From Reach Riverside to Seaford Park Development Project, initiatives to build opportunity in Delaware communities are setting the bar for other states, said James and Deborah Fallows, journalists and authors of “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America.”
The couple, nationally recognized for their in-depth journalism on rebounding towns throughout the country, presented the 2019 Delaware Community Foundation Building Opportunity Keynote on Nov. 6.
“The entire saga of American history is the effort to realize opportunity against all the things that hold it back and make it unfair,” said James Fallows. “Trying to preserve opportunity so that — in all the tumult and change of the economy — there is a chance for the next generation.”
“One of the things that touched us around the country was seeing people who decided to pour themselves into the future of their communities and that’s what you are doing in Wilmington and in Delaware,” he continued.
Approximately 200 people attended the live event at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, while dozens more participated via livestream at Laurel Public Library, Lewes Public Library and the Paradee Center in Dover, through partnerships with Sussex County Libraries and the State Department of Human Resources.
The Fallowses, who visited various community initiatives throughout the day before their evening presentation, said they were impressed by the level and quality of collaboration in Delaware.
“You’re doing so much here, and much of it is resonant with the things we saw that are working around the country,” said Deborah Fallows. “We want to come back and learn more.”
The Building Opportunity Keynote and Take Action Fair was the culmination of the DCF’s 2019 Building Opportunity activities. Over the past several months, nearly 500 Delawareans throughout the state have been reading and discussing Our Towns in DCF Book Circles. In partnership with Delaware Humanities, the DCF gave away hundreds of copies of the book, along with reading guides, to individuals and various libraries.
“The DCF brought the Fallowses to Delaware so we could all get ideas from their stories about how other communities around the country — even in the wake of great challenges and setbacks — are building opportunity,” said DCF President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. “Already, several individuals and organizations have approached me with ideas for new creative partnerships and projects. I can’t wait to see what local initiatives are sparked by last night’s DCF Building Opportunity presentation.”
The Fallows’ presentation was the second annual DCF Building Opportunity Keynote, following last year’s presentation by Robert Putnam, author of “Our Kids.”
The Wilmington event also featured a Take Action Fair, where attendees signed up to get involved through a variety of DCF programs and partnerships, delcf.org/take-action; and photos from the Our Lens Challenge, in which high school students shared photos that capture the spirit and beauty of their towns, delcf.org/our-lens.
For more, visit delcf.org.