Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about:
Carolyn and I went to the 20th Annual Polaris Awards Wednesday night, the primary fundraiser for Leadership Greater Hartford. LGH trains and connects ordinary citizens in greater Hartford who want to volunteer to work on projects that serve our community. (Coke is fizz and sugar and caffeine. LGH is more than that, but it’s hard to capture in a few words what LGH does. And LGH doesn’t rot your teeth.) I participated in LGH 40 years ago.
In some ways, the Polaris Awards event is a lot like other fundraisers for charities – a networking party with food and drinks, followed by awards and promotion of the organization, followed by dessert and more drinks and networking, with a silent auction and opportunities to make donations. What’s different about the Polaris Awards is that the event isn’t dominated by Hartford’s movers and shakers, the big names who move in certain circles. Sure, there is the occasional bank president, corporate executive, or mayoral candidate, but by and large the Polaris Awards night is attended by ordinary people who share one thing: a desire to do good things in our community, and to celebrate others who do those things, too.
What the awards did for me is remind me just how many people are out there doing interesting and challenging things for the benefit of our community. It seemed like everyone there was focused on one project or another, either through LGH or on their own. The list of award winners demonstrates the depth and breadth of community involvement in greater Hartford:
– Hartford Public Library, Community Award for being “an active catalyst for connectivity, creativity, and literacy.”
– Christopher Clarke, the Connections award for his passionate leadership of business and community organizations in Hartford and West Hartford.
– Doris Rivera, the Leadership Award for a lifetime of helping others.
– Paul Dworkin, the Visionary Award for “his contributions to building access to quality healthcare for underserved” children.
We saw people there we’ve volunteered with, we saw friends we never knew were active in LGH, we saw young adults who are part of a new generation that wants to help and build. Some of those young adults were friends of our children when they were in elementary school and high school.
I felt good about the people in our community who are invested in making things better. Congratulations to the award winners, and thanks to LGH and all of its volunteers.
Changing gears for a minute, I had a random thought the other day. Something on the order of two million people are entering the U.S. each year through its southern border. Something on the order of 42 million people get food assistance in the U.S., and that number has been fairly constant over several years. Something on the order of 600,000 people are homeless in the U.S., and that number also has been fairly constant. Doesn’t that mean that two million people are entering the US each year and finding ways to house and feed themselves without significant assistance? If that weren’t true and all those immigrants were going on the dole, the food assistance and homeless numbers would be increasing.
Now, I don’t pretend to understand much of anything about the immigration issues that are so often in the news today, but the capacity of the U.S. economy to afford people an opportunity to support themselves is quite amazing. Some of the those two million immigrants probably are engaged in illegal activities to earn a living, and some no doubt have been coerced into unfortunate work circumstances, but it’s quite likely that most are working (albeit undocumented) at real jobs and making their way. There’s a limit to how many immigrants the U.S. can support, and we probably shouldn’t allow unlimited immigration from some regions of the world while strictly limiting immigration from others, but this country has the economic capacity to support more people than just those who have been living here historically. The U.S. continues to be the land of opportunity, and that’s why people want to come here.
Just a random thought.
Finally, want to see something really cool? Watch the latest in drone home delivery. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOWDNBu9DkU. 21 minutes. It’s interesting on several levels. I got it from a geek who grew up in my house before going off to geek college and filling his own house with geek juniors.