In June this year, I marked the 40th anniversary of my community development career. After volunteering as a grad student, I joined Gale Cincotta in 1974 at a Division street store front in Chicago as she launched what became a national movement for community reinvestment.
Today, even more than when I was that grad student, our economy is still not equal for all. I spent my 2013 vacation reading Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future. Many of his points resonated with me. At the core, our current dilemma begs action:
“Unemployment – the inability of the market to generate jobs for so many citizens – is the worst failure of the market, the greatest source of inefficiency, and a major cause of inequality.”
If you are interested in more of Stiglitz’s insights, I wrote a book review for SHELTERFORCE, the community development trade magazine, which they published this past March: http://www.shelterforce.org/article/3663/too_high_to_pay/
I have always regarded my career not as a series of jobs but as a vocation. That vacation reading accentuated other opportunities to pursue a just economy. I value the lessons that I have learned over these four decades – from Gale, to my colleagues at the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Association [CANDO], and most recently as CEO of the Local Economic & Employment Development Council.
A former CANDO colleague presented a unique occasion for my first public remarks as an independent consultant, when he invited me as a panelist for the opening plenary of the 2014 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference on March 31, 2014 here in Chicago. I welcomed the opportunity to join others in discussing the history of the Community Reinvestment Act, which thanks to Gale became federal law in 1977.
However, even as an invited panelist, I still needed to register on-line through the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s website. But the site would not register me without an organizational identity; so I finally entered U2Cando. My fellow panelists all agreed to be founding directors of my new firm as soon as Bono agreed to be board chair. I still haven’t asked him. Send me his cell number if you have it.
So that’s the origin story of my blog’s title. Its purpose is to share economic and employment strategies that can be replicated for the benefit of communities not just here in Chicago but throughout the US and abroad. I hope you will find substance and inspiration in the postings ahead that you will share with others in your network. I will strive to encourage you that U2Cando!
— Ted Wysocki