I have a dream; do you?

Chapel Hill’s town manager Roger Stancil nailed it in his remarks at the close of the Nancy Oatestown employees’ celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event took place at Hargraves Center just before lunch last Friday. The program included a dramatic re-enactment of Rosa Park’s story, starring Myra Evans of Parking Services; a musical number with soloist Ran Northam of Communications; and portions of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech channeled by Tom Clark of Human Resources.

After the cash prizes had been handed out for the winners of the poetry contest, Stancil and deputy town manager Flo Miller thanked three former town employees — Fred Battle, Maggie Burnett and Bruce Heflin — who, in 1997, started the tradition of an employee celebration of the holiday. Then Stancil had the last word.

He told the audience that the best way to honor Dr. King was to identify your dream clearly, then begin to make it happen. He talked about the town’s values of RESPECT — Responsibility, Equity, Safety, Professionalism, Ethics, Communication and Teamwork — and how leadership comes from living one’s values.

Those words could not have come at a better time. During a week that included President-elect Donald Trump’s first press conference, snippets from the confirmation hearings of proposed Cabinet members, and Congress calling a midnight session to sneak through the first steps of dismantling health care for millions who can least afford it, leadership had hit an all-time low.

What I heard and experienced at events over MLK Jr. weekend, beginning with the employees’ celebration, gave me hope.

To be a force of change in the world doesn’t require organizing and leading marches or delivering sermons to thousands of people. Any and all of us can be leaders — even those of us who are introverts — by virtue of how we live our lives and show respect for one another. Speak up when you see an injustice; offer kindness without expecting anything in return.

Council members received a request from a community member asking that Inauguration Day be declared a day of mourning. Instead, Mayor Hemminger will ask council to join her in proclaiming Jan. 20, 2017, to be a Day of Kindness and Respect.

Maybe for some of us it will be the first day of a new habit, and together we can lead a quiet revolution of justice and mercy. That’s my dream. What’s yours?
— Nancy Oates

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  1. Protzman

     /  January 16, 2017

    What a missed opportunity. The Council had a chance to weigh in on the horrors of a Trump presidency and chose instead to offer a proclamation of respect? On inauguration day? For Donald Trump?

    That’s just plain gross. No wonder we’re getting our asses kicked at the polls. A quiet revolution of justice and mercy is not a revolution at all.

  2. Bruce Springsteen

     /  January 17, 2017

    I have a dream that people in political power will stop trying to overreach but I doubt my dream will ever come true. Really, what is the point in CH TC making statements or passing proclamations or whatever about national and international issues as it so often does? There are a thousand different venues to express yourself on those issues and there’s only one CH TC to deal with CH issues and yet CH TC can’t restrain itself from spending time on those other issues.

    Here’s an issue that actual deserves CH TC time. I’ve been reading about Tesla and electric cars in general. Tesla is releasing a new model this year with a much lower price (projected at 35 K-ish) to try to reach larger numbers of people. Tesla has a network of 800 superchargers across the country.

    A supercharger is a very fast charger for a Tesla (or any electric car) and they’re typically near heavily traveled roads like interstates. Each supercharger actually has multiple charging stations. The idea is, for day to day usage people can charge in their garage each night but for longer trips there needs to be an efficient way for people that use electric cars.

    There are also Destination Superchargers, which are places (usually hotels or shopping malls or the like) where you can charge your electric car but only if you’re patronizing the business in the meantime. The Carolina Inn has a Destination Supercharger.

    In case you’re thinking, electric car or gas car, it’s all fossil fuel anyway, from an efficiency standpoint it’s better to generate electricity in a plant or wherever and then put it in an electric car than it is to put gas in a gas car.

    Okay, so if you look on the map (link below) you see that there are no superchargers anywhere near here. The closest one is off I-40 in Burlington. There are about 1.5 million people in the R-D metro area and there are no superchargers despite there being 800 of them nationally. I’m sure Raleigh and Durham will have their own soon too but In CH the obvious choice would be off I-40 at one of the three CH exits. Here’s the map.


    So at the next CH TC meeting when the Mayor asks the TC to proclaim “Pander To The Local Electorate On Issues Beyond The Scope Of What We Were Elected For Week” (just as many other town councils in Trump country are doing the exact same thing), maybe respond to the Mayor “No thanks, that’s not we were elected for, I’ll be filling out a webpage while you folks discuss this, let me know when you’re finished.” And then fill out the webpage below.


  3. bart

     /  January 17, 2017

    “The horrors of a Trump presidency” – before it even occurs? Like things always turn out how you expect them to and life offers no twists or surprises.

    Offering basic respect is somehow wrong? Because only some people deserve basic respect (but who gets to pick?).

    Quiet work to change things is somehow less than nothing? Is the quality of the work only reflected in how loud it is or how it is marketed? Working for change on its own isn’t good enough any more, so we shouldn’t bother? Introverts need not apply?

    And “just plain gross?” Really? “Gross?” That reflects one’s disgust but adds nothing to discussion or efforts to improve policy or challenge bad policy. It’s an attempt to shut down discussion with a value-laden individual opinion disguised as a point.

    And just being good humans is not why democrats got defeated this year. Largely it is (and always is) mostly good humans disagreeing with mostly good humans, notwithstanding those bad actors all around. Forgetting that makes one not a good human.

    Tesla superchargers? TC should address that? Well, I guess a few people would find it helpful. But 35K (a low price?) for a car is too much for me. Would those chargers at least serve all the Prius drivers my kids and I count every day? (We also do Prius punches now. It can get painful.)

    Really Bruce, I’m with you on the over-reach thing. I wish local politicians would work on their remit and not someone else’s. However, I also agree that is not likely any time soon. Not loud enough on a big enough stage, I guess, to simply do your local job.

  4. plurimus

     /  January 17, 2017

    Well in defense of Nancy & the TC, MLK is a national holiday so I will assume they were attempting to make a statement in the same scope and context.

    To me Martin Luther King day is not about Trump, the inauguration, Tesla, Musk or charging stations, and especially not about Prius (although I find the Prius punch thing pretty funny)

    It’s about a guy who lived injustice while everyone in power was conveniently ignoring it. Rather than resort to violence, he chose to stand up and speak eloquently about it. He shamed us with our own stated values and lofty self delusions. Perhaps most of you were not around during that time, but it was a big deal. He (and his followers) made a difficult choice and I believe that choice made it impossible to ignore his voice and made his ideas resonate forward for five decades and more.

    Occurring in the same week, I know it’s tempting to tie his birthday to the election and inauguration, but its wrong. In this case we should take a moment to look back and see where we have come from. We should be celebrating the fact that we have so far survived the turbulence. Our national thinking has evolved to a very popular Obama presidency and that it all happened in a generation. Not to say that all is well, its not, but the changes over the past +50 years have been amazing and an important part of those changes began with a few visionary people like Martin Luther King.

  5. Nancy

     /  January 17, 2017

    People who had vision and backbone and the resolve to live their values, no matter what.

  6. Bruce Springsteen

     /  January 18, 2017

    What I wrote didn’t have anything to do with MLK but rather the POTUS inauguration. CH TC was naming Jan 20 (Inauguaration Day) something, not MLK Day and that’s what I was commenting on. That said, personally I”m not in favor of TC naming any day anything day. Just run the town. I sometimes hear that being on TC takes too much time but it would take less if they only spent time on CH issues.

    As far as the Tesla Superchargers go, actually I think they’re more for the travelers going through the CH area on I-40. I assume Tesla and/or the property it was on would pay for it. Part of the idea is that while the car is charging the car owners go to a nearby restaurant or something and buy a meal so it would bring in some business off I-40 to CH, as well as making life easier for electric car owners. I was thinking more of CH TC just getting the ball rolling. I mean, if I knew who owned those shopping places near the I-40 exits I’d e-mail them myself and give them a heads up just to make them aware of the possibility. I assume someone would go for it.

    I think they’d serve any electric cars (I don’t know if Prius is electric) but of course you’d have to pay for the electricity (except for the first 1,000 miles worth each year for Tesla owners). If you had a setup in your garage where you could re-charge there would be no point in going to a supercharger.

    I live in SV and a condo on one of the streets I walk up sometimes has a plug coming out of the condo, across the sidewalk and going into a Chevy Volt parked on the street. There are lots of places in CH / C, apartment complexes and whatnot, where it would be difficult or impossible to plug in your electric car.

    You’re right, the new model coming out at 35 K is still kinda high for lots of folks, but it’s not too far above mid price for a new car and I assume they’ll continue to come down over time. And used ones for less will be on the market in coming years.

    But if you’re not well off and you’re living in a condo or apartment complex, you won’t have the option of owning one since you couldn’t charge it. There should be some place in town where a few stalls are set up for people to recharge, maybe outside a grocery store or University Mall or something. Whether Tesla is part of it or not doesn’t really matter. Of course the car owner would have to pay for the charge but it’s less per mile than gas for a gas powered car.

    They go over 200 miles on a charge so if you’re only driving around town you could get away with charging only once every week or two when you’re at the store or whatever. I only drive 200-300 miles per month so it would work for me except that I drive so little it’s better for me to just slowly use up my old gas powered car rather than spend a lot of money on a new electric car.

    But someday down the road the cheaper, used cars for sale will be these Teslas or other electric cars that are coming out for sale new for 35 K in 2017 and when that time comes it would be good for people without the means to have a garage with an electrical hookup to still be able to buy an electric car if they want to.

  7. MLK on “maladjustment.” From a speech he gave in 1963 at Western Michigan University:

    “There are certain technical words within every academic discipline that soon become stereotypes and cliches. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word “maladjusted.” This word is the ringing cry to modern child psychology. Certainly, we all want to avoid the maladjusted life. In order to have real adjustment within our personalities, we all want the well‐adjusted life in order to avoid neurosis, schizophrenic personalities.

    “But I say to you, my friends, as I move to my conclusion, there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good‐will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence.

    “In other words, I’m about convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world. The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment‐‐men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos. Who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation would not survive half‐slave and half‐free. As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery would scratch across the pages of history words lifted to cosmic proportions, “We know these truths to be self‐evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator certain unalienable rights” that among these are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth who could say to the men and women of his day, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Pray for them that despitefully use you.” Through such maladjustment, I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice. My faith is that somehow this problem will be solved.”

    Full text here: http://thepossibilitypractice.com/martin-luther-king-jr-on-creative-maladjustment/

  8. plurimus

     /  January 18, 2017

    We may have taken maladjustment just a bit too far lately.