Thursday, August 9, 2007

Long Island Congress: Breaking the Cycle of Stagnation

What will it take to break the "cycle of stagnation" that affects so much of what we do here on Long Island?

It is probably no secret by now that communication and accurate information play a large role in any type of significant, positive change.

Those of us who have been observing communities, government and organizations here on Long Island (I'm into my 25th year of observation, a mere child compared to some!) are continually struck by the "themes" which continue to appear time and time again with different players playing the same tune. Whether its taxes or development or energy or any of a thousand issues, we never seem to make the progress we feel we should, or can. This feeling is obviously not unique to Long Island and Long Islanders (many of the themes in this blog are transferable to other regions), but it is what we are interested in and will continue to focus on.

It is not that our leaders (from whatever discipline), are "bad people," corrupt or are misleading us or that the general populous of Long Island is unwilling to change or that we don't have sufficient resources and brainpower to make the changes. It is just that we are not organized properly and have not empowered ourselves with the right tools to get the job done.

There are no short term, magical solutions to addressing Long Island's issues. For example, comparing Long Island to other regions to find solutions may be part of an answer, but it will never be the entire answer. Why? Because each region, including Long Island has a uniqueness, sometimes easily quantifiable, sometimes not that requires us to use a higher level of analysis (which is why we need diversity of opinion).

Additionally, making pronouncements that changing a part of the problem is in fact the answer to all our problems is equally destructive ("The greatest enemy of progress is not stagnation, but false progress." Sydney J. Harris). We all have a desire to have people say good things about us and obviously those in power have a need to maintain the staus quo to some level (even while appearing that they wish to change it!). Why? Ego, power, fear, money, ambition ... you name it. This hasn't changed since the beginning of human existence. This does not make them bad people. It makes them, and us, human.

So how do we change?

First we have to accept that we can and must do things better. Here there is probably universal agreement.

Second we have to identify what the primary and secondary issues are. Here we can probably get a substantial majority to agree.

Third we have to design an approach to address the issues. Here we have a problem.

We generally don't speak the same organizational language and probably can't even agree on a way to get started. Sure we convene a "task force" from time to time on related subject matter that issues a report that sits on a shelf somewhere and we make a stab at bring folks with a "common" issue together for a common purpose, but it's kind of like being invited to a dance with no music. Everyone looks at each other, says nice things (generally) and goes home without ever truly interacting. There's no rhythm, no dynamism and therefore ultimately no purpose, in a real sense, to the dance.

So how do we begin to change this "lack of rhythm" on Long Island?

By first agreeing on some way to communicate in a dynamic way. Long Island 3.0 can give us the tools. Long Island Congress can give us a non-confrontational organizational structure.

Real answers based on accurate information presented in a dynamic format.

It's up to us if we want to change. There is really nothing else preventing it.

No comments: