Thursday, June 30, 2005

Unafraid to dream: the second inaugural

With my family and my partner Amy Wakeland joining me on stage before a standing-room-only crowd at the Barnsdall Art Park on Olive Hill, I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the State of California, and the Charter of the City of Los Angeles. My friends from throughout the district and the city came to celebrate the work weÂ’ve done together in the past four years and to commit ourselves to the work we have in front of us. We were joined by dancers and singers, veterans, the leaders of community groups, unions, immigrant restaurant owners and immigrant hotel workers, councilmembers, the mayor-elect and the outgoing mayor, and my CD13 staff.

Thank you to all who came, performed, and spoke. Through each task we have undertaken together to each joke or quiet moment we have shared, I have been honored to have you by—and on—my side.

In my remarks, I asked that we commit ourselves not only to work hard and to work together, but also once again to dream. Below is a short excerpt; the entire speech can be found here.

Four years ago, I made a compact with the residents of the Thirteenth District. It was simple: I would keep my eyes on the ground, but never be afraid to lift them up to the sky. I said we would focus on the cracks on the sidewalks but we would be unafraid to dream again.

Some say change happens all at once. Others say that it comes slowly and over time. In four years I have seen both. I have seen lives change in a moment in the smile of a child with the turning on of a splash-pad in a new park, and I have seen the true grit of neighborhoods digging in for a multi-year project to improve their main street.

But perhaps it is not the pace of change that as is critical as the scale of change. Change does not happen in an entire city in one fell swoop. It comes one block at a time. With one idea, one house meeting, one interaction between neighbors, one visit from a city department. And that’s where we have focused—one constituent call, one case at a time, one leadership training, one graffiti paint out at a time until the many, many small acts of change collectively make up an unstoppable tide of transformation.

Our promise four years ago was simple but audacious, for we live in a skeptical, even cynical time. A time that tells us that our toughest problems are insurmountable, that our best years are behind us, that government is a negative force.

But I believe behind every cynic lies a powerful idealist. And I know that today I address a room full of idealism.

We also live in an age defined by velocity, an age in which we live in anxiety of how full our email boxes have become, in which it is difficult to contain, let alone keep up with forces of change around us that seem beyond our control.

On Earth Day in the Arctic a couple of months ago, I heard an Inuit leader say that in her lifetime her people have gone from the ice age to the space age.

It is against this backdrop of our repressed idealism and the rush of life that we have sought to make our communities strong and to make our dreams real.