Either Or, Dallas

“How can you be focused on global poverty when Dallas has its own poverty problem?” You can replace poverty with education, justice, food security, or slavery – I hear this concern from institutions working on Dallas’ serious social problems.

Many of my mentors and heroes – and sheroes, thanks Catherine Cuellar! – are people in Dallas who have dedicated their lives to solving our own poverty, education and justice challenges. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m diminishing the scale of the problems we face in Dallas at all, or to minimize the work that many passionate people are doing in Dallas.

I don’t believe in the either/or of working on global scale problems or local problems. In fact, I believe in a different either/or: either focus on the best, biggest, scalable solutions for all humanity, or miss out on tens of thousands of people whose minds, talent and resources can pitch in to solve our city’s toughest problems.

I’m asking us to consider a different strategy for our city – both for its problems, and for its potential.

My vision for Dallas is to become the Impact City – the center of the world for solving humanity’s greatest challenges. That center is going to emerge somewhere. If you work on our local social problems, I propose that you should actively support the emergence of Dallas as the Impact City:

  • Would it be better for our city if the greatest minds working on scalable poverty solutions live in Seattle, or in Dallas?
  • Do we want the top innovators from around the world working on improving educational outcomes for poor children to be concentrated in New York, or in Dallas?
  • Do we want the top global-scale foundations investing in food desert solutions to be located in Chicago, or in Dallas?
  • Which gives us a better chance of solving our local homelessness problem: if thousands of social entrepreneurs working on improving the lives of billions of people around the world are concentrated in London, or in Dallas?
  • What will happen to the city that invites tens of thousands of global-scale thinkers, social innovators, compassionate and passionate and committed people who dedicate their lives to solving deeply challenging human issues – do we want them to volunteer for nonprofits in Dallas, to be on the boards of the foundations in Dallas, to mentor the millennials of Dallas, to engage the corporations in Dallas, to teach at Dallas universities, to invest in Dallas social impact funds? Or is it better if they live in Cincinnati or Detroit?

How do we bring this energy to the city? By creating irresistible programs in Dallas that bring together the greatest minds and resources for global-scale impact. Once they are here, those minds will apply their passion and talent to the city’s challenges as well.

By bringing energetic innovators and a resource-rich ecosystem to our city, a whole new dynamic for solving Dallas’ local problems will emerge. Impact City isn’t just for the world, it’s for Dallas too.

We’ve already defined several powerful programs to launch the Impact City initiative, to become that magnet for impact organizations to come to the city. I’ll share them in upcoming posts – stay tuned.

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