Fill the Dome asks us to broaden our vision

This fall's highly successful youth-led food drive, "Fill the Dome," was an inspiration on many levels. Their exceptional results speak volumes.

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This fall's highly successful youth-led food drive, "Fill the Dome," was an inspiration on many levels.

Their exceptional results speak volumes. This all-volunteer youth organization and its leadership understand how to create and deliver high performance.

Their energy, enthusiasm, creativity, collaboration, persistence, focus and productivity was as abundant as the amount of food and funds they raised.

But on top of their exceptional performance and results, the most inspiring element to me was their golden ability to see beyond the borders, distinctions and classes that we as adults restrict ourselves to so routinely and pervasively when solving problems.

Distinctions that regularly limit us and become accepted excuses for lack of collaboration as adults include our metro area city limits, city vs. county jurisdiction, state lines, metro area school district borders, and divisions between higher ed, high school, middle school, and elementary schools, Class A vs. Class B, as well as the divide between public schools and private schools.


These organizational and geographic limits create manageable "sandboxes" for us as adult leaders. But, of course, optimizing solutions within any of these boxes likely leads to suboptimal (e.g. more expensive, less efficient) answers for all of us in the broader metro area community.

Joyfully and thankfully, these border and organizational limits do not exist in the minds of the youth who led and participated in the Fill the Dome efforts.

These "boundary" distinctions are invisible to these student leaders, and therefore students from diverse starting points - two states, three counties, many cities, both rural and urban, and schools of all sizes, from universities to elementary, private and public - all worked together seamlessly around the common good of helping to alleviate hunger in our region.

Congressman Earl Pomeroy,D-N.D., noted to the students during the Fill the Dome news conference: "In this case the students are the teachers ... and we (as adults) are the students."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could learn from this inspiring youth lesson of seeing "beyond boundaries" to achieve highly effective metro-area collaboration?

Imagine the results. I have. And it is easy to envision more than $100 million in potential taxpayer savings through innovative collaborations between and among our area school districts and local governments to tackle the expensive challenges we face in education, growth, infrastructure, flood remediation and other areas.

Hopefully we won't have to wait until today's students become tomorrow's leaders to benefit from this lesson. Let us learn from their powerful example and use their inspiration to pursue and reach our communitywide potential today.

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