Google+ Badge

Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Return on Investment: The Promise of Infrastructure and Design Efforts

My brother and I often debate political and cultural issues on Sunday mornings. We push each others' thinking continuously.

Today our conversation began with the snowstorm. My brother witnessed an accident last night. The driver of the very large snow truck was a young man with no license. The driver of the car that got hit was a father with his children. My brother watched the large truck drive into the car. Fortunately no one was hurt.

My brother guessed that the young driver was likely an immigrant and possibly an illegal immigrant. We wondered together why the snow removal company would hire a young man without a license to drive such a large piece of equipment. We both felt empathy for all involved in the accident. As a young man who needs to survive, money is important and if he is an illegal immigrant, it makes it difficult to get a job. Company owners can make more money if they hire illegals and pay them a low wage, but by doing this they put people like the father, his kids, and the young immigrant in jeopardy.

That pushed us into a discussion about immigration which led to a discussion about culture and opportunity and ended up at the value of good infrastructure that invites positive living. I referred to the terrific NPR piece that was featured yesterday about the troubles in Chicago--troubles that also found roots in immigration issues, joblessness, and cultural norms/practice.

My brother over the years has always put great value into the need for communities to develop strong culture, recreation, care for one another, and fair, just laws. Long ago he predicted many of the social problems we face today due to our national actions overseas. If wealthy countries take advantage of poorer countries, people will want to leave those countries and their homelands for opportunity. We have to be cognizant as a people about how we treat each other near and far and work together for the fair and just opportunity for all. As we talked about culture, we discussed the "slave class" that seems to exist in America today--a class that includes young people like the snow truck driver, people who may be undocumented or unable to work for a fair wage and therefore are taken advantage of by others who are driven mostly by financial success.  We discussed the complexity of today's communities and ideas about betterment. How do we grow better communities with fair, just opportunity? How do our personal choices make a difference?

The conversation reminded me of my idea to develop an experiential elementary school campus as we discussed the fact that when communities come together to build infrastructure that inspires and/or adds value to life, there is almost always a big return. He used Boston's Big Dig as one example of this.

In summary, this wandering post brings me back once again to my father's wise words about a "little for today and a little for tomorrow." We need to make sure that our daily decisions and choices are ethical, law abiding, and positive. For example the decision of the snow removal company to hire an unlicensed driver was a bad decision. Perhaps it was well intended, but, in the end, it was a bad decision. One that they'll hopefully recognize after this accident and not repeat. And, we also have to think about our investment, contribution, and collaboration around Big Think and big decisions, the kinds of decisions that truly empower our communities. Big Think decisions I'll be thinking of include the following:
  • How can Massachusetts continue to improve our infrastructure to create greater opportunity for all? One big project will be improving transportation opportunities so that people throughout the state can get to jobs, cultural venues, and other opportunities readily and safely.
  • How can I contribute to school decisions so that we continue to build a top notch school system where all students are well educated with skill, concept, knowledge, and valuable experience?
  • How can I contribute to the organizations I belong to in order to create better living and opportunity for those I love and live with and near?
There's amazing potential and opportunity all around us, and it takes the voice of all to make our communities and country the successful, worthy, and valuable place to live that's possible. What will you do in this regard?