society in crisis: where do we go from here?

News | January 3, 2019

by Jennifer Harris, Ph.D., Senior Vice President Graham-Pelton Consulting


We need to take time to interact with one another and build real relationships: true, authentic connections, not just negotiated transactions. We need to empower local communities in all aspects of funding initiatives. Foundations and corporate investors should consider working hand in hand with local leaders when setting funding priorities and investments. Don’t try to set goals from a distance for others to carry out. Work through an empowerment framework. Healthy communities are built on trust and collaboration. Through this kind of focused community-building, philanthropy can be a convener of hope and change.


Take time out of your day to build relationships beyond your current network. It’s unhealthy to subscribe and listen only to people who support your own point of view. Remember, there are real people behind Tweets, emails, and reports online. When we remember the human part of our humanity, the conversation can change in useful and authentic ways. Be vulnerable and try to listen for similarities:  I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve felt that.


And we mean really listening.  If we can get outside of our social media and traditional media biases and echo chambers, we can realize there are a lot of different conversations going on. And if we really listen to one another, without judgment, and really take the time to listen and learn, we may just crack the discourse open, for the benefit of all of us.  Nona Evans from Whole Kids and Whole Cities Foundations concluded the event saying, “I hope everyone truly takes the opportunity to reflect on today.” It’s in reflection that the truth of our unity can shine!


“When you come down to the block level, divisions go away as we work to improve our community.  We’re focused on building the social fabric of trust.”
-Cheryl Hughes, The Chicago Community Trust

“It is essential to listen to the communities in which we work…. We need to give people the tools to be amplifiers in the philanthropy space. We need to give them the tools to tell their stories.”
-Delia de la Vara, Unidos US

“It is our responsibility to bring people together, we have an opportunity within our positions to mentor, and we need to think big so that we can imagine a bigger future.”
-Will Shafroth, National Park Foundation

“Solutions must represent the community….Do we have diversity in thought? If not, we are furthering the divide in our communities.”
-Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation

“Philanthropy is civic engagement….How can we collaborate to build resiliency? After all, to improve democracy means more democracy.”
-Cheryl Hughes

“Relationship building is key in harnessing the media’s power and its ability to elevate society.”
-Nona Evans, Whole Kids, and Whole Cities Foundations

“We need to find ways to engage a broader community around missions and shared experiences.”
-Will Shafroth

“We need to break the big (social) problems down until they are manageable and hopeful.”
-Nona Evans


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