Following is my latest editorial piece written for and first published on Smart Growth Tulsa, an urban design oriented smart public policy think tank for which I serve as an Advisory Board Member.
I’m optimistic because this city is poised on the precipice of an historic resurgence of inclusiveness.
A few days ago an election was decided. One candidate won the popular vote and the other won the electoral vote. That’s how we do it here and now, thank God, it’s over.
So let’s turn our attention back home to Tulsa, where you’ll recall some very bright stars are aligning and amazing opportunities are mere weeks away.
But first, I want to make a point that helps illustrate an important contrast between old ways and new ways of governing.
Yahoo! News, October 27, 2016, said, “In a scene from his new film, ‘Michael Moore in TrumpLand,’ the Oscar-winning filmmaker predicts that Donald Trump will win the Nov. 8 presidential election because the middle class is fed up with the establishment and will vote for the Republican nominee….”
“He is the human Molotov cocktail they have been waiting for,” Moore said. “The human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them.” “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘f*** you’ ever recorded in human history, and it will feel good.”
Here’s my takeaway: Trump’s election was the equivalent to the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote, just as ours was a vote against EXCLUSION. In a country where success is defined by vast wealth, where those doing their best to be average but are literally being excluded for lack of access and power, that’s where the arrogance of exclusion turns everyday people into angry voters with very few apparent options.
It’s not that they’re discontent in their day-to-day lives. They hang out and laugh with their neighbors, do a little fishing, play cards or golf or binge on Netflix. Life’s okay.
But they know they have little to say about the decisions and deals made above them. They dream about travel but know they probably won’t go anywhere except the lake. They feel excluded from decisions that affect their 401(k)’s, excluded from the best healthcare, and excluded from the certainty that their kids can do better than they did.
This time at the polls, they decided once and for all to fight back. So, we got our Brexit, sold to us by PT Barnum and, although it remains to be seen, it may be an empty promise of salvation.
But here’s the hopeful promise of this article, Hopefully, Tulsa.
As unprecedentedly difficult as these elections were for many, it would be easy to remain in despair and lose ourselves in worst-case stories we tell ourselves based on relentless media hype and exhausting months of rancorous campaign fatigue.
But continuing to make the choice to wallow is the same as making a choice for self-pity. Tell me, when has self-pity ever improved your optimism?
This fantastic Country, all 50 United States of us, decided for ourselves what direction we want to go. Yes, We decided; as in Us; as in We together, in Community. It is We who make up this messy but amazing democracy.
No matter the outcome of any election, local to national, we still live in community with one another. We still seek the best for our children, hope to earn enough money to have a decent life and provide for our kids; we hope a catastrophic illness doesn’t wipe out our family’s savings. We still hope for an America we envision as the most inclusive, best and safest nation on the planet. It’s what we’ve done for 228 years. Win some, lose some.
Every day, there’s a universal truth and we get to choose: acceptance is the key to serenity. Today, I choose serenity.
In doing that, I turn my attention to my home — My Tulsa; my hopeful place. This is where I have planted my roots. This is where I have invested my working hours building a career, a family, a home and places to play. This is where my tribe meets every day to share wisdom and hope on a common journey. I like myself here in Tulsa, in my home, where I can make a difference and become excited by the opportunities that lay ahead.
I’m optimistic because this city is poised on the precipice of a historic resurgence of inclusiveness. Our Mayor Elect, GT Bynum, is one of those rare leaders with vision, a talent for seeing a pathway to success and he’s a man who knows how to make the heart connections that thread together the ocean of stars representing our community of shining lights.
It may be a bit soon to pile on these accolades, GT. After all, it’s early and you’re not officially in the job yet, so there’s still plenty of time to screw up. But, I’m pulling for you with confidence because so far you’ve shown us a thoughtful and deliberate guy who epitomizes the ideal of what we asked for when we decided these powerful positions would be non-partisan. Non-partisan involves discarding yesterday’s exclusion in favor of a new inclusion.
You’ve publicly stated that openness and inclusiveness are on your agenda for governance. You’ve argued strongly for data-driven decision making. Your recent announcements of your choices in key staff members support those positions. Many of them have demonstrated working for years from a core value of inclusion.
So here’s my final point.
Now that we’ve witnessed once again the results of how EXCLUSION results in divisive rancor and rogue leadership, we have a chance to flip the paradigm and make INCLUSION the standard.
We have a chance because of the passions of people like Smart Growth Tulsa, Code for Tulsa, and many other volunteer groups who want nothing more than to be part of the legacy that positions Tulsa as a national leader in demonstrating how inclusive government works.
SGT is already leading discussions with people who share a vision to work collectively, applying their own gifts to deliver open public data, resources, and processes; to assist where needed to help you and your team govern from a strong position of data-driven facts.
Fueled by these passionate people and the political will and courage to lead, Tulsa can rise to the top of cities in this country, drawing the best people from around the world looking for meaningful places to contribute their talents.
By creating such an inclusive, innovative incubator, we will create an economic environment that may erase our perennial budget deficits and generate revenue in this state that can push us to the very highest in all metrics related to education, housing, food access, public safety, healthcare, the arts, public transportation, and quality of life.
GT, let us get on board with you. Let us join together and bring to bear our collective talents to further an inclusive agenda for the government you promise. Join us to collaborate and deliver to the world the Tulsa we all know is poised to take the summit.
All my Best in Hope and Passion
Jim Beach, Member
Smart Growth Tulsa Advisory Board