Random Thoughts…

Random thoughts on the passing scene…

Last week, I shared that I was invited to be the inaugural speaker for the “Paw Power Hour” at Palm Beach State College’s Boca Raton campus.

What an honor, what a turnout, what a wonderful opportunity to interact with students and faculty.

We talked about leadership in difficult times, careers, education, entrepreneurship, and the challenges facing students (and educators) in a high-priced economy that is challenging for everyone.

Provost Van Williams is striving to build a special culture on the south campus and based on the people I met, it’s working.

I love the mission of state colleges and believe they perform an essential role in our society.

If you have a chance, visit the campus, sign up for a course and tell our legislators that we need to support the men and women who are educating our future workforce.

These types of institutions often fly under the radar, but places like Palm Beach State College are the backbone of our community.

I was grateful for the opportunity to learn and share a little of my story.

I was also thrilled to learn about the existence of the Kimmel Leadership Academy.

A group of 27 students recently went through the program thanks to a generous gift from the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Foundation.

The Kimmel’s live in Delray. They are wonderful contributors and philanthropists.

The curriculum for the Kimmel Leadership Academy, based on the Social Change Model of Leadership, was developed by Dr. Kalisha Waldon, a professor at the PBSC Boca Raton campus. It emphasizes seven key values that individuals, groups and communities should strive for to create change through leadership.

The participants were picked from nearly 100 applicants. During the academy, students learned about team building, personal branding, understanding their values, etiquette, and other topics. Each student also received a $1,000 scholarship and were  recognized at a campus awards banquet.

This is the kind of effort we need to build our next generation of leaders.

PBSC is doing their part and it’s so exciting.

The Vital Role of Local News

I’ve long been passionate about the importance of local journalism.

So I’ve been pouring through new research released by the Democracy Fund that shows the power of local news done right.

Some of the takeaways to ponder:

  • Strong local journalism = more people turning out to vote. 

 

  • Weak local journalism = fewer people vote.

 

  • Thorough local journalism helps people be less biased when considering candidates for office.

 

  • Quality local journalism can counter divisive national narratives that contribute to polarization.

 

  • Every dollar spent on local news produces hundreds of dollars in public benefit by exposing corruption and monitoring government spending. 

 

  • People feel a stronger sense of community in places that have strong local journalism.

 

  • Local news keeps communities informed during times of upheaval, like disasters, protests, and pandemics — when people need critical information to engage their communities and leaders.
  • Important to remember: Local news isn’t inherently good for communities just because it’s local. It needs to be good local journalism.

I’ve long felt we’ve been underserved and ill-served by some of our local media—sorry guys. TV news does a good job with weather stories but lacks enterprise or investigative journalism and print has dried up.

The lack of a local water cooler—so to speak—gives rise to lots of misinformation on the Internet and social media that can be very harmful to a community.

In Delray, we have seen voter turnout crater. That’s not the sign of a healthy community. Local government matters and those who get elected can and do have an outsize impact on our quality of life.

Back in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, locals had a rich diet of local news: The Monday-Thursday papers, Boca/Delray News, Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel and even the Miami Herald (on big stories) covered all aspects of local government. People were informed and involved. It made a difference.

 

Which leads me to Friends of Delray.

For a long time, I stayed away. I was rooting for them and I supported the mission of bringing the community together, promoting transparency and good government, but I’ve seen prior efforts fizzle and quite frankly I’m exhausted. It’s time for a new generation of leadership to step up and right the ship.
Seeing a once independent and successful CRA taken over by politicians in the middle of the night and Old School Square evicted from the campus it created, loved and supported for 30 plus years takes the wind out your sails. Life is just too short.

But I like this group. We haven’t had this spirit here  in quite some time.  Their work is needed. so I will do my part.  I hope you will check them out and if you like what you see. maybe you can help too. They need the community behind them.

Their website, e-blasts, social media posts and now podcast/videos are not traditional journalism per se. There is a point of view, but from where I sit that point of view is to promote local non-profits, urge citizen involvement, strive for transparency in government and dialogue among neighbors. They seem very reasonable and we can sure use reason.

Check it out and make up your own mind. Here’s a link to their site which includes articles and a link to their newly launched podcast. https://www.friendsofdelray.us/

Goodbye and thank you Fed

He never did play the Delray Open.

Sigh.

But that’s about the only gap in Roger Federer’s resume.

The tennis legend announced his retirement last week thanks to age and a balky knee.

What a career!

What a gentleman!

Fed has been the best ambassador for his sport imaginable and leaves behind an unforgettable legacy and is a case study in grace and class.

So, whether you play tennis at Path Reef Park or Pickleball at Pompey Park you may want to channel your inner Federer and see where it leads.

He will be missed.

Reading List

I’m on a reading tear lately and I thought I would share some of the books that are well worth your time.

“Saved by a Song” by singer Mary Gauthier is an honest, emotional and raw autobiography of an artist I have grown to love and admire.

Music is so powerful and such a restorative force in our lives. Mary’s song “Mercy Now” should be an anthem for our time. It’s certainly an antidote for some of the poison and hatred in the air these days. She’s coming to the Broward Center in January and we got tickets. I can’t wait.

“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott has long been on my radar. As someone who loves to write, I’ve been told that Lamott’s book was a must read. I finally got around to it and she delivered. A great treatise on the joy and difficulties of the writing life told by a sensitive soul.

“Like a Rolling Stone” by Jann Wenner is a tome and I just started it but can’t put it down. The founder of Rolling Stone magazine has met all of my heroes and he’s a terrific storyteller. What a life…

 

Until next week.

 

 

Thank You Janet….

C. Ron Allen and Janet Meeks greet students on the first day of school at Carver Middle.

“Many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.” — From the poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray.

I came across that line in something I read recently.

I can’t put my finger on what I was reading but the phrase stirred something in me, so I wrote it down.

And when I revisited my note, it made me wonder: what does it mean to be a flower born to be ‘unseen’?

As I thought about the phrase, I felt it related to beauty or value that doesn’t get recognized or appreciated.

To be honest, I’m not one for poetry unless of course you are talking about song lyrics which have always fascinated me.

“Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice

In the church where a wedding has been

Lives in a dream

Waits at the window, wearing the face

That she keeps in a jar by the door

Who is it for?”

Now that’s poetry….

But something about this particular Thomas Gray poem resonated. So, I looked it up and I learned that it’s about the universality of death and how our inevitable end serves as a leveling force that brings all people, rich or poor, to the same final fate.

I know. I know. You didn’t bargain for something this heavy on Monday morning. But please bear with me, we get sunnier as this goes on.

Thomas Gray wrote the poem after the death of a friend. It’s meant to be a tribute to the common man and is considered Gray’s masterpiece.

Pretty impressive stuff.

Wouldn’t it be nice to create something that others call your masterpiece?

Regardless, perhaps the beauty of poetry (or a song lyric)  is  that the reader gets to assign their own meaning to the words on the page.

For instance, the Bob Dylan classic “Lay, Lady, Lay” was said to be written about or for Barbra Streisand. Isn’t that wild? Who knew?
But as much as I appreciate Ms. Streisand, when I hear the song, I don’t think about her. And I don’t think about death when I read “Elegy.” To me, the poem speaks to undiscovered or underappreciated beauty.

Not to get all philosophical on this Monday morning, but that’s a concept that reverberates!

So, let’s think about the unsung heroes and heroines in our lives and communities.

Let’s make sure they are not “unseen,” let’s recognize them, let’s thank them, and let’s appreciate them. Now, while we still can.

I’ve been thinking about those extraordinary and sometimes unsung people because I’m on a committee planning a special Delray Chamber gala set for spring 2023. Never too early to mark your calendars!

Details are still being worked out but there’s a consensus that we would like the event to honor some of the special people who made a difference—many of them quietly.

The big shots get the glory, but the folks in the trenches make it happen. That’s true in business and it’s true in communities.

These special people should not go unseen. Their stories need to be told, remembered, and shared so that future generations may know.

I believe in the old proverb—when eating fruit, remember who planted the tree.

One of those special people who made a huge difference was honored Aug. 25 at the Delray Chamber’s Annual Education Breakfast. Janet Meeks, Delray’s long time Education Coordinator, is retiring. She’s a special person and should not go ‘unseen’ as the poet would say.

I couldn’t make the breakfast, but I sent some brief remarks. Below is an expanded version of what I sent.

 

I am sorry I can’t be with you to celebrate the start of another school year and the end of a remarkable career.

I was there at the beginning in 2001, when Janet Meeks invited me, a new commissioner, to lunch at the old Annex restaurant in Pineapple Grove to discuss an idea. Janet wanted to become the education coordinator for the City of Delray Beach.

In typical style, Janet laid out the facts about why the city needed to dedicate someone full-time to education in Delray Beach even though it was the School Board not the city that was responsible for local schools.

I was sold, instantly.

Not only on the need for our city to have someone who could help us improve our schools, but I was sold on Janet, the person. She’s special—hard working, dedicated and data driven. She has a heart of gold and a ton of vision.

The mayor and commission at the time were richly rewarded for supporting Janet’s initiative. Subsequent Mayors and commissioners have also benefited from Janet’s hard work and her unique ability to see the big picture: there are public servants and then there are public servants. Janet has always gone the extra mile. Janet Meeks has made a difference.

During my time in office, we decided to move Atlantic High School so we could build a new and larger facility to bring our children back home and add career academies.

We also started the Principal For a Day program to bring business and civic leaders into our schools, we championed the modernization of Spady Elementary School, created the Eagle Nest construction program, worked with community partners to add  Beacon Programs at Village Academy and the Achievement Center, developed a new Teen Center, saw the opening of a new Boys and Girls Club, provided afterschool and summer programs to stop the “summer slide” in learning and launched the Get Caught Reading program which gave books to children. We also launched citizen academies to build relationships with our stakeholders. That was just our term in office….she’s done a whole lot more.

Janet spearheaded it all….and then some. In short, she has been an amazing asset for this city.

Over the years, we’ve become good friends, so I’m excited for the next chapter. Janet leaves a legacy of achievement…she created this job and set the bar high.  Those of us lucky enough to work with her will always love and appreciate our remarkable friend. Good luck Janet…thanks for asking me to lunch all those years ago. You hit it out of the park my friend and a generation of Delray children are grateful for your care and concern.

To The Class of 2022…

The Arts Garage was a nice venue for the EdVenture Class of 2022 to celebrate.

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the commencement of the EdVenture Charter School. The event was held at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach. It was a moving ceremony because each of the graduates had to overcome a lot of challenges to earn their diploma. It was a stark reminder that many of our young people face steep odds and that we are fortunate to have educators, counselors and volunteers who devote their lives to ensuring that they have a shot. I want to thank my friends Barbara Fitz, the executive director of the school, and board member Jennifer Costello-Robertson for inviting me.

I thought I’d share my commencement speech in the hopes that others may be inspired to volunteer on behalf of our children. They are the future and we need these young people to succeed maybe more now than ever.

 

To the graduates, parents, educators, staff, board and assembled guests…thank you for the honor and the privilege of being with you on this important day.

I’m deeply touched to be here.

I’m impressed by what I have learned about the EdVenture Charter School and I happen to be acquainted with your Executive Director Barbara Fitz and one of your board members Jennifer Costello-Robertson. They are both very special leaders. You are fortunate to have them in your lives.

10 years ago, a high school graduation speech went viral on the internet. A teacher named David McCollough told the graduates of Wellesley High School that they were not special.

It was an interesting message…and it was meant to advise students to put their phones down, stop taking selfies and think about others. I think that is good advice.

But I am here today, to tell you that you are special.

You are part of a unique class of graduates.

Your high school experience at EdVenture Charter School will forever be linked to a pandemic that has taken the lives of over 1 million Americans. I was almost in that category. I am lucky to be here having gotten Covid before there was an effective vaccine or even a treatment. I spent 40 days on oxygen at a hospital just up the road.

I was fortunate.

Many of the people who got sick during that Covid wave ended up passing away.

Life teaches us to count our blessings and to understand that we must make our time here count.

You have all been through a lot to earn your high school diploma.

You studied through an historic pandemic…you persevered through an experience that nobody in the past 100 years had to live through and you thrived. You are resilient, you are strong and yes you are special.

You are a special graduating class.

Your journey in life is just beginning but you’ve already learned some key lessons.

Life is unpredictable.

Life is fragile and education is the key to success in a world that is changing rapidly.

I graduated high school in 1982…40 years ago.

There were no cell phones, most families didn’t have a computer, there were no streaming services, there was no internet and there was no social media.

Apple the company was around but when most people heard the word they thought of a fruit, not a Mac computer or an iPhone.

Amazon was a river, MTV played music videos and the word “selfie” did not exist.

All of this is to say, that one day, you will look back on your high school years and be amazed at the changes you have experienced.

 

EdVenture was established in 1988 to support students who were falling through the cracks. Its mission is to help you learn grit and determination.

Those are the two skills that will guarantee you a successful life.

The third skill is a love of learning.

You don’t have to love school, but if you love learning…. you will go far in life.

And we need you to go far. We need you to make a positive difference.

 

Your generation has been handed a mixed bag….

We carry more technology in our pockets than most presidents had access too.

We are blessed to live in a world where scientists are unlocking answers to disease and sickness.

We have so much to be thankful for….and yet there are challenges too.

The world can be a hard and a dangerous place as we have seen these past two weeks with mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.….you will need grit and determination to get where you want to go.

We all have individual paths…personal journeys that we all must take. But while your grit and determination will mean so much….so will your network. Family, friends and community count for a lot.

If you have a supportive family, that’s wonderful. Some of us may not be as fortunate, please don’t let that stop you. Find, keep and cherish your friends. Build and be part of a community. Nobody succeeds alone…we all need a hand.

 

40 years ago….when I stood under a hot sun waiting for my diploma I had no idea where my life would take me. I knew I was going to college, but I ended up not liking where I started and transferring to a school far away from home.

When I left for Oswego, New York, on the banks of Lake Ontario, I didn’t know that I would never come home again. Oh, there were visits and weekends, but that was it…. I never lived at home again.

Life takes you places you don’t plan for. And that’s the magic of life…Savor it all….

My journey took me to Florida after I graduated and into a career as a newspaper reporter, a business owner and eventually the mayor of Delray Beach. I didn’t foresee any of that happening.

I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.

After leaving politics, I went back into business and worked with the team that had purchased a controlling share of an energy drink called Celsius.

I never thought I would be an executive at a beverage company….

But I have learned to say yes to adventure. I have learned to not let my fears stop me from trying new things and I have discovered that the best things in life are the things that we feel a little uncomfortable about doing….

My wish is that you will take some chances, try new things, and be prepared for the opportunities that life provides.

Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Be responsive. Be open to change.

Don’t let fear ever stop you.
Magic happens when you say yes…but good things happen when you are prepared…so please don’t stop learning….we are all students even when—especially when—we graduate.

 

You’re here because you’ve done a lot of hard work. But more than most, you’ve shown great determination to achieve what you have.

So on you go…

The world needs you.

There is important work to be done and you can make a difference.

Whatever path you choose, take it seriously, but enjoy it. Savor the moments…like this one with beloved family, friends and teachers who care about you.

I wish you all the fullest lives possible. Never lose faith. Never lose heart. We can’t wait to see you thrive. Congratulations!

Congratulations Coco

I think everyone in Delray was glued to the TV Saturday morning to root for hometown heroine Coco Gauff as she vied for her first Grand Slam title in the finals of the French Open.

Coco put up a valiant fight before losing to world number one Iga Swiatek who has won 35 matches in a row.

I’ve been a tennis fan for almost 50 years and for what it’s worth here’s what I saw.

Coco will win her share of slams because she’s not afraid of the moment, she knows she belongs. At age 18, she’s already a force, already a role model. I think she will be one of those “important” athletes whose talent and persona transcend the game. She ran into a buzzsaw in Swiatek, who is also very special. But the great ones often need to taste what the finals feel like before they take the next step and win it all.

Look for Coco to have a big Wimbledon and U.S. Open.

 

Remembering Stan Weedon

We lost a good man recently.

Stan Weedon, a former planner for the City of Delray Beach, has passed away.

A celebration of life is planned for Mr. Weedon, Saturday, June 11 at 1 p.m. at the Indian Hammock Lodge in Okeechobee.

Stan worked in long range planning. My wife worked with him.

Often times, people like Stan Weedon are overlooked but they contribute to the success of a town and we should honor those contributions.

We send our best wishes to Stan’s wife and family.

 

 

 

 

A Look Back Could Be A Map Forward

Joe Gillie leading the All America City effort in 1993.

Over the holidays, we spent some time in the 1990s.

We took the trip back through home movies. It was quite an experience.

This is not a usual “thing” for us, but my ex-wife was in town for Christmas, and she gave us all flash drives filled with memories. It was a wonderful gift and deeply appreciated.

We got to “visit” with relatives since departed and hear voices that we miss so much that our hearts literally ache.

We got to see our children when they were little. It was great.

We were reminded once again of how fast life flies by. The home movie experience makes you nostalgic for what seemed like a simpler time.

It’s the everyday stuff that tugs on your heart; seeing your son dig into his first birthday cake (with his hands). Seeing your now grown daughter hugging a long departed beloved pet. Savor these fleeting scenes….they drift into the mist as the days pass by.

As a new year begins, I think that’s a good message to hold onto. Cherish the good stuff. Hold onto hope in this crazy world.

The home movie binge led us an old video of Delray’s 1993 All America City Award win in Tampa.

It was the city’s first win and the victory put Delray on the map nationally. But more importantly, the All America City designation gave the many citizens who were working to build this community the validation that they were on the right track.

A distinguished group of judges—people who knew cities and asked tough questions—took a look at what Delray was doing and gave the city an enthusiastic thumbs up.

My wife, Diane, then the city’s assistant planning director, filmed the event and we think it may be the only video that exists. We’re not sure why, but I guess nobody thought of filming the event.

Viewed today, almost 30 years later, it’s clear that what happened in Tampa was important local history and I think it ought to be required viewing for anyone interested in what it takes to build community and instill civic pride.

Now as good an urban planner as my wife was, she was not exactly an auteur behind the lens. Scorcese she is not. (Sorry, Diane).

Still, she managed to capture the spirit of this community circa 1993 and that spirit was awe-inspiring.

A few things jump out.

City government was close to its residents.

Neighborhood leaders and the city partnered on a wide range of projects. The Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Rick Overman, was taking community policing to new heights working closely with the grass roots group MAD DADS to take back entire neighborhoods from drug dealers. That effort became legendary, but the video also reveals how integrated the efforts were with the rest of city government. The Community Improvement Department, led by Lula Butler, worked hand in hand with the Planning Department and other city departments to move the needle on blight, crime, and quality of life issues. In those days, everything seemed to be interlocked and when people, systems and organizations are rowing in the same direction you can move mountains. And Delray did.

–There was a laser focus on schools.

When one of the All America City judges asked a tough question about local schools, up came School Board member Bill Graham to testify to the city’s close partnership with the School District. Pretty cool. Delray was a model for other cities on how to partner with the School Board to make meaningful change and they did with new schools (Village Academy), award winning programs (S.D. Spady’s Montessori magnet) and improved facilities (a new Atlantic High School which was built about a decade after the ‘93 All America City Award).

—There was extraordinary camaraderie among citizens.

My favorite parts of the video footage is to see Delray’s diverse community interacting in candid moments. Old and young, Black and white, east and west—there was a real closeness and ease that was evident in those days. Everyone was on board with a common vision. They all shared the same North Star and that’s magical to witness.

I, for one, took that part for granted. Delray was built on vision. Public engagement and involvement was what crafted that vision.

We have gotten away from that and it has caused all sorts of problems.

But in 1993, the community was unified behind Visions 2000 and the Decade of Excellence bond which provided the financing for all sorts of public investments. The citizens backed those efforts because they created the vision and then voted overwhelmingly to fund it.

Those investments yielded an immense return. For the life of me, I will never understand why recent commissions haven’t taken advantage of historically low interest rates (and record tax revenues to satisfy debt) to invest in our infrastructure which is aging and in need of repair.

There’s one more factor that hit me as the camera scanned the crowd and I saw the likes of Frances Bourque, Ken Ellingsworth, Dave Harden, Chris Brown, Tom Fleming, David Kovacs, Robin Smith, Deborah Dowd, Chuck Ridley, Spencer Pompey, Ruth Pompey, Tom Lynch, Jay Alperin, David Kovacs, Helen Coopersmith, Sandra Almy, Ben Bryant, Bob Currie, Dorothy Ellington, Leo Erbstein, Dave Henninger, Mike Weiner, Frank McKinney, Sandy Simon, John Tallentire, Bill Wood and so many others.

These were some really, really special people. The kind of people who move mountains.

All these folks were very different, but they were united in their love for this city, and they gave  their time, talents and treasure to Delray Beach.

I have no doubt that we still have some amazing talent and passion in our city. I see it every day.

But in my opinion our city government is no longer doing the outreach to get people involved. So many people feel adrift as a result.

And it can’t all be blamed on Covid. This drift has been going on long before we heard the word.

We are suffering from a lack of leadership and vision—that’s fatal my friends. Fatal, with a capital F. And if it doesn’t change, you can use that letter to describe what we will be.

We long ago ditched the Town Hall meeting, charrettes and visioning sessions. Now our chances to engage with the city are few and far between and some people have been cancelled because they don’t support the current regime. (see Square, Old School for a prime example).

This isn’t a healthy or productive way to run a city. And the evidence is everywhere (See, turnover and lawsuits for example).

There is a better way.

Sometimes you should look to the past for clues. It is no longer than the 90s. That’s clear. The world has changed.

But some basics never grow old. Kindness, friendship, outreach, engagement and a sincere desire to enlist the community to tackle its challenges will never go out of style. That’s what made us an All America City when that really meant something.

I’ve long ago given up on a few elected officials. Thanks to term limits they will all go some day. But we have a new City Manager. I think he’s the ninth or 50th since Dave Harden retired, I forget which because it has been dizzying to watch. But maybe this one will stick around.

If he’s willing, he ought to spend 20 minutes or so watching the video from 1993. He might get a glimpse of a town that was really working back in those days. He might just learn something.

Email me Mr. Moore. I will make sure you get a copy. I will even find someone who understands what it takes to build community to sit with you (at a respectful social distance of course) and narrate.  I suspect  you are getting a very one-sided view of what Delray is like.  Perhaps you should balance that out.

There are still a few icons from that era who I’m sure would be happy to help you.

 

 

Eleven Signs Your City Will Succeed

The city won a second All America City Award in 2001. So much has changed since, with many of the values that made Delray special abandoned.

Five years ago, award winning journalist James Fallows wrote a groundbreaking article in The Atlantic entitled “Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed.”
The article was a summation of James and Deb Fallows’s 54,000-mile journey around America in a single engine plane. The trip became a best-selling book “Our Towns” and a compelling series on HBO. I highly recommend both.

Considering the tumult in Delray Beach, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the article to see how many signs of success we can check off.

Sadly, even if we grade with a curve, we are not scoring too high these days. But sometimes a poor grade will force you to buck up and do better. We’re still a great town. We just have lousy politics and that can be corrected by electing better leaders. Take the test yourself and let me know what you find.

Here’s a list of Fallows’ 11 traits of successful towns:

  1. Divisive national politics seem a distant concern.

Grade: The City Commission in Delray Beach is a non-partisan body. Partisan politics has no place in city government. But the last two election cycles were highly partisan affairs, and I would argue that the results turned on party affiliation and  not on ideas about how to make Delray a better place. This is not a healthy development. For the record, my party happens to have a majority of voters in Delray, and I still don’t like partisanship on the city level or anywhere frankly. The divisiveness is endangering our Republic and it has hurt Delray too.

 

  1. You can pick out the local patriots. A standard question the Fallows would ask when they landed in a town was “Who makes this town go?” The answers varied widely. Sometimes it was a mayor or a city-council member. Sometimes it was a local business leader or influential real-estate developer. Sometimes a university president or a civic activist, an artist, a historian, or a radio personality. So, who makes our town go?

Grade: As noted in a recent blog, I would suggest that the volunteer and donor class in Delray have been told to pack their bags. Example: Old School Square eviction. When you lose the patriots, the people who roll up their sleeves and get it done, you risk shredding the civic fabric.

 

  1. “Public-private partnerships” are real.

In successful towns, people can point to something specific and say, “this is what a partnership means.”

Grade: In our town, that project was Old School Square. But after 32 years, OSS was treated as a tenant not a partner and shown the door. Other opportunities to partner are being ignored or bitterly rejected. Example: The Set Transformation Plan has languished because the city refuses to engage the residents in the northwest and southwest neighborhoods. This is in stark contrast to the Southwest Plan, which was done with city commissioners and the CRA at the table with the community.

What resulted was a citizen driven plan that the city and CRA helped to fund with millions of dollars in improvements ranging from a gateway feature and a new streetscape on Northwest/Southwest 5th Avenue to the new Catherine Strong Park and an expansion of the Village Academy.

Today, we don’t see these types of efforts. As noted earlier, the Set Transformation Plan and Congress Avenue plan sit on a shelf gathering dust despite the best efforts of citizens.

  1. People know the civic story. America has a “story,” which everyone understands even if some challenge it. A few states have their guiding stories—California is either the ever-promising or the sadly spoiled frontier, Vermont is known as its own separate Eden.

 

Successful cities have their stories too. New York is the Big Apple, always resilient and always at the center of the national conversation, Chicago is the Windy City, the capital of the Midwest and a place where bold visions come true.

Grade: Who is sharing and teaching our civic story? The local press corps has been deeply affected by changes to the industry and new methods of delivering and consuming the news and many of our past civic heroes have been sidelined by personalities who don’t want to hear from the old timers. That’s a big mistake. There’s a place for elders in every community and if they are silenced or ignored or in some cases disparaged it’s not healthy. That’s what happening in Delray.

 

  1. They have a downtown.

Grade: We have a downtown and it’s robust. However, I would argue that we need to diversify beyond food and beverage and add offices, creative spaces and other uses that will sustain us as a regional activities center. Who is having this conversation?

 

  1. They are near a research university.

Grade: Our proximity to FAU is a plus, so is our closeness to Lynn University and Palm Beach State College. But the question is are we taking advantage of that proximity and are there programs and initiatives that involve the local universities?

 

  1. They have, and care about, a community college. See above.

 

  1. They have unusual schools.

 

Grade:  Village Academy and Spady are “unusual” in that the former is a deregulated public school that has the authority to innovate, and the latter offers a Montessori program. Atlantic’s International Baccalaureate Program has always been impressive and important to Delray Beach.

 

 

  1. They make themselves open. Trying to attract and include new people.

Grade: Here’s where I see our biggest deficit. There was a time when the entirety of city government was designed around the notion of civic engagement, involvement and education. We had charrettes, visioning conferences, neighborhood dinners, town hall meetings, citizen goal setting sessions, citizen academies, police academies, a robust volunteer effort (1,200 police volunteers at the height of the program) and a Youth Council. We sent neighborhood leaders to school so they could become better leaders, we held training sessions for neighborhood associations, supported a race relations initiative and held regular mayoral roundtables. It worked. And then a lot of it, maybe even most of it, was abandoned (and well before Covid). This has been a crippling development. When your involvement is limited to social media, you don’t get good outcomes.

 

  1. They have big plans.

Grade:  I will argue that no city of any size had bigger aspirations than Delray did. We dared to dream, and we executed as well. Yes, we have a state mandated Comprehensive Plan, but I would argue that it’s not a vision and the process— which included citizens— was not citizen driven. There’s a difference. A big difference. The magic happens when the community is involved.

 

Another lesson I learned along the way is that the journey needs to be as fun or more so than achieving the destination. Today, there’s little fun and a lot of division.

 

  1. They have craft breweries

Grade: One final marker, perhaps the most reliable, according to Fallows: A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries, and probably some small distilleries too, according to Fallows.

“A town that has craft breweries also has a certain kind of entrepreneur, and a critical mass of mainly young (except for me) customers,” Fallows wrote.  “You may think I’m joking, but just try to find an exception.”

This one I struggle with. I love craft breweries and I can see where they are important and send a message but I’m not sure they are an essential trait of a thriving city. Anyway, I love Saltwater Brewery and wish we had more.

 

Conclusion…we have some serious storm clouds to deal with.

And if you think we’re invulnerable because Atlantic Avenue is busy, well there’s no such thing.

 

 

 

Try A Little Tenderness…

Tony the heroic lawn guy.

Otis Redding was right.

“It’s all so easy

All you got to do is try

Try a little tenderness.”

Actually, Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods wrote the lyrics to that classic song, but Otis…well Otis…he brought the emotion.

So when you listen to that song you just feel it in your soul.

“When you get weary, try a little tenderness.”

The words empathy and tenderness have been rattling around in my head these days.

Naïve and romantic old me keeps thinking that if we deployed those words, sent them out into the world to do their magic, good things might happen.

Last week, I read a story about a lawn guy named Tony who was walking to work on Dunes Road in unincorporated Palm Beach County when he saw a car veer out of control. The driver was having a seizure and ended up on the front lawn of what turned out to be a rather nasty couple.

Tony went to render help; he grabbed the fender as the car rolled forward. Unfortunately, the car crushed his bag lunch, but he tried mightily to get the seizure victim out of the vehicle. He yelled for help as the man convulsed violently inside the car.

The owner of the home where the car stopped came outside– not to help– but to yell: “Get off our lawn! Get that man out of here! Have him die somewhere else!”

Oy….

Tony happened to recognize the seizure victim and knew where he lived, a few doors down. He ran to the man’s home, and they were able to summon help.

The Sheriff’s Office was happy to report that they received a call from the seizure victim a few days later. He called officers to find out Tony’s phone number, “I want to talk to Tony. He saved my life.”

The grateful man and his wife found Tony and gave him a big hug to thank him for his actions.

The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office honored Tony with accolades and a photo on social media. The posting prompting an outpouring of love for Tony and a heaping of shame for the less than charming neighbors who were more concerned for their lawn than their neighbor’s life.

They should try a little tenderness.

And frankly, some of the vitriolic social media commenters may also want to consider a dollop of restraint.

Shame can be a teacher, but hatred and threats…well that just leads to more hatred and more threats.

We can do better.

About 10 years ago, we started a charity called “Dare to Be Great.”
The non-profit picked 10-12 Delray kids a year and we helped them pay for college. We also mentored the students and did what we could to connect them to opportunities.

We had one young man, who came to the United States from Haiti with his father. He told us what it was like to say goodbye to his mother (who he never saw again) and come to a country where he did not speak the language. He told us how a church gave him clothes and how he went to school every day passing gang members who tried to either recruit him or hurt him. He learned the language, excelled academically and when he went to Atlantic High School, he became an International Baccalaureate student and a leader in the school’s Criminal Justice Career Academy. His story blew us away.

He told us that his dream was to become a Delray police officer and eventually an FBI agent.

Long story short, we gave him a scholarship, he went to the University of Florida and excelled. With the help of then Delray Beach Police Captain Michael Coleman we were able to arrange an internship with the Gainesville Police Department.

But when the young man graduated, citizenship issues prevented him from getting a job in Delray. That was a real loss because this exceptional young man spoke Creole, which would have made him a great asset to our department. Eventually, he was able to sort things out and he ended up taking a job with the San Diego Police Department. He would visit with us when he came home to Delray.

Last week, he let us know that he realized his dream of becoming an FBI agent. He also let us know that he was grateful for the support—for the kindness extended to him by this community.

The next day, I saw a video of a speech that Vice President Kamala Harris gave to a group of Dreamers— “undocumented” kids who came to this country with their parents and went to college or the military. Their legal status remains in limbo year after year because our dysfunctional, divisive and polarizing politics doesn’t allow us to compromise or fix things.

How sad is that?

Come on folks, figure it out. That’s what we elect you to do.

And before you write to tell me that you don’t like the Veep, that’s great, but remember “try a little tenderness.”

Anyway, the Vice President told the kids that they were home.

This is their home. We care for you.

America, the beautiful. The land of opportunity.

Community is what provides that opportunity. Tony the lawn guy saved a life because he cared. A young man who came here with nothing is dedicating his life to law enforcement in a country he has come to love and cherish. He did the work but was helped along the way by teachers, mentors and a few philanthropists who cared.

Like Otis sang all those years ago…we do get weary.

I think we’re weary.

Maybe we ought to try a little tenderness.

This other stuff? Well it just isn’t working.

 

 

More Than Margaritaville

 

Miami and South Florida have been the talk of the tech world in recent months.

While high taxes and a panoply of problems plague tech hubs such as San Francisco, New York and Boston; low tax, great weather South Florida seems to be on every tech titan’s radar.

It’s a great story driven by the media, economic development professionals and Miami’s tech friendly Mayor Francis X. Suarez who is using Twitter to court Silicon Valley CEOS.

Star venture capitalists, billionaire financiers  and tech CEOS are coming to the Magic City and the Sunshine State and that’s a good thing. We need to diversify beyond tourism, paving the Ag Reserve and serving as a retirement haven.

But not everyone is on the Miami/South Florida bandwagon and there are some headwinds to overcome as well.

One of the doubters is influential blogger Tyler Cowen.

Cowen is an economist.

He is also a professor at George Mason University, where he holds the Holbert L. Harris chair in the economics department. So he’s got credibility.

But a large part of his influence stems from his blog “Marginal Revolution” which is eagerly followed by a lot of deep thinkers in the business and tech worlds.

Here’s what Professor Cowen had to say recently on his blog about Florida.

“In Miami and Miami Beach I had a wonderful time. But I don’t see the area as a new and budding tech center. Many tech entrepreneurs moved there during earlier phases of the pandemic, but many have since left. Perhaps the region is more of a place to spend tech money than to earn tech money.

 

The positives for southern Florida are clear: It is a major crossroads with significant connections to Latin America and the Caribbean, it is a fun place to live, Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez is pro-tech, and there is no state income tax.

 

Yet that is not enough. Miami does not have a top-tier university, and the city does not have much of what I would call “nerd culture.” The city’s first language is arguably Spanish, but the tech world is mostly English, and its current ties to Asia are more important than possible future connections to Latin America.

 

Renowned venture capitalist Keith Rabois is in Miami and is a staunch advocate for the city. It would not be surprising if Miami developed a few significant tech companies due to his influence. Miami could also become more of a center for crypto wealth. If you’ve earned a billion dollars through Bitcoin, and live part of the year in Puerto Rico to avoid capital gains taxes, is there anywhere better to hang out and spend your wealth than Miami?

 

All that said, I do not see Miami as a serious contender to be a major tech center.”

Ouch!

First, the University of Miami may take exception to not being considered  a “top-tier” institution. A few other local universities may also be chafed as well. Yes Dr. Cowen is right—we don’t have Stanford but we do have several institutions that are rapidly gaining steam and prestige. FAU has made strides, Lynn University is renowned for being innovative, Nova Southeastern is doing some cool things and so is FIU.

We are getting there—fast.

We have some terrific—although in the case of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County underfunded—economic development organizations that consistently punch above their weight and some local Eco Dev rock stars such as Boca’s Jessica Del Vecchio. I’m also pleased that Delray finally hired an economic development director—it’s needed and long overdue. Let’s hope the office gets some adequate resources and freedom to innovate.

In addition, Florida has some great CRA’s—if local and state politicians would give them some room to do their thing— which is build great places that attract investment.

But there are headwinds too.

At a recent meeting of economic stakeholders in Palm Beach County, there was good news and challenging news as well.

Here’s a summary of a recent Economic Forum call:

According to Kelly Smallridge, President and CEO of the Business Development Board of PBC:

  • A Task Force at the BDB asks the question “Are We Ready” with respect to infrastructure – not only physical infrastructure, but also support systems for employees.
  • The BDB is finding that there are no homes available for mid-level managers or support staff.
  • There are no openings in private schools.
  • The Task Force will make a presentation to the County Commissioners in the near future to outline the opportunities and the challenges facing the county.

 

Development Trends:

  • Many of the office buildings in West Palm Beach are fully leased. (Can this be true? If so, bravo considering Covid etc.)
  • Developers are snapping up infill property in the downtown core.
  • Zoning changes are needed to support quality infill development.
  • There are difficulties in obtaining building permits— especially in the county. There are quite a number of open positions in this department. Palm Beach Gardens and Boca seem to have zoning down “perfectly” according to the participants on the forum.

 

From our friends at the Housing Leadership Council:

 

  • There is a need to change the zoning for the old one story shopping centers on Congress Avenue and Military Trail and re-zone for multi-story housing.
  • The Council is trying to get a study done on this concept.
  • They are also working on a $200 million Housing Bond. The business community needs to come out in favor of this.

 

So as you can see there are opportunities and challenges.

As for me, for what it’s worth, I’m bullish.

A friend of mine is wired into Silicon Valley’s tech scene and he says the valley’s supremacy is here to stay. I agree.

But he also says that world class venture capitalists are finding their way to South Florida. That’s a great sign for the future.

As for talent– remote work and technology will enable Florida based companies to attract engineers from the region and all over the world. Many of the most gifted founders will end up living here at least for part of the year. My guess is that Boca and Delray will snag their fair share of the next generation’s stars if they put out a welcome mat.

The lifestyle is too good, the value proposition too compelling.

Are we ready?
We need to be because the switched on cities in the region will find the next decade to be a golden age. The places who can solve the problems of housing and schools will win. The places that don’t will be left in the dust.

 

 

 

Imagining A New World And The Good Stuff We Leave Behind

Remote work has the potential to upend our work lives forever.

Have you noticed how fast the world moves these days?

Big changes can creep up on you, at first you may hardly notice than all it once the ground shifts and an era is gone.

When I was a kid growing up in 1970s Long Island, malls were all the rage. It’s where we hung out week after week. There was a food court, a Herman’s Sporting Goods Store, a Walden Books, a movie theater and a Spencer’s Gifts. That’s pretty much all we needed unless there was an event that required some new duds—then we moseyed over to Chess King where the polyester flowed like Niagara Falls.

The mall, the neighborhood and school were our world.

My friends all lived within a few miles of each other. I really didn’t know too many people who weren’t from the Tri-State area. Most of our parents were born, raised and lived within the confines of the Island, Westchester, New Jersey and the five boroughs. When a kid from Pennsylvania moved into the neighborhood he seemed exotic. When a family from Oregon moved down the block we lined up to take a look—the Pacific Northwest might as well have been Timbuktu.

 

Today, that’s very different.

Thanks to tech and apps like Tik Tok, our children have friends all over the country and the world. “Friend” of course is a relative term. While my friendships were forged because of proximity and relied on me seeing my buddies every day at school, today young people may never be in the same room with their best friends. They chat, text and play video games with people from all over the world.

It happened slowly and then all it once.

As we begin to see the world post-Covid (we are still very much immersed in the virus and need to be vigilant) what might the world have in store for us?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the fate of retail and office—two big players in our physical world.

Changes in consumer behavior that seemed relatively marginal and slow-moving undermined the value of retail real estate very quickly in the U.S., especially the once beloved shopping mall. Experts believe  the same potential for disruption exists in the office sector, with changes in human behavior being massively accelerated by Covid-19.

I recently read an interview on an influential real estate blog that painted an interesting picture. Here’s what one British expert had to say.

“Offices are not dead; they are very much alive,” RealCorp Capital founder Chris Kanwei said. “But a word of caution I would sound: For most of us, we tend to look at how offices will work in the future from the perspective of our own orientation. An example, if you take UK shopping centers and look back a few years to 2006, shopping centers and retail parks were a huge deal, they were springing up left, right and center. But just on the sidelines there was Amazon. And no one figured out in 2006 where Amazon would be today, and where shopping centers would be. It is just that sort of parallel you have to look at.”

 

Kanwei said part of the inability of retail real estate to see change coming is because a group of people with very similar backgrounds and experience could not envision a future that might be radically different from their own past.

 

“There were arguments put up by mostly middle-aged people at the time: You will always love the shopping center experience, you will always want to go there with your family or your friends on the weekend. And it was a great argument, but it was being made by people to other people who saw life the same way, who had the same future aspirations.”

 

There is the potential for the same thing to happen in the office sector: an expectation that the behavior of future generations will essentially be the same as what has gone before. While the difference might not be as extreme as changes to shopping patterns, they have the possibility nonetheless to drastically alter real estate usage and value.

 

“We have a generation coming up now who are not seeing life the same way,” Kanwei said. “They are not always as interested in going out and playing with their friends. They making friends online in South America, in Russia, in Africa, playing chess games online and interacting. That is the trend: We see more and more people not wanting to engage with other humans directly. Humans collaborating will never be taken away. But we have to understand that there is a generation coming through that won’t just engage in the same way we did. This same generation will be moving in to the offices of the future, and will look to engage differently, and could see the office structure of today as archaic — why would you want to bring all of these people in to the office? And that might well change the outlook people have on offices, in the same way it has in retail. I’m not calling an apocalypse for the office. But if you are investing for the long term, you have to bear in mind, your office investment may have been worth £200M, but down the line it may be worth £5M, as we have seen with shopping centers.”

Yikes.

Still, that scenario is entirely possible.

My 28-year-old son works for a large publicly traded corporation with offices in Palm Beach County. He got the job during Covid, which means he has never worked in the home office. Instead, he’s working out of his living room and thinking of finding bigger digs because his remote working arrangement may prove permanent. He also realizes that he can live anywhere and dial into the office.

He doesn’t seem bothered at all by the situation. As his boomer dad, I can see his point but wonder if he will miss out on the camaraderie, friendship and esprit de corps of working side by side with co-workers instead of screen by screen.

I happen to like the office.

I’ve worked in newsrooms (which are the best)—chock full of characters working on interesting stories and more “corporate” environments where I was able to make some lasting friendships.

As someone who values collaboration and who always has lots of questions for my colleagues the idea of working remotely forever doesn’t appeal to me.

I like the collision of ideas, the rhythm of the day, the ‘hey what are we doing for lunch’ routine that makes the day fly by.

As Seth Godin says: “The optimism and possibility that come from training and learning in groups is a miracle. It means that, with a little effort, we can level up, become more productive and enjoy the work more tomorrow than we did yesterday.”

So as we gradually emerge from our Covid cocoons, I hope we slow down and make some conscious decisions. Do we really want to give up the office?

After all, while millions enjoy the convenience of Amazon and a “one-click” society, didn’t we lose something by putting all those neighborhood retailers out of business?
Trade-offs.

Convenience versus camaraderie. Price versus personal service. Digital versus experience.

There’s no holding back the future—it will come. That’s the law. But we can and should choose wisely.

Here’s hoping we do.

A Year Later…..

Poignant memorials to those we lost to Covid-19 sprung up all over the nation.

Last week, we marked the one year anniversary of Covid-19.

It’s impossible to quantify what’s happened to our world since last March when the first cases of coronavirus emerged. So much has changed.

So much loss.

So much pain.

We watched the various tributes and news reports recounting the last year’s toll in stunned silence. We have lost more than 534,000 Americans. It’s just staggering.

Covid has touched all of us in so many ways.

We’ve experienced fear, grief, anxiety and frustration.

Then there’s the economic devastation.

The closed and damaged businesses, the lost jobs, the social loneliness and isolation. The damage to our children’s education’s and psyches.

It’s been overwhelming and enveloping.

And terribly, terribly sad.

We miss our old lives: friends, family, travel, shows, dining out, being with other people.

Like any cataclysmic event, the pandemic has focused our hearts and minds.

A year later we revere health care professionals, marvel at science and have gained deep respect for essential workers. We’re also grateful for the technology that has allowed us to stay somewhat connected.

Our world has changed, I believe forever.

Some of it’s good; I’m so glad to see nurses and teachers getting the props they deserve.

Public health is in the spotlight and hopefully will get the investment it so sorely needs.

I’m hoping that when we get back to normal we will have a deep appreciation for the little things, which by the way, are really the big things.

The year anniversary of the start of the pandemic marks seven months since I left the hospital after my bout with the virus.

And I can share that my life is not the same.

Everything feels more precious.

Every little thing.

And fragile too.

I used to think in years and decades, now I think in terms of moments. I’m not sure I’m saying that quite right but let’s just say that the simplest things are filling me up these days.

A lazy afternoon sitting outside with friends and reminiscing, a text from a childhood friend linking me to a great article, a short weekend away to see our son play hockey and meet a new girlfriend, time with family, listening to music and reading is suddenly more appealing to me than any exotic experience I can imagine.

And I don’t think I’m alone.

I believe COVID has focused many of us on what’s important and while we miss “normal” we also realize that normal was very hectic and maybe not as appealing as we thought it was.

But oh my has this damn virus extracted a price.

Having experienced Covid’s insidious power, I find myself very moved by the stories I read, see and hear.

The heroism of health care workers, the loss of special people —each soul indispensable.

The pain of long haulers, those still experiencing symptoms months after their infections. I am one of those people. It hasn’t been fun.

But we’re alive. So many aren’t. We can enjoy those special moments. And for that and a million other reasons I’m grateful.

Please stay safe. We have lots more to do and a better world to create.

 

One year stats:

29.2 million cases in the United States

534k deaths.

32,254 deaths in Florida

126k cases in Palm Beach County

2,546 deaths in Palm Beach County

120mm cases worldwide

2.65 million deaths worldwide

MLK: Creating The Beloved Community

MLK

 

I find this an especially poignant and an especially important Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

My guess is that I am not alone.

MLK has been a lifelong hero of mine—if you are a leadership junkie like I am, you can’t help but be fascinated by Dr. King’s immense leadership skills.

If you’ve ever spoken publicly, you marvel at MLK’s off the charts oratorical skills and if you’ve been involved in any kind of community work you stand in awe of his vision, relevance and achievements.

We throw around the word giant too easily in this strange age we live in—but if you are looking for a true example of an icon, look no further than Dr. King.

I was honored to be asked to share some thoughts on one of my heroes with young student/leaders from our community last week on a streaming TV show called “Community Conversations.” The program is produced by the Boca Raton Tribune and streams on Facebook and Youtube. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYtp-hjvURY

 

It is a unique privilege to talk to young people these days, particularly because of the moment we are in.

America feels fragile today, our Democracy vulnerable. I just cannot shake the searing images of our Capitol being defiled by insurrectionists.

So the show was an opportunity to connect to tomorrow’s leaders–the people who will work toward a more perfect union if we are able to keep our Democracy.

Because it is only in a Democracy that we can have an advancement of civil rights. It is only in a Democracy that we can address poverty, inequality, division and racism—the life work of Dr. King.

Before I came on the program, the student hosts heard from my friend Bill Nix, a Delray resident and student of history. Mr. Nix shared a series of slides and gave a wonderful talk on MLK’s life—how he met Coretta Scott who would become his wife and how there was a divine plan for Dr. King to lead the civil rights movement.

It was a beautiful oral history given by a man who went to the same school as Dr. King—Morehouse College—and has clearly studied his history.

Watching his talk, I was reminded how important it is to share history and the stories that shape our world with the next generation. History not only repeats itself, it informs and guides us. Bill Nix is a great guide.

When it was my turn to appear on the show, the hosts —Darrel Creary and Dina Bazou (remember those names they are amazing) –asked me about why Dr. King was either loved or hated during his era, whether he was more important today or during his lifetime and about where we might go from here.

The show is wonderful and I’d like to give a shout out to another friend C. Ron Allen and his Knights of Pythagoras Mentoring Network for his role in helping to produce the show. Mr. C. Ron empowers our young people and I am endlessly impressed with the quality of our youth in this community.

I thought it was important to tell the students listening on the show that they were doing a good job and that they are well equipped to lead us into a better future.

We would be wise to follow the principles employed by MLK.

Dr. King talked about the  “Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community.”

And in 2021, there is no better nor more important mission.

The Beloved Community, as described by Dr. King, is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it.

Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.

In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

As I watched the violence engulf our Capitol and I see troops deployed in Washington as we get ready to inaugurate a new president and vice president it is plain that we are far from achieving Dr. King’s vision of beloved community.

Right here at home, I see division in our city. People feel estranged from their neighbors, not heard by their leaders and put on a shelf by the powers that be. It is unsustainable and should not be ignored.

Dr. King gives us all a roadmap for effective leadership.

Non-violence is a way of life for courageous people.

We should seek to win friendship and understanding. Division does not work.

Love and empathy does work.

The end result is reconciliation. That reconciliation redeems us all.

Dr. King’s enduring lesson is to choose love instead of hate.

In 2021, we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.