In the summer of 2006, I was working with a youth group and took them to Cleveland for a work trip. During that week, we worked with Habitat for Humanity, served in a homeless shelter and lived in “intentional community”. (That means we gave up junk food, sodas and flip phones, saving parents roughly $300 at 10 cents/text.)
While we were there, we met this guy who was crazy for Cleveland. He was in his late 50’s, he worked with Habitat, and he had a vision.
At the time, roughly 30% of the real estate in the city proper was vacant. He believed this was a wonderful opportunity for the city to redefine itself.
He told me how with rising gas prices, people would no longer want to commute so far; they would move back into the city. The city already had roads that could easily be switched to bike only lanes, lessening the traffic. With Cleveland’s proximity to Lake Erie and alternative energy sources like wind power, the city could drastically reduce its carbon footprint.
As he spoke, he sounded like a giddy 5 year-old describing his birthday party.
I asked him when he saw this happening.
50-75 years, he said.
50-75 years! That’s what he told me. I was blown away. 50-75 years. This cat was working toward a vision that he would most likely never see.
I think about him a lot these days, and honestly, I haven’t called him by name in this post because I can’t remember it. But I think about him a lot, and I try to keep that philosophy in mind.
Today might look rough. Tomorrow might look the same.
But you don’t stop. You keep working toward the vision of a better world, even if it’s something you might not get to see. You keep moving forward.
Hang in there, people. Things can and will get better if we focus on more than just ourselves.