Welcome! Today is the first installment on my new blog. I’m excited about this venture – talking with you about some ideas I have and hearing about your own. I’ll be writing about public life, why am I so concerned about it, and how we can place it on an alternate path. To me, public life is about the relationships between and among people and how we individually and collectively act on common problems and hopes.

So much of public life has become about division, fragmentation and negativity; we spend more time pulling things down than we do figuring out how to move ahead. Just look at the current race for the White House. It’s all about “red states versus blue states”; how different everyone is from each other; and how the presidential candidates should spend their time on the 5 or 10 percent of undecided voters.

Sure genuine differences exist between people in the country; but you’d think different Americans are from different planets when you tune into some of the current analysis. Sometimes I think that the people who write and say these things haven’t spent much time in real communities.

One of the key lessons I take away from more than 15 years of working in communities with leaders, organizations and citizens is that people want to engage in public life, shape their future, and make a difference. There will always be differences among us; at issue is how we choose to deal with them. Right now, too many politicians, civic groups, pundits and others exploit these differences for their own gain, rather than engage with them in hopes of producing something productive for society.

What do you think? How divided are we? Are we able to transcend the differences that do exist? What will it take to create a sense of common direction?

I look forward to hearing from you. For my part, I’ll start commenting on these and other questions. There's lots to talk about -- and do.