Healthy communities for all

My dream is where every citizen of voting age is actively involved in their local government. Running for office is not dependent on the money you have but on a sincere desire to serve the community.   And with the involvement of everyone in the government process, citizens can demand of their public officials the kinds of legislation that can create change.  Higher taxes are levied on corporations and wealthy individuals.  The resulting increased revenue would be funneled into areas such as public education, health care and health and human services.  Because legislation at the federal level has mandated a living wage for all jobs and all work, no one has to worry about not being able to pay their rent or mortgage or paying their bills or paying for transportation or their groceries.

Here is how my dream unfolds:

Neighborhoods are diverse, throughout the cities and in the suburbs and rural areas.  In fact, neighborhoods that were once all white have become more integrated. There are no slums. Old, dilapidated buildings are either razed to erect new ones or renovated into clean, spacious affordable homes or apartments.  All public schools are outfitted with all the latest technology, have large libraries and are equipped with gymnasiums and swimming pools.  There are after-school centers to keep students occupied.  Classes are small, no more than 12 to 15 students to a classroom.  Every school has qualified exceptional teachers on staff, a licensed social worker, a counselor, and nurse.

Students go home to clean spacious apartments or homes.  Neighborhoods have two or three small grocery stores in addition to a large supermarket located by the area’s main artery.  Health care is subsidized by the state, and families and individuals can see a doctor, health professional or even be hospitalized without fear of going bankrupt.  Quality childcare is affordable and available to all who need it.

After school programs for pre-K through 12 abound in the neighborhoods at recreation centers, schools and in churches.  Most teens have part-time jobs that pay a living wage.  Graduation rates from all high schools are consistently high, with students having the opportunity to attend a 4-year college or trade school.  Public colleges and universities are subsidized by the state, so anyone who wants a college education can get one

Long-awaited immigration reform has been passed, so that all DACA students will become citizens.  A path to citizenship has been worked out for those undocumented immigrants currently in the country.   Because of legislation to make changes in the criminal justice system, including the institution of restorative justice programs, prisons have cut down the number of incarcerated so it is only those who have committed serious crimes involving bodily harm who populate them.  And these are given the opportunity to undergo rehabilitation and education

The homeless population is also fast disappearing as more residences are being built to house them.  At the same time, those who are able can take advantage of programs that will get them re-integrated into the work world.  Those who have health or mental problems will be cared for in hospitals or care centers.

A prominent part of each community is the local branch of the State bank, an entity that provides reasonable rates on loans and mortgages and has a competitive edge over the giant corporate banks.

Voter engagement programs have not only increased the number of people of color who vote, but they have sparked a new interest in civic engagement where ordinary citizens feel compelled to become involved in politics at the local level and to run for office.

Local governments are working together with the states and the federal government to reduce carbon emissions through legislation and programs to induce manufacturers to participate.

With the ever-decreasing demand for coal and fossil fuels, industries such as solar, wind and new sources of energy such as bio-fuels are growing, creating new jobs.  New industries eager to hire new employees are launching training programs through local community colleges and trade schools.  The jobless rate is at its lowest, accounting for those companies that have gone out of business, but are re-tooling to become different and better companies.  Meanwhile employees out of work are put through a training program to prepare them to take on new work at the new companies. During their unemployment period, idled workers still receive an income to care for themselves and their families.

And this is only the beginning…

6 thoughts on “Healthy communities for all

  1. YES ARLINE! YESSSS. I read this and took a deep breath. And as you wrote and described the world you wish to see, I could actually see it too. We are in a movement right now – in history – and your visions here touch me so deeply. I wonder what you think is arising now in our country. How do you see it from your vantage point as a Filipino woman, as a writer, as a woman of faith, and as so many other things…?

  2. I am inspired by this vision. I want to see it brought about. One question I have is whether local communities can bring it out without relying on the authority of vast government bureaucracy. Could this vision be realized with the value of subsidiarity left intact?

  3. I believe Minnesota is a hub for the Restorative Justice movement. In my city there is talk about creating self-healing communities by having RJ neighborhood centers. Have you heard of this, or are you connected with RJ through Isaiah?

  4. Arline, what a comprehensive vision. It sounds like Camelot. What role do you see the church playing in bringing about this vision?

  5. Thank you for sharing your vision, Arline! I really appreciate Stephanie’s question about where you see yourself here. What is your vantage point? I’ve also been thinking about our conversation this week… I don’t know the details of your call, but I sense that you are called to work toward this vision. I also wonder: where do you see the Catholic Church in this vision? What is its role?

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