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Four R.E.M. Lyrics that help me in my work

February 4th, 2020 by John Fitterer

I grew up listening to R.E.M.  It was the song “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” that first grabbed my attention.  To me, Michael Stipe’s lyrics where bizarre, political, angry, poetic, and inspiring.  Peter Buck’s guitar playing had a whimsical spirit to it that carried a great melody.  Somehow it all came together beautifully.  Now as an adult, while I still listen to R.E.M., it’s often for the nostalgia, to bring back wonderful memories of hours spent with my friends when this music was both the central reason for hanging out, or just the background sound to a road trip.  On the surface, maybe it’s strange to write about how a song’s lyrics are applied to my job, but they’re stuck in my head.  They come back to me when some odd connection is made.  Somehow it just works.

Below are four R.E.M. lyrics that drift into my consciousness from time to time:

“If wishes were leaves, the trees would be fallen.  Listen to reason, the season is calling.”

The song “Stand” is corny, but it’s still stuck in my head.  It was on the radio so often that you couldn’t get away from it.  All of that aside, these lyrics come to mind when my colleagues or I start to go off on wish lists of new features, new projects, reports, or anything, I guess, that seems unrealistic, at least for the present.  To me, it’s mental shorthand.  When they come to mind, I know it’s time to come back to reality.

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“Practice, practice makes perfect.  Perfect is a fault and fault lines change.”

The song “I believe” from Life’s Rich Pageant is a top five R.E.M. song for me.  This song held some magical powers that were unleashed each time I listened to it.  I hear these lyrics in my head a lot.  I can’t say that I understand them entirely and that in a way makes them even more powerful. That said, I think it’s mostly a way of saying, “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”  Like the lyrics from “Stand,” it’s a way of keeping me grounded and not getting stuck on every Oxford comma that is missing in our newsletter.  At a certain point, you need to move on to other work.

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“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”

This song continues to have a life long after its release in 1987 on the album Document.  It seems to make the wasteland of media and pop culture into a happy place with its fast-paced rant.  I’m far from alone in finding social media, the news, text messages, volumes of emails sometimes just blurring into one insane cacophony of senseless noise.  During a recent communications training in which I participated, I learned that it takes 11 engagements with someone for a message to be received.  That’s a lot of communicating.  When I’m feeling particularly pessimistic about successfully conveying a message, I’m fine…fine.

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“When the world is a monster.  Bad to swallow you whole.”

“Can’t Get There from Here” from Fables of the Reconstruction works for me when big projects feel even bigger because I haven’t started them yet.  If I start on it, the scope becomes manageable and I can sink into the act of doing the work.  Again, I don’t pretend to understand what the lyrics meant, if anything, to R.E.M., but they just pop into my head.  Also depending on the size and scope of a project, sometimes the work is more like a marathon and not a sprint.  Taking small steps is a great way to a get started.

Music is fundamental to me and my understanding of our world.  I listen to music throughout the day.  Often, particularly at work, it’s Baroque or contemporary minimalism that’s playing in the background.  Even so, R.E.M.’s music introduced me to political discourse/discord, lyrics as poetry, and new ways of sharing with others.  It’s no surprise that they’re still with me after all these years, still winding their way into my day-to-day work routine, and not diminishing as powerful and wonderful memories of my youth.

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MACDC Notebook Archive

December 2nd, 2019 by John Fitterer
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CITC AWARD WINNERS

October 25th, 2018 by John Fitterer

This summer, MACDC announced the Community Investment Tax Credit Awards to celebrate the collective power of community leaders, community developers, and our partners to leverage and to build thriving communities. The awards were presented to three organizations at MACDC's 2018 Convention on Saturday, October 20th. The submission criteria was a 2-3 minute video that highlights a successful program/project that was launched, or expanded with CITC funding.

Here are the three award winners!

ASIAN CDC  |  NEWVUE COMMUNITIES  |  REVITALIZE CDC

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Read Senate President Chandler's Remarks at MACDC's 2018 Lobby Day

April 27th, 2018 by John Fitterer

On Tuesday, April 24th, Senate President Harriette Chandler spoke at MACDC's 2018 Lobby Day.  Her powerful remarks addressed the affordable housing crisis, how we must do more to address this challenge, and how zoning statutues need to be revisited.

"If just one family cannot afford to live in Massachusetts, then we have failed our collective responsibility to fairness, and have failed in our pursuit for economic prosperity," Senate President Chandler.

Here are her remarks in PDF format.

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Eastern Bank Renews $300k Community Investment Tax Credit Donation for 2nd Year

July 12th, 2017 by John Fitterer

 

Boston, MA -  Eastern Bank has announced that it will award $300,000 in grants for the second year in a row to Community Development Corporations (CDCs) across Massachusetts participating in the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program.

“Eastern Bank continues to be an incredible supporter of CDCs in Massachusetts,” commented Joseph Kriesberg, MACDC’s President.  “CDCs will use this support to expand economic opportunity in local communities across Massachusetts.”

Organizations involved in the CITC program have deepened their community engagement, expanded their programming, and increased their impact.  In 2016, these organizations engaged nearly 2,000 community leaders to achieve the following results:

  • Homes Built or Preserved:  1,195
  • Job Opportunities Created or Preserved:  3,903
  • Small Business Assistance Provided:  717
  • Families Served with Housing, Jobs, or Other Services:  70,840
  • Invested in Local Communities:  $489.6 million

“Eastern Bank is thrilled to continue supporting CDCs through the Community Investment Tax Credit program,” remarked Gary Leach, Eastern Bank Senior Vice President, Community Development Lending Group Head. “Eastern Bank is committed to supporting organizations working within low- and moderate-income communities.  The CITC increases the impact of support and helps ensure the long-term revitalization neighborhoods and town in Massachusetts.”

The CITC program provides a 50% refundable state tax credit for donations between $1,000 and $2 million.  Because the donation is refundable, organizations, such as foundations and donor advised funds, can support CDCs across Massachusetts through the program as well as individuals and businesses.

 

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CDCs provided 4,591 One (Soft-Second) Mortgage Recipients with Pre-Purchase Education between 2004 - 2015

January 21st, 2016 by John Fitterer

Over the past 11 years, CDCs across the Commonwealth have provided critical training and educational services to future homebuyers.  Pre-purchase education for prospective homebuyers is a vital resource that helps people not only prepare to purchase a home, but also helps qualify them for the One Mortgage, formally Soft Second Loan, program.

Check out the table below to see the number of individuals who not only graduated from a pre-purchase homebuyer course offered by a CDC, but also used the One Mortgage or Soft Second program to buy their home. (Source: MHP)

One MORTage (soft second) HOMEBuyers who received

PRE-PURCHASE education from CDCs

Oak Hill CDC 540
Neighborworks of Southern Mass  504
HAP Housing 485
Allston-Brighton CDC 432
Lawrence CommunityWorks 413
Urban Edge 324
NOAH 292
Valley CDC 267
Housing Assistance Corporation 260
Community Teamwork, Inc. 229
Worcester Comm Housing Resources  162
Arlington Community Trabajando 131
SMOC 116
Nuestra Communidad    66
WATCH 58
Springfield NHS 50
Asian CDC 49
Worcester East Side Comm Dev 49
NewVue Communities 47
Somerville Community Corp 44
Viet-AID 41
Hilltown CDC 32
TOTAL 4,591

 

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With Community Investment Tax Credit, MHIC Dramatically Increases Support to CDCs

January 5th, 2016 by John Fitterer

In 2015, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) reached a new high in supporting community- and neighborhood-based organizations by donating over $400,000 to 31 CDCs, Boston LISC and MACDC with two-year contributions.  This level of support was only made possible by MHIC’s commitment to use the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC).  MHIC, as a nonprofit investment and lending organization that focuses on the critical shortage of affordable housing across the Commonwealth, has financially supported CDCs since its founding in 1990.  Now, through the CITC program, MHIC is also able to help CDCs grow their operations through this valuable financial tool.

“The Community Investment Tax Credit enables MHIC to provide further support to our partners on the ground in communities of greatest need across Massachusetts,” commented Joe Flatley, MHIC’s President and CEO.  “We’re thrilled to be a leading investor in CDCs through the CITC program in 2015.  It’s an additional resource for us to use that ensures CDCs continue to provide critical services in the neighborhoods and towns in which they work.  We strongly encourage more businesses, individuals, and foundations to use the CITC program to power their donations to CDCs.”

“MHIC’s support of our field has been phenomenal from the start.  It doesn’t surprise me that Joe and the team at MHIC would use the CITC program to further support what CDCs are doing. This is an organization that knows how to invest wisely and help revitalize our most distressed communities.  And that’s what the CITC program is all about,” concluded Joe Kriesberg, MACDC’s President.

The CITC program continues again in 2016 with an additional $6 million of credits to be allocated by the Commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development.  To learn more about the program, go to https://macdc.org/how-it-works.

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Dorcester Bay EDC announces new CEO

December 11th, 2015 by John Fitterer

On Friday, December 11, Dorchester Bay EDC announced the hiring of Perry Newman as their new CEO.  MACDC welcome Perry to the CDC community here in Massachusetts.

Below is an excerpt from the press release:

"The Board of Directors of Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation is pleased to announce our hiring of a new CEO, Perry B. Newman. Over the course of a career in business, law, government and non-profit leadership Mr. Newman has created economic opportunity, advanced understanding of public policy, and brought clients and stakeholders together. He represented clients in the public, private and non-profit sectors in efforts to achieve objectives in diverse cultural environments, and also brings to Dorchester Bay extensive experience as a consultant, speaker, and author on matters relating to economic development, international business, and politics."  READ MORE

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CITC: By the Fundraising Numbers

July 15th, 2015 by John Fitterer

The numbers are counted, tabulated and recorded:  In its first year, the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) is a clear financial success for CDCs, the Commonwealth and, most importantly, Massachusetts residents.  As individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits from the outer beaches of the Cape to the rolling hills of the Berkshires learned about this new program, CDCs began to use the tax credit not simply to invite their historical supporters to increase their giving, but also welcomed hundreds of new donors to support their work. The Community Investment Tax Credit gathered speed through the second half of 2014, and concluded by generating $2.7 million from new donors. Overall, $4,709,998 was raised last year through the program. Critically, for every taxpayer dollar allocated toward the program, the Commonwealth realized $2.00 in community-directed donations, including $1.43 in totally new funding not previously available. While these are perhaps the biggest fundraising successes recorded for the first year of the CITC program, the details yield even more positive results worth sharing.

At first, MACDC staff were most concerned that CDCs with rural service areas would be the hardest pressed to execute effective fundraising strategies. After all, if the towns in which you work have no large corporations or foundations and just a few thousand people, it can be hard to raise money. But we were thrilled to be wrong. Hilltown CDC, for example, which has a service area sandwiched between the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires had several donors step up to make contributions of $1,000 or more whereas in the past they had only donated a few hundred dollars. CDCs on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard found incredible success too by reaching out to members of their community, even seasonal residents. This is not to overshadow the incredible fundraising efforts from CDCs in Boston and the Gateway cities, but the expectation, at first, was that urban communities, given the greater density of individuals, families and businesses, would find it easier to roll out a new fundraising initiative.

Patterns of how CDCs issued their credits are hard to identify as individuals, families, banks, businesses and nonprofits all participated. While one CDC had one donor consume all their credits and another had a handful of foundations use the tax credit to increase their grants, most CDCs found a balanced mix of individuals, financial institutions and local businesses, as 65% of all funds raised came from these two taxpayer categories. Sixty-seven percent of all new donations came from individuals and families, which raised 47% of all new revenue generated through the program in 2014. The average donation from individuals and families was $3,189.37. Of the 1,014 donations made last year, 610 were from individuals and families.  With this fundraising success, the CITC is achieving one of its fundamental goals of measurably diversifying the overall funding base of CDCs.

Additional highlights of the CITC program’s first year include the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley raising 23% of the total raised in 2014 or close to $1.1 million. We also estimate $250,000 came during the last week in December and that most donors made their donation in the 4th quarter of the year. This isn’t unusual, but it’s new to CDCs who are accustomed to budgeting their fundraising activities upon a grant and service contract schedule.

Notwithstanding all of this success, there is room for improvement. Not surprisingly, as a new program, the CITC got off to a slow start during the first half of 2014 and most donations did not arrive until the final quarter. A total of 79% of the credits available in 2014 were consumed. While these credits carry over to 2015, it means that CDCs will need to increase their collective fundraising by more than 200% in 2015.

If we were to draw a conclusion from the fundraising numbers for the first year, it would be that the tax credit is working and CDCs are stepping up to the opportunity that it brings. The public/private partnership model inherent in the CITC is poised to lift up new opportunities for neighborhoods and families across the Commonwealth.

Taxpayer Type # of donations % of donations $ donated % of Total raised % of $ from new donors
Construction 47 5% $220,240  5% 3%
Accounting Services 23 2% $61,200  1% 1%

Transportation

/Communicat./Utilit.

3 0% $19,000  0% 0%
Wholesale/Retail Trade 20 2% $99,500  2% 1%
Finance Institution 89 9% $1,092,650  23% 14%
Insurance/Real Estate 41 4% $158,000  3% 2%
Business Services 22 2% $40,190  1% 0%
Health Services 8 1% $24,741  1% 0%
Legal Services 24 2% $64,950  1% 1%
Education Services 3 0% $8,000  0% 0%
Individuals 610 60% $1,945,518  41% 27%
Other 124 12% $976,009  21% 8%
Total 1014 100% $4,709,998 100% 58%
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Mel King Institute Celebrates with 6th Anniversary Breakfast

June 30th, 2015 by John Fitterer

The Mel King Instiute had a wonderful annual breakfast complete with testimonials about their impact, a moving poem from Tufts students about race and the immigrant experience in America, and a insightful keynote speech by DHCD Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay on thinking about present problems with a mind towards future ones. The program ended with a recited poem by the Institute's namesake, Mel King. 

Thank you again to all our sponsors including our presenting sponsor, Citizens Bank! Our work would not be possible without your support.  

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