From the CEO

Message from Mark McDaniel

 

2021 – A Year for Hope

Every New Year as the calendar rolls over, it’s typical for CEOs to post a letter waving a mission-driven flag and sharing an upbeat rah-rah message for the upcoming year. As a country, we are weathering unprecedented times. The pandemic is not going anywhere simply because 2020 ended. The chaos inflicted on our democracy won’t be repaired overnight. The division, prejudices, and hate are going to be with us for awhile. We are in the middle of some traumatic, and for many, life changing times. In the past year, we have had to face our own mortalities. We had to finally consider and realize that persistent systemic racism is a national crisis. And, we came to see firsthand the social and economic disparities that really exist. 

Being part of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan, I have had the opportunity to dig deep and discuss these realities this month. The national holiday for Dr. King gives us all an opportunity to ask the questions – Have we really come that far? Is the work we are doing in the community development world making a difference? Are we doing enough? – I ask myself, what would Dr. King think today? Indeed, what do you think he would say?

Obviously, he would be saddened and deeply frustrated by the nine minutes in Minneapolis. He would find the shootings of black men, and now women, are happening at appalling rates. I think he would see the pandemic revolving the disparities that he recognized in our nation in the 50s and 60s are unchanged today. For people of color, broad disparities still exist in health care, incomes, criminal justice, and housing. We are seeing once again the terrible things that can happen when white privilege is threatened. MLK’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail rings just as true today as it did when he wrote it in 1963 – Injustice anywhere really is a threat to justice everywhere. 

Addressing and resolving these issues are at the core of why Cinnaire was created. I believe that Dr. King would challenge us to do better, stand up stronger, and use our work and our collective voices to demand more to solve these issues. I truly believe that every day, we at Cinnaire are trying. We believe it is Why we are here. We have an unwavering belief that all people deserve the opportunities provided by living in healthy communities. I know that so many of you are trying too. But should we be approaching things differently? I know that Dr. King would be challenging all of us to stand up and be heard. Don’t just sit idly by and expect others to do the heavy lifting. Despite setbacks and disappointments, we cannot waiver. We can all do a better job listening to the people in our communities as they describe what they need and what they want to see in their neighborhoods. We need to stop coming in and telling our communities that we have the answers and the secret sauce recipe to make them whole again. That’s just not how it works. We have to be better listeners and we need to use the power of the word yes instead of defaulting to the easy answer of no. 

This is not meant to be a bleak message to start the year, rather, it is a rallying call for all of us in 2021. We are living in times that require us all to be better. True change comes from looking at ourselves first, and then our organizations and asking both the serious question: Can we do better in 2021? I wholeheartedly believe we can. 

2021 can be a transformational year for the community development world. One of Dr. King’s quotes – “Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope” – is a fitting charge for where we find ourselves and our path forward. There is hope and it is in our hands. Here’s to 2021 and continuing to partner together in the important work that we do.

Sincerely,

Mark

Message from Mark McDaniel

 

 

2021 – A Year for Hope

Every New Year as the calendar rolls over, it’s typical for CEOs to post a letter waving a mission-driven flag and sharing an upbeat rah-rah message for the upcoming year. As a country, we are weathering unprecedented times. The pandemic is not going anywhere simply because 2020 ended. The chaos inflicted on our democracy won’t be repaired overnight. The division, prejudices, and hate are going to be with us for awhile. We are in the middle of some traumatic, and for many, life changing times. In the past year, we have had to face our own mortalities. We had to finally consider and realize that persistent systemic racism is a national crisis. And, we came to see firsthand the social and economic disparities that really exist. 

Being part of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan, I have had the opportunity to dig deep and discuss these realities this month. The national holiday for Dr. King gives us all an opportunity to ask the questions – Have we really come that far? Is the work we are doing in the community development world making a difference? Are we doing enough? – I ask myself, what would Dr. King think today? Indeed, what do you think he would say?

Obviously, he would be saddened and deeply frustrated by the nine minutes in Minneapolis. He would find the shootings of black men, and now women, are happening at appalling rates. I think he would see the pandemic revolving the disparities that he recognized in our nation in the 50s and 60s are unchanged today. For people of color, broad disparities still exist in health care, incomes, criminal justice, and housing. We are seeing once again the terrible things that can happen when white privilege is threatened. MLK’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail rings just as true today as it did when he wrote it in 1963 – Injustice anywhere really is a threat to justice everywhere. 

Addressing and resolving these issues are at the core of why Cinnaire was created. I believe that Dr. King would challenge us to do better, stand up stronger, and use our work and our collective voices to demand more to solve these issues. I truly believe that every day, we at Cinnaire are trying. We believe it is Why we are here. We have an unwavering belief that all people deserve the opportunities provided by living in healthy communities. I know that so many of you are trying too. But should we be approaching things differently? I know that Dr. King would be challenging all of us to stand up and be heard. Don’t just sit idly by and expect others to do the heavy lifting. Despite setbacks and disappointments, we cannot waiver. We can all do a better job listening to the people in our communities as they describe what they need and what they want to see in their neighborhoods. We need to stop coming in and telling our communities that we have the answers and the secret sauce recipe to make them whole again. That’s just not how it works. We have to be better listeners and we need to use the power of the word yes instead of defaulting to the easy answer of no. 

This is not meant to be a bleak message to start the year, rather, it is a rallying call for all of us in 2021. We are living in times that require us all to be better. True change comes from looking at ourselves first, and then our organizations and asking both the serious question: Can we do better in 2021? I wholeheartedly believe we can. 

2021 can be a transformational year for the community development world. One of Dr. King’s quotes – “Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope” – is a fitting charge for where we find ourselves and our path forward. There is hope and it is in our hands. Here’s to 2021 and continuing to partner together in the important work that we do.

Sincerely,

Mark