“When we encounter one another as individuals and tell our stories, we overwhelm contempt with something more powerful: love.”
— Arthur Brooks, Love Your Enemies
A few years ago, our staff had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to visit with some of our partners who are based in our nation’s capital. While there, we toured the Capitol building and had the chance to meet with some of our elected representatives. In the conversation, one of our team members asked about the handful of leaders who tend to grab headlines with their bold rhetoric and how that translated into the real work of Congress.
The congressperson with whom we were meeting explained that much of the fiery public debate we see is theatre. They stressed that the real reform, the real change, the real impactful work occurs when leaders on both sides of the aisle come together around shared challenges. Despite what cable news and social media may have us believe, collaboration is far more common in the halls of Congress than division.
This is a topic we have examined extensively in our own work. In his bestselling book, Love Your Enemies, Arthur Brooks eloquently describes this variety of leader as a “bridger.”
“The ideal leaders today—whom we need more urgently than at any time in my life—are ‘bridgers,’ men and women dedicated to a radical embrace of diversity. These are leaders of all political stripes who see common human stories all around them and are determined to bring people together. Connection is found when we view one another as individuals with stories and dignity, just like ourselves.”
We all know our country, our region, and our communities face historic divisiveness, a state that has only gained momentum over the historic events of the last two years. But as we look to the future, we can see that the leaders who will help our communities flourish in this “new normal” are those who can return our attention to build on common ground. Those leaders who can seek to find the ways we are similar. Those leaders who can bring, as Brooks says, “different people together around shared moral purpose and a recognition that we all seek love and dignity.”
I am heartened as we look across our region and see example after example of community leaders stepping up to this charge and filling the role of bridger. Individuals and organizations seeking out common ground to develop solutions to shared challenges that allow all individuals the opportunity to flourish. Below, we’ve outlined a handful of projects that illustrate this spirit from nonprofits in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
These are just some of the outstanding projects our board had the opportunity to review at our Winter Grants meeting. In total, our Trustees approved 103 grants for community-focused projects and organizations totaling $30,604,592 at our recent meeting. A full list can be found here.
Each of these projects are signs of the thoughtful, community-focused leadership that continues to thrive in our region. We are excited to see the important work those on the front lines of need in our region push forward. To the bridgers of today and tomorrow, we thank you for your dedication and we stand ready to continue to partner with you to serve the common good.
– Steve Moore
As students return to in-person activity, Junior Achievement Alaska will resume valuable programming for high school and middle school students with new staff.
A new outreach program will allow Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington to reach and better serve children and teens who live in rural communities as well as those who do not speak English as a first language.
A new CT scanner will help Cascade Medical Center provide medical care to rural patients in Idaho.
Refugees and other vulnerable populations in Idaho will receive critical housing support as LEAP Charities adds staff.
New staff will help Florence Crittenton improve its healthcare services in culturally contextual ways.
Rural students will have increased access to science educational programs as Montana Outdoor Science School adds staff.
A new cultural exchange program will allow Hand2Mouth to share its bold, accessible, and inclusive projects and work with communities around the world.
Foster children in Central Oregon will benefit from an innovative, intergenerational community from Bridge Meadows.
Valuable conversations will be inspired and community bonds strengthened as the High Desert Museum launches an innovative new event series.
A new facility constructed by Rose Haven will provide safety and stability for women and children experiencing homelessness and poverty.
New space will allow the Asia Pacific Cultural Center to expand its programs and activities that help engage the community and promote a greater understanding of Asia Pacific Islander (API) cultures.
Researchers at Seattle University will help expand our understanding of extra-tidal stars in the inner Milky Way through a coordinated project in partnership with other Pacific Northwest teams, including Saint Martin’s University, Western Washington University, and College of Idaho.
Children and families in the foster care system will receive increased support as Olympic Angels adds new staff.
City Fruit will expand its coordinated efforts to improve sustainability and simultaneously address food insecurity as new staff join the nonprofit’s team.