I serve as the man behind the curtain – the mysterious figure with a very quiet but present voice. I am simply a servant to those that I inform. The most audacious of public figures become emboldened after counsel with me. The general public seeks answers from my expertise. I am supposed to be the knowit-all smart alec at your convenience.
In the same breath, I am not a friend or a partner. I have only two loyalties – to know what I know, and to know more and better than the person seeking advice. This existence isolates me. In the mist of battle between two opposing forces, I am the collision point of advancement. I am the gravity to the floating concepts. I am in a peculiar place, where I am asked to meet dreams and introduce them to reality.
I am the bureaucrat. I am the errand boy – the person that does all the dirty work – all the clean up. It is my job to understand all the rules that govern decisions made in my realm. I am the artist. I craft the rules so that they provide protections commanded by the general public. These same rules are demonized as “hoops” and “red tape” by that same public.
That’s me: the bureaucrat. The little person: a probably underpaid and perceivably over paid staff person who knows the rules better than his boss, and his boss’ boss. The prestige of the position is nothing luxurious. An antigovernment sentiment represses the importance of this position while seemingly diminishing the responsibilities of advancing the public good to rudimentary tasks and procedures based around issuing permits.
Day-to-day tasks require bureaucrats to defend codes and rules that were adopted for the general health, safety, and welfare of the public. I am to be the first line of defense. It is my role to check extreme action and to mitigate extreme consequences of those actions. Today’s society generally cheers the fire fighter that runs into the burning building, while demonizing the fire inspector who enforces the “bureaucracy” of building construction standards. A comprehensive thought should acknowledge that bureaucratic preventative measures are also a critical service.
While used as a term of belittlement by outsiders, the title of “bureaucrat” and the notion of “bureaucracy” are derogatory terms among those that carry the burden of protecting the integrity of regulations. The title, “bureaucrat,” has the stigma of a do-little, red-tape, hoop creator who will only cost enterprise and businesses additional resources – financial or otherwise. The external and internal critique of bureaucratic positions deteriorates the deserved respect of the professional training by the engineer, doctor, lawyer, and architect whom also happen to be defenders of regulations.
So then the question develops, “How should professional bureaucrats reassert themselves as essential and laudable components in society?” To this, I will refer to the loyalties of a bureaucrat cited above. I should be most knowledgeable, not for the sake of being pompous and arrogant but to be of the best service to the public. Bureaucrats should not allow themselves to be reduced to permit pushers. As guardians of regulatory codes, we should aim to keep the rules relevant to advancing technologies, evolving culture, and most of all the vision of the public, which the codes are there to protect.
It is my belief that if I, as bureaucrat, remain proactive and thoughtful in my service to the public then I could change the perception of the position I hold and the perceived hardships of regulations. These are the things that I consider everyday as I walk into a public office where the doors behind me don’t restrict anyone from walking in. Whoever walks through that door, it is my job to be of grade A service to them – even if they hate that they are required to visit the smart alec, paper pushing, red-tape, hoop creating public servant. I am at your service – the bureaucrat.
Chris Chavis is in the professional field of Urban Planning. He specializes in Land Use Zoning, Land Use development, and Community Revitalization. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a Bachelors of Art degree in Urban & Regional Planning. After three years of working in local government as a Land Use Planner, he pursued and obtained a Masters of Environmental Planning & Design (MEPD) degree at the University of Georgia in Athens. Now as a working professional, Mr. Chavis is attempting to use urban planning as a social justice instrument for all communities. By doing so, he hopes to revitalize distressed areas and help developing neighborhoods implement the visions of their futures.
Articulate, visionary, ambitious and committed are the words that came to mind when I heard Mr. LeAlan Jones speak to my group of High School students during the summer of 2012. Mr. Jones challenged my students to hold themselves accountable for their actions by thinking about their daily activities and habits, and in particular the economic impact of their generations’ behavior. LeAlan told my students that popular culture has led them to ”benchmark their lives against a notion that everything is based on here and now instead of preparing for their come up.” My students enjoyed the talk very much and continued discussions on the topic of economics and popular culture all the way back to Champaign.
It was not until after my students approved of his message that I became determined to learn more about this young trailblazer touting about the United States Green Party. See, I was not prepared when I heard him speak; I was not aware of his testimony and his achievements. I still don’t think it has hit me, the accomplishments of LeAlan Jones, a 33-year-old Black male from Chicago with credits that include reporting for the National Public Radio (NPR) at the age of 13, youngest recipient of the George Foster Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Grand Prize and an author of a book that is listed on Freshmen reading lists throughout the state of Illinois. Yep…I had to know more about the How’s and Why’s of his life. Following our interview I now have more insight on the young Green party candidate that is fighting for his place in the Chicago second congressional district race. More importantly, on a daily basis he is fighting for us, those with more to come.
At 13 LeAlan envisioned that he would be the voice of reason for socio and economic development for his generation. LeAlan implements change with the intent of mending a community whole. Community development should inspire and protect people while harnessing their abilities says LeAlan. Both positive and negative aspects of the community have led to Mr. Jones’ growing achievements. His surroundings are the backdrop for his literary projects and it is what propels his desire to engage politically.
During the interview LeAlan shared that his support system is his mother, whom he developed a relationship with in spite of being a ward of the state. LeAlan’s philosophy on how to discuss healing in suffering communities reflects his values for family and women. LeAlan says: “The women of the community need reinforcements. The men are so marginalized and their participation is not expected in the development of kids. We have to get mothers strong enough. Allowing women to define their roles and giving them the skill set to implement their roles personally, etc. Communities benefit when families are healthy and together.” This framework of addressing our community needs is relevant, in particular in the Chicagoland area due to skyrocketing crime rates and upcoming school closings that are sure to challenge the city’s ability to plan for crisis. Mothers/grandmothers, women in general will bear a great burden…..
Off my soap box and back to LeAlan Jones, todays Success Formula…..I asked Mr. LeAlan Jones to be part of my Success Formula series because he motivates me to not only think outside of the box but act in the same grain of courage. LeAlans simplicity reminds me that everything does not have to be complicated but that with consistency the path becomes clear, and most importantly, LeAlan reminds me that there is usually a sacrifice in service…and if there is no sacrifice it may not have been true service.
To bring the green party traction as big as the Democratic Party in Chicago on April 9 by getting more votes than the republican candidate that is running for the 2nd congressional seat. If achieved this will be the first time in the United States history.
Facebook: Friends of LeAlan M. Jones
Today I am a person walking in the process of healing. I have made a firm commitment to actively acknowledge my pains, address the outcomes of the hurt and assist in the healing that is required. I say required because without the healing I will remain damaged. I will function in habit instead of truth.
I have chosen to commit to the process of healing because I think about what will come of me if I do not. I imagine that I may drink too much if I don’t begin to heal; that I may eat too much if I lose sight of the me I imagine myself to be; that I may spend all of my money on material items that do not align with my goals, etc. I will destruct.
This is what is happening in communities everywhere-people are not healing. From what? That is not what matters as much as acknowledging that exists and is breeding in our brothers and sisters. Seeking belonging, not valuing life, numbness….we have all experienced this. Yes, we don’t all pick up a gun and go shoot up innocent people or rob a convenient store, but we all do damage that surpass the norms of our social circle. For example people who have access to bank account numbers steal money without a gun nevertheless, they are a thief.
Transformation of communities is imperative. We have to focus on healing communities and victims simultaneously.
Immediate solutions (not at all exhaustive):
Approach community healing like a patient in the ER. Identify a problem and attack it full force. If no improvement in a short period of time, immediately try something different. Think Dr.House. We dont have time to wait months and years for results.
Align systems with community patterns. After school programs and day care centers should be given the resources and staffing to match parent/guardian needs (time to work, grocery shop, go to the gym occasionally, travel from a distant location, etc.). This can happen block by block, school area by school area.
Over police, over parent, over teach. I was recently at an event where the speaker said we are at a point when we must collide with problems. We must battle with them. I interpreted this as we must not keep waiting for legislation and protocol. We don’t have to break laws but we need remain invisible. We need to be preventive AND proactive.
This is how I am approaching healing myself and communities. What else do you suggest?
This is a guest post from Keena Stephens
In July 2010, I made a career and life move by relocating to Atlanta, GA. My decision to move was greatly influenced by a trip to Atlanta in May 2010 during a visit to my cousin. My perception of the city prior to this visit was largely connected to the family trips to Ellenwood (suburban Atlanta), AUC Homecomings, and the glamorized view of Atlanta from TV shows such as The RealHousewives of Atlanta. During this trip, I gained a real perspective of the city of Atlanta. While visiting, I volunteered for a career day event at Sylvan Hills middle school. I witnessed the teachers work overtime to develop this event and their everyday curriculum with limited resources while working to reshape the minds of the students and expose them to positive role models and examples of the fruits of a college education. More importantly, the teachers were accomplishing this with within a community where the students were regularly exposed to images that were the extreme opposite. Here I was, in the middle of the beautiful “A-Town” and it looked no different from my neighborhood in Roseland or my dad’s old neighborhood in Englewood in Chicago. These students had the same fears, hopes, and dreams as the kids back home, and unfortunately the same barriers.
What I realized most was that although Chicago will always be my hometown, this city that others see as the Mecca for Black Wealth has ghettos, poverty, poor healthcare, violence and disparities in the delivery of resources to poor communities. These are the same issues that you will see in almost any American city. This changed my perspective of community to a more all-inclusive look at poverty across the country. I realize that no matter what a city may look like from a visitor’s perspective, it must be acknowledged that those that dwell in that city may share the same struggles of what you know of your very own city. The grass is not greener. There is work to be done across this country and more, globally. I personally focus my efforts on communities that are impoverished, considered low-income or have a poor school system. Other factors of service for me include- limited access to healthcare and other necessary functional resources. However, the community you choose to assist with should be near in both distance and to your passion. So, as my heart and efforts will still be tied to my hometown and my old Roseland southside Chicago neighborhood, I will not dare overlook and refuse to take part in the Sylvan Hill, Bankhead, West-End areas where those that look like me are suffering like my people back in the most impoverished areas in Chicago.
Tips on relocating or consideration before moving
1- Visit the community for an extended period of time. This will allow you to develop a connection to that community and build relationships. You can become apart of the community if you don’t associate with the people within it. If you have not chosen a neighborhood, this will help you determine which areas fit your personality and interests.
2- Join a volunteer group after moving. My first major activity upon moving to Atlanta was the CHAMPS Health Summit in 2010. I worked with Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory, and the Midtown Urology Staff on this health screening drive for men of color. Not only was this a rewarding experience to be able to coach these men in taking care of their health, but I also met new friends and people that were doing great things in my career field. I later gained a great position working with one of the companies at the Health Summit.
3- Try not to compare your new place to your old city. I find a lot of people who constantly compare their new city to their old city, sometimes end up moving or completely missing out on the experiences that they can gain from relocating. For me, Atlanta is not Chicago, but I have found wonderful things specific to Atlanta that have made my move worthwhile. Every city has its own character, so exhaust the possibilities that your new city has to offer.
4-Try new hobbies and find new friends ASAP. When in Rome do as Romans do. I am a die-hard Bears fan, but I tailgate with the Falcons fans as often as possible….with my Bears shirt on of course! The best thing about relocating is that you have the opportunity to try things that you did not or could not try at home. This may include new foods, outdoor adventures, or anything fun that you may not have done in your old city. A great website to meet new friends and find out what is going on in your new city is Meetup.com. You can find a group that may have hobbies you do or hobbies you have always wanted to do.
5-Before you move at all consider finances first. This is the number one tip I can give before you relocate. Please do your homework. Actually find out what the actual cost of living is for that city, not just relying on the internet posted prices. Look into all additional costs as well including sales taxes, costs to insure and register vehicles, gas and proximity from home to work, and average utility costs. Finally, research the costs to move from your location to your new destination. These figures will help you to determine if your budget will support you relocating.
Keena Stephens is a 28 year-old African-American woman, born and raised in a two parent home in the Roseland Community on Chicago’s Southside. Her upbringing instilled in her the passion for community outreach and has been a major influence in her work as a healthcare practitioner. At the age of 18, Keena received her license as a Practical Nurse and worked her way through college, graduating in May of 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Upon graduation she worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, IL until her move to Atlanta, GA in July 2010.
While in Atlanta, GA, Ms. Stephens has worked as a Research Coordinator for Morehouse School of Medicine and more recently as a Research Project Coordinator for the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Her affiliation with both Morehouse School of Medicine and the Atlanta VA Medical Center has afforded her the opportunity to reach a diverse healthcare population; underserved areas through community clinics and health education fairs as well as Veteran support outreach. She is currently in pursuit of her Doctorate in Nursing Practice with a specialty in Family Practice. Her goal is to provide holistic, comprehensive healthcare to patients of all levels of income through evidence-based practice. Keena is a social butterfly and enjoys spreading her positive energy in and out of the workplace. In her free time she enjoys traveling, great food, and getting acquainted with her new city.
New Years is a time that promotes reflection and goal setting, two of my favorite things. Today I have taken a few minutes to look over the book “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle. I originally read the book in 2008 and revisited a few pages in which I had folded down the corner of the edges. The points below yet again put my attention in a chokehold and I am hoping that moving forward I can exist with the following in mind.
1. Focus on healing the inner and the outer will follow
I.e. my inability to lose weight is the physical manifestation of all that I carry
2. No longer use the words I, me, my, or myself unless necessary (the rest of this post will be difficult to write-lol)
I.e. avoid engaging with people in a way that puts personal opinions or preferences at the center of dialogue
3. When in doubt believe the following: Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment (Tolle).
4. Know the difference between a fact and an opinion
Tolle explains that we often perceive an event in relation to our reaction to the event, thus leading to confusion. He further explains that an instinctive response is the body’s direct response to an external situation. An emotion is the body’s response to a thought.
5. Redirect unhappiness (this is related to number one)
Tolle says: “Unhappiness is an ego created mental-emotional disease that has reached epidemic proportions. It is the inner equivalent of the environmental pollution of our planet.” Tolle asks: “Can you see that your unhappiness about being unhappy is just another layer of unhappiness?”
6. Accept that it is so…..
Using a quote by Shakespeare and focusing on perception again, Tolle reminds us that events and happenings “are as they are. What is dreadful is your reaction, your resistance to it, and the emotion that is created by that resistance.” Shakespeare’s words, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
7. Become a better listener (this ties in to number two)
I.e. in conversation or in reading and writing allow others to go through their own process. Tolle states that the power of allowing lies in noninterference, nondoing.
8. Stop being over dramatic about the past
Tolle encourages us to know that whatever we learn through self observation or psychoanalysis is about you. It is not you.
9. Live in the moment
Tolle suggests that we frequently ask ourselves: What is my relationship with the present moment?
I can say I right now because this is solely about me . In closing these are the lessons I am guided by beginning right now.
Where have your reflections led you to today?
When I hear and read statistics such as: in the city of Chicago, there are over 500 calls reported daily for domestic violence incidents, or 1 in 4 women will be abused in their life time and 1 in 3 teen girls will be abused, it is beyond overwhelming to my spirit. Domestic violence is presented to our community in two ways: either our communities care, or they don’t. Simple. Bottom line. It amazes me that once a year domestic violence is only “highlighted” a few days in the month of October and then over shadowed even more because that’s the same month as breasts cancer awareness. But yet our lives and our communities suffer daily due to the increased rates of violence against women and children who live there.
Let’s take a step back, when you were little, you were told that famous line that momma only had to tell you once, “What goes on in this house STAYS in this house”. That one famous line is the same line that is causing so many deaths, drug and alcohol addictions, health disparities, rape, child molestation, new cases of HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, debt due to unpaid medical expenses….. these are as I like to call it, side effects of domestic violence in our communities. Some are easy to relate to the cause of cycles of violence. Others you may question, what does that have to do with domestic violence and the impact it has in our communities? The answer, what goes on in your house, affects all that live inside your community at some point. For instance, that victim or abuser of domestic violence that has become addicted to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, now or soon will have major health problems, causing them to stay a resident in the county or local hospitals emergency room, assuming that they likely don’t have insurance…. guess what? That victim is now in debt, stressed and blood pressure is soaring through the roof to find extra money and will probably do just about anything to get it…… Have you noticed what is happening here? From one domestic violence case in our community, society has just housed another possible, inmate, terminally ill patient, rape victim etc. Now another person in our community is making “us” look bad.
The property value of our homes go down because after so many holes and tears in the walls, the foundation of the house is no longer valuable. The abuser isn’t working and recently the victim got fired because their employer was tired of their boyfriend coming to their job, making a scene and making them loose faithful clients and revenue. So now what, the mortgage cannot be paid and there’s another boarded up house on our block. Here’s another famous line, “Whelp, there goes the neighborhood”.
Most homicides due to domestic violence leaves a trillion questions for the grieving victim’s family of what and how they would’ve done something different. Or now, the family of the abuser, who didn’t physically lose his life, but now that person is physically lost in our judicial system adding to the already overpopulated correctional facilities. Now our community loses another person who, if had been helped and or treated, possibly would’ve been another productive citizen in our communities and not another hindrance. I always make awareness that if we only “fix” or “advocate for the victims of domestic violence and not the abuser, the families involved or educate the community, we will NEVER end domestic violence. To me, I have seen enough of the people in our communities die silently and slowly from domestic violence and I work diligently to raise awareness and educate our community to know that domestic violence is PREVENTABLE.
There have been many celebrity lives affected by domestic violence played out in the media. Our communities, who endorse and help pay the salaries of these celebrities, need to take more action in providing more money into prevention services and not funerals and tax dollars for prison inmates each year. Celebrities that we’ve seen the effects of domestic violence include Rhianna and Chris Brown, Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Evelyn Lazada or the recent alleged murder and suicide of NFL player, Jovan Belchr and his girlfriend. Hollywood has provided us with movies such as “Precious”, “For Colored Girls” and “Enough”, to give us a glimpse of how domestic violence plagues our communities. Too often the communities wait too long to respond and we are attending another funeral or watching the slow but fast demise of another loved one.
How can the community help end violence against women and their children? Start by educating yourself, the block you live on, discuss it at the town hall meetings, book clubs, fraternal or sorority chapter and regional meetings, family dinners, volunteer at the shelters for battered women and their children or homeless shelters (some of the women that live in shelters is due to leaving an abusive partner), use your social media accounts, donate money to organizations to help them continue to provide services, talk to your children and their friends and anyone with a listening ear, that we have a serious problem in our communities and we need to do something about it. I thank you in advance for what you will set forth to do after reading this post to help victims of domestic violence and their families. May God continue to bless you and all that you do in the lives of others as we continue to help break the silence of domestic violence in our communities.
Felicia T. Simpson, a proud mother of three children, a four time self – published author, Motivational Speaker, and a Family Violence Prevention Specialist. She is the Founder and Executive Director of A New Me Foundation that serves as an advocacy platform for domestic violence victims, survivors and their families who are affected by domestic violence. Felicia works throughout the city of Chicago teaching violence prevention classes in grammar and high schools. Her motivation for providing these services is because at one point, she was a victim and continuously survives to teach others how to break the silence of domestic violence in our communities.