: I recently posted this bog on The City Wire - your community online
("your community" = Fort Smith, AR) and it went over pretty much like a lead ballon (no surprise there). Actually, I really doubt if anyone, other than the one person who commented, even read it. While I will continue to share this idea with people in my area, and I do believe it is a better than "good" idea, if it does ever manifest it will be in some other region where the population has a greater diversity of intelligence and are generally more enlightened. And once it takes root and grows in one place this will pave the way for other cities and regions to adopt and implement it for their own benefit.
While I am not a trained structural engineer, due to the fact that I have worked in the construction industry for many years, I have nevertheless developed some "sense" for structural engineering. And throughout the years I have engineered a numerous variety of construction projects. Finally, I definitely have an affinity for structure whether it be buildings, biological, organizational or other. The reason I am disclosing this information about myself is to prepare you for what is to follow. Hint: it has something to do with structure. :)
As the economic collapse (faulty structure) began to impinge on me early last year, most easily observed in the sudden and drastic decline of calls coming in from people requiring my carpenter services, and learning of so many people losing their jobs with all the negative, rippling ramifications that ensue from such a blow; I started looking at community infrastructure and I noticed that there was a common missing structural support.
This omission, because it is omitted, is very difficult to spot (it's not easy to see what's not there). But, under stressful conditons, such as the collapse of the economy, it came into view. For example: no one noticed the missing railing on the scaffold until the workers fell from the scaffold. Basically, that's how I was able to spot this missing support. People were falling because there wasn't even a scaffold system in place. It required a great deal of stress to be exerted onto the existing community infrastructure to bring this structural omission into view. And the fact that this structural component is absent, compromises the structural integrity of a community under times of stress (especially economic stress).
Once I spotted this missing structural support I looked around to see if there was any community (small or large) that had the support in place. And, I did not find it anywhere. However, I did find that there were several pieces of it that were in use or, had at some point been in use, and were having varying degrees of effectiveness. But I did not see the "whole enchilada" in existence anywhere.
Okay, it's idea time and I know where I am. And I know, from first hand personal experience, that the city of Fort Smith, Ar, is not all that fertile of ground when it comes to getting "new" ideas to germinate much less grow and flourish. On the other hand, though, I have been observing a shift of attitude and action taking place in Fort Smith in a direction, which gives me a great deal of encouragement that Fort Smith can soon begin to realize some of that incredible potential that it possesses and that so often gets referred to. Because of this gradual new shift of attitude occurring, I decided to go ahead and give this a shot i.e., putting this idea out onto the table by way of a public blog.
This is a "new" idea, although, I would be astonished if it was an original idea. In fact, I would be surprised if there weren't tens of thousands of others around the world who are having myriad variations of this idea bounce around in their heads at this very instant. But having the idea and acting on the idea are two very different things and are light years apart. Therefore, I believe that if citizens of Fort Smith could embrace this notion, join in on the creation process (it's far from being fully formed) and bring it into a viable manifestation, that history could be made. Everything has got to start somewhere and this might as well start here. That being said, and not to be self-effacing, I am very aware of the fact that "I" am the easiest person for "me" to fool that I know of.. And if I am fooling myself with this I'm sure I will be quickly made aware of it.
Collecting The Pieces
I mentioned earlier that I had looked around to see if I could see this "misssing structural support" not missing in some other community. And, as I also mentioned, I did not find the whole but I did find some viable pieces. Here are some of the pieces: Job Corp, WPA, Vo-Tech schools, barn raising and temp labor services. I threw these pieces into a blender and got a result something like V-8. I consider it to be the missing structural support of community infrastructure of which the installation and use of will contribute greatly to having a substantially more formidable community integrity.
Pouring From The Blender...
is already in use I decided to tag this idea, CPG
= The Citizens Philanthropy Group
CPG is, as I see it, a polyfaceted SOLUTION
to a multitude of urban problems. The concept of Citizens Philanthrophy is quite simple, however, the actualization of the concept will require adroit organization of multitudes of interwoven and sophisticated complexities (the devil is in the details). But before we go any further let's take a close look at the meaning of the wonderful word philanthrophy.
1.The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.
2.Love of humankind in general.
3.Something, such as an activity or institution, intended to promote human welfare.
(Source: American Heritage Dictionary)
Isn't philanthropy a wonderul word? In my opinion, now, maybe more than ever, we need people being active philanthropists the world over.
THE CITIZENS PHILANTHROPY GROUP OVERVIEW
The CPG project has to do with the fabrication and installation of a new strata of infrastructure that helps to both reinforce and sustain the integrity of the community that avails itself of this new structural component. This new component of the region's infrastructure will be many things to many people. To some it will be a much needed safety net that will catch them if they happen to expectantly or unexpectedly get decoupled from their job. To others it will be a toe hold, or even ladder, that they can perhaps use to help them climb up and out of a condition of poverty and onto a stable stepping stone of opportunity. Thus, being able to make a better life for themselves and their family. And to others, it will be a place of refuge, where they can go and regroup while simultaneously being productive in a purposeful activity that is bettering their community as well as receiving a monetary exchange for their contribution. Then, for some, it will be a place where they will be able to escape the confines of a life that has become isolated, lonely and without purpose. For youth that are just emerging into the world of work it will provide an incredibly diversified training ground where they can get hands-on work experience, learn from others who are seasoned in the work-a-day world, develop a worthy work ethic and establish a documented work history. Finally, for the community at large, this new infrastructure, will bring into existence one worthwhile idea after another where the materialization of each idea will specifically serve to significantly enhance the overall community's livability quotient for one and all.
CPG is postulated to be a non profit organization that is membership based. All the operating capital and funding for CBG sanctioned projects comes from its members as an act of individual or group philanthropy. Therefore, the larger the membership base the more philanthropy, the more funding and the more beneficial community projects that will be conceived, started and completed. Not to mention, the ever-growing number of citizens engaged in viable community service.
CPG is an inclusive organization. It provides the opportunity for any citizen to easily be a powerful contributing factor in an enterprise that will only act to better the quality of life and place of all residents in the Greater Fort Smith region. While CPG has a core administrative body that adroitly manages the enormous number of organizational and production details, it is the membership that both originates, determines, and drives the activity of the group by a multi-phased sophisticated voting process. In other words, members originate and propose projects to the group and the group, via a tiered voting system, filters through the many proposed projects to choose what project to execute.
The inner and outer workings of CPG are completely visible for all to see. CPG is 100% transparent. CPG is not intended, nor is it set up to be, an enterprise that could be considered to be a career for anyone. The CPG organizational structure is fixed and stable but the personnel (not to be confused with the membership, although a member, in many cases, will also be personnel) are transient and in constant motion. This is actually, in part, an educational factor and is an integral part of the organizational design.
CPG is a citizen's group and is a NGO (nongovernmental organization). It does, though, work very closely with the city as is necessary in the coordination and enactment of its projects.
CPG is not a competitor with local entrepreneurs, business or other nonprofits. Instead, its existence and production will only serve to enhance the opportunities for the region's entrepreneurs, businesses and charitable organizations.
The installation of CPG into the region's infrastructure will bring about incredible benefits for the area. Because of the emergence of CPG there will be things that will come to be that could not have otherwise occurred. CPG is going to add an infrastructural element that will secure a level of stability and sustainability that has not previously existed in the Greater Fort Smith region.
Basically, CPG is old time barn raising resurrected but with a Twenty-first Century twist. And, it is a game that everyone can play and win! And, I happen to think, that Fort Smith could be the first city to implement such a device and thereafter be the working model for other cities to emulate.
Obviously, this idea is far from being thought through. There is much work yet to be done in order to "flesh" it out. But, as I see it, I consider it both necessary and vital that the "fleshing" out of CPG be accomplished by numerous individuals working in concert. CPG is a team project.
No doubt while you were reading this there were questions springing forth and, as you think it over, there it is likely that there will be many more questions that arise. That being noted, and not to be rude, but I want to encourage you to answer your own questions. I say this because the instant you begin to ask and answer your own questions about the CPG idea, you have joined into the creative process. And if this thing has any hope of germinating, much less growing, that's how it's going to happen.