Citizen Leaders: All-Americans Hudson Taylor and Colin Joyner

Citizen leadership is:

Character and courage: men, women, young adults and teenagers acting and speaking with the courage of their character day in and day out, in private and public – at home, in school, at work, in their club, in church and temple, on a team, in a troop, in the support group, in the neighborhood.

Courage of character begins with their getting clear on who they are and how they want to be in the world, so they are or become the person they’d want to follow, and by extension the person others would want to follow.

Contribution to the community: men, women, young adults and teenagers applying the qualities of their character as they participate in or champion efforts to better their world and create great places for us all to live, work and play.

Hudson Taylor, an All-American wrestler and coach at Columbia University, has committed himself to eliminating homophobia from all levels of sports. His efforts have gained national and international recognition.

This is only about how we treat one another, how we speak to one another. It’s not about politics or religion or anything else. I just want to create a safe space for people.

Taylor created ATHLETE ALLY™, an online resource to encourage athletes, coaches, parents, fans and other members of the sports community to respect all individuals involved in sports, regardless of perceived or actual sexual-orientation or gender identity or expression. When you arrive at the website for the first time you’re presented with a pledge — ” I pledge to lead my athletic community to respect and welcome all persons, regardless of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression” — and from there, you’re presented with other steps for action. Hudson says, “I created the Pledge so that we, as an athletic community, can take proactive steps to end homophobia and transphobia in sports. When we inspire entire teams and athletic departments to commit to a new standard of athletic integrity, we will change the environment in locker rooms and on playing fields.” 

Read the full article about Hudson Taylor in The Huffington Post, and hear him talk about his efforts in an MSNBC interview.

At Bowdoin College (the #6 ranked national liberal arts college), Colin Joyner is also attempting tearing down walls of homophobia in sports. Joyner, a three-time All-American tennis player and current men’s tennis coach, created Anything But Straight in Athletics (ABSA) with Kate Stern, Director of the school’s Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. The group’s aim is to help closeted athletes come out by dismantling homophobia in Bowdoin athletics. Joyner has expressed a great hope that more schools will build programs like his ABSA.

Read the full article about his efforts in OutSports.

Peter’s Perspective: When all is said and done, we live in a world we create by our actions and words

We are all witness to the torrent of fabrication, lying, maligning, intimidation and fear mongering that are being used (and all too often condoned or lauded) by people in all of our institutions – government, business, media, sports, religion – to pursue their ends. Hiding the truth, if not outright lying, seems to be emerging as a behavioral norm rather than abnormality. (This is the topic of the recently published Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff by Pulitzer Prize winning author, James B Stewart).

So many people are at risk of being or are already being swept up with the tide – choosing to act and speak in ways that mirror these public and private figures without pausing to examine the kind of world their words and actions are creating for themselves and for the people around them in their homes, at work, in school, on their teams, in their churches and temples, or among their neighbors.

It takes a strong and steady sense of self at one’s core, and the courage to act and speak from one’s core, to deflect the daily forces that would have us follow a leader who invites, tempts or at worst insists that we deviate from who we are and how we aspire to be in the world.

When all is said and done, we live (today and well into the future) in a world we create by our actions and words. Citizen leadership asks us to be clear on who we are and what we stand for today, and prompts us to speak and act in ways that create the great places where we would want to live, work and play, today and tomorrow.

Citizen Leader: Kyle Thiermann, 19-Year-Old Pro Surfer

Two years ago, Kyle Thiermann, a 19 year old pro surfer living in Santa Cruz, CA began efforts to fight the construction of a coal burning plant half a hemisphere away. Kyle believed he could make a difference, and he took it upon himself to develop a strategy to make that difference. He insisted,
“People think things are impossible because they just don’t believe. I think the most important thing is to believe it is possible.”

Two years ago, Kyle Thiermann, a 19 year old pro surfer living in Santa Cruz, CA began efforts to fight the construction of a coal burning plant half a hemisphere away. He learned that the plant, to be built on the central coast of Chile, would contribute contaminates into the air and infiltrate the fresh and oceans waters of the surrounding fishing community with toxins that threatened the livelihoods of thousands – thousands with no political power to stop the project. Kyle believed he could make a difference, and he took it upon himself to develop a strategy to make that difference. He insisted,

People think things are impossible because they just don’t believe. I think the most important thing is to believe it is possible.

As Good Times Santa Cruz reported, instead of trying to tell the coal company thousands of miles away not to build the coal plant, Kyle spearheaded an effort in Santa Cruz to have local residents withdraw their money from a huge national bank funding the project and instead deposit their money in community banks and as a result allow that money to be available to fund local projects. He had done his homework. Kyle knew that if you move $100 (to a local bank), you’re giving them about $1000 dollars’ worth of lending power now to fund community projects. We can really make our local economies a lot more resilient by using this strategy.

He got the word out through a video he create and posted on YouTube: claimyourchange

As for the results, Kyle reported in an interview appearing in the drift surfing blog a few months after the release of his video: just from the video coming out, I’ve documented $400,000 dollars coming out of centralized banks like Bank of America and into community banks – which is $4,000,000 worth of lending power for the bank. There’s a surf company called Livity Outernational who have committed to moving millions out of out of B of A into San Francisco’s New Resource Bank as a result of it as well. They’re one of my sponsors and they’re really conscious. All the rest of my sponsors like Patagonia and Sector 9, they’re all supportive of the project.

And that was just a start. Now, two years later, he can document $430 million that has been withdrawn from Bank of America and deposited in local community banks around the country. Watch Kyle talk about this initiative and its success.

Kyle has since turned his efforts to a campaign (supported by a 4-minute video) to educate others and enlist their support in eliminating the use of single-use plastic bottles and bags. Again, a global problem, but one that this young man believes it is possible for him to do something about.

Kyle Thiermann is a young adult who acts and speaks with courage and authenticity. He seems to be clear about what matters to him and how he wants to be and act in the world. He applies the qualities of his character to participate in and champion efforts to better his world and create great places for us all to live, work and play.

Kyle is the quintessential model of a Citizen Leader.

Now to you.

What cause do you believe in strongly?

Why do you care about this cause?

What can you do to demonstrate to yourself and to others that you believe you can make a positive contribution to the cause?

Begin it now!

Words to Inspire: Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better or for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.

Peter’s Perspective: We Need a Dorothy

Looking and listening to the players on the national stage, does anyone else feel like we’re watching a production of the Wizard of OZ – absent Dorothy?

I see it this way. We’ve got the scarecrow missing a brain played by the Tea Party. Add to that the tin man who lacks a heart – the Republican Party. And finally the lion largely lacking in courage – witness the White House and the Democratic Party. They’re all in need of a guide – someone with smarts, caring and courage.

Secretary Clinton, please help. Yes, you’ve said that you’re no longer keen to be President. But we desperately need the qualities that you possess in abundance: intellect, heart and resolve.

Your boss has capitulated one too many times and has lost the faith and trust of his base: He extended the heartless Republican tax cuts for the wealthiest (leaving the middle class shut out); he bowed to the brainless threat of the Tea Party to undermine the “full faith and credit of The United States” (and I thought it was the policy of this government not to negotiate with extortionists); and just this past week punting on the implementation of solid, health and science-based EPA standards to reduce smog and thereby safeguard the long-term health of vulnerable men, women and children. Why the punt? All because business concerns and the Republican leaders insisted that the indefensible current Republican-sponsored standards be maintained.

Mind you, these are the same business players who demand taxpayer-funded bailouts and handouts then often treat those same taxpayers – men and women in their employment – with contempt. Yes: cutting employee compensation and benefits while elevating the same for senior managers and executives to historical highs; investing in job creation overseas in order to reduce payroll expenses and increase profits at home; and lobbying for and finding every which way to avoid paying their fair share of state and national taxes (and by extension shifting a greater portion of that obligation, once again, to the taxpaying men and women in their employ) – these are what contempt looks like.

We need a Dorothy who will push back, fight back. We need a person of courage in action on this stage, or this play is going to end badly, very badly.

Courage: it’s made up of two elements, mental resolve and deep felt caring. When joined together, they are a force to be reckoned with. I see no such courage, no such force on the national stage today.

TO:          Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

The State Department

Washington, DC

 RE:         Casting Call

 MESSAGE:   We desperately need a Dorothy!