Director’s Log | June 2018

Bizarro World or North Carolina?

When I was growing up, I looked forward to the regular DC Comics issues on “Bizarro World,” where Lex Luthor was good and Superman was bad—where everything was opposite. 


This morning, I was thinking about a different kind of “bizarro” world, and what it would take for us to get there. Just imagine a state of North Carolina where:

  • Every school graduate thinks seriously about service in the military or in their community;
  • Contractors are worn out because they’ve been building too many front porches;
  • People of every hue come together in a new or restored downtown space to calmly discuss the solution to a big, honking community controversy;
  • There is a competition every year for the right to serve on the local parks and recreation board and the PTA can’t figure out what to do with all the volunteers.

But, honestly, that’s not as “bizarro” as we might think. There are communities across our state currently trying creative and interesting strategies that are getting their citizens excited, and making their communities more “connected.” We’ve heard of a few of them. We just want to find all of them.

As part of the Institute for Emerging Issues’ next forum, “ReCONNECT to Community,” we’re issuing a “Call for Communities.” We’re looking for a total of five communities around the state working on civil engagement issues in new and proactive ways.

Once we find them, our plan is to tell you, and everyone else in the state who will listen, what these communities are discovering. Then, we want to challenge these communities to do more, and share what they have learned. We want these communities to be models for how the rest of the state can do similar things.

If you think your community has the right stuff, we want you!

Happy Fourth of July!



    Leslie, I like it when people dream as you do. You think about how we simple folks can come together to solve real problems. Front Porches are gone from my neighborhood and I don’t even know when my neighbor’s car in in the garage or gone.

    People talking to others about improving our community and our lot in life and enhancing the opportunities for all students in schools, community colleges and universities could be powerful for North Carolina. Keep dreaming and bringing people together to focus on enhancing life in North Carolina!

    Hey, Leslie.

    I would like to chat at some point about how the North Carolina Association of Student Councils might fit in with the civic engagement work. We can do it by phone, or I can come to Raleigh (lunch?) while I’m more flexible during the summer.

    (I don’t know if you remember me, but we overlapped one? year on ZSR.)

    Leslie — I’d love to talk with you about how our agency is working in communities to develop support to strengthen families to build safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments so that all children can thrive. Community engagement is the key.

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