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Letter to Mr. Nick Hanauer: Seeds for America


Dear readers,

Below is a letter I just sent to Mr. Nick Hanauer, billionaire tech entrepreneur, author, and social activist. In the letter, I outline my own idea for fostering social and creative change in America, to help grow personal creativity, meaningful lives, and social and economic growth to America and beyond.


Dear Mr. Hanauer,

I am a single mom trained as a fine artist in Paris (I went there alone when I was 19 and lived and worked in Paris and its working class / immigrant suburbs for nearly 18 years). I now work as a library technician in a public library in the Atlanta area, and I teach a French conversation class in my home to complement my earnings. I contribute regularly to several blogs.   I earn $25,000 a year before taxes, and despite ten years of higher education, I have not yet found a way to earn a living from the innate talents I possess: creating art, writing, being a thinker, humanitarian, gardener… and I have long been thinking about how I can contribute to a new American way of life, where people can live meaningful lives and contribute their talents to organically rebuilding a new society.  I call my idea “Seeds for America”.
I had no idea that your new book “The Gardens of Democracy” even existed before I turned on my computer this morning. I had avidly watched “Inequality for All” about a year ago, and recently on NPR I heard a snippet from your Ted Talk about corporate greed and how those of us who have little or nothing will eventually come for the wealthy with pitchforks. And how spreading wealth reinforces the economy, how the wealthy don’t create jobs.  I had already thought these things myself, and I wondered why people consider these ideas so controversial. But then again, I am way out of the box!! 
And so, this morning, I read a few summaries of “The Gardens of Democracy” on-line, and my heart started beating faster. Intuitively, after hearing the Ted Talk excerpt, I knew I needed to contact you – that we were on the same page, and that you or your foundation could help me to implement some of my ideas for social change.
Although I am a quiet person, my mind is very loud.  My heart and entire being deplore injustice, and I know that every single human being has something important to contribute to his or her community.  Capitalism and the fruits of the industrial revolution and materialism have helped us to develop tremendous technological advances, but they have also diminished our collective ability to create and sustain soulfulness in our individual lives and in our communities.  Humans are capable of great creativity and also great destruction.  We have to channel these energies for good.  Every person has innate talents, gifts, skills needing to be needed, honed, developed, cherished.
While I have no family support nor do I receive child support to raise my son, my goals and hopes remain high. My son plans to become an interpreter for the U.N. and he wants to study linguistics in Finland and interpreting in Geneva. Even without much money at all, I have been able to raise a child who is self-motivated, who loves to learn, who is clear about his own path, and who, I feel sure, will remain creative and continue to evolve and grow throughout his life.
There is no freedom without responsibility.  In fact, being accountable creates integrity, and this is supported by love of self and self awareness.  Empathy and compassion for others are not possible without self love and self awareness. These skills must be taught and fostered by family and community. My idea for rebuilding America is, like your book title suggests, very much based on the model of a community garden.  Here is a brief description:
 In  neighborhoods such as my own (Belvedere Park, GA – where home values average about $30,000 to $40,000 – little more than when they were first built in 1958 – on my side of Memorial Drive), there are many empty homes and rental properties…
 I propose that a group of people with many different types of skills and talents – from mathematicians, to musicians, artists, scientists, builders, gardeners, dancers, plumbers, electricians, healers, doctors, theologians, dreamers, philosophers – the widest variety of professions, trades and talents – be recruited and given a small home to live in in a neighborhood of low income where people don’t possess the culture of education and don’t know how to encourage their own children to develop their talents.  In exchange for this home, these skilled individuals would teach in a community center built for this purpose in the heart of the neighborhood.  In order to attend classes, children and adults both would have to contribute something to the neighborhood or community center. Some work related to their own skills and talents.
 I call the program “Seeds”, because there would be no ideological plan for the neighborhood other than the basic and important premise that every human being craves a meaningful life (rather than from first priority a life of wealth, power, celebrity, and luxury or that all children should adapt to the current model of society and only focus on maths or sciences), and that every human being is born with a specific temperament and talents.  By identifying and nurturing individual talents and teaching self-love and compassion, these individuals, whom society at large now considers a drain on the economy and without intrinsic value, would become invested in themselves and their communities.  I believe that such individuals would create a very new and hopeful America. 
 America and the entire world needs the talents of every person who is born each day to help it grow and remain creative and in sync with the needs of nature and the planet.  This simple system for the identification and fostering of talents would help grow the economy as you describe, and people would be earning a living doing the work that brings them deep personal satisfaction.  By being responsible for themselves and their community, they would invest in and defend the neighborhoods which have been so long neglected – by people who think and who have been taught to think – that they don’t matter.
 We, who don’t have much money, are considered without worth by contemporary American society. Without a lot of self-love and dedication, it is difficult to for a person to feel like his or her life is meaningful in America today.  I want to help to change this fact; I want to help change America into a vital place where people want to live, love, create.  Freedom and responsibility are inherently intertwined.  The world needs us all – not just the wealthy and the powerful. Our politicians frequently speak of the middle class, but few ever mention the poor. We are all creative beings, and we all have talents. Not only math and science are important – every skill is important, and every talent needs to be encouraged, recognized, and given a place to be expressed in our society and economy.
 Thank you for reading my letter and my proposal.  I would love to work with you and your foundations to help grow America.  I have big ideas and a big heart, and I feel compelled to contribute my thoughts and dreams to bring the soul of America back to life…for all Americans.
 Thank you for the work that you do!  I am looking forward to reading “The Gardens of Democracy”. 

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