Foreign Policy Blogs

1,000 Friends

On Wednesday, I joined thirty of my fellow citizens to listen as my city and a local non-profit presented a land use and transportation plan for the next sixty years.  The meeting, promoted as a call to arms, was slightly lackluster – as the city didn't seem full of passion for the plan, the non-profit fixated on letter writing as their strategy, and the audience moaned “we’ve seen this, done this before”.  As the conversation swirled around the issues, the goals, the players – someone mentioned the “1,000 Friends” strategy.  Reaching across neighborhoods, disciplines, organizations, and politics to develop a coalition of committed citizens who could stand up to the status quo (currently, single family home developers and the city council).

In two hours, no decision was reached on many of these fronts and letter writing was dismissed as a waste of talented peoples time.  Still, at two hours, no one had left.

This meeting struck a chord because it was such a contrast to the imagery I consumed when I returned home.  The Democratic National Convention was on, and Joe Biden was up to bat.  All week long I’ve watched, with my heart beating a little faster and my hopes rising a little quicker that this could really work, this time.

The similarities between the two events came as I read the many-paged 2008 Democratic Platform  and wondered, how on earth is all of this going to get done?

Being this the philanthropy blog, I did a quick search of the word in the document and sadly only came up with two entries.  But upon a closer read – the topics are all there: health care, global health, education, environment,  poverty, and on and on.  There is nothing easy about what the Democrats are trying to accomplish.

In both my local area and across the country, it will take 1,000 Friends – or higher multiples of this number – to make the change which we are seeking.   It will take “no one leaving” even when the strategies and tactics feel a bit loose-knit and ambiguous in their outcomes.  If you think too much about the challenges, it is overwhelming – but just knowing that people share your desire is energizing.

A bit of an idealistic blog to end this week, but one that is also a call – to apply your time, treasure, and talent to those areas in which you care the most.  And if you’re not sure where to start, the Democrats certainly have created a list from which you can borrow.