Director’s Log | February 2018

As Gomer Pyle would say, “Gawlee! Thankyouthankyouthankyou! Shazam!” The Emerging Issues Forum February 5-6 was my first “big dance,” and it was amazing to hear the speakers, to see our staff in action and to feel the energy. Thanks to all of you who planned, spoke, attended in person, watched on UNC-TV’s statewide broadcast, streamed live, tweeted, posted or cheered.

The Institute for Emerging Issues does two things really well:

  • We work with partners and advisors, people in communities and people at the state level to identify issues that are either invisible or underappreciated. We name them, frame them and proclaim them, bringing together high profile speakers and a diverse group of people to talk and listen and wrestle with them, leaving with some concrete steps they can take to act on what they heard.
  • We identify a small number of issues to work on that we can add something unique to through hands-on work with communities and statewide partners. These ideas typically grow out of the work we do in our high-profile forums.

Our work on kidonomics is an example of both: we were able to work with great partners (see our guest column from Tracy Zimmerman and the story of Renee Potts’ work with Reach Out and Read Carolinas) who have been shaping the state’s new focus on early childhood development and get people talking about it with new energy (see this month’s summary of the Forum). And going forward we will work with those partners and others to test out how we might apply those ideas in a small group of the state’s lower-resourced communities (see this month’s story on kidsREADyNC).

And, as always, we are looking ahead to the next “big idea.” We don’t yet know where we will end up, but thanks to your participation in our “NC Big Idea” challenge and our ongoing First in Future conversations (see highlights from this past month), we have three finalists (take a look at!) and our staff is reading, listening and imagining how we might name, frame and proclaim them at an upcoming Forum (take a look at Maggie Woods’ piece).

There is so much good going on in North Carolina, and so much more we can do together. We look forward to dancing with you. Shazam!