Recently, I attended a training where this quote struck me:
“How do we call people in and build bridges instead of calling people out and build walls?”
With a background in biology, I’m much more comfortable talking about ecosystems than bridges, but I must admit bridges are unique structures. At TRSA, we have used bridges as a metaphor for strength and, of course, a classic STEM activity. It wasn’t until Paul shared these words that I realized how poignant the idea of bridges is.
Within our ecosystem, bridges are under construction all over Tulsa. Some are setting new records, such as the new pedestrian bridge near the Gathering Place; some hope to make our daily commute more efficient such as the bridges near the I-44/US75 interchange; some are teaching valuable lessons in engineering and group work to students participating in Junior Achievement’s Inspire or Engineering Alliance for the Art’s Bridge Building programs. Regardless of where, how, or from what materials these bridges are being constructed, they all provide a pathway forward. They offer access to areas perhaps not already accessible and provide structure and stability to those crossing.
Thinking about the idea of bridges, I am thankful to our partners who repeatedly demonstrate the power of bridges. At a time with so much division, I am honored to be part of an alliance of diverse partners and people who believe together, we can make a difference. I’ve witnessed in my years of service to TRSA the ability of educators, industry, individuals, families, politicians, and funders to place a higher value on collaboration for the betterment of the youth and educators in our ecosystem rather than economic competition, politics, and personal gain. The intentional commitment to calling others in and building bridges is most likely the cornerstone of our success. The work is too great to do alone. Together, leveraging our diverse experiences, expertise, passions, and knowledge, we can make the impact we are excited to unveil today. Reaching over 100,000 youth is impossible without the collective effort of all the partners of the Alliance and certainly not possible if we choose to build walls instead of bridges.
As we move forward together, I call upon each partner and individual in the Alliance to continue inviting people in and building bridges as I pledge to do the same. Bridges may be more challenging to construct at times, but it will be worth it to allow a path forward to grow, learn, and continue making an impact. We cannot do this alone, and we must stand together for the future of our youth.