OUT TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE

“Building a just and equitable society in harmony with planet earth” is the mission of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in the USAll of its work is grounded in a set of strategies which facilitate sustainable community development by drawing upon assets and social capital in a collaborative manner. ICA-USA is a member of ICA International (ICAI), a global network of 35 organizations that use participatory processes for community development.

ICA-USA headquarters is a 166,000 square foot landmark building that is the largest nonprofit service center in the Midwest. Tenants include over 15 direct-service nonprofits providing safety nets and resources to the Uptown community and Chicago at large. Branded in September 2014 as the GreenRise Uptown Learning Laboratory, it now has the largest number of solar panels (483 each producing 310 watts) on a building outside of Chicago’s downtown as I noted in an earlier blog.

This is my 26th weekly blog, a half year of sharing stories, profiles of colleagues, my opinions, and what has become an eclectic playlist of songs. As I noted in my first blog on August 30th, I have always regarded my now 40+ year community development career not as a series of jobs but as a vocation, seeking a just economy. I posted the lyrics for that first blog (Does Anyone Have Bono’s Cell Number?) on my blog’s home page: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking.

Well I’m pleased to announce I may be getting closer. I have accepted the position as the new CEO of ICA-USA. Starting part-time this week to implement a transition plan with my predecessor, Terry Bergdall, I will go full-time by the end of March at the earliest or the end of April at the latest. Terry’s done an incredible job as CEO over the last five years. He merits a future blog even though he is a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

I have appreciated ICA’s vital facilitation work since 1984 when I became CEO of the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO] and ICA was a member. ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP)® facilitation methodology harnesses the energy and wisdom of a group to build consensus and create and implement strategic plans. ToP participatory processes draw upon decades of ICA’s worldwide community development experience. Currently, the ToP Network consists of over 130 licensed trainers and certified facilitators who deliver facilitation services and training around the country.

ICA accelerate 77 logoICA-USA’s current initiatives are a testimony to the dedication of board and staff to pursuing their mission. ICA-USA is the organizing sponsor of accelerate 77, a five year project to increase the role and positive impact of local community action across Chicago. Its key strategies are to identify current sustainability initiatives in all of Chicago’s 77 community areas; connect them with one another to inspire new ideas and practices; and engage them in collaborative action and peer interchange. Currently accelerate 77 is organizing the formation of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network.

ICA’s GreenRise Uptown Learning Laboratory is a national model for deploying renewable energy. Chicago’s PBS affiliate WTTW Channel 11 featured ICA’s GreenRise in a broadcast. The Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network’s engagement of communities to pursue local actions is an example of the cultural paradigm shift required.

I spent recent vacation time reading Naomi Klein’s inspirational This Changes Everything. Subject for a future blog and book review, this book does change everything for me. Its message resonates with ICA’s mission and solidified my decision to accept this CEO position. Naomi ends the book with a question for us all: “History knocked on your door, did you answer?” I have and I’ll keep you posted.

For this special announcement blog, I asked Jim Troxel for his U2Cando lyrics recommendation. Jim was one of my first ICA contacts back in the mid-80s and encouraged me to apply for the CEO position. He submitted a very timely and appropriate song with a link to an amazing video: Sing for the Climate.

The tune “Bella Ciao” was a song sung by the Italian anti-fascist resistance movement between 1943 and 1945. In September 2012, 80,000 Belgians sang it in 180 town squares. In October 2012, 725 schools organized Sing@School, with 300,000 children singing it. In December 2012, a video of the song was shown at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Qatar.It is the anthem of the Sing for the Climate Project calling for meaningful action on issues of climate change. This version includes edits made by ICA-USA’s Accelerate 77 singers in November 2013.

ICA's GreenRise

ICA’s GreenRise

We’re on a planet
That has a problem
Time to solve it, get involved and do it
NOW, NOW, NOW
We’re out to build a better future
And we’re on the march right now.

Make it greener
Make it cleaner
Make it last, make it fast, and do it
NOW, NOW, NOW
We’re out to build a better future
And we’re on the march right now.

No point in waiting
Or hesitating
Let’s be wise, no more lies and do it
NOW, NOW, NOW
We’re out to build a better future
And we’re on the march right now.

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8 thoughts on “OUT TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE

  1. Congratulations Ted.  This sounds like an exciting opportunity for you.  Look forward to learning more about it.  Bob   

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