Out of the shadows

Membership of the Community Influence Leaders Roundtable (CILR) is predominately African-American, but don’t call it an African-American organization.

Some of the notables invited to address CILR’s monthly gatherings might be staunch politicians, yet it doesn’t fancy itself as some string-pulling political congruent.

It has been hanging around since 2014, yet seeking to pin it down as some ominous backroom Kingmaker would be both off the mark and, I would suspect, acutely insulting.

Slowly, meticulously, methodically, CILR is peeking out from the shadows, revealing itself, as if following some sort of coming-of-age sacrament.

Makes sense. When a handful of city somebodies, led in part by Chaplain Richmond Stoglin, were piecing together an assemblage of what one might call “forward thinkers” interested in promoting economic inclusiveness in Arlington, the vision of what/how/where wasn’t all that clear, and Stoglin would be the first to admit it. So they moved along eagerly though gingerly, dotting the i’s and crossing t’s before they needed to.

When former Mayor Richard Greene was invited to speak to the group a couple years back he was satisfyingly surprised, starting with the notion that very few happenings in Arlington get past him, yet here’s something that did.

Crept by me, too.

Wanting to know more, I went to see Chaplain Stoglin. Towering and commanding, with a booming voice; thick, salt n’ pepper mustache and sly smile, Stoglin is a retired Navy guy who lives with his wife in a warm and cozy home tucked away on a cul-de-sac just south of I-20.

We’re sitting at a kitchen table, and Stoglin is pulling out strategic plans and meeting minutes and membership lists, all of which are fine, but it isn’t until Stoglin is ready to share that I learn that CILR is acutely connected as an Arlington Chamber of Commerce-hosted committee with the full backing of CEO and President Michael Jacobson.

As such, they share the principal characteristics of our fair city reaching its full economic potential.

Let me break through the high-minded speak here: cities understand that inclusiveness – getting everybody in the mix – is not just the right thing but awfully smart. We don’t have to look at data to show inclusiveness has a tangible impact on the bottom line, whatever that bottom line might be. And that’s exactly what CILR is about.

What Stoglin preaches is that there’s a sharp variance in diversity and inclusiveness. A diverse room matters little if the unique perspectives that make up that diversity aren’t being heard and, more importantly, don’t feel a sense of respect, empowerment or true sense of belonging.

That’s the key. Cities are made up of human beings with various gifts and talents, but if those gift and talents are stopped at the door, it severely limits a city’s chief social and economic resource.

CILR meets regularly to discuss issues related to the economic and social development of the city. That folks like Lisa Thompson, Theron Bowman, Curvie Hawkins Jr., Tarrick McGuire and Michael Glaspie are involved gives it sustenance.  They have been quite instrumental in increasing the diversity of the city boards, commissions and committees. They do it by being a sort of way station of talent for people to select from, although that might be a too simplistic way of putting it. The heavy lifting is this voice that has been instrumental in a number of Arlington doings, such as making sure the New Arlington (Rangers ballpark, Texas Live!, etc.) has minority contractor representation.

As  head of the Arlington Chamber and former director of Intel’s Corporate Responsibility Office, Jacobson finds it easy to see eye to eye with Stoglin.

“If we are going to champion the mission of economic and community prosperity,” Jacobson says, “everyone in Arlington has to have the ability to benefit from economic growth that is occurring.”

Now certainly there are those who push social justice over economic justice. To Stoglin and his group, there’s no either/or.

Getting economic issues under control can certainly help with the social ones.

 

Columnist Kenneth Perkins has been a contributing writer for Arlington Today since it debuted. He is a freelance writer, editor and photographer.

 

 

Kenneth Perkins

Columnist Kenneth Perkins has been a contributing writer for Arlington Today since it debuted. He is a freelance writer, editor and photographer.