published in The Lakeville Journal, 6.11.15
One of the most interesting facets of the recent explosion in North Charlestown are the statistics of who’s where, how deeply, how famously. Its largest employers are Google, Boeing, Daimler, BAE Systems, Bosch Brakes.
Privately held companies exist and grow there, too: Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Walmart, Publix Supermarkets, Verizon.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the largest employers are Sikorsky Helicopter (Bridgeport OR Stratford) and Unilever, one subsisting on government contracts and programs, the other on international projects of various kinds.
Bristol, Connecticut, as well as Bridgeport, are also occasionally troubled cities we want to use as an example of what the Lakeville Plan could do.
Not each of these cities is “on fire.” They are, however, teetering between peace and violence, gang warfare and private crime.
For the sake of comparison, Bridgeport’s largest employers are Sikorsky Helicopters and Unilever International. But also Boeing, Walmart, Publix Supermarkets, Verizon, Google, Daimler, and Bosch.
You’ll note some duplication in each area. That should make the Lakeville Marshall Plan even more appealing.
These folks should do everything they can to strengthen their cities, their schools, their senses of who they are and what they do. They should be among the first planning for future work forces and continuing growth. Better, they not only have the loot to work with, they have the personnel.
Take a microscopic amount from the advertising budget of the Natural Gas Council, drop the bulemic woman in black heels, and just go! Think of what must go into this business: geology, design, welding, exploration and digging, public relations (they need writers), transportation, refining, mathematics are just a few of the disciplines in which they require the best possible people, men and women.
Or take GE, with plants throughout the nation. What must they need to build their products? What kind of burgeoning brain power to stay Number One? Mechanics, electricians, designers, architects, transportation, writers, visionaries and inventors, librarians, engineers, the list is long and incredibly varied. Better, GE has these personnel who could be detailed to draw up enticing, entertaining explanations of what the company needs and why. There isn’t a kid in America who couldn’t see himself/herself hired and happy and working away.
Baltimore has 173 elementary and secondary public schools, serving 103,324 students from pre K through12th grade. (Our own Region One schools have 1155 pre K – 12th grade students.) Bristol Public Schools has 3883 pre K- 5 students; 1772 middle school students; 2448 in grades 9 – 12.
Our “Marshall Plan” is to energize cities and suburbs by uniting benefactors who can, with their profit margins, shuck off a fraction of their income to give to needy families and municipalities not just charity, but a sense of the goodness of the future.
Donors help tutor these by not only helping their children to stay in school and learn, but also by instructing them in the goodness and value of the donor companies themselves. More, the value of their physical surroundings, their histories, their future needs.
The Lakeville Marshall Plan depends on the idea that the more familiar and comfortable a child is with his surroundings, the less likely he/she is to thoughtlessly tear them down. If you despise where you live, how easy is it to destroy it and never worry. If you love where you live and understand how it grew to be valuable, how much less likely are you to throw that first brick.
If Salisbury Central School were in trouble and so identified, the Lakeville Plan would seek to find an underwriter for (let’s say) ten years. It would be searching for a benefactor who can willingly afford to devote some of its profits to the school, as outlined earlier: one dollar per week for each student from first grade on, $2 for those in second grade, $3 for those in third, and so forth.
Salisbury’s leading industries are Hotchkiss School, Lime Rock Park, Noble Horizons. But donors need not be attached to the designated target. In fact, donors may direct their efforts to ANY location anywhere. Schools, certainly, but later if they wish also infrastructure, healthcare, community development. What’s needed are identifiable targets combined with emotional/intellectual ties to the ideas of helping, building, growing.
Let’s say that with 309 students at Salisbury Central School (most recently tabulated), we are roughly looking for a ten year investment of less than four million dollars (which includes students in 9 – 12).
Seem like a lot? But in ten years? Not including students who move or drop out? And not including the possibility that along the way other donors will join the effort? (Why shouldn’t Daimler work with Walmart as partners?)
What does this $4 mill give students? (Remember, this amounts to an annual gift (or gifts) of “only” $390,488 per annum in each of ten years.)
A sense of security and the future. Perhaps keys to new job opportunities. Knowledge of who they are and where they came from, where they’re going. Stronger family economics. An economically more viable township.
Where are we most likely to find this money? Individual contributors (a CEO of a private company, a man/woman of considerable and replenishable fortune), or a CEO who can persuade his/her investors how exciting this prospect is, helping the US return to its former greatness. Word spreads easily at the top. It might even be possible for individual shareholders to feel proud of what their flagship is dong.
Happily, Salisbury Central is nearly unique: it has reasonable class sizes, has computers for each 1.2 students, spends more on each student per year than the state average.
The Lakeville Plan is built on hope.
Next: Is this Lakeville Plan realistic?