Monday, August 18, 2008

Socioeconomic Forecast

Over time, as people in the community have come to understand NACDI and our community development work, they share their stories, thoughts, concerns and ideas.  People are naturally interested in their future (and how it relates to their past). They wonder about their family's stability, their jobs, and their health. They wonder about what the future holds for their children, grandchildren and the generations to come.  

As I watch the news, read various reports, observe government decisions, philanthropic trends, and nonprofit concerns; and listen to people in the community, what begins to surface is an interesting and challenging  forecast the American Indian community can expect to face over the next many years.  Below is an attempt to articulate a bit of this socioeconomic forecast in hopes that we as a community can better prepare and be in the forefront of these inevitable realities.  

Here is what I forecast. Socioeconomic disparities and complexities will continue to grow and challenge the American Indian community.  Government, philanthropy, and other non-profit organizations will have less resources and, therefore, continue to cut or redirect resources and redefine priorities.  Individuals and families will continue to face increases in costs of living, slow job and housing markets, declining wages(particularly as it relates to out-sourcing), underperforming public school education, and rising post-secondary tuition.  Ethnic and global diversity will continue to grow.  Population growth, particularly in urban areas and among the elderly, will continue to rise.  Private sector markets and opportunities will continue to grow as the global economy increasingly becomes one. Environmental challenges are real and willcontinue to grow.   Innovation and creativity will continue to be a driving currency of the future.

How the American Indian community decides to approach this forecast will determine its future.  NACDI believes that innovative, community-based strategies for self-sufficiency and economic opportunity must be developed and supported or we will be the products of this change verses the architects of our change.  The urban American Indian community has choices to make.  Each decision will determine our geographic and cultural legacy and our socioeconomic stability.  Today's American Indian leadership must focus on stabilizing the American Indian community's fragile socioeconomic foundation and advancing a new movement of community success, expectation and growth. This will require the American Indian community and its leadership to make major program, development and investment decisions.  Any combination of fear, unwillingness, isolation or apathy among leadership and community organizations will result in a profoundly different American Indian community in the next ten to twenty years.

Three critical factors will determine our success in advancing a community, asset-based future; Community and organizational willingness to: 1.)  Collaborate, 2.) Share resources, 3.) Be innovative. Collectively reorienting our goals and strategies toward building and sustaining the Indian community's capacity to develop sustainable physical and human assets; develop economic assets and vitality; and develop and maintain effective human and social relationships through cooperative efforts will put us on a self-sufficiency path and equip us to face any challenges that may present itself in the future.

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