George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s idea of living being easy in the summer just can’t be applied anymore. Even through it is the traditional vacation time, it seems that work follows no matter where you go. There is little down time anymore due to smartphones and personal digital assistants that can track you even to areas supposedly without service.
It is remarkable the recharging that can take place with even just 48 hours off the grid. When you look at the story that starts on the facing page, the sector needs big ideas and they won’t come (generally) from sleep deprivation and the 29-hour workday.
Post a sign: Purveyors of big ideas are needed.
There is softness about this economic recovery, even though the nation is doing better and the stock market has retaken its losses. The economy has not yet found its equilibrium. Americans are learning to do without comfort and necessities they had come to expect. There will be more program cuts as government at all levels deals with decades of deficits and deals that put future generations in financial jeopardy.
America and the philanthropic sector can grow out of this situation but it is going to take big ideas — and not those from pitchmen who really haven’t done much but lecture to the sector solely to be provocative.
The big ideas will come not from a solitary thinker but from collaboration and conversation, from prodding and stimulation, from like and dissimilar minds attempting to poke holes in theories and then finding a way to make the concept whole. Most of all, there needs to be exploration of the sector’s role in this new normal and civility amongst the investigators.
There is some interesting work rolling down parallel tracks. There are thinkers working toward what it means to be an American and working within this sector. There are funders seeding the discussion between rivals for finding a path to being one America that allows a difference of opinion without scorn. In-depth polling as to what the public believes the sector should be doing is underway and efforts to rebrand the sector are being studied. They’ll probably find out that if you have to search for a mission or need help branding your efforts, then those attempts at relevance can’t be helped with blunt force.
The coming fall season of conferences will convene many of these sector ponderers and hopefully new ideas will development.
Until then, take another tug on that beer. Hit the beach or the lake or a ball game. Think about where the sector needs to be and then get involved in the discussion on charting how to get there. It beats beach volleyball in 100-degree weather. NPT