The Megacommunity Manifesto

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Civil Leaders Must Confront Together the Problems that None Can Solve Alone

A New Orleans introduction and call for community collaboration

By Liz Shephard

Last Sunday, we witnessed a terrible act of violence that injured more than 19 people during a shooting at the joyous celebration of the Mother’s Day Second Line parade.  This event is all too familiar: street violence gone awry.

This event is unacceptable.  Given the National attention it has received, New Orleans, yet again, is being put on the stage for our violence, crime, and unsafe neighborhoods, and we, its citizens, are hitting a breaking point: something has to be done – we can’t continue on like this, going back to work, forgetting the innocent lives that will forever be effected by such a shooting, preventing us from living our lives in the historic traditions of the City that we love.

As we turn to answers, solutions, questions about this horrible tragedy, as we search for strategies to prevent this from happening again – we look towards another monumental event, equally deserving of national news:  the Dalai Lama is coming to New Orleans.

There could be no better opportunity to reflect upon our mutual interdependence, our mutual desire to be loved and love, to feel safe and secure – than to hear the sacred words of this spiritual leader.

For what the Dalai Lama knows, but perhaps we all too often forget, is that we are all connected and more similar than we are different.  That what happens on any street, effects streets everywhere.  And the ONLY way to solve these problems of violence, are through collaboration and engagement among all leaders, of all sectors, and of all voices in this City – not just the wealthy, not just the new, not just those in power.

What we need – scholars are calling the “Megacommunity”.  A community that “deliberately joins together around a compelling issue of mutual importance”.  A community that “becomes more of a partner and a player; more knowledgeable about the large systems that exist and the role we can play in them”.

Yes, this is complicated.  Life is complicated.   But New Orleans can have a far greater capability to solve the most pressing and challenging issues in our community when we open ourselves up moving beyond short-term goals, to long-term impact, from optimizing our own organizations, to the larger system as a whole.

Please read this article to learn more about how you can be a part of New Orleans megacommunity – a solution for a safer and brighter future for us all.