Since I had to get on LinkedIn for the SAF group (which is open to all and has interesting discussions), I also signed up for the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, which helps place federal lands issues within the context of other public debates.
They posted a link to this essay by Darin Atteberry, City Manager, Fort Collins, CO and Alliance for Innovation Board Member today. Here’s an excerpt:
While I cannot understate the character and commitment of public employees, it is crucial that we understand that public service is not solely the responsibility of government. All of us – from individual residents to global organizations – have to share in the responsibility of caring for our communities.
Our perception of public service must evolve. Governments at all levels no longer have the resources and ability to play the traditional role of problem solver. And quite frankly, the assertion that government has all the answers is an outdated and paternalistic model. Instead, governments, residents, organizations, the private sector, and nonprofits need to redefine our relationships. We must cultivate a collaborative problem-solving culture where we all have the responsibility to address challenges and prepare for the future together.
This is the true value of public service; it’s the ability to bring people together to accomplish a common goal. To help move beyond political beliefs, and beyond the hard lines we too often draw between your opinion and mine. I believe that people, at their core, care about their community, however that may be defined. Some may want less government, some may want more, but most want to live in a place that’s safe, welcoming, and where people genuinely care for one another.
If we can all agree that we play an important role as public servants, then we can elevate our conversations to address real issues. We can all take responsibility for our actions and speech. We can disagree while maintaining civility and an authentic commitment to find solutions that are best for our community. We can pledge to behave with integrity and candor with the intent to foster trust, because trust is imperative.
I believe public service reaches beyond a responsibility to our current community. We have a growing obligation to ensure that our current plans, investments, and actions do not harm future generations. We need to genuinely embrace a model of sustainability in which environmental stewardship, fiscal responsibility, and social awareness are equally important.
It’s our job as public servants to contribute to quality of life, to demonstrate transparency, to pursue excellence, to innovate, to collaborate, and most importantly to lead by example. This is not a profession to choose without thoughtful consideration. There is certainly more fortune, free time, and privacy to be found in other careers. But I can think of no other occupation more rewarding.
Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” By that definition, we’ve all earned the prize.
Do you agree? What do you think keeps “us” from that approach in federal land management?