Charley’s World Episode Thirty

When Charley began working with Natty on her reading skills, he never could have imagined that what he began would become a threat to the power structure of the community. Those in power seemed to be threatened by what might evolve from the learning opportunities he was trying to provide. Those out of power seemed more interested in trying to gain power by creating a grievance society than actually doing anything. They seemed to be threatened that Charley was trying to generate hope through learning.

Charley decided to ask his advisors to meet with him to provide guidance. He thought of Nellie, Pastor Sophia, Sandra, and Homer as having the wisdom to help him think about his next steps. It was a wise choice because each brought a unique perspective.

Sandra began the discussion. “I want to let you know that I have the authority to provide you with the funding you requested in your grant proposal. In fact, the foundation could even go beyond your request. We have struggled finding projects that are truly transformational. The Learning Center is truly making a difference in this community and the lives of its citizens. However, you know the politics better than the rest of us, but I say double-down and make this community a role model for how learning can change society.

Homer responded: “Sandra, I’m sure every one of us is delighted to see that funding isn’t an issue. I agree with you. We need to double-down. It’s time to take on the powers-to-be and the want-to-be’s. This is a grassroots effort. In all my years, I’ve never seen such support from people from across this community. What we need now are ideas to expand on what you’ve already done. And one more thing…Charley you need to let everyone know how you have helped our coaches become successful. We’ve never had such successful teams even though the coaches initially thought the players had lost their “edginess”. In a community like ours, sports are a source of pride.”

Homer, I value your political wisdom,” said Pastor Sophia. “When we began our discussions on joy, I didn’t know where they would lead. We have certainly made an impact on the mental health of our young people. But I think Nellie will agree with me, they’ve also reduced some of the racial divide that exists in our community. We are now sharing pulpits on Sunday, and it’s common now to see a racial mix in our pews.”

I agree Pastor Sophia,” said Nellie. “And let me tell you, I’ve never seen those in our church so excited about learning. They want to start up more discussion groups. I’m hoping we can begin other discussions like joy using topics like hope, charity, forgiveness, reconciliation, and others. Sandra might the church provide the electronics we need for families who can’t afford them and the wifi access?

Certainly!” responded Sandra.  “We’ll need to do this through the Learning Center, but the funds will be there. I really like the way this is going. One thing that would really help me would be your thoughts on where you would like the Learning Center to grow.

We’ll do that,” said Charley. “I’ve got a lot of ideas swirling around in my head as I’m sure the rest of you must have. Let’s meet again tomorrow.

Charley thought later that night on advice his cross country coach had given him. “The secret to winning any race is to let others take the lead, but always have enough energy left to make that final spurt to the finish line.”  That advice would continue to be valued in the days ahead.

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“A community that learns together excels together. We need to form communities that learn together.” – Robert Reed (Actor)