This is a guest blog by Mike Burns, PE, PgMP, DBIA
Last month, we took a broad look at infrastructure from a policy and enabler perspective, acknowledging the inherent complexity associated with delivering sustainable infrastructure and encouraging us to take risks, expose challenges, empathetically listen, and celebrate incremental success as we find win-win scenarios. This month, we are pivoting from macro to micro, hoping to inform our perspective as we progress community solutions. Unfortunately, the topic of community has led to a case of writer’s block.
This writer’s block started with a policy challenge from my Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Implementing Public Policy course. As I am learning in this course, an action-learning environment starts by defining points of entry. So my first action is to acknowledge that community is a term I’ve struggled with in recent years. Community as a point of entry exposes a polarity in my life. While my strong parents, warm community, and loving wife and children allowed me, with reasonable human errors, to successfully navigate the first three steps of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: physiologic, safety, love and belonging, the last 10 years have not been spent mindfully addressing esteem and self-actualization.
The last 10 years have been a series of tests: The Great Recession, The Arab Spring, corporate integrated delivery failures, and now COVID19. Supported by my family and benefiting from a commitment to education, we have weathered these continuous storms. Acknowledging this privilege, empathizing with so many who have and are truly suffering, I have no regrets. Yet, I often find myself dwelling on incremental loss of connectivity with my community, my roots.
I yearn for the ease of a childhood where familiar faces at every turn created a sense of belonging. I yearn for the camaraderie of a team, suffering together through the ups and downs of a season. I yearn for the dynamic pressures of my early career, where every day wins and losses affected our development and profitability. I yearn for my expat days, where utter uncertainty created a deeply meaningful network of need for our clients and teams.