Change Your World

 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

kid-president

Hello. It’s been awhile. But today is Election Day, and I need to give you an important message.

This election has been a pitiful showcase of American democracy and represents an inevitable byproduct of a two party system rotting from the inside out over the last 30 years. Today it all comes to a head: two individuals who are the two most disliked candidates ever on the ballot by any of the major parties.

But at its core, this election should be a refreshing reminder to all of us.

This election is the culmination of years of small, terrible decisions by a select few in party leadership, preying politicians in search of private interest instead of public good, and individuals with unlimited resources insuring and ensuring their own financial benefit.

If there’s one thing to take away from this election, it’s that a handful of people can indeed make a difference.

And that means that we all have the same potential. But we don’t have to try and tackle a broken national political system today – no, today we should start making a difference closer to home.

It starts with your family, your relationships, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, and the people you come in contact with. It starts with making a determined and purposeful decision to always make room in your heart and your life for others. It starts with communicating more clearly with those around you. It starts by listening when others communicate with you.

And from your home, it grows to your community. Positive change in a community begins with a mindset that the intentions and views of the person next to you are not only valid, but are a part of the vibrant landscape of your Main Street. Positive change in a community starts from a place of selflessness. Creating a better future within in your community for not only for your children, but also for the children of your enemy, nosey neighbor, or stubborn mayor is where the root of change exists.

So regardless of the emotional results of tonight’s election, don’t fret long about the seemingly insurmountable task of fixing a system of government going through its next wave of growing pains, but rather use the emotion as fuel for your own positive change.

No one is asking you to change the world. You just have to change your world.

Happy voting everyone.

Change in the Air

On July 1, I will become the new executive director for the South Carolina Arts Alliance. Below is the release from the SCAA. More information will be coming soon. I will not be moving, the SCAA office will relocate from Rock Hill to somewhere in the Upstate of SC (exact location TBD). I will be continuing my work in Mauldin through June 30.


GP McLeer named new executive director of SC Arts Alliance

George Patrick McLeerGeorge Patrick (GP) McLeer, Jr., administrator of the City of Mauldin’s Office of Cultural Affairs, has been named to succeed Betty Plumb as executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, SCAA President Rose Sheheen of Camden announced today.

McLeer officially will take the reins of the statewide nonprofit arts advocacy and service organization on July 1, with Plumb assisting in the transition until September 1, including the relocation of the SCAA office from Rock Hill, Sheheen said.

“The Arts Alliance Board completed a five-month search for its new executive director, and we were quite pleased to attract a number of highly qualified candidates, which made the selection process exceedingly difficult. However, GP was the board’s unanimous choice,” Sheheen said. “Not only has he been a board member since 2011, most recently as first vice president, but he also brings knowledge, enthusiasm, vigor, youth and passion to a most important position in the art world of South Carolina. It is with excitement and confidence that the Art Alliance welcomes GP as its next leader!”

Sheheen continues, “He has extensive experience working with government officials and a broad spectrum of artists and arts agencies. As the sole employee of a nonprofit arts center and local government office, he has been responsible for everything from booking acts to grantwriting and even operating the lights during performances.”

Plumb, who has headed the SCAA for 27 years, achieved state and national prominence as a leader in advocacy for public funding of the arts and arts education. In recent weeks, she was announced as winner of the 2016 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award, in the individual category; the “Together for Good Advocacy Award,” from the S.C. Association of Non Profit Organizations (SCANPO); and the S.C. Theatre Association‘s advocacy award.

McLeer thanked Plumb “for her years of service in building the organization to the level it is today. The next chapter for the SCAA would not be possible without her having written the one before it. I am excited and honored to be selected as the next executive director for the SCAA. I have lived in South Carolina my whole life and have seen how the arts have positively impacted the lives of my family, friends and community. My passion has always been to help ensure that the arts can thrive in my community, so to be able to expand that passion to all communities in South Carolina is something I am ecstatic about. I look forward to working with the board of directors to continue advancing the arts for all South Carolinians, and to partnering with artists, arts administrators, advocates and community leaders all over the state to help the arts grow in South Carolina.”

McLeer’s current responsibilities include managing the Mauldin Cultural Center, a repurposed 1937 school that hosts 30,000 people and more than 1,500 events annually, and handling all city-wide marketing efforts. He was responsible for starting the Railroad Concert Series, an annual free series featuring locally and nationally known performers; managing the Mauldin BBQ Cook-Off, a signature community event; and creating theMaudlin Public Art Trail, a 10-year continuous cycle of public art installations. Before working for the City of Mauldin, he was executive director of the Mauldin Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization.

McLeer, 27, is a 2010 graduate of the College of Charleston’s Arts Management Program. He lives in Fountain Inn.

Don’t Ask Me Who I’m Voting For

This post was inspired by my friend Elizabeth’s recent post which hits a similar vein. Go read and follow her blog – she’s great.

At a recent family reunion of sorts, the first question asked of me by my relatives wasn’t the usual “Are you married yet?” (my relatives seem to have decided that it’s best to skip over the whole “dating” thing and jump right to marriage), but it was rather “Who do you like in the election?” It was also the second question I was asked that day.

And the question floored me.

One of my first memories of voting was when my mother and father  took me to the polls at around age 5 or 6.  After they pulled their lever, and I got my “I Voted” sticker, we headed back into the car where I begged the question, “So…who did you vote for Mom? Dad?”  My parents were reluctant to say. This would have been the 1992 election I suppose, or maybe it was the Republican primaries – I honestly could not tell you – and probably my parents couldn’t settle on a candidate together and didn’t want to tell each other.  But maybe it was because they didn’t want to instill in me the that idea that voting for one candidate is right, while voting for another is wrong. Or maybe they wanted to let me know that it’s simply not polite to ask.

Whenever I get this question, “Who are you voting for?”, I tend to shy away.  I may end up giving an answer that consists of 2-3 candidates, or I may shift the conversation into the “electability” of current front runners, but deep down I hate this question. Up until yesterday I’ve been saying something like, “My guy hasn’t entered the race yet.” AKA Vice President Joe Biden. And while, yes, I tended to think he would have leveled the field a bit on the democratic side, ultimately it was a ruse to avoid the question.

My friends and family have a good time poking fun at my passion for political issues and pure politics, and it’s true that I’m growing into a political junkie of sorts, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking the question “Who are you voting for?” is inappropriate to ask until you ask yourself that question right before punching your ballot.

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to corner me at a bar and talk about the pure politics of someone’s campaign, I’m all game.  We’ll have an honest conversation about polling numbers, demographics and electoral math and dig into performances in debates and voter trends…you know, the fun stuff that everyone hates.

 

But at this point in the political marathon that is a presidential campaign, it’s almost insane to pose the question “Who are you voting for?” With at least 15 people left that would need to drop out on just the Republican side alone, odds are your guy or gal will not be in the race, polling numbers aside, come next summer. But beyond the fact it’s a numbers game at this stage, we’re missing out on the one question that would re-focus our country and inspire real political discourse:

“What do you think we should do to improve __________?”

Talking about the issues is why we have a democracy. It’s not so that we can vote for some guy or gal who has the best comeback in a debate. It’s to allow we, the people, to have a voice on how we approach hard issues.  And, let’s face it, the issues facing the 2016 campaigns are hard issues: deficit reduction, education, inequality on numerous fronts, immigration, and climate change.

So instead of talking about what Donald Trump proclaimed last Tuesday, what Jeb Bush didn’t say last Wednesday, or if Bernie Sanders bought a comb on Thursday, let’s talk about the issues.  We don’t need the candidates to tell us how to think.

—-

My parents were never ones to engage in hardcore political discussions with me. Only recently, and probably due to my incessant commenting on politics at every level, have we started these kinds of talks. For the first time I can remember, we’re talking about primary races. PRIMARY races. Heck, last November, my parents (both teachers) and my sister (studying to be a teacher) watched the SC Superintendent debate — yeah, read that one again – I’m rubbing off apparently. But what we’re talking about around the dinner table isn’t necessarily candidate profiles, we’re talking about the issues. We’re talking about what needs to happen to make education better, how we can protect our family’s values while also protecting the values of other families, and yes, there’s a little bit of Donald Trump humor because we just can’t resist.

But I think I’m starting to understand why my parents never talked to me about who they voted for.  It never was about WHO they were voting for, it was about WHAT they were voting for. And that’s where our allegiance should lie, with our own beliefs and values, not with a candidate.