Let Go & Lead
Patricia Harrison President & CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

On Communities (3:08)

MARIL MACDONALD:
I’d like to ask you a little bit about community and community building, and one of the things that we’re seeing is that leadership structures are shifting from more hierarchical models to networks of communities that really gather around issues of particular interest.  What do you, first of all, what would you define as a community?  What makes a group a community?

PATRICIA HARRISON:
Well, it shifts.  There’s a real community, there’s a virtual community, people coming together, uh, on a particular issue… when I worked for the State Department and I had the most incredible opportunity, uh, to interact with people from almost every country in the world who would come here on exchange programs, and the one thing they would talk about no matter where they were or what kind of exchange, cultural, professional, educational, the volunteer community, the DNA of America, they would just be so flabbergasted that ordinary people would take time to do things that they weren’t paid for, for no other reason than to make the community better or for, for a particular issue.

And I think that’s at the heart of who we are as a people and sometimes we wander away from it but it’s always there.  It’s, it, it goes back to that old idea of barn raising and people coming together, and we’re doing it now online and we’re doing it now in real time, and that is really at the heart and soul of public media.  It’s a volunteer, uh, initiative, uh, building on the strength of a community.

The other thing that’s happening in these very challenging times when people are concerned about is the American Dream alive and well?  Will it be there for my kids?  Can I pay the mortgage?  We miss a sense of community.  We miss that sense that you cannot get just through Facebook and 4,000 friends who you will never know who they really are.  You really need will my neighbor be there and that’s an open-ended question because for your neighbor to be there you have to be there.

We’re also looking at the incredible challenges facing our country, education for one, and we’re realizing, as someone said, if it’s going to be it’s up to me.  You need that sense of community whether it’s concerning better schools, the dropout rate, things, better healthcare, it all gets down to being an American and an American citizen.  And so community, it’s in our DNA, we just have to activate it a little bit more.