Opinion

Federal Way fosters friends, fellowship and fun | Nandell Palmer

Have you ever discovered a new word and before the week is over, you’d see it in a newspaper or hear it on TV?

Since the beginning of 2011, I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard elected officials and laypeople championing the cause of men and women who have been “othered” by society. It is clear that the time has come for all of us to do our part in fostering more caring communities.

At the recent Martin Luther King celebration in Federal Way, Professor Carl Livingston Jr. of Seattle Central Community College delivered the keynote address. And what a speech that was!

Playing on the letter “F” in Federal Way, he brought unity to the event’s theme of “Building Community” with his creative alliteration. Federal Way, he said, was a fairway where people foster friends, fellowship with one another and have fun.

Building community and giving back to others is nothing new. But more and more, this leitmotif is gaining traction worldwide.

As part of his New Year’s message, British Prime Minister David Cameron called on his nation to become more involved in “the big society.” In a bygone era, that term simply meant good neighborliness when people helped one another without looking for any reward.

In Ireland, President Mary McAleese has outlined some of the strengths of the Irish people in the past, such as a dynamic community life sustained by a “meitheal,” a culture of good neighborliness. Meitheal is when a community unites through cooperative work and mutually reciprocal support.

“Sadly in today’s society, fearing litigation, people hold back from getting involved,” she said.

Sometimes it takes tragedies to bring home this point, like when President Obama recently addressed the families affected by the Tucson murders.

“We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order,” he said. “What matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame — but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.”

I was most pleased to see Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest and six of the seven city council members present at the MLK celebration, complemented by the chief and deputy of the police department. Other notable city officials were in attendance as well. King would be pleased, too.

When not executed right, politics intertwined with religion can be damning to people’s optimism about the future, but there’s an optimism at the grass-roots level that is powerful. It can create a harmonious relationship with every facet of society. Just give those people a voice.

Last Sunday, I dropped by Our Savior’s Baptist Church for the grand opening of its new edifice, which holds 530 people.

As Pastor Jeff MacLurg spoke, it was evident that his heart was with the community. He came up with this acrostic: WFGSO, which stands for Worship, Fellowship, Growth, Serving and Outreach.

For outreach, he implored his congregants to look beyond the four walls of the church and engage the community at all costs. He’s offering his sanctuary for community events. That is just profound!

Federal Way has so much to offer to our state, country and the world. Leveraging our diversity and creativity, our fair city will soon make its mark on the national stage.

Federal Way is home to some of Puget Sound’s most prominent doctors, professors, pilots, engineers, attorneys and other notables. We need to drive home the message that our city is the best location in Washington for turning smart ideas into world-class goods and services, sans Redmond and Bothell. Thank goodness it has already begun in Federal Way with the South Sound Regional Business Incubator.

The city’s gatekeepers must see to it that there is a paid cultural czar tasked with overseeing this vital balance. Such a role should not be left to chance. Seize the moment! A cultural commissioner should promote a cultural environment that stimulates economic development, cultural tourism and enhanced public participation.

The role should promote arts education in the schools and in the public domain that furthers the mission of the local government.

None of that can take effect when we look the other way on the tired, poor and huddled masses. I am hopeful that Federal Way is poised to become a city with which to be reckoned. I am happy that there’s no tariff on hope.

“Hope in the midst of turmoil cannot simply be starry-eyed optimism; it must be built on bedrock reality,” one quote goes. Now, we’re definitely on the move to creating a better Federal Way.

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