President Jennifer Ford Reedy

Note from Jen: Building from tragedy — commitment to making our community better for all

May 30, 2020

It is always upsetting to witness racism and violence. It is particularly upsetting when the racism and violence is close to home. When it is our community. Our police. Our neighbor — George Floyd.

The video of the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week was appalling. It was chilling to watch a man treated with such disregard for his humanity — not in an instant but over several minutes. Not in a swirl of confusion but in a controlled situation with bystanders trying to intervene.

Many of us keep hoping that we have learned from past mistakes. We want to believe we are better than this. I’ve read and heard the killing described as “senseless” by a number of leaders. How do we make sense of something that is senseless?

The crescendo of community unrest in the last few days is an expression of how our communities are hurting and grieving, an anguished outcry about the treatment of our neighbor and those responsible for his death. Each time we have tragic police violence it exposes failures both in our systems and in our culture of community.

We have to fix the formal ways that people are supported by and held accountable in systems. We also have to work on the broader issues of trust and respect and build connections in ways that overcome bias and bring out the best in each other.

We are moving quickly with community partners to provide funding and support for immediate needs related to the crisis. We want to support community-led efforts to recover and heal, physically and spiritually. We’ll share more on that work soon.

We want to be responsive to the state of emergency in the community. We also know that when the current crisis abates, the underlying issues that led to the protests and created the conditions for the riots will still be with us. We know we need to continue to find other ways to help make our communities stronger and more equitable. There is still a lot of work to do.

The Bush Foundation exists to make the region better for everyone. We support communities to come together to solve challenges in creative and inclusive ways. We support leaders to think bigger and think differently about the change they can help make happen.

George Floyd’s tragic death reinforces and energizes us in our commitment. We believe that too many institutions and systems in our region don’t work well for everyone. We believe we need more leaders with the skillsets and mindsets to adapt those institutions and systems — to push for and support people through creative and bold changes, to create a future where every person can thrive. We believe we have the power and responsibility to make a difference and we are committed to supporting people and efforts focused on this throughout the region.

If you are working inclusively and collaboratively to make positive change for our region, please look at our programs to see if we can be of help to you now or in the future. Together, we can make our community stronger and better for everyone.