creative Mary blog
For us visual thinkers, A guide to Trump care from economixcomix
From The Economist, a Visual Guide to the Trump Administration
What you can do now, 10 Actions for the First 100 Days
And finally, let me point out that this is not the first time in world history that existing societies could not address the challenges of rapid change. For those interested in looking at the past to see how other societies reacted to turbulent change, check out The Axial Ages of World History: Lessons for the 21st Century by