Look beyond losses to goals of the future
This week, Detroit has hosted some of the nation’s most powerful philanthropic leaders. On Wednesday, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation held its trustee meeting here, which included panel discussions and a community tour. On Thursday, Living Cities, an innovative collaborative of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, also held its board meeting in Detroit. I was able to participate on two panels to introduce these leaders to the culture, strengths, challenges and grit of Detroit. On the first panel, I moderated a session on the health conditions and health care options available in Detroit, especially as it relates to diverse and vulnerable communities, such as children, women, the indigent, Spanish and Arabic speakers, and Muslims. On the second panel, I along with steadfast community leaders like Sue Mosely and Laura Trudeau discussed how Detroiters are working differently to transform the Woodward Corridor, which includes downtown, Midtown and Northend neighborhoods, into a place where socio-economic diversity, racial equity and economic prosperity collide and co-exist.
Visitors often remind us to dust our furniture and shine our floors. They also remind us to tell our story, the good and bad. It forces us to reshape our own narrative and clarify it. So often, we allow others to tell our stories or we focus on our losses that we forget to share our strengths, like our determination and grit, or our assets, like our people and institutions. Detroiters, let's tell our own story, but let’s not focus on the past, let’s focus on our future.
-- Tonya Allen is the Foundation's Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Program.
2/09/2012 at 1:12 am