Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Progress as a Unified Community

Our partners, the Itasca Project, a coalition of business leaders, and Twin Cities Public Television, will air a series in April based on findings from Itasca's Mind the Gap project. Those findings point to disparities between Whites and Persons of Color with respect to education, housing, health and income. On May 8, following the broadcast of the series, Twin Cities Compass will hold a seminar to discuss the implications of these disparities for the future of our region.

To understand those implications, consider three things.

First, the baby boom generation is aging; Boomers will leave the workforce and leave positions of community influence in large numbers over the coming 15 years. Second, Persons of Color increasingly make up the younger population - those who will replace the baby boomers and the generation following the baby boom as the community leaders, managers, workers, parents of the future. Third, the data (which you can see on the Twin Cities Compass web site) show that this growing part of our population is:

More likely to live in poverty
Less likely to graduate from high school
Less likely to own their own home
More likely to suffer from chronic illness

The future for all of us requires that the younger generations in our communities have the skills, knowledge, and resources to maintain high levels of economic productivity and community well-being. Current trends suggest that they will not have such skills, knowledge, and resources to the extent that they deserve and need them.

I encourage you to assess the information and to form your opinion on what should be done. Watch the television series premiering April 6 on channel 2 at 6:00p.m. to learn more about the widening gaps and hear from some of those most affected; look at the facts in Twin Cities Compass; participate in various forums for discussion, come to our seminar on May 8 (find information on the Twin Cities Compass web site.) I think you will conclude that this is a pressing issue for us locally, nationally, and globally.

But let's not just think about it and discuss it. We can't change history, but we can act as a united community to include all of us - young, old, different colors and cultures - in creating the future. We won't just eliminate disparities; we will enrich, improve, and elevate the lives of all of us.

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