DiversityInc is a great resource for professionals that want to stay updated on national diversity issues. Recently DiversityInc spotlighted Newark, New Jersey's mayor - Cory Booker. In the article, Embracing Community: Newark Mayor Takes Hands-On Approach to Change, DiversityInc staff discuss the value of Booker's unique approach to addressing the challenges facing his city.
Unlike most politicans who tour the city's toughest areas during the day and go home to their plush suburban homes at night, Booker has made Brick Towers, a public-housing project in Newark's Central Ward, his home. He is learning from experience the challenges associated with living in public housing. And according to Booker, the lack of hot water and heat in the middle of winter are the least of the problems for public housing residents. "Twenty-five percent of my kids in my city grow up in households with no worker, no example of somebody getting up every single day and modeling a behavior that we need in our city," Booker said. "We have serious work to do when it comes to educating our people about proper habits with their money and letting them know that programs are out there."
These are lessons Booker would never have learned during a brief visit to the community. Living in Brick Towers has given him a different perspective on the challenges facing the most impoverished residents of Newark. It has given him an opportunity to meet people that don't travel in his social circle. He has been able to learn how and what they think about. He has built trust with this target audience. He has proven his commitment to making a difference.
The lesson. Booker's approach reminds public relations professionals of the importance of getting a fresh perspective when trying to solve the toughest problems. The next time you are faced with what seems like an unsurmountable obstacle, remember Cory Booker. Remember to get a fresh perspective.
Almost a year later, and I am still a Cory Booker fan. Check out what's going on with him these days.