Check out David Brooks' column "
The American Renaissance is Already Happening
." Brooks draws on the work of James and Deborah Fallows's book "Our Towns" and connects the Renaissance to the re-emergence of the modern Whig party mind-set.
For non-historians, Dictionary.com defines the Whig party as
An American political party formed in the 1830s to oppose President Andrew Jackson and the Democrats. Whigs stood for protective tariffs, national banking, and federal aid for internal improvements. Senators Henry Clay and Daniel Webster were prominent Whigs, as were four presidents (William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Millard Fillmore). The party fell into disunity in the 1850s over slavery; some former Whigs, including Abraham Lincoln, then joined the new Republican Party.
I have seen this Renaissance in Bath, ME, my hometown and the home of the ISANNE office. In 1966, Bath was economically depressed and stores had moved out to the shopping centers. Today, Bath is an active town with many interesting shops and eateries. People are actually moving back into town to be near the attractive waterfront. As a kid, I never imagined I would return one day and enjoy living here. As Brooks writes, the Fallows spent 5 years travelling to numerous US towns to understand the people, their challenges and successes and "found that as the national political climate has deteriorated, small cities have revived. As the national scene has polarized, people in local communities are working effectively to get things done."
Brooks believes these small town success stories can join together to create a national voice. He notes that the revitalization of these small cities and towns share five common ingredients:
1. Building projects that revived the downtown core
2. Entrepreneurial and civic minded business leaders
3. Strong vocational schools and community colleges
4. Broad social capital and entrepreneurial civic institutions
5. Clear narrative and stories about the town's past, present and future
I'm struck by the similarity of schools and small towns and that several of these traits are required for creating vibrant school communities. Entrepreneurial and civic leadership, social capital and strong and clear mission will help define our future as we face the challenges ahead.
We congratulate our schools and graduates as you celebrate the year with festive ceremonies marking your many accomplishments.
Take a look at our member blog entry, "Oh, no...One more deadline...One more commitment..." from Rebecca Clapp, Head of the Riley School in Rockport, ME.
Look for our next Newsletter in a combined summer issue.