The Advantages of a Better Community: Opportunities for Kind, Smart People to Make a Difference

Advantages Explored!

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, On Self-Reliance

I’ve always found comfort in those words.  Hasn’t each of us realized that we probably have more in common with each other than we first thought? I’m not saying that our likes and tastes are all the same (that would be boring), but that our basic hopes and desires look – in the end – very similar.  

Over the next few months, I want to explore in more detail the Advantages of a Better Community, one at a time, in no specific order. These are, to me, the “common denominators” of good community. In some ways, they are reflective of the foundations that already exist here in Coraopolis; in other ways, they are aspirational. Some will resonate with you more than others, but I think you’ll agree they all are advantages we seek. They are the advantages I am working for each day.   I look forward to your own thoughtful comments!


The Advantages of a Better Community: #11 – Opportunities for Kind, Smart People to Make a Difference

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
“Many hands make light work.”
“It takes a Village to raise a child.”
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The planet is full of quotes, clichés and proverbs around this topic. One of my favorites is from Cesar Chavez: “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

Someone asked me very recently “how do you plan on accomplishing all that you’re trying to do if you become mayor?”  I quickly replied “with your help.”  They seemed surprised to receive an answer that included them being a participant, but that’s the only way forward to success, with as many other kind, smart people as possible.

We’ve talked about the advantages of a town with great places to eat, drink and shop. We’ve talked about how, for that (and other advantages) to continue to happen, leadership needs to be collaborative.  THANK YOU to all of you who have email and posted thoughtful, relevant comments.  It follows nicely to talk about just who those leaders should be, and how they should get plugged into the community.

When I use the words kind and smart to describe a person, I don’t mean to say that Coroapolis requires physicists or saints to thrive, but it does require that most people will work hard at solving problems, and do it for the betterment of others.  Unless you approach your day from a position of keen interest at solving problems, and are doing so for the people and places around you, you will find it challenging to stay motivated or be successful.

I’ve read that the average person will meet around 80,000 different people in their lifetime, but only can connect with a fraction of that.  For years, I’ve been kicking around this theory that I’ve called “concentric lives” because it’s helped me identify capacity and priority.  It looks like this. We all have a certain number of waking hours in each day to accomplish what we want and need. Because those wants and needs (should) focus on people, there are only so many people who we can fit in to any given day.  The innermost circle is reserved for the closest few (1-4 lives), and then the next concentric circle (maybe another 6-8) generally represents extended family and friends, with the outermost circle (a dozen or so) containing the rest.  This is the group of lives that border on the outside world of mere acquaintances and strangers that make up the other 79,000+ people we shall meet.  

So, where does community fit in? It fits in when you and I decide to intentionally move people of similar goals and interests in our community into one of the concentric circles.  Because the circles of one life overlap the circles of another, a network gets built, and those who have each other in common begin to affect change.  Or more simply put: kind and smart people of every walk of life need to come off the sidelines, and into the game.  Coraopolis is abundant with opportunities for involvement and impact, and that will only continue in the years to come.  Over the weekend I met dozens of people who have the same goal of preserving and growing all that we love about this town. People who have stepped forward, and people who are about to.  And if you’re one of those who has sat back (out of necessity of other priorities, or whatever reason), perhaps you too are ready to connect.

To find out how you might get plugged into an area that fits your interests and skills, message us here.  And let’s hear more from you: If you haven’t been involved before, tell us why … and if you are involved, we’d like to know that too. Comments can be submitted via the Feedback page or by emailing

Thank you to everyone who has provided thoughtful and relevant comments and feedback. We’re counting on you to continue.

Shawn P. Reed
Democrat Candidate for Mayor