Responsible Citizenship and Change

WUCA!-led communities are more open-minded, approachable, tend to have more newcomers, and they allow new people to make new ideas happen. Studies show U.S. state populations seeing growth have a higher percentage of newcomers than native-borns. A rural community that I once worked with told about a person who had moved to that community within the last two years. With three children enrolled in the district, she was at a school board meeting, and stood up to share her opinions on the issue at hand.

When she sat down, the lady next to her turned and told her that she had no right to talk at this meeting. The shocked woman asked why not. The woman replied that “she hadn’t lived here long enough.” Though she had children in the school, she'd only lived in the community a brief amount of time which, apparently, equaled her value and ability to contribute. In our town, we know people who moved to our community 30 years ago who still don’t feel they belong because their grandparents aren’t buried in the local cemetery.

As a leader, you need to look at your policies. Are they welcoming? As communities, counties, and states, do you allow newcomers to move in and do you embrace them? Yes, leaders love it when new companies come to town. There’s a ribbon-cutting for a new business,  a rousing welcome to all the new people to town, then, in a month, the excitement dies down and the new people that the community was excited about become  “those” new people with all those “strange” new ideas. Or sometimes you hear comments when they become successful, they must have done something “wrong” and “underhanded” to gain that accomplishment. Communities and people in general, have a habit of trying to pull successful people down to their level because there is a tendency to not like people who are doing better than they are because they have such low self-esteem.

Really, we often only like change if the change doesn’t affect us.

The result is that the future remains the same because people often refuse to take their role as responsible citizens to make change that is necessary. It’s hard work. It is messy. It requires talking to people. It requires acknowledging the world is not as black and white as we thought. Change requires slogging through the “gray” of an issue to see it through the eyes of another’s experience. Change requires that we may have to give up our way and do it someone else’s.

Remember that for every result that you want, there is a certain way of thinking, believing, and acting. You can change without improving, but you cannot improve without changing.

For your community, school, workplace, and organization to become "WUCA!-ized" contact

Frank and Kimberlee Spillers are the co-authors of "The Be WUCA! Way, The ART of getting along." Available at


Creating a Be WUCA! Community Includes the Youth

Today’s communities are concerned with keeping their youth and attracting young people to live work and play. Communities across the country are pursuing the same families so special attention is needed to stand above the rest. Businesses need to look at their policies and ask themselves if they are family-friendly. Making a Be WUCA!, family-friendly community begins with two criteria:

  • Provide quality early care and education facilities and;
  • Include youth in all community decisions.

Why should businesses and communities be concerned about their employee childcare problems?

Problems with childcare can adversely affect the job performance of working parents by increasing absenteeism, tardiness, turnover rates, and recruiting and training costs. These, in turn, can adversely affect productivity and work quality and ultimately the competitiveness of the businesses that employ these workers. A study done by AT&T of more than 5,000 of its employees found that 57 percent of the women and 33 percent of the men with children under the age of six had lost time from work in the preceding month due to childcare problems (Fernandez).

In the past, such problems with childcare would be of little concern to employers since few employees were affected and there always seemed to be other workers willing to take the place of those who quit. The labor market today and into the foreseeable future is radically different. The old problem of finding enough employment for rising numbers of workers is now being replaced by the new problem of locating enough workers to fill new jobs requiring technical skills generated by an expanding economy.

Research shows that work-family benefits have a direct impact on employee recruitment and retention. Vanderkolk and Young (1991) studied a small textile manufacturing company in the Southwest that was experiencing a 40 percent turnover rate. The turnover rate dropped dramatically to seven percent after the implementation of a childcare program.

It is critical that employers be able to attract and retain good, productive workers in order to stay competitive in the market. Given the changing composition of America’s labor force and the impact childcare problems can have on worker productivity, businesses should find employer-assisted childcare a cost-effective way to control labor costs and enhance worker productivity.

Be WUCA! Communities Create A Positive Vision for Its Young People!

At a time when many people feel overwhelmed by the problems and challenges facing children and adolescents, communities across the country need to discover new energy in working together toward a positive vision for young people.

Instead of focusing only on reducing risks and intervening in problems, communities need to rebuild and support the foundation of development all young people need.

Uniting a community to nurture the positive development of youth is much like playing in a jazz ensemble. Each musician must know the tune and listen to the other ensemble members; all players must improvise together--sometimes taking the lead and sometimes blending into the background. To create a community-wide commitment to youth, all the "players" need to be an ensemble working toward a common vision of what is needed to promote the healthy development of young people.

If you had a choice to live in a community that did not care about its youth or live in a community that engaged youth, into which community would you want to move your family? Think about it: all counties think they have great schools but I believe all parts of the community are needed to assist youth in education and to recognize as this is the place they wish to live or return with their families because of the importance that is placed on youth.