Building the Coalition

Posted on December 24, 2018

Forward together

Right Now with Kevin Teater

  • What I’m Listening to – The Avett Brothers
  • What I’m Reading – Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
  • What I’m Watching ­– This Is Us (no spoilers! I’ve only just started.)
  • What I’m Doing – In Denver visiting family for a few days

“The funding coming from the federal level is a lot less than it has been in the past,” the local government affordable housing manager said to our group of interested community members. He continued, “If we want to have any success at all, we need to build coalitions with several different organizations working together.”
During my graduate work, we often talked about the “wicked problems” that face our communities. These include highly complex issues like affordable housing, region-wide transportation, climate change, and the opioid crisis. And time and time again, I am reminded of how little one organization can do on its own.
In our community, we have a 53-unit multi-family apartment development coming to our downtown. Of these, 10 units are classified as affordable (i.e. priced at 30 percent of market value). How much would a potential resident of a studio apartment pay per month? Over 400 dollars. Even at an “affordable” price, these apartments are still out-of-reach for some of our fellow community members.
In times like this, it would be easy to get discouraged, feeling as though this barely makes a dent in our affordable housing crisis. But we couldn’t just walk away. This is when we must bind together, and form the teams needed to succeed. So we turned to our local government partner and simply said, “What can we do to help?”
Local governments do not need to tackle these problems alone, but they can lead the way, building partnerships with the people and organizations who care.
At the core of it, many of us entered into local government in order to make a difference. As individuals, we care, and we passionately pursue opportunities that will improve the lives of real people – our neighbors, friends, and family. We make up teams that make up organizations that make up coalitions.
As our meeting ended, my friend and colleague turned to the rest of our group and said, “I don’t know about you all, but I feel energized. This is something that deserves our attention. And with the resources and connections we can bring to the table, we can actually make a difference.”
Build the partnerships, bring your best self to the table, and never stop learning. Act as if the futures of our communities depend on it, because they very well might.
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