Quality of Life Summit Outcomes

May 6, 2015

Maryland Nonprofits hosted a Quality of Life Summit on March 24, 2015. Attended by about 150 nonprofit, business and government leaders, the event was designed to promote dialogue and innovative ideas to improve the quality of life in Maryland.

Heather Iliff made opening remarks that highlight the important role nonprofits have to play in advancing the quality of life. Nonprofits play a connecting role between businesses and government, and can provide critical community leadership if we work together for a long-term vision.

Vision for the Future of Maryland: “A Labyrinth of Light”

Participants worked in small groups to create a vision of the future of Maryland that depicts a great quality of life for everyone. Participants remarked at how quickly groups were able to come to consensus on the future vision, and how much similarity there was among the visions of the 24 small groups. People want a Maryland of the future that includes:

  • Peace, justice and equity
  • Great education for all ages
  • Flourishing businesses, good jobs, building wealth in communities
  • Clean water & air, healthy environment, renewable energy, access to fresh food
  • Affordable communities/housing, environmentally appropriate buildings
  • Access to healthcare, including oral and mental health
  • Interconnected communities, with face-to-face and electronic communication, allowing people to come together
  • Safe, family-friendly, walkable and bikeable communities
  • Opportunities for recreation, vibrant arts scene, space where people can connect
  • Access to public transportation
  • Healthy relationships (social, environment, fit, spiritual)

Transformation Panel

Stuart Clarke, Town Creek Foundation
Adar Ayira, Associated Black Charities
Gar Alperovitz, Democracy Collaborative and University of Maryland

Big Ideas:

  • Transactional and Transformational Strategies: In order to achieve the transformation we want to see, we need to think beyond “transactional” strategies. Transactional strategies are programs that address poor outcomes (such as stream clean-up or after-school tutoring). Transformational strategies seek to address systemic change (such as removing sources of pollution or improving education systems.) Nonprofits that engage in transactional strategies are uniquely knowledgeable and qualified to engage in developing transformational strategies and advocate for them.
  • Equitable Systems: Maryland can save more than $2 trillion if we create an equitable and just society that enables all people, including communities of color, to succeed. Institutional systems that produce inequitable, race-based outcomes are blocking all communities from achieving their highest potential. We have to move beyond a framework that looks at fixing broken people, and move toward fixing broken systems. Applying an equity lens to policies and decision-making can reduce unintended race-based disparities and improve the economic growth prospects for Maryland.
  • Closing the Wealth Gap: Wealth accumulation in the United States has continued to worsen, some of the countervailing forces have weakened. The union movement has lost power, and real wages have stagnated for average Americans for more than four decades. Nonprofit organizations are leading the development of new models of wealth creation in communities. Worker-owned cooperatives have proven to be successful when linked to the purchasing power of large “anchor” institutions such as universities and hospitals. While it may seem that huge structural imbalances in our economy are too big to address, history shows that small, local experiments are often expanded nation-wide when the time is right. Maryland has an opportunity to create small-scale programs that could prove to be transformative for the entire nation.

View more on our Quality of Life Advocacy & Policy page here.

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