This post is part of a series written by Foundation Board members from their own perspective, when asked to think about what a thriving community could look like. This series will run leading up to our What Matters event on May 1 and will conclude with a recap post of the conversation at the event.

Farad Ali, Board Chair-Elect

When I imagine the future, what a thriving community here in the Triangle could look like, I focus on that word — community. Because we can’t better our community without empowering, encouraging, and investing in everyone who occupies it. And that means working together to lift up those who aren’t traditionally lifted up to start making real change.

Inequality divides us. At a time when parts of the Triangle are experiencing great prosperity, others are being left behind. We’ve won national acclaim for our growth, economic development, business, and universities — but over 14% of our people live in poverty. For our community to thrive, I believe that we must empower issues of diversity, because our differences are the key ingredient to our success. If we start there, truthfully and trustfully discussing the structural barriers at play that are making it impossible for all folks to thrive, we could see a Triangle where all children and families could:

– secure a job and earn at least a living wage

– obtain a quality, meaningful education, and thrive in school

– live in secure, sustainable, and affordable housing

– be surrounded by a safe, supportive, and caring community where they feel like they belong

– have more than enough (healthy) food to eat

– find access to affordable and equitable health care

How do we get there though? There’s no one solution, but I really believe that we need to use the wisdom of all of the great minds from the streets to the suites to get where we’d like to go. We need to listen to those “on the ground” in our neighborhoods and focus on their success because it is already working in our community. We need to have real, honest conversations about poverty, housing, community economic development, and the racial divide, and empower each other to prosper and flourish.

I’d like to really talk about it with you…and then work together towards shared prosperity, and one community.

Written by Farad Ali, Triangle Community Foundation Board Chair-Elect. Learn more about our upcoming event, What Matters: A Thriving Community, here.