|Posted on March 4, 2023 at 3:50 PM|
I started writing Muddy Boots in 2013, shortly after I became executive director of Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia. I wanted to write about the issues of poverty, my experience and lessons running the agency, and my thoughts on leadership, which I get to talk about occasionally. What started as a small following now has some 5000 readers and followers on social media. Ten years later, there have been some 190 articles. Some are published in magazines like Inc., some have become chapters in books like People Economics, and some have become Op-Eds in the Inquirer or Business Journal. All have received comments, some agreeing, some not, but all raised an issue or experience and asked people to think.
In October of this year, I will retire from ECS. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve my church and the City of Philadelphia, addressing the challenges of poverty. I have worked with exceptional people on my staff, our partners, and our board. More important, I have met some of the most resilient people I know who are ECS participants and their families.
What I have learned and the essence of Muddy boots is that you go into the field and ask two questions. How are we doing? What can we do better? You then lead your team to respond to the answers. This is how you deliver impact and drive system change. We learned at ECS that the sustainable way out of poverty is a job at or above a living wage with benefits and assets in the bank. That is achieved when one has access to opportunity and the environment to act on that opportunity. That goal is the essence of our program work, partnerships, and advocacy. Our model is to ask, design, do, measure, and tune. Then repeat.
I write Muddy Boots not only as a call to action but as a call with a plan and focus. I have strong views on the value of talent and how that drives the best results and impacts. I have strong opinions on speaking truth to power as access to opportunity is not a given in our country, and the issues of poverty, race, and equality will consume us as a society if we do not deal with it as a society. In the same light, I look to our environment and see a like call to action, but on a world stage. Will we put Grandchildren over greed?
What I have learned in all of this is how hard change is to create and sustain. If circumstances allow it, it is too easy to kick the can down the road. Real change, real impact, starts with a look in the mirror. What can I do? What can you do? History will look back and answer that question for all of us. You can talk, or you can act. One individual at a time can grow to be a movement.
Answer for yourself the Muddy boots questions.
How are we doing?
What can we do better?
Answer and act. Find like-minded individuals and organizations.
I will keep writing. I may be laying down the day job but not the mission.
Dave Griffith is the Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services and the Chairperson of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
Categories: Muddy Boots, Griffith Thoughts, ECS Values
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