Listen and respect one another.
Find your voice. Use your voice.
Pursue your rainbows.
We have heard that the village raises up a child. What do we do, however, if the village has inadequate infrastructure, health disparities, high crime and poverty, lack of accessible pharmacies and fresh foods, and educational and financial literacy challenges? Threatened on many levels, the village nears the breaking point.
If you’re George Maxey, you listen and help the villagers create a movement.
Maxey has served as the Executive Director of the New Town Success Zone (NTSZ) in Jacksonville, Florida since 2015. Brought to life in 2008 with the help of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, NTSZ serves an area of about 3,000 to 4,000 people in a small (one to two-mile) geographic zone. On a recent visit to the Center for the Prevention of Health Disparities at Edward Waters College, Maxey told me about the importance of keeping people connected to their dreams, aspirations, and hopes.
The NTSZ lacked basic resources. The nearest pharmacy was two miles away. It was a food desert. Nevertheless, the founding director (the person before Maxey) reminded the neighbors they could reach their goals. Their personal and neighborhood rainbows were more than fantasies. If they worked to achieve those dreams they would create their reality.
Maxey carried that message forward. He, also, realized the neighbors needed to organize in order to be heard. They had to create a movement and “build infrastructure and social capital for neighborhoods with significant disparities in child outcomes.” Among other things, he wanted to hear their views about the lingering health disparities in the NTSZ. He gathered the community “gatekeepers” (the defacto leaders) together. And he listened. And he learned. More importantly, he gave the neighbors a platform to develop and share their collective voice. What were their community goals?
People have to have a say-so about what is going on in their community if we want change to take root. Maxey asked the gatekeepers, “Where do you want to see the community go? What do you want? What are you willing to do to get what you need to be successful?”
Reminds me of what Queen Latifah told a graduation class, “Home shapes you, make sure you shape it back.”
Dreams give us direction. To move toward the dreams we need to take action. Our actions (or inactions) create our reality. The same for a community.
The neighbors said when the basics of the physical infrastructure (trash pickup, sidewalks, lighting, and blight) challenge daily life, it becomes difficult to focus on and address personal health issues. Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
They needed to get organized in order to be heard. Maxey asked, “How can I organize the community to have that voice?” He helped form the Vision Keepers who “do the work required to ensure that the children and the families are making adequate progress towards success.” Accountability reigns.
They collaborated with the sheriff’s office. They invited their city council representative to meetings. They involved HabiJax. The Vision Keepers understood that for them and their neighbors to grow, the “official” leadership of the city had to understand their needs. Not by yelling or threatening but by respecting, educating and supporting the leadership. Speaking. Sharing. Listening.
We can all learn from this civil and respectful approach.
As it moves into its tenth year of existence, NTSZ boasts sustainable and transformative initiatives in the areas of:
- Includes the Two-Generation approach to educate vulnerable children and their caregivers.
- Community Capacity and Sustainability
- Includes development of entrepreneurship and leadership skills.
- Social Wellbeing
- Includes a community garden and wellness workshops.
- Includes a career and personal finance center.
Today the glue—the core value—of forming and maintaining respectful relationships holds this community of strong neighbors together. They keep sustainability foremost in view. Neighbors train neighbors. Maxey believes part of their success comes from their neighbor-to-neighbor focus. It is not about one leader. “We want everyone to be part of the leading process,” he said.
Listen and respect one another.
Find your voice.
Use your voice.
Pursue your rainbows.
And do it all in the name of something bigger than yourself.
To find out more or to join this movement contact 904-470-8899. Or click here.
Video recommendation for the week.
Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.
The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at only $5.99.
My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).
My programs and webinars: website (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).
Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
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