The author is mistaken and should reread the Crupi report he referenced as he misrepresents its contents (“Powerless,” Back Page, Aug. 13). Below is a section of the report that agrees with his assessment:
“There are many business leaders who are doing many things in the community very quietly and very effectively. They dream, but are not visionary. They handle issues one at a time and handle them piecemeal. They are attracted to those who have the economic resources to act and undervalue social and intellectual capital. People with social networking skills or have creative ideas are typically not brought ‘to the table’ on community projects or issues unless they also have economic means. That is a real problem because it takes people with a range of skills and cultural backgrounds to build community power and diversity of thought; ironically skills that they recognize when it comes to global competition.
“The metro area also doesn't have very many minority business leaders and those that there are typically operate small companies or are in professions like law and medicine and don't have the economic resources valued by executives of larger corporations and wealthy families. That is unfortunate. The good news is that the metro area has some very smart people across a range of backgrounds. Many of them come from non-profit organizations, education, law, medicine, and small to medium size companies. And they need to be accessed.
“Actions: Involve people with social and intellectual capital and youth with regularity. For too long the business community has not placed social and intellectual capital on par with economic strength when working on community problems. The metro area is blessed with plenty of both and it will require a diversity of talent if the region is to move together as one in working regional issues. Wisdom and experience when coupled with the creativity and drive of young people is a powerful combination that also needs to be leveraged.”
Dr. James A. Crupi
President, Strategic Leadership Solutions
Author Thad Williamson, an assistant professor of leadership studies at the University of Richmond, responds:
There is certainly much to admire in the Crupi Report, but Dr. Crupi's letter misses the point of my critique. Having a more enlightened business leadership class that knows how to access the expertise of nonprofits, etc., is not the same as having strong, politically organized community organizations representing ordinary people (not just the “smart” and “talented” people). Even these very passages he quotes indicate that Crupi sees the business community as playing the lead role in shaping Richmond's future, precisely the assumption I want to question.