If you saw our 100,000 Homes Campaign on the CBS Evening News last week, you heard a lot about volunteers. And rightly so— in Campaign communities, volunteers wake up at 3am multiple mornings in a row to help their neighbors experiencing homelessness. They deserve as much recognition as we can give them!
Pitkin Avenue buzzed with activity during the recent Summer Plazas community events in Brownsville, Brooklyn. For the past three Sundays, with the street closed to through-traffic, local children happily jumped rope, played tag and hoola-hooped in the middle of the road.
It goes without saying that audacious goals require teamwork—no group or organization can end homelessness alone. At Community Solutions, we’ve learned that people are naturally motivated to pitch in if they feel like their contributions will make an impact. The bigger and more diverse the team, the greater the change we all make together.
In his column for the New York Times last Thursday (“The Unexamined Society”, July 7, 2011), David Brooks assesses new research on the “psychology of scarcity.” In times of plenty, he argues, people adopt problem-solving approaches aimed at producing long-term benefits. Faced with scarcity, however, the brain can become so preoccupied with immediate demands that it struggles to engage with the complex factors involved in long-term planning.
Homelessness is a solvable problem. Yet there is an enormous gap between what we know works to end homelessness and what is actually done in most places.
This spring, Corinne LeTourneau and I attended the sold-out FSG and Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Conference on Collective Impact at Stanford University. Collective Impact is an emerging way of approaching large-scale social change, one that resonates deeply with the vision and strategic direction of Community Solutions.
Atul Gawande’s New Yorker article, “The Hot Spotters," is a fascinating story of health care visionaries creating new solutions to seemingly hopeless problems. He describes unexpected leaders who realize that the most perplexing fact about health care spending in this country is also the most promising opportunity: 5% of people in the U.S. account for 50% of health care costs. At Community Solutions, we see vexing social problems as huge opportunities to set things right.