ServeNext.org Blog

Guest Post: Reflections on last week’s service events

Posted by Zach Maurin on April 30, 2010

The following is a guest blog post by Mary Bruce (AmeriCorps 99-00; Peace Corps 04-06):

I had the opportunity to attend the ServiceNation Coalition Meeting last week and was – as always – honored to participate. ServiceNation leveraged the anniversary of the signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act not just as a time to pat the collective service community on the back (though there was some of that, which is well-deserved), but as an opportunity to challenge complacency head on and call for a bigger, bolder everything.

Highlights for me included: an overview of  Cities of Service initiative, where mayors across the country “engage citizens to address the great challenges of our time.” Glad to hear Kim Simon of New Profit describe states as “the next frontier.” While Deval Patrick’s recently signed Innovation Compact is a great step forward, there’s a lot more to be done when rural districts are largely left out of the conversation. Hopefully Khazei’s new roll-out, Opportunity Nation, will address some of this – but state policies matter and – as of yet – ServiceNation hasn’t moved much on this front.  Ross Cohen also gave a great overview of their work with civilian military partnerships. Would love to see how some of this work could also tap into civilians who have served abroad.

The organizers also built about 45 minutes of brainstorming into the session, where attendees could share their ideas for “what’s next.” Was great to hear the grass tops perspective.  As a Returned Peace Corps volunteer, I was especially glad to hear ServiceWorld and the team at the Building Bridges Coalition give voice to the international component. MorePeaceCorps is doing what it can to secure and (dare I say it) increase funding for the Peace Corps, but a coordinated agenda is needed on the international scene as well. Simply stated, soft diplomacy works.

Many thanks to the organizers. It’s been a big year for service. Hopefully the grasstops – and the grassroots – can keep the momentum going.

Mary can be reached at mary.elizabeth.bruce [at] gmail.com

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