On Tuesday evening, we met with Michael Goodmon, a prominent businessman and philanthropist in the Triangle. He spoke on many topics, although the main thread that linked all of his ideas was the importance of community. I’d like to reflect on this notion on multiple levels.
Goodmon emphasized that without investing the community as a primary point of focus, not only will a business fail to serve anyone, its own growth will also be stunted. He emphasized that businesses and the communities in which they reside must invest in each other in order to have vibrant community that both can be proud of. This mutual investment, crucial to the development of all cities, is a prime example of what happened in Durham. Goodmon’s Capital Broadcasting Company, a television company by trade, invested in real estate in downtown Durham in order to foster the growth of Durham as a city. This turned into the American Tobacco campus. Today, both Durham and the company are more profitable because of the faith that the city and business had in each other.
These principles of community are reflected in my work at Threshold this summer. The primary commitment that binds all of the members do at the clubhouse is the building of community. The Threshold community keeps the members out of the hospital and off the streets. It helps them gain social and work skills so that they can live independently. It makes it possible for them to feel fulfilled, even though members deal with severe mental illness everyday. The clubhouse is an embodiment of a mutual investment from the staff and the members in community. The vibrancy and resilience of this community makes the rehabilitation process possible.
I think it’s important to carry this theme past the confines of DukeEngage. Communities come in various sizes, and at the end of the day everyone is always a part of one. Goodmon stressed that when doing what’s best for you in the present conflicts with what’s best for the community in the present, it’s important to consider choosing the betterment of the community, since the larger good will benefit you as well. I hope to remember this throughout my Duke experience and beyond.