Ten days ago I had the chance to meet with Henry Timms, the Interim Director of the 92nd Street Y. Henry posed a question that I’ve been turning over ever since: “if you had to build a community organization (like the Y) in the 21st Century, what would it look like?”
This question is hard because it gets to the core of what we mean by “community.” In the next century, will our community remain those who are physically nearby? Meaning, despite all of our online connectivity, will we remain fundamentally and predominantly rooted in the places we send our kids to school, the common spaces we use, the places we shop, and the chance encounters we have that cause us to stop, pick our heads up from our smartphones and our calendars, and have a good 10 minute chat?
Or will borderless communities of common (weird) interests become what define us? Will our identities, our values, what we care about, and ultimately our sense of community increasingly transcend location?
Or is it both?
And if you ran an organization like the Y, how would you have these two streams interact?
Henry did something surprising and beautiful to start to answer this question. Of course the core work of the 92nd Street Y is the outstanding arts programming, teaching, preschool, sports and community events. But why couldn’t the Y, as a community organization, help build a virtual community of shared values, and give space to expression of those values in the real world?
It could, of course.
So Henry, along with a small group of troublemakers (most notably the UN Foundation), created #givingtuesday, a day devoted to generosity of all stripes. Giving Tuesday serves as the other bookend to Thanksgiving, so that we can start our long weekend with a day of giving thanks, run around like maniacs to shop for bargains on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then return to the roots of giving and generosity on Giving Tuesday. What a great idea.
As Henry and I began discussing Giving Tuesday it became clear that a lot could be gained by bringing together the collective energies of the Generosity Day and Giving Tuesday movements. To kick that off, I’m excited to have the Generosity Day crew lend its collective energies to Giving Tuesday this year. We’re joining the likes of Melinda Gates, Bill Gates, Matthew Bishop, Adam Grant, the Case Foundation, the UN Foundation and more than 6,000 other nonprofits that are committed to making Giving Tuesday a huge success.
If you’re excited to get involved in Giving Tuesday, the best thing you can do is to make today a day of giving and to spread the word to others.
And, if you’re game, join the likes of Sec of State John Kerry by taking an “unselfie” and posting it to your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/tumblr/etc. feed. Here’s mine.
To take it further still, become a Giving Tuesday social media ambassador and help spread the word!
Happy Giving Tuesday.