We may have daily concerns on the national security front but I had the opportunity this week to witness some future national leaders that made me excited about the next generation that is interested in getting into public service for our country.
I was invited by an organization called Lead for America to come address their trainees before they headed off for two year assignments back in into their local communities. I had never heard of this program and while it is a tad like Teach for America but with public service at its core instead of education, it is so much more than that.
Lead for America (www.lead4america.org) believes that transformation is local and all engagement starts with where you live or where you are from. This community movement starts with the notion that social fragmentation and national political polarization are among this era’s most significant challenges. Less trust in our neighbors, losing faith in federal institutions and bitter divisions are creating rifts in our social fabrics that then leads to some scary statistics per LFA- more Americans are dying of suicide than automobile crashes and more households have dogs than stable marriages.
LFA believes that the future of our country rests more with localities and communities and their focus is on training bright young college graduates to head back to their local communities and local governments to be hosted by their local leaders to be part of the solution to taking their hometowns the next leap. Bold mission indeed but having spent a few hours with 60 of these young leaders as we talked about broadband deployment in communities, how to tap technology for “the good” and what it takes to be a rural entrepreneur (thanks to the amazing Brent Comstock with BCom Solutions), I am excited to see what these young leaders will be able to do when they return home. We asked the group how many would be returning to a small, rural community and more than half of those hands were raised. At least 4 of the young folks in the room indicated that they would be working on broadband access issues for their rural communities. From tribal interests to small towns across the country, these young folks are dedicating the next two years to public service and being part of the solution. What a better use of time than simply complaining about the way things are.
Start where you live. What an excellent motto.
I am really looking forward to seeing where these young folks go and how they are able to make a difference!