This book tackles a topic most would shy away from: addressing the whole of our local, national, and world challenges through a single organizational structure. To suggest there is a way to actually get a handle on the whole of our communities’ needs and problem-solving efforts may seem ludicrous at first. If, however, we consider our numbers and the quantity of outstanding problem-solving models often created by “lay experts,” logic might direct our thoughts differently. Add to this mix not only the often-unharnessed energy of our youth but also the desire of children to become engaged in their world, and we can begin to see some rather large areas of untapped resources.
Consider further our schools with the mission and personnel to prepare students for citizenship—to graduate young adults who have the academic skills and knowledge to problem solve in a variety of real-world contexts at home and beyond. College professors and students build on this foundation by pursuing in-depth studies in many topic areas, including community and environmental problem solving.
We have means of communication that can unite us in a heartbeat to share not only models and solutions but also to inspire outcomes easily tracked into cumulative data that could shift our focus from the magnitude of needs to the magnitude of solutions. We could map out and address our challenges with schools at the center of the process, placing our children and young adults—the next generation—at the center of operations.
We have all the pieces necessary to organize ourselves:
- Community-based organizations that identify needs
- Outstanding project models
- Schools dedicated to educating and preparing children for the adult world
- Service learning that connects classrooms with solving genuine human and environmental problems
- Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, church members, service organization members, and others who care about creating a better world for all of us
- The Internet for communication
- Our intellectual abilities to problem solve, assess, and organize
This book is for everyone who cares about the environment, for everyone who believes in service to others, and for everyone who shares the hope that there is a way to unite with others to meet the challenges we face.
We can create a unified whole of operations in which we work together efficiently and comprehensively toward the overall goal of world health and stability. I do not hold a terminal degree that qualifies me to make this assertion; I don’t even know one exists. I simply see a solution that has prompted me to leave my professional area of work to nurture this idea because I am inspired by it and, perhaps most important, because I am an American.