Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “The measure of a man’s culture is the measure of his appreciation. We are ourselves what we appreciate and no more.”
There have been times that I have said that politics can be a soul sucking endeavor. Sometimes the act of public policy is difficult to appreciate – I have seen people literally lose their lives, their fortunes, their friends, and their lifelong relationships over policy and personal agendas. The experience can be crushing.
At the same time, those same trials, if seen through the longer lens of human experience and endeavor can be inspirational to our next generation.
For example, my daughter and I share an iTunes account. Some may think sharing a music library with someone who is 32 years younger wouldn’t be fulfilling, but they would be mistaken. Every now and then, we share a precious gem; a cross generational sharing of creativity and experience that speaks to the best in both of us – it inspires.
So was the case recently when she played me a song called “Walk Away”, by the band Axero featuring a solo performance by Jimmy Magardeau. The song begins with a sound clip of President Kennedy’s “Moon Speech” given at Rice University in September of 1962:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and others, too.”
President Kennedy’s words spoke to a generation of Americans exhausted from two wars and a holocaust of unimagined evil. He was speaking to Americans who yearned, after two decades of sacrifice, to pursue their dreams. To literally make our world a better place, to inspire the hopes and dreams of America’s next generation. .
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt achieved his own moon shot by signing the Federal Reclamation Act of 1902 into law creating the Salt River Project. Without that visionary piece of legislation, Arizona would not have become the state it is today. Roosevelt understood that the goal of bringing water to the desert would focus the best of our energies and skills and would reap long lasting rewards.
To be sure, both Presidents had their human failings, but they inspired our nation to levels of exceptionalism that continue to inspire us today.
Arizona has had its fair share of leaders, men and women, who have been willing to do hard things – many of whom I have had the pleasure of working with. I have always admired and cherished my time with John McCain, unflinching in his defense of America’s unique place in the world; Grant Woods, a champion of those who were not blessed to be born into wealth and power; Fife Symington, an unremitting reformer who showed us the way to reform public education and make government more accountable; and Jan Brewer, who dreamed of a better Arizona and sacrificed her own ambitions for the benefit of others.
I have translated these lessons from exceptional people to my work with clients who want to make Arizona a better place. From HighGround’s inception nearly 20 years ago, we have spent our time, our efforts, and our political capital to build a state that continues to inspire.
Today, my firm is blessed to be working with the David & Gladys Wright House Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to restore and preserve the home and grounds, as well as celebrate the artistic legacy of its designer through tours, educational programs, exhibitions, lectures, research facilities, event, and performances to inspire the creativity of future generations. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization whose sole purpose is to preserve the house through its philanthropic and educational missions.
Pursuing this mission is certainly not an easy task. It is simply something we don’t find too much of in today’s America – a purely philanthropic and educational enterprise meant to educate and inspire future generations. By preserving this American treasure, by giving it an active life to inspire future artists, architects, builders and designers, we are investing in those same qualities that make America and Arizona exceptional. It’s an investment that future generations can appreciate.
Arizona artist Steve Yazzie just completed a new video entitled “Inspire” which emphasizes how the David Wright Home is and can be an active living part of what makes Arizona an exceptional state. Please click here to see the piece.
At the end of his speech, Kennedy concluded:
“Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’
“Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.”
The David & Gladys Wright House is there and we’re going to actively preserve it.
We want to make sure that years from now, as Phoenix residents look back through the longer lens of human experience and endeavor, they will appreciate that there are things that are worth fighting for – hard things that take courage and vision to complete. The next generation will appreciate what inspiration can achieve.
Please join in the effort to preserve the David & Gladys Wright home to inspire future generations, visit the website at www.davidwrighthouse.org.