Problem-Solvers: Father Greg Boyle

Father_Greg_Boyle_and_Dennis_Sanchez

 Father Greg Boyle and Dennis Sanchez
licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Father Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest who found himself in East Lost Angeles 20 years ago trying to find a way to serve its people.  What Father Greg came to do is to establish one of the most effective gang intervention programs in the country:  Homeboy Industries, which offers job training, counseling, tattoo removal, and a myriad of other services.  His organization has served 120,000 gang members, and Los Angeles Police Commission Chairman, Steve Soboroff, is on record stating that Homeboy Industries is a key part of the reason crime rates are down.

I recently read a transcript of an American Public Media interview with Father Greg.  He describes how Homeboy Industries came into being:

 . . . that was born as we began as sort of a job employment referral center, trying to find felony-friendly employers [laughter] and that wasn’t so forthcoming. So by ’92, we had to start our own. We really — so we couldn’t wait.  The demand was so huge and gang members kept saying if only we had jobs.  So we started Homeboy Bakery in 1992 and, a month later, we started Homeboy Tortillas in the Grand Central Market, a historic kind of area in LA.  Once we had two . . . 

“We couldn’t wait.”  “The demand was so huge.”
— Greg Boyle, Problem-Solver.

What problem can’t wait for you to solve?

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John and Doug, Gen Xers

Time on Gen X reconsidered

Yesterday, I came across a delightful blog written by a self-described “Gen Xer.”  John draws pictures and takes photographs of Doug (a truly creative monkey!), and together they explore work in the new world.  I found John’s writing thoughtful and warm and funny.  He has clearly thought a great deal about how to spend his life meaningfully, and he generously shares this journey through a series of posts called Find Your Path In Life Series and guides his readers through taking that same journey.  It IS a feel-good journey, but it’s more than that; John doesn’t dismiss the real obstacles and difficulties in balancing the need for security and safety with the need for meaning.  What he does do is to show that asking the right questions and engaging in creative problem-solving can move one forward.  His sense of optimism and spirit would be a great guide for anyone wanting to ask the questions that will move you.  Feeling restless in your work?  Feeling completely dissatisfied?  I invite you to try out a few of John and Doug’s exercises in the series.

Doug Does Life comes after a conversation I had recently with other baby boomers about the sense of “entitlement” post-baby boomers seem to exhibit in today’s workplace.  My friends included their own, hard-working children in the group.  But we all know the game has changed.  Post baby-boomers (Generations X and Y (also known as Millenials)) are living the writing on the wall, even as their parents encourage dedication to hard work as the most viable and probable path to success.  Gen Xers and Millenials can see for themselves that the late baby-boomers are having to continue that singular path of working ruggedly hard into their seventh and eighth decades, and they are rightfully asking why.  The payoff isn’t waiting at the end for most of us.  Seeking meaningful work, expecting basic health care benefits and a livable wage, and not promising the bulk of one’s hours of the day in exchange is asking for payment now, knowing that tomorrow’s payday will likely not come, no matter what has been promised.  It’s not a matter of entitlement or who worked, or is working, harder.  It’s a matter of recognizing the way things are and demanding respect in our economy.  We all value meaning and leisure and joy; the “youngsters” know to ask for it now, at the same time they are working hard and working well.  They are creating the opportunities, too.  While we baby-boomers are still trying to make the transition, let’s watch and take notes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.