“Heroes among Us” is a book authored by Peter Heegaard and Lori Sturdevant published in 2008 by the NodinPr Publisher. The book contains stories of several people who have contributed in providing solutions to the social issues. To be precise, the book features eleven community leaders who are situated in Minneapolis narrating the social upheavals they endured when they were growing and their later commitment to improving social environments. It features interviews with various social entrepreneurs and the author believes that the book intends to building strong families and communities. In this regard, this study aims at delineating four profiles of the interviewees and discusses their experiences in relation to the pillars of Augsburg mission. Additionally, this study will try to link the identified profile with the U theory, blooms taxonomy, and/or any other model of critical thinking analysis.
Heegaard talks of Douglas Hall, a legal adviser, commitments to changing the justice ideology in the streets of Minneapolis. Hall was born during the era of white supremacy and bearing that he was white, it was evident that he was subjected to a life of suppressing people from other races. Discrimination along race and ethnicity was quite profound that Douglas Hall says that the famous quote “all men are created equal” would have been interpreted as “white men with property were created equal.” As Hall grew old at took a legal path as a careers, he found out the situation was basically the same and the said “justice” by the courts was just a fallacy. Being a white man, Hall was expected to follow the status quo until one incident happened and it changed the justice system in Minneapolis(Boyte, 2008). It was business as usual for police to rough up people from a local pub and drag them to the jail. On this fateful night, four American Indians were arrested, tied on a street light and later were dragged to jail, charged with profanity, resisting arrest, and public intoxication.Initially, nobody dared to challenge the practice in court but these four men choose to stand a trial.
According to Hall as documented in the book “Heroes Among Us,” these four America Indians decided to stand trial and challenge the police misconduct. Hall as the attorney was appalled by their bravery and decided to manipulate Judge Riley who he a perceived a neutral judge to listen to the case. He played a significant role in ensuring that the municipal court behaved maturely unlike previous events where people were bullied and judged without their plea being considered. “One of the things we tried to do in the municipal court was to make the trial function like a District Court case; we insisted the lawyers sit at the counsel table” (Heegaard,2008).After listening to the case, Riley found them not guilty and fined each of them $25 and suspended the sentence. Surprisingly, they had already been sentenced before even standing a trial (Heegaard, 2008). As much as this can be seen as a win for the four guys, it was a turning point for the police conduct and beginning of an evolution of racial discrimination. Douglas Hall portrays great concern for humanity and the need to deviate from the status quo and serve his purpose. Greenleaf (1970) talks of servant leadership which he explains as the urge to make sure that the other people’s highest priority needs are being served. A servant leader puts the interests of the less privileged in the society to ensure that they are not deprived further (Greenleaf, 1970). Hall demonstrates servant leadership by choosing to ignore the prevailing order of justice system and streamlines the entire system. The act of convincing the lawyers to sit at the bar for a case considered petty paves the way for justice to prevail.
Theory U propagates that the quality of results that individuals come up with are dependent on the quality of awareness and attention given to the matter. The element of open mind in theory U further explains that an individual needs to see with fresh eyes; hence, he will make decision based on the experience. Arguably, Hall had witnessed discrimination and infliction caused to the public due to the flawed justice system. It is with the aspect of open-mindedness that he decides to be the change that the society needed. According to theory U, an individual may be prompted to changing the unproductive patterns of behavior and enhance positive change. Hall acted accordingly and decided to shed off the status quo and bring changes to the decisions made by municipal courts amidst the widespread of discrimination along race and ethnicity.
AtumAzzahir is another personality who contributed to “Heroes Among Us” book. Azzahir is responsible for the Cultural Wellness Center (CWC) which is an organization that aims at enhancing capacity building in equalizing the relationship between the cultural groups. CWC is a non-profit that brings people together in addressing sickness and diseases in the community. Just like Hall, Azzahir was witnessed misrepresentation and marginalization of some cultures in the United States. One of her main area of concern involves public health especially in children and mothers. She has dedicated numerous studies on health inequalities pointed at African American and other marginalized groups without education for the basis of developing programs to mitigate infant mortality. According to Heegaard (2008),Azzahir is more concerned with ensuring that each life matters by giving every woman requisite knowledge and resources required for the birthing experience.
According to bloom’s taxonomy, an intellectual activity involves gaining knowledge of a situation, comprehending it, application of change, analyzing the situation and evaluating the progress. Notably, Azzahir contribution to the society has undergone this sequential concept of bloom’s taxonomy. To begin with, knowledge regarding a situation is gained through people, events, TV programs, text reading, magazine articles, among other sources of information. Azzahir as noted by Heegaard did numerous studies with the main aim of finding the reality in relation to the health of children and mothers in the marginalized communities. This implies that she perused articles, watched television shows, attended events, and even garnered the experience by visited the health facilities. The sole purpose was to gain knowledge about the situation. Azzahir has written various articles dedicated to the public health in the communities. After garnering this information, the next step as illustrated in bloom’s taxonomy involves comprehending the collected data. A comprehension stage involves the investigator interpreting, paraphrasing, restating, and drawing conclusion from the information collected (Scharmer, 2007). Interpretation of data gives an individual the opportunity to get a coherent understanding the situation on the ground. Azzahir must have interpreted the information and found out that there was a challenge in the public health. The main challenge identified was that most of the African-American had children during their teenage years. Most of them lacked knowledge on how to guiding and protecting health outcomes of their babies.
The next step after identifying a problem involves drafting a solution and computing changes. A problem can be solved by modifying the current situation, re-building, or creating a new. With this in mind, Azzahir and her organization CWC organized over 100 birthing teams which are supposed to take the mothers through prenatal appointments, delivery period, and give support during breastfeeding. Azzahir claims that her main agenda is to begin a dialogue with the local people in addressing on of the society’s long standing human struggles, inequalities in health care and delivery (Heegaard, 2008). According to the analytical step in the bloom’s taxonomy concept, an individual ought to compare and contrast the situation before and after the intervention. By the year 1990, Azzahir had accomplished a lot in creating wellness among the marginalized and less-privileged in the society. She co-founded numerous programs such as Elders Other Mothers and Daughters of Africa, The Asili Institute for Women of African Descent, and the Way to Grow A City-Wide School Readiness Program in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Boyte, 2008). All of these programs were launched to support her quest for community health. It can therefore be concluded that she had managed to improve the situation and she had made positive moves in bringing change.
Moving on, Azzahir has managed to comply with the two last steps of bloom’s taxonomy that include synthesis and evaluation. Bloom’s taxonomy argues that an individual is vulnerable to formulating plans and establishing inventions that will ensure that the situation at hand is addressed and it yields positive long-term effects. As mentioned above, Azzahir has launched various health programs aimed at enhancing quality health for all women in the community. Finally, an evaluation is usually of great importance in order to determine if the applied changes are bringing positive results and whether they are helpful. For Azzahir, the external environment recognized her efforts and she was awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership program in 1997 and Race Unity Award-Minneapolis Baha’i Community (2000) among others. This implies that her work was well received by the society and that she contributed greatly in bringing positivity to the community.
Samatar was born in Somalia where he attained his education up to the university level. However, a civil war broke out just four days after his graduation and his dreams of being an economist were shuttered. He saw a window of opportunity with the Somali emigrants where he managed to move to the United States of America. He later joined the University of St. Thomas where he earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration.Sammater launched the African Development Center (ADC) whose main aim was to provide education and financial services to recent immigrants.Heegaard (2008) says that Sammater is “unlike a traditional entrepreneur, he is a social entrepreneur who pursues goals that lie in the social sphere, far beyond simple calculations of monetary return on investment.”This was based on Sammater’s involvement in empowering people and giving technical expertise to recent immigrant businesses. He became the first Somali-American to hold a public office in the Minneapolis School Board.
ADC is acknowledged by Heegaard as a piece of history on breaking poverty in the community. “People are ready to sacrifice and take huge risks on behalf of their communities (Heegaard, 2008). Sammatar is the exact description of these statements as he established ADC on non-profit making grounds for the purposes of empowering the communities economically. Sammatar gained first-hand experience of a fallen state immediately after completing his undergraduate education. It was quite challenging for an educated person to be flee and seek asylum in another country. According to Senge, Jaworski, Scharmer and Flowers (2004), the presence theory or theory U concepts asserts that an individual has to let go of the past at one time and embrace a new world in his or her life. This resonates with Sammatar’s life immediately after he fled from Somalia, his country of origin. He had his pats and embraces an immigrant status and he agreed to join another institution of higher learning. Presencing follows a process which begins with co-initiating (Scharmer, 2007). This element allows an individual to pay attention to what life expects from them. For Sammater, he had to listen to the call of serving others in a foreign country. Co-sensing allows the individual to go to the places of potential just like Sammater decided to help immigrants as they were in much need of his help. Co-creating involves developing procedures and strategic microcosm that help in exploring the future. Sammater noted that there was a gap in economic empowering; hence, he launched ADC center (Boyte, 2008). Finally, co-evolving involves coming up with ecosystems that facilitate seeing and acting from the whole.
Ms. Vargas has been recognized as a leader in expanding business development opportunities for women and people of color. She managed to earn a presidential of the Minneapolis Foundation in 2007 where when oversees the management of assets worth more than $600 million and more than 12000 employees (Boyte, 2008). She worked as the deputy county administrator at Hennepin County in 1997 and she has received many accolades and awards among being profiled in the book “Heroes as among us.”Heegaard describes Ms. Vargas as a person who is energetic and passionate advocate for everyone in the community especially the underrepresented. Ms. Vargas efforts have been channeled towards streamlining the public sector and public service at large. Initially, the public service sector was marred with resource misappropriation and poor delivery. Incidences such as discrimination, unequal resources allocations and economical impoverishment were witnessed in the Minnesota public sector. Vargas stood her grounds in wiping this mess and ensuring that every penny was allocated, used wisely, and accounted for the greater social, economic, and racial equity.
Ms. Vargas is documented as a servant leader by Heegaard in the book Heroes among us. According to Greenleaf (1970), people who go for leadership are usually characterized with two extreme types. There are leaders who literary require pressure and explicit push in order to provide results in their positions. Whilst others do not thrive under pressure but are willing to exercise the art of withdrawal. Greenleaf (1970) says that a servant-leader should find a balance between the two and do not rely on pressure to work just like Ms. Vargas. Servant leadership also employs the elements of acceptance and empathy. Acceptance involves the art of receiving what is offered with approbation and satisfaction. Ms. Vargas tried to foster this element to the public sector that people should be contented with what is rightfully theirs. The element of empathy also indicates that an individual should project their own consciousness into another being. A leader should be ready to resonate with the affliction of the people he or she leads in order to be efficient. Ms. Vargas understood the challenges endured by the residents of Minneapolis and that is why she managed to serve them at various positions.
Communities are just like institutions since they require the right people to run them for the betterment and sustainability of people’s lives. Community leaders exhibit an extra zeal to sacrifice on behalf of their people and ensure they bring positive change to the society. Community leadership has been recognized as significant in improving service delivery and performing the accountability function in service delivery. Some initiatives should be driven within the community in order to enhance changes in the society. As the title of the book suggests, they are the heroes among other people. In light of this, Heegard (2008) played a significant role in recognized people who have worked relentlessly in giving the people of Minneapolis and Minnesota a chance to develop the opportunities in order to have a better life. The outlined profiles portray a positive contribution towards making the community much better and countering the adversities associated with social factors. In this regard, Heroes among us is an uplifting book that is recommendable for any type of audience.
Boyte, H. C. (2008). The citizen solution: How you can make a difference. Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press.
Greenleaf, K. (1970). Servant leader; a journey of nature of legitimate power and greatness.
Scharmer, C. Otto (2007) Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges. The Society for Organizational Learning. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Senge, P. M., Jaworski, J., Scharmer, C. O. & Flowers, B. S. (2004).Presence: Exploring profound change in people, organizations, and society. Doubleday