Author and motivational speaker Richard C. Harwood came to Sarasota last week to discuss his new book, Stepping Forward: A Positive, Practical Path to Transform Our Communities and Our Lives, and to encourage community members to turn outward to work toward the common good. Harwood is the president and founder of The Harwood Institute, a nonprofit that works to create methods for people and communities to come together to solve major problems. Harwood's visit to Sarasota was sponsored by The Patterson Foundation, which uses Stepping Forward as part of its Aspirations to Actions initiative.
In an interview before his talk, Harwood laid out some of his key points:
- We don't have to accept what’s happening in the country right now. We can change it to make things better and get things done. But to do that, we need to restore our belief in ourselves and what we do. We have lost the belief that small changes can lead to bigger changes.
- Change will come from local communities. It is only at the local level that we can truly come together. We don't need to start with the federal government. We can start with leadership in nearby groups and organizations that we’re passionate about.
- We need to recognize that we are co-creators of our communities. We all have unique skills and characteristics that make us valuable, and those skills should be put to work to improve our communities.
- We need to work on going from negative narratives to positive ones. Instead of telling ourselves, "Nothing can get done," or, "Someone else will fix it," we need to realize it's up to us.
- Communities can’t focus on creating unattainable utopian worlds. Focus on smaller projects that directly improve people's lives.