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Ready Set Go Local - Martha Randolph Carr

OK, America, the new day is officially here. All of the anticipation has built to this point where we get back to work. That includes everyone who currently doesn't have a job and really wants one. There's a place for you at the table as well.

However, we're going to have to go a little old school, and step away from the computer for a moment in order to create some real change that can help everyone.

We're even going to go back to the grassroots philosophy that lasting benefits start on the local level. Instead of waiting on Obama and Washington to fix our problems, we're going to come together in individual communities to see what we can do for ourselves. Goodbye to the trickle down theory and hello to the raise it up ourselves.

One had us waiting like children for someone else to grant us some of their magnificence. We have experienced what that got us and it has come up sorely lacking. Now, we are going to take back our ability to create purposeful lives that include a job, health benefits, good schools and a roof over our heads, and it begins today.

That's going to require face-to-face meetings where people can stand up and offer solutions. Pay attention to that last part because it's crucial to the success of this idea. Make it clear that no one should be coming to their town hall meeting with a long list of grievances, and no tidbit of a solution. That's just another kind of bailout and turns citizens into helpless victims. We are done with that and we are going to empower ourselves.

Sit down with the list and write whatever small kernel of an answer you have next to each issue that needs a resolution. Bring that list instead. Let go of the need to know how the idea will be carried out, or if it's even feasible, and allow others to contribute their ideas on top. That's asking for help instead of a rescue and can bring a community together.

If you're not the one who's speaking, listen with every intention of offering your service to some other good ideas. We are done with the notion that someone else holds more of an answer than we do. We are going to get up each day knowing that we may not have the entire puzzle figured out, but we definitely have one or two of the pieces and are just as vital to the whole picture coming together.

There will be some who retreat to cynicism as some clever barrier against hope, or those who will spend far more time pointing out what could go wrong instead of lending a hand.

Step away from those people and recognize that working for the good actually takes less energy and has a far greater chance for success.

We have entered an era that is going to require all of us to step out of the lives we have known and become willing to believe in something better, even when we can't see when or how that will take place. That is the definition of change, and on the other side, lays the possibilities of a stronger America more accessible to a great number of her citizens

The first steps have already been taken. We came together and elected President Barack Obama, fulfilling a promise that in this country the door is wide open for every member. Now, it's time to create anew and for this to work we're going to need everyone.

First step is, believing you have something to offer, the next is to find a place big enough to hold the meeting and pick a date. Third is to spread the word to everyone. Post the notice in grocery stores and schools and local gyms. Come on, America, this is our day and we will be the ones to shape it from here.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.