The Director’s Log: March 2017

Dear friends,

Beyond basketball, March has had its own kind of madness this year. One day, it is clearly in the winter camp; others in the spring camp; some days both.

The challenges of being both a place that “thinks” and “does” are similar.

The Institute for Emerging Issues has a big responsibility to imagine the future and share with people what we are seeing and hearing about what our state should be ready for going forward.

We build awareness.

We also develop consensus and make progress, finding places in an often-divided public policy arena where action is possible.

This month’s highlights will focus on our efforts to build awareness of some of the key issues facing our state and nation; next month’s will narrow in on consensus and progress.

Last fall, with support from BB&T, we traveled throughout North Carolina to identify the best ideas young people (18- to 30-year-olds) had for how best to help their communities. This month, IEI’s Emerging Leaders Fellows, Maggie Woods and Caroline Dawkins, brought those teams together in the Hunt Library to share those ideas and learn more about leadership from The BB&T Leadership Institute. We are impressed with their innovative social enterprises, and we know you will be also. As you will see in their blog, “A Winning End to the BB&T Leadership Symposium,” they have a broad range of ideas and energy. Our future is in good hands!

Following February’s sold-out Forum, “kidonomics,” focusing on the return on investment of early childhood education, IEI Economic Policy Manager Donnie Charleston was invited, with support from Public Consulting Group, to South by Southwest edu (SXSW) in Austin to share what IEI was learning about moving forward ideas on improving early childhood education. The conference is a motley crew of business, education and government leaders from across the country – think the Emerging Issues Forum on steroids, with more than 1000 speakers and more than 400 different topics! I hope you will see Donnie’s passion for kidonomics and the role of public policy in leading change, in his article, “kidoNomiCs at SXSWedu.”

We launched our First in Future podcast last month in an effort to give us, and you, a direct line into some of our state’s brightest, future-facing thinkers. With help from IEI’s Coco Keevan and James Herrick, so far we have talked to business leaders and bishops, entrepreneurs and elected officials, on topics ranging from the equine industry to early education, in places from Wilmington to Raleigh to Rutherfordton. We’ve asked them where the state is going, and what we can do about it. We’ve asked them what we should be reading, which people are going to be changing our future, and at least one thoroughly frivolous question each. We hope over time we will be assembling a mosaic of our state’s best future thinking. We hope you will let us know who we should be talking to, and make First in Future part of your regular podcast listening.

And if you like what you see or hear, share it with others. Our goal is ambitious: to get people across the state thinking about our future, and working on what we together can do to make it better for every North Carolinian.

Until next month, watch the weather, and let us know how we can think and do better every day! Share your ideas with me on Twitter at @lboney.