There's an obscure quote I read from a few years back from a British Columbia legislator, Leonard Krog, which went something like:
"Leaders aren't born, they're developed. And a true leader is a leader in every area of life...community leadership starts at home."
It's a great quote, and in succinct fashion defines where many maladies of todays society begin. It has become far too fashionable for parents to leave stewardship of their children to teachers and others outside the home. The same can be said of our political climate. With the majority of voters practicing apostasy when it comes to the body Politic, it's no wonder our government has become more covered in weeds than bountiful of harvest.
There are exceptions to this trend, and I had the pleasure of meeting two of them face to face about a month ago over lunch. Tony and Orrie Brown are citizens who are making a difference in their community. They are genuine people who love the community they live in, and are the epitome of leadership beginning at home. Today, I'd like to introduce you to them.
The Browns are long time citizens of southern Orange County, California. Orrie attended school in the same city where they later raised their own children. A few years ago they began to notice signs of neglect and blight within this quaint community. They also began to notice that local politicians were not only turning a blind eye to the blight, but were in some cases aiding and abetting its advance for political expediency. They saw bad signs. They decided to begin fighting for the home they love.
The Browns and a few others who became interested in joining the fight started a loosely based community group called SJC Americans. SJC Americans became dedicated to the fight against gangs in their community. They took on ACORN-esque organizations which were receiving subsidies from city leaders while coaching illegal immigrants how to gain state and county benefits. They fought to better their community. To change the political climate within their city. To lead from home.
Along the way, they have been labeled as hateful, bigoted, racist and associated with other words we generally don't repeat around children. They have been threatened, publicly humiliated and humbled by their own mistakes. But they have also been noticed by others who believe in doing the right thing. And ultimately, they have been successful. They have influenced local elections, and changed wrong minded policy. They have achieved success in many of their endeavors. The Browns feel they and other active citizens have made a difference within their community. SJC Americans and the Browns have now earned the attention - and in some cases the support - of their city leaders.
These are real American heroes; and great examples of how America was meant to be: hands-on citizenship as defined by "government of the People, by the People and for the People". To maintain their integrity, SJC Americans accepts no outside funding. All fliers, signs and publications are paid for by the Browns, and a few other people who regularly contribute time and materials to the cause. SJC Americans does not seek to influence on a state or national level because they believe change is best effected at home. It's a good strategy.
Over lunch that Friday we met, I asked Tony what his vision for SJC Americans would be. He told me of a hope to show others that community-based activism does work. That through involvement and dedication to right minded causes, individuals can refocus government when it has gone astray. That even seemingly insurmountable wrongs can be righted - when citizens stand up for their beliefs. The Browns certainly know it's not easy, but it can be done. They hope others will learn of their efforts and perhaps find a way to effect changes in their own communities.
Finer examples of Americans I've not known in a long time.
I also invited the Browns to send me periodic updates of SJC American's activities, and I will post them here, and selected posts to Smash Mouth Politics. We'd all appreciate your readership and comments.
SJC Americans website is: http://site.sjcamericans.com. They also publish a periodical flier, maintain a website, send email updates of activities and participate in community activities such as city government meetings and local rallies.
I have an video of their July 3, 2010 rally for you enjoyment as well. We all look forward to your thoughts.