As we take this time to reflect on all that has happened in 2011, we can see what effect that it has had on the citizens of GovLoop. The following are the thoughts of community members that best encapsulate what 2011 has been about for us.
1) “We have experienced a change in leadership. With every new political power shift we hear the trumpets of change – fixing what is broken. Every new leader “knows” the “innovative” remedy. What if too much is broken? What if it can’t be fixed?
Conventional wisdom has been summarily discarded during these unprecedented times. Government leaders accustomed to relying on traditional tools to remedy temporary financial blips – increasing taxes while cutting expenses – have experienced a sobering realization that the current climate in most places around the U.S. is not receptive to raising taxes and reducing expenses can only stretch a dollar so far. Furthermore, other solutions targeted at rising citizen demands for services including adding more members to the government workforce along with purchasing new and improved equipment are relics from a bygone era.
What’s a government leader to do to counter such trends? First we must arrive at the realization that outside the box thinking is not even an option… because there is No Box! A daunting but true proposition that can unhinge even the most seasoned leader.”
2) “We have learned to never underestimate anyone. In a year when the Occupy movement has overtaken the country, political leaders have come back from oblivion, and the Obama Administration has killed Osama bin Laden and repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – its important to note that you can’t judge a book by its cover, people will always surprise you.
It’s too easy to dismiss the skinny old dude wearing what appear to be vintage Chucks, khaki shorts and Jazz Festival t-shirt. But when he steals the ball from you and hits repeated jumpers off the glass in your face, you quickly learn this guy can ball.
Some of the freshest minds in the business have just a few hundred followers. And they look like co-eds, have avatars with baseball hats, and they are geniuses. Appearance – and follower/friend counts – means nothing. Even some of the most important leaders in the digital space have around 1,500. It’s never going to be an easy to identify the right people. It just isn’t. It’s always going to be hard work.”
3) “We have triumphed over tragedy. Globally we have banded together in moments of great disasters, and this year there were no shortages of disasters. From the explosion in Fukushima, Japan as a result of the earthquake in Tohoku to the Tornado that devastated the city of Joplin, Missouri – these supreme tragedies have moved us with shock and awe, and the scars of the victims linger on for years to come.
To this day Ukraine is dealing with this disaster. And for hundreds of years, the area around Chernobyl will remain closed. This disaster also had many implications in the shorter term. The policy of openness of Gorbachev was declared a few months after the disaster, and in fact was the direct result of the intolerable situation created during the disaster when the government hid the truth from citizens and left them to deal with uncontrollable rumors and fears. There are also those who claim that the fall of the Soviet Union began with Chernobyl disaster which showed to the world, but especially to the citizens of the Soviet Union, that their government can not rule the country and is in fact afraid of its own citizens.
The Fukushima disaster is of historic scale, and its impact on Japan and the world will be profound and far-reaching. I hope that the Japanese people would cope better with this disaster. The way the Japanese people and their government are dealing with it gives us real hope for that.
4) “We have coped with uncertainty in our jobs. A bruised economy and threats of a government shutdown have given us great pause for our future and the future of our children. The failure of the Super Committee has disappointed us, and we are faced with hearing a blame campaign next year as the 2012 election cycle gets underway. Unfortunately it is nothing we haven’t seen before. In the end we just want to have jobs, provide for our families and live the dream.
I try to spend my time worrying about the things that I can change/effect and HAVE to worry about. I’m too old and been working too long (27+ years) to let it get in the way of what I have to do!”
5) “December 1995. My agency was targeted for major cuts, and 89 coworkers, roughly half the staff, were laid off just before the shutdown. Staying at home, waiting for the phone to ring was not remotely a vacation, but more like a deathbed watch. The shutdown ended — and the snow hit. We finally went back to work, and half the conversations in the halls were along the lines of ‘I never expected to see you still here’.”
Bonus #1) “We have also recognized that our capacity to serve the individual is just as important as serving the greater whole. The more we engage the public and win their trust, the better we will be able to serve them.
So although it is easy to get disillusioned as a public servant, or disappointed as a tax payer, it is important to remember the accomplishments of our past and those yet to come. It is important that we address the real issues with real solutions. It is important not to vilify the public servants who come in everyday and do their jobs to the best of their abilities. And it is important, as public servants, that we continue to do our best, and that we remember the accomplishments of those that came before us and strive to accomplish more.”
Bonus #2) “The best public engagement is getting to the people who are being impacted by a public project, before it occurs. I think for many in the general public, like the barber, it’s just hard to find the time or get engaged unless they can feel it themselves.