On Wednesday, February 15, RenewLV and the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium teamed up to release LVRC’s annual “State of the Valley” report.  The report offered a sobering assessment of the region that should surprise few people.  The report is full of very interesting data.  Alan Jennings offered the closing comments, imploring the nearly 200 community leaders in attendance to pursue solutions with a sense of urgency.  Many in attendance asked that his comments be made available, so we are posting them here.

Friends, we are too good a place, too good a people to accept what we have heard today.

We know what our problems are.  We know that those problems won’t go away on their own.  They aren’t like the monster under our beds – imaginary creatures that will skedaddle when our moms and dads come turn the lights on.

What too few of us understand, though, is that these problems have solutions.  Somewhere in the mix of shared sacrifice, thoughtful investments – both private and, yes, public – and a will to make the difference, is the potent cocktail that can solve almost any problem.

The problems we discussed today require us to be a little more honest, a little less polite, and a little less patient.  Patience, really, is an over-rated virtue – it is the luxury of the powerful, the comfortable, the affluent.  We really don’t have that luxury.  And those on the margins – those we have long been too willing to cast aside – are living from crisis to crisis, and few of us make good decisions when we are in a crisis.

And, friends, the crisis is enveloping more and more of us.  Few of our communities are immune to those crises.  La La Land is a myth; it’s in our heads.

So let’s snap out of it.

Let’s collectively agree that we can solve these problems.  Let’s stop picking fights that distract us and divide us and prevent us from coming together (in the grand scheme, is drug testing welfare recipients really an issue?).

This is not about the 99% versus the 1%.  Many of the folks in the 1% genuinely want to be part of the solution!  This is about the 99% versus itself:  those who can pay their mortgages versus those who can’t; those who are out of work being set up against those lucky enough to still have a job.  These and other efforts to divide us are piled on top of the usual dividing lines, like black against white, gay against straight, today’s immigrants against yesterday’s.

These distractions are no more than a crafty tool by those who don’t share our sense of community, those who don’t understand the common good, those who would all too quickly turn their backs on their neighbors

So, let’s be bold in resisting those distractions.  Let’s be bold in locking arms instead of turning our backs.  Let’s be bold about the solutions.  Let’s be bold in our tactics.  Let’s be bold in our sense of urgency.