Is grim if you focus solely on the near term budget picture and the pronouncements of political leaders who vow to slash spending (education, health and social services) and then expect “the family and churches” to pick up the slack. As an organization that works with nonprofits, families and churches in communities across the Valley, we can testify to their charitable impulse and willingness to help, but also to their lack of capacity and resources to provide basic health and human services sufficient to pick up the slack for growing numbers of people with often profound physical and mental limitations who are no longer able to access necessary services.
But necessity is the mother of invention. We bear witness as well to the strength of community partnerships and local leaders who are coming together to help those least fortunate among them and create healthy environments in which to live and work. Lots of energy and good ideas are bubbling up from the ground floor of community building. What isn’t happening – and what we need to address as a state – is an outpouring of leadership and good ideas from the top that can serve as a catalyst to move Arizona from a bottom quartile state to the top ten in terms of education, the economy and quality of life.
We need leadership and action at all levels of community building: bottom-up, top-down and connecting across. Now that the election is behind us, we call on Governor Brewer to bring together leaders from the political, business, education and civic sectors as part of a broader effort to develop a positive vision and plan for investing in the future of Arizona. Other states are doing it. So can we.