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Friday, November 05, 2010

What are you going to do next?

Real Recovery—5 things concerned citizens can do now to help restore the true American Dream.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” President Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910

The spirit of the true American Dream has been stirred again. New representatives have been elected, new solutions are being discussed, new legislative sessions are on the horizon, and each of us who has been active in politics, some for the first time, are left with the question: what’s next?

Let me suggest a few things that we citizens, from new tea-party members to veteran activists, might consider as we decide what contribution we can make between now and the next election to be more than just a critic:

1. Take stock of yourself. Real recovery starts with personal recovery. In football this is called getting back up into a good hitting position. If there is a mental, physical, or spiritual problem, now is the time to address it. If you don’t know where to go for help, call 211, help is just a phone call away if you really want to change. If you do nothing else, get more rest and exercise, eat better, and use recreation to recharge.

2. Connect and reconnect. None of us can do much in isolation. If you don’t already, subscribe to your local newspaper, become a more active reader, post online comments and send letters to the editor. Completely commit yourself to your church, temple, or synagogue and/or your 12-step recovery program. Join or become a more active in your service club, chamber of commerce, trade association, neighborhood, or other group that is important to you. Go back to school or become more active in your alumni group. Join or start a peer advisory group or book discussion group.

3. Do good work that allows you to be an active citizen. If you are a business owner or manager, create a new job and hire an assistant who will allow you the free time to participate. If you are unemployed or underemployed in a job that makes your life all business look for an opportunity to become that assistant or another job that allows community participation and insist part of your compensation be time to be a good citizen. Or start your own business.

4. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Run for elected public office, party leadership, or just help other good people get elected. Google Republican or Democrat and your ZIP code, make a phone call, and volunteer to help in your neighborhood. In 2012 you’ll be in position to make a real difference.

5. Finally, become more computer literate. If you don’t know how, ask your local librarian.
In the spring of 2012, across the state in over 3,000 neighborhoods we’ll once again have the opportunity to gather again for our potentially wonderful Colorado Caucuses. If colleges, high schools, libraries, service clubs, church, neighborhood, and other groups and clubs across Colorado would make active citizenship a major focus between now and then, we can convert the enthusiasm of the moment to bring about a major advance towards the recovery of our American Dream. For more information about it see
"The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." The first usage of the term “The American Dream,” James Truslow Adams , The Epic of America, 1931

John Wren is a Denver resident and long-time community activist, business consultant, and adult educator. He is the founder of the new, free Small Business Chamber of Commerce which is now the sponsor of Wren’s Denver IDEA Café startup workshop for people starting a new career, new project or campaign, or new business which he has been facilitating for over 10 years. For more contact him at or (303)861-1447

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