This year I became an active member of a grassroots organization in my city called Niagara Falls Forward; a group of like-minded citizens invested in enhancing the quality of life for citizens in our city. Some of the things we've done are information sessions, a voter registration drive, food/clothing giveaways and we recently held our First Annual Niagara Falls Forward Family Festival on July 4th. Everything we've done has been made possible by the community, for the community. A couple of weeks ago we participated in a local event called Pints4Progress. Pints4Progress is an event held once month where citizens come together to eat, drink, socialize and vote on a project that will help improve our city. Each new attendee pays $5 and former attendee pays $10 to attend. With their entrance fee they get a meal/drink and after everyone has had a chance to socialize, several attendees are invited to present a five-minute project idea to the group. Once all those interested have pitched their ideas, each attendee votes on the project idea they favored the most, with the highest vote-getter taking home all funds collected at the door. The week we attended there were almost 150 people, seven presenters and I did a five-minute presentation about our First Annual Niagara Falls Forward Family Festival. We won the pot and walked away with about $1,300. One of the things I emphasized to the group is that although we would like their vote to help us secure a couple of bounce houses and other things for the children during our festival, we came to offer our help as volunteers for any of the businesses/organizations who were in need, and we came to ask if any of the attendees were willing/able to be a Niagara Falls Forward volunteer at any of our events/initiatives. We actually accomplished all three goals! One of the things I realized from this experience, that reaffirms some of things I've written about in this article and have reiterated over the years in my writings/videos is that people are often more willing to help you help others than help you help yourself. Let me repeat that, "people are often more willing to help you help others than help you help yourself." Some of the other presenters who didn't win wanted people to vote for them to take the money to support their [personal] business. Yes I'm a strong advocate of localism, supporting black businesses and etc. yet that approach is no different than asking someone to take money out of their pocket and put it in yours. There's no magic, marketing scheme, bells and whistles website or infomercial to it. All it takes is the willingness and ability to do for others, period. This is something I consistently strive to communicate to others, especially my Universal Family, who are genuinely committed to successfully assisting others. Our First Annual Niagara Falls Forward Family Festival was very successful as well; we were able to serve over almost 400 people, had a basketball tournament sponsored by the WNY Elite Basketball Club, had three bounce houses for our children and gave away free ice cream and food -all which was made possible via sponsors and volunteers.
In closing, keep in mind that 'you are because we are.' Without the contributions of others, even the invention of something as unassuming as toilet paper, there are choices and opportunities we wouldn't have right now. The survival of any culture hinges upon it's ability to cultivate human beings into a group of people who forge unions/units that share common attitudes, interests and goals. These unions/units become communities; the cultural framework for all of its people activities. The more we're willing/able to look out for each other, the less we have to lookout for each other. As Five Percenters, we should expect more of ourselves than functioning like a social club. Handing someone supreme mathematics or getting them to recite lessons does not make them an upstanding member of their family or productive member of their community. Our primary role as civilized people is to teach civilization, which is not just knowledge, wisdom, understanding, culture, refinement and not being a savage in the pursuit of happiness. Civilization is a group's advancement process in all aspects of their people activities. To grow and advance as a collective this means its people are tending to and raising each other up. The reason there are any positive advances or growth amongst any group of people it's because there are those, often small in number, who know and understand this. Our culture is not about what we can take to advance ourselves personally. Our culture is about what we're actually giving, each and every day in each and every way, to advance the lives of others.