Winter 2006 Volume 10 Number 1
The Philanthropic Initiative, Inc.
THE TUESDAYS @TPI FORUMS
The Tuesdays@TPI Forums
provide a national audience the
opportunity to participate in
substantive debate on important
A NEWSLETTER ON STRATEGIC PHILANTHROPY
issues that are having a profound
impact on philanthropy and on
society.The goals for the series
are to dig deeper into these issues,
to generate and disseminate
vitality and confidence
new ideas, and to provide a
forum for peer exchange. Along
in the World We Want
with engaging a live audience
and expert panel, the moderated
discussion facilitates interaction
among participants across the
COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION IS ABOUT MORE
country through a Web stream
THAN INSTITUTION BUILDING. TO BRING BACK
and teleconferencing format
CHATTANOOGA, A CITY LONG DOWN ON ITS LUCK,
that has included polling, Web
chat and call-in questions. THE LYNDHURST FOUNDATION FOUND WAYS
WGBH, Boston’s public broad-
TO PUT VISIONARY EXPERTS TOGETHER WITH
casting station, films and makes
ORDINARY CITIZENS TO CREATE PICTURES OF
available to viewers a video of
THE FUTURE THAT PEOPLE WERE ABLE TO
the session, via the WGBH
Forum Web site. To view, go to AGREE ABOUT, EAGER TO WORK FOR, AND WILL-
ING TO INVEST IN. JACK MURRAH, PRESIDENT
and click on Philanthropy.
OF THE LYNDHURST FOUNDATION JOINED PETER
KAROFF, FOUNDER OF TPI, FOR THE OCTOBER
THE 10-MILE RIVERWALK NOW
LINES THE BANKS OF THE
25 TUESDAY@TPI OPEN FORUM DISCUSSION:
TENNESSEE RIVER THROUGH
CHATTANOOGA. SWITCHBACKS COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION–SUCCESS STORIES
PROVIDE HANDICAPPED ACCESS
AND HARD LESSONS LEARNED. THIS WAS TPI’S
ON A STEEP GRADE.
SEVENTH TUESDAYS@TPI FORUM. IT IS PART OF
THE WORLD WE WANT PROJECT, AN ENCOMPASSING
DIALOGUE AND NEW BOOK THAT FOCUSES ON THE
SEARCH FOR REAL SOLUTIONS THAT WILL LEAD TO
A BETTER WORLD.
Jack Murrah, president of the Lyndhurst Foundation, was born in
rural Alabama in 1949 and graduated from public high school in
Birmingham in 1966. He attended Vanderbilt University, where
he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1971. He earned
a master’s degree in English from Middlebury College in 1983.
Between 1970 and 1978, he taught high school at the
Alabama boys’ reform school, the Chamberlain-Hunt Military Academy
in Mississippi, and Baylor School in Chattanooga. In 1978 he
joined the staff of the Lyndhurst Foundation, where he has served
as a program officer, executive director, and, since 1989, president.
In recent years he has served on the boards of the National Center
for Family Philanthropy, Rural School and Community Trust, Public
Education Foundation, Community Impact of Chattanooga, and the
Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
The Lyndhurst Foundation, had its beginnings in the regional
philanthropic activities of its founder Thomas Cartter Lupton.
Lupton’s wealth had its beginnings in the bottling of Coca-Cola.
Back in 1899, Asa Griggs Candler, who owned Coca-Cola, was
unconvinced it would succeed as a bottled drink. He focused his
attention on fountain sales and sold the exclusive rights to bottle
From Coca-Cola the beverage to Lupton and two other Chattanooga lawyers for one
dollar. For Lupton and Chattanooga, it was money well spent.
to Community Guided by his son John T. Lupton, the foundation in
the mid-’80s directed its energies to the city’s effort to revitalize its
downtown and riverfront, to enhance its arts and cultural life, and to
A short history improve it schools and natural environment.
During the past 20 years, the Foundation has played a
of the Lyndhurst leadership role in spurring downtown revitalization, assembling
civic and institutional support for various community investment
Foundation strategies and building city-wide capacity for development.
AS MANY AS 100 COMPREHENSIVE COMMUNITY-BUILDING INITIATIVES HAVE BEEN LAUNCHED IN THE
U.S. OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS. THESE ARE HOLISTIC COMMUNITY-BASED APPROACHES TO NEIGHBOR-
HOOD REVITALIZATION THAT ADDRESS A WIDE RANGE OF INTERRELATED ISSUES – SOCIAL, EDUCATIONAL,
ECONOMIC, PHYSICAL AND CULTURAL. THEY SEEK TO TRANSFORM NEIGHBORHOODS BY ENCOURAGING
ACTIVE PARTICIPATION BY RESIDENTS AND BY STRENGTHENING THE CAPACITY OF ORGANIZATIONS
AND INSTITUTIONS. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT COMMUNITY BUILDING EFFORTS, VISIT THE COMMUNITY
BUILDING RESOURCE EXCHANGE, WWW.COMMBUILD.ORG , A PROJECT OF THE ASPEN INSTITUTE.
SEE ALSO TPI’S INITIATIVES, “BUILDING NEIGHBORHOOD, A PLACE TO CALL HOME,” AT WWW.TPI.ORG.
PETER We are working with two words, community and revitalization. Peter Senge, MIT
organizational guru, has said community is a field of shared meaning – it can occur in church or
temple, or at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Community is obviously neighborhood, town, state and
nation. Community implies pride of place, of being part of something. It is spirit, engagement, and
in this country it has meant citizenship.
Revitalization. Communities will always need renewal, and work, and to be part of the
flow where things happen on multi-levels. The challenge is how to galvanize the yearning that exists
in every community to make it a better community.Thinking about the World We Want project,
we realized that such a world begins in the community we want.And we thought of Jack Murrah.
Jack is president of the Lyndhurst Foundation, Chattanooga’s second largest foundation.
He joined Lyndhurst 25 years ago, and he has been an important part of one of the most successful
come-back city stories in the nation. Jack, give us your elevator speech of what has happened in
JACK How many floors do I have? Chattanooga is a small city of 150,000 people with
a metropolitan area about three times that.Twenty-five years ago, it was a city that had little
visibility beyond its immediate region, whose economic foundations were eroding and whose
social fabric was fraying. It had been a major industrial center, one of the few in the south.
At one point it had the largest percentage of residents engaged in manufacturing of any city
in the US, and Walter Cronkite declared it as being the dirtiest city in America in 1969.
Today it’s a city that has confidence and a new spirit of continual renewal, but we really had
to hit the wall before we took charge of making it better.
PETER What is your definition of community?
JACK For us, community is place, the city as a whole, not an institution of shared interest
or a particular neighborhood.We had a place where a lot of institutions were doing fairly well,
struggling to do a little better. But the chairman of my board, a very challenging boss, knew we
were not going to become a better city by helping a few institutions to do marginally better.
You can’t make a great city out of a good and improving art museum or a set of fairly good prep
schools. Chattanooga had these, and his family had been associated with them for years. It was a
real break for him to say,‘There is something about the city as a whole as the context within
which things thrive or fail to thrive that has to be addressed.The tools for doing that are not
immediately obvious, but that is what I want this foundation to be about.’
Lyndhurst’s founder,Thomas Cartter Lupton, was a fairly private fellow whose
philanthropy was relatively conventional. Mid-20th century Chattanooga had a group of affluent
people who had inherited wealth from the buccaneer entrepreneurs of the late 19th and early 20th
century.Their task in life was not to lose it.They were interested in preservation rather than innova-
tion. A Presbyterian minister in town helped them figure out their philanthropy, mostly supporting
key institutions, the United Way, and their churches and schools. It suited the times, but it was just
holding things together. Anything fixed dies unless there is new blood, new ideas and new energy.
THE NEW ADDITION TO
His son, Jack Lupton was cut from a different cloth than his father- conservative, but with
THE HUNTER MUSEUM OF
AMERICAN ART OVERLOOKING great flair, energy and drive. Still, he was an unlikely source, not trained in or familiar with creative
THE TENNESSEE RIVER. philanthropy. He had only the vision and broad outlines of a community that was very different.
PETER You had taught with his son-in-law, who became executive director; you then became
the program director, and the founder father said,‘OK guys go to it.’
JACK Yes, and we said ‘So, what would that look like?’ And he very quickly said,‘That’s not
my job, it’s yours, and either you or your successor will figure out how to use this philanthropic
institution as an agent of community revitalization.’
Back then, Chattanooga was a city flat on its back. In 1980 the unemployment rate
Coaxing was 2 to 3 percent higher than a very high national unemployment rate. Now it is 2 percent
lower than a relatively low national unemployment rate.There has been a slow and steady climb
even as we have shed jobs by the thousands. Manufacturing has all but disappeared; virtually no
out a major employer in town is a manufacturing concern, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to how wages
and family incomes have held up and how unemployment has actually gone down.The economy
vision is dynamic in less visible ways, and that is a good thing.
Many cities have tried to undertake a visioning process, and have failed.Vision as a catalyst
for both unity and hope became the hallmark of Chattanooga’s recovery. It took some
unconventional steps to get the process going, and Lyndhurst played an important role.
JACK The first thing we did was go ask some people outside of Chattanooga, who cared
about cities and were observers of cities, to come and give us a read on how people felt about the
place, a sense of the fears and hopes.That was step one.
Our consultant told us we had a city that was divided and discouraged.‘It knows it
has a past but doesn’t know it has a future. It’s looking in the rear view mirror to try and find
direction for where it is going, but all it can imagine is a restoration of something we know is not
And then he told us to do a very unusual thing. He said,‘First of all, your community
needs to regain a sense of public confidence in its fellow citizens.Throw a party.Your city is afraid
to have a party, people are afraid to be with strangers, afraid to be downtown.’Throw a party in
the middle of downtown.
It was a crazy idea, and a former mayor of our city took a colleague of mine by the
lapels and said,‘What you are planning to do will set this city afire.’That shows how depressed we
were, how little confidence we had in our ability even to assemble for a public celebration. But it
came off without a hitch.We had five evenings of wonderful music with Sarah Vaughn, B.B. King
and other artists.Thousands of buoyant citizens came downtown to an empty block on a summer
evening with no vandalism and no disorder, and each night the crowds grew. So did our confidence
and belief that we shared common ground.
The next suggestion was to create an organization that would facilitate civic initiative,
which was not exactly clear to us, but sounded right.The first thing that group needed to do was
to come up with a very open-ended, structured process to help people look forward to see what
kind of a city they wanted to be 10 to15 years out.‘Don’t ask them what the problems are because
they’ll go to quarreling and blaming,’ we were told.That process engaged a couple thousand people
in a series of meetings over six months.We had never had 50 people participate in one meeting
There was no organization in town that the public would trust to host such a process,
not even government, so we created one, the Chattanooga Venture.We paid all the costs of the
first three years’ operations. Its board had 60 people drawn from all the sectors - labor, business
owners, school people and others.Work boots and dress shoes were under the same table. Just the
formation of that board said to people,‘this is something new.’
Fifty of us served as facilitators, helping people have conversation. My colleague at
Lyndhurst, Rick Montague, went on a word-of-mouth odyssey seeking out people who could
help us get a grip on what was happening in our community. He was a member of the Venture
board, but Lyndhurst’s role as funder was not that visible.We did not want it to compete with
other organizations’ resources.We wanted this to be a temporary entity for the community to
use to help get something new going.
It operated effectively for three years and less effectively for another three. Sometimes
something is created for a particular purpose and, when that is over, it will search for a mission.
Happily, we figured that out and it is part of our history.
The product of Chattanooga’s visioning process was a set of 40 goals that
covered a wide span of projects.Without set priorities, there were many
conflicting interests, but Murrah and Lyndhurst did not quietly ‘slip out the
back.’ They felt, instead, deep commitment to change over the long haul.
JACK We knew that people would become suspicious of how priorities were set, so, we
just put them all forward.Wherever there was energy, resources, and leadership willing to go to
work on any one of the 40 goals, the Chattanooga Venture was there to help set up meetings,
find consultants, raise money - it was opportunistic.
In the beginning, Lyndhurst Foundation did not foresee the visioning process driving
our own agenda.We expected the community would go forward with it, and we would move on.
But, you cannot ask people what they want and then not honor what they have said.We had to
find some way to make these things happen to keep it from being an exercise in futility that would
further depress the community.
PETER As in every city, you have a mayor and corporate leadership, you have foundations and
neighborhood associations.This process that you’ve described sounds quite organic, as opposed to being
driven from the top down or the bottom up.
JACK Between the top down and bottom up approach there is always a little friction,
and folks who are accustomed to practicing one, usually are not fond of the other. Movement
both ways often works best. On this board there were six different funders, neighborhood
leaders, representatives from city government, the police department, the school system,
neighborhood housing and neighborhood services.We thought all of these voices were critical
to the success.
On the other hand, the funders didn’t come in and say,‘We don’t really know
anything; we don’t want to drive this in any way.’ In my view, that is a disingenuous posture.
You do have thoughts, you do have visions of your own, and it is best to lay them out and
welcome others to lay theirs out as well.That way, you find the things you can work on
that everyone feels are important.
Some of these things were physical changes in the city.We have cleaned up the air.
We have created a world class riverfront park that stretches 10 miles and ends in a fabulous water-
front park downtown. New phases continue in the completion of that big plan, born in the early
‘80s. It envisioned the waterfront as honoring and belonging to the public, and the park being
built to the highest standards. For a community by-in-large not wealthy, a $120 million waterfront
park is a hard thing to create.We are the fourth largest city in Tennessee, but we had the lowest
per capita income. For the public sector to commit itself to doing a world class public project
was for us an identity changing event. It said we are a ‘can do’ sort of place.
On another level, our public school system is now on an upward trajectory. It has
taken a good long time, but over the last four or five years, we’ve seen significant improvement
in student achievement, system wide. And the achievement of children in high poverty schools
has gone up fastest, so the achievement gap has been cut nearly in half over five years.
Now, that has stirred some anxiety among suburban patrons of the school system.
They are not sure but what the unfair share they are used to getting might be unfairly given to
someone else. So there is tension around making progress for everyone and a little more progress for
others.Also, the city and county systems were merged and there was fallout, but we got through it.
A new culture of collaboration JACK I chaired a planning
process not long ago that got
Perhaps the biggest change in Chattanooga is the new culture of collaboration. experts, professors, merchants
and residents of low income
The expansion of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a good example. housing together to say what
they would like to see happen.
It sits on one side of a four lane highway into town and a traditional and historic The university wanted a new
engineering building there,
African American business and residential community sits on the other side.The
but the neighborhood said an
university had always been wary of crossing that line, and folks on the other side engineering building would not
do one darn thing for them.
were ambivalent about whether they wanted the university to cross that line or not. It would be a foreign and isolated
entity.The neighborhood said,
‘Put your student housing here.’ Now, that was not what the university wanted to hear.They were
frightened that their students would not want to live in that housing. But to listen is to obey, and the
university said OK, that’s what we’ll do.
PETER You have written that communities are most healthy when they are whole.We have
race and class silos everywhere, we’re a nation divided. How does a community become whole?
And if you can make a community whole can you make a nation whole?
JACK Well sure, if you’ve got long enough. I think there is a kind of ambivalence in the
words whole, unity, community, integrity. Some people see a gated community where the houses
sell within $20,000 of each other and say,‘that is a place that is whole’.The elements are the same
and it has a certain purity of form.That is a vision of wholeness that I think is deadly. Unity
incorporating diversity is another way to think about these words. Integer, or one, may be the root
word of integrity, but integrated also comes from that word.
At the upper economic level, we’ve got crosswalks between silos that folks can walk.
But there are fewer walkways between people who are less well off and even fewer that run
diagonally. Upper middle class whites and ill educated Spanish residents and new
comers don’t congregate.There are no crosswalks where they might get to know
one another.This is a hard thing.Yet the truth is, while communities are full of dif- Following the Forum, some participants
expressed their views in a TPI survey on
ferences and conflicts, people also have an overriding sense of being of that place.
eliminating poverty. Selected comments
appear throughout this publication.
What does the term community
‘PLACE-BASED’ GETS DOWN TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD LEVEL revitalization mean to you?
Chattanooga received national accolades as the come back city in the late
Helping improve a community by giving
’90s. But as Murrah says, community renewal is neither a short term residents and local stakeholders the
tools to make their communities safer
nor a long term proposition; it is a permanent collaborative enterprise.
and healthier. Many advantages come
JACK By the late ’90s Chattanooga had become a darling of the press.We from helping people do it themselves,
were getting all sorts of kudos for the revitalization of downtown and all the other including sustainability of efforts.
changes. But we said,‘Lets don’t believe all the flattering things they are saying about
us.Where is the unfinished business? Where is our city not yet shining, and who in
Broadly based citizen engagement
our city is still in distress?’
influencing public decisions and policies
So, we spent 18 months talking with civic leaders, fussing and arguing and
that create opportunity for all...it is
doing some research that really stimulated us. Studies said that people who are likely
to drive without seat belts are also people who are likely to drink and drive, smoke, reclaimed & restored citizen sovereignty.
and experience family violence. High risk behaviors tend to be clustered in certain
individuals.We tried to sort out the meaning of this and decided that the behaviors
showed a certain pessimism about the future, not necessarily a reckless confidence.
Then we looked at neighborhoods, places within our community that had a number
of social ills they wanted to address.We saw there needed to be some placed-based work that was
not citywide, but neighborhood wide.Very quickly, six different funders - the city of Chattanooga,
the United Way, the Community Foundation, private foundations and the Public Education Fund
each agreed to put $500,000 into a pot.There was no budget, no organization, nothing but a
shared commitment to form a partnership with distressed neighborhoods, and to figure out how
partnering with them could help them become better places.
Some of the funders were uncomfortable, and to some extent still are, sitting at that
table and being responsible, along with others, for the success of the enterprise.We said,‘It is not
an arms length transaction, if it doesn’t work you don’t get the privilege of saying they failed. It’s
we failed and we have to make it right.’We are learners in this process, not judges. In my mind
that is the best collaboration we have pulled off in Chattanooga.
Citizen power is not
CHATTANOOGA’S COOLIDGE PARK
FROM THE WALNUT STREET BRIDGE
JACK A citizen is a person who has
made a commitment to be of a place and to be
engaged in the welfare of that place. A citizen
is more than a resident. A lot of philanthropic
organizations keep an arms length relationship
with the field of non-profits.They are wary of
conflicts of interest and all kinds of counterpro-
‘ Those who would be leaders ductive dynamics. But, deep engagement is a risk we are willing to take because we
will not get anywhere at arms length. Some national foundations work in commu-
must first be citizens, those nities in the hope of creating great change, but move on too quickly. From what
we have learned, that is not a practical option.We are of this place and we will be
who would act wisely must of this place when this mayor goes and the next superintendent comes. I’m not
sure you can do effective work in a community unless that is your commitment.
know more than theory and
PETER A consistent criticism of philanthropy is that it tries to do effective work
do more than talk, those who
on overly short cycles.Three years is considered long, yet that is often unrealistic.
would make a difference must JACK The Northwest Area Foundation, which is doing some very interesting
work, has made 10-year commitments to a number of communities, not just
put much at risk. Murrah
’ particular institutions within those communities. Community revitalization is a
permanent enterprise. It requires energetic attention, from now on.
spoke about what that means.
PETER Do you think a funder can play a role in the renewal of a place, be a
citizen of a place, and be anonymous? Or do you think you have to be out there?
JACK There are two great moral traditions that surround philanthropy. One is modesty and
the other is accountability. Modesty says you don’t boast of what you’ve done, you work invisibly
behind the scenes, and I think that is a genuine moral principle. But if you want to make community
change, you have to let it go.You have to go out front and tell folks what you are doing and let
them tell you what they think.You also have to learn to recover time and again from hurt feelings.
PETER Pushback is part of the game.
JACK It’s a learning experience. So, I’m not sure that you can really engage in this kind
of broad community continual renewal without being public about it.We don’t necessarily grab
headlines, but we don’t seek to cover our tracks.
PETER Speaking of pushback, I’m reminded of an experience I had, in 1968, of having a chair
thrown at me by the Vice President of the Boston NAACP. Steve Crosby, who has served on the
Cabinet of two Massachusetts governors, is here and can vouch for me, since he was in the room.You
have to learn from that pushback if you want to play in the public sphere.You need some courage.
JACK A friend of mine told me,‘Community is not a storybook village. Community is a
pain in the ass.’ (Laughter) It’s just a place where there is conflict, there is disagreement, competing
interests, and there is no simple fix.
People sometimes talk about philanthropy empowering others, but I’m not sure power
is all that transferable. Different people and institutions have different kinds of power, and if they
can bring those forms together you get more power. All parties can grow in their power.
For instance, five years ago I could not go into the Highland Park neighborhood in
Chattanooga and have one iota of credibility. I was an unknown and probably suspect character.The
woman who is the head of the neighborhood association had a lot of power within a certain context.
Highland Park had lots of out migration and slum lords moved in.You wouldn’t
necessarily want to live there.You could not be sure that your property would hold its value, or
your children would be safe on the street, or they could get a good education.
The people of Highland Park wanted it to become a different place, but they couldn’t
quite do it with the power they had.The Lyndhurst Foundation couldn’t quite do it with the
power it had, nor could the city of Chattanooga. But, when all those folks were willing to come
into a room together and figure out how to apply the various resources and influence we all had,
Highland Park could become a different place. I’m more powerful, and I use that as an honorific
term, Lyndhurst is more powerful, and Highland Park Association is a more powerful player in the
continued on page 9
affairs of its community than it was before.
To shed light on its success, Lyndhurst Foundation was invited to be part of a study done for the Annie E. Casey
Foundation. It examined eleven foundations actively engaged in place-based community change initiatives. All are
located in the communities they invest in, and each has
committed support for at least five years. They are
A STUDY OF PLACE-BASED INITIATIVES highly engaged in the community development process,
well beyond their roles as funders.
Community change remains challenging
Specifically, the study looked at Lyndhurst’s
work for foundations, despite the promising involvement in the Martin Luther King neighborhood
of Chattanooga where it played a direct role as a
story of renewal in Chattanooga.
strategic developer of housing, parks and other
physical infrastructure; and it supported nonprofits
in the development of leadership, affordable housing and education projects.
The report, “Moving Forward While Staying in Place: Embedded Funders and Community Change,”
published by Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago with support from the Annie E. Casey
Foundation, can be obtained at www.chapinhall.org.
The study found that the foundations shared some significant common practices and motivations:
s Civic Motivation: They are motivated by a civic commitment to work in their hometown regions and believe that
local focus can increase the impact of their philanthropy.
s Strong Community Relationships: They strive to build relationships with community
actors that are long-term, intensive, diverse, respectful, and transparent, encouraging
honest feedback and communication. These relationships are at the heart of the work.
We all know that grassroots involve-
s Adaptive Operating Approach: They learn by doing and strive to be responsive to
changing circumstances; as a consequence they tend to have dynamic decision- ment is important. At the same time,
this requires power and resources
s Varied Investment Forms: They rely on complex strategies and a diverse array of
from others. How does one navigate
financial and non-financial investments.
community change within the reality
of that tension?
The research pointed toward the advantages of this form of philanthropic practice in
helping to resolve the challenges facing the community-change field. These were not You navigate openly and truthfully,
without a down side, however.
ensuring that the criteria justifying the
Working locally enables foundations to bring a rich array of resources,
change are faithfully met. Integrity of
based in part on their local knowledge, relationships and reputations. However, the
process has parity with the change itself.
layers of relationships, personal and professional, can be awkward for funders.
You remember, if successful, credit
Foundations lose some independence and detachment.
The long-term investment allows them to reach for larger impacts and belongs to others, never to you because
to gain cooperation from others inside and outside the community, things that only that is the truth. The good feeling that
can happen over time. Opportunities and capacities can dictate the pace of the effort
lifts the spirit comes from your helping
rather then external, foundation-driven timetables. However, a foundation can feel
others do for the good of all.
“anchored” to a community, there may be opportunity costs, and it can be difficult to
develop an exit strategy.
With great sensitivity and patience. Some
Finally, direct involvement in the change work allows foundations to
observe and respond quickly to changing community circumstances, to foster more creative bribery can help the process.
instrumental interactions, maintain commitment and attract others to the effort.
However, the foundation’s direct involvement and intense relationship with the community
can give it a disproportionate influence over the effort and create dependency rather than build the capacity of other
Other foundations that were part of the study are: Cook Family Foundation, C.F. Foundation, General
Mills Foundation, Haas Jr. Fund, Jacobs Family Foundation, James Ford Bell Foundation, Price Charities, Seabury
Foundation, Steans Family Foundation, and Zeist Foundation.
Courage ‘There are moments when you cannot love without dissent,’ Murrah wrote
for the World We Want. Karoff asked him,‘Have there been any difficult
to be controversies where you or Lyndhurst had to stand and be counted?’
counted JACK Two episodes come to mind. In the first, we were supporting the symphony in an
effort to build up the number of full time orchestra members.They went ahead and hired more
musicians before they had new revenue sources, and we worried about where that was headed.
I told the director they could not use the leverage of the Lyndhurst Foundation’s grant to push
the musicians union to make compromises.We did not want it to appear that the symphony was
using the Lyndhurst Foundation as a union busting force.Well, they went right straight down
that road, so I wrote a letter to the editor saying I was pretty dissatisfied with out partner, the
symphony. Unfortunately, it made the front page of the Chattanooga Times.
The chairman of the symphony board quickly followed up with a hostile letter to
the chairman of my board - a tough guy, but a man of extraordinary right gestures. He wrote
back that he had passed the letter on to me where it should have been directed to begin with.
He might not have approved of my actions, I could have been more prudent, but he left the issue
between the chair of the symphony board and me.
PETER No triangulation allowed. I like that.
JACK In the later episode, the United Way was doing strategic planning at the time the
Supreme Court ruled on the Boy Scouts’ case, allowing the organization to exclude gay people.
I didn’t intend to start a crusade, but I simply raised a question: At what point does the behavior
of your funded agencies become a threat to your organization? Do you stand for things that your
funded agencies need to know about in order to head off potential conflicts? In a memo I said the
issue with the Boy Scouts had sparked this question, and I acknowledged that I myself was gay so
they could decide whether to discount it or not.
The memo fell into the hands of a right wing blogger in town, who believed it was
evidence that the homosexual elite had a secret agenda for America. For the next three months
there were letters to the newspaper both attacking and defending what I had said. My board just
wanted it to go away; well, so did I!
But, I went to work on
my own behalf because of the larger
consequences. I believed my board should
For a revitalization effort that aims to be
stand up for me publicly because, if
inclusive, visionary and achievable, what
it was silent, people would not know
is often the single biggest obstacle?
what to interpret, and it would put other
people in our community at risk. So
our Presbyterian chairman signed a great Getting the powerful and the powerless
letter saying that Lyndhurst has never
at the table of mutual respect.
been so ‘precious’ that it chooses not to
touch any part of our community, and
The sure belief on the part of those
that we are willing to engage and work
with the greatest power that they
with everyone. Lyndhurst did not plan
to withdraw its connection with any know what’s best for everyone else.
organization because of its views, but
it told others clearly where we were
coming from. It was a lovely thing he
did, (and I made him do it!)
AUDIENCE QUESTIONS ON LESSONS LEARNED A PUBLIC PLAZA SURROUNDS THE TENNESSEE
AQUARIUM, ONE OF THE FOUR MOST HIGHLY
STEVE JOHNSON,VICE PRESIDENT,TPI We have several
VISITED AQUARIUMS IN THE U.S.
questions from our virtual community, the first one from our friend
Martin Lehfeldt, president of the South Eastern Council of Foundations:
I understand how the work can be exciting and energizing, but, practically
speaking, what techniques do you use to sustain the community conversa-
tion over the long-haul and how do you keep bringing new voices into
JACK If it was still up to the Lyndhurst Foundation we would have
run out of gas long ago. Others have happily come to own this commit-
ment and this mode of operation, so it is truly a culture now.That doesn’t
mean that there is no longer a place for Lyndhurst Foundation.There are
still places where the community is hesitant to go, and we’ll want to
check to see if there are people who are willing to go there. Many people
have in their fiber a desire to seek a better world, and that’s the good news.
I’ll vouch that in no time in history will we be able to say,‘it’s all done.’
PETER But more practically you do need some winds, you need a sense of progress, and
it isn’t always there.
JACK There is almost always some low hanging fruit, something that can be accomplished
that gives people a sense of momentum. For 10 years, people had been trying to develop a safe
place for victims of family violence.The culture of Chattanooga clung to the idea that family
violence was a family matter, not community business. People kept running into roadblocks.
But it became one of the 40 goals, and in six months they raised all the money for the building
and the first three years operating fund.There is a legitimizing and energizing that can come
from a visioning process that helps you get some projects done quickly.
ONLINE Where was the media in all this?
JACK The man who founded the Chattanooga Times, Adolph Ochs, left Chattanooga and
bought the then struggling New York Times in 1912.The Ochs-Sulzberger family is legendary in
the newspaper world. Adolph Ochs’s granddaughter is publisher of the Chattanooga Times, a
newspaper that had real aspirations as an agent of regional progress.
Nevertheless, this paper and another more conservative one were initially part of
the pessimism about Chattanooga. I will never forget the news coverage of our first riverfront
festival, a meager first step, but we had a festival and we had fireworks.The lead in the story in
the Chattanooga Times the next morning was how one person had to go to the hospital because
she got a cinder in her eye. I read it and thought,‘We can’t win, this community cannot believe
in joy and the future!’That is all very different today.
ONLINE In my community there is no Lyndhurst Foundation.What can we do to jumpstart
community revitalization here?
JACK Southerners tell stories, so here is another one. People from New Haven, Connecticut
came to Chattanooga to take a look at our change process. After three days of meeting people,
visiting organizations, and checking out work, they said,“We don’t have a Lyndhurst Foundation.”
The head of our downtown development organizations said,‘You give us Yale, we’ll give you
They couldn’t see their own asset. Every place has assets. Chattanooga had three quarters
of the charitable assets of the state of Tennessee in 1980, when the city was going down the tubes.
The presence of assets is not a guarantor of renewal. It is all about how those assets are being used.
ONLINE You had the diminution of home offices, a long rough spell with industry
leaving.What was the role of the business community in these renewal efforts?
JACK We had large employers, we’ve had people who were making money, but the
business sector has not quite gotten into the game of community renewal. Part of that is
the loss of citizens, corporate citizens.We have corporate residents, the banks are corporate
residents. I’ll get a lot of grief for this when I get back home, but it’s what I see.They
do not have a of stake in doing work that takes 15 or 20 years.We say,‘If you want your
schools to be better, plan on a long term engagement,’ and they move on to a different task.
A WHIMSICAL WATER
SCULPTURE IN COOLIDGE
PARK IN CHATTANOOGA’S PETER Is there not enough pressure either from employees, or customers, or the
NORTH SHORE DISTRICT, community, or the leadership to go in another direction?
NAMED FOR LOCAL MEDAL JACK Not yet, but tomorrow!
OF HONOR RECIPIENT
CHARLES H. COOLIDGE.
DAVID SQUIRE,TPI BOARD What has happened to the population since
you started 25 year ago? Also, since you are spending much more than 5 percent of your
endowment, how are you renewing it, or is it going down?
JACK With respect to the population, we are not a boom town, but there hasn’t been a
huge emptying out.The metropolitan region is growing at a slightly less than the average pace
for the country.The city is pretty static at around 150,000 people, down from a high of about
165,000, and some of that has been through annexation. In the last decade there has been a little
upturn in the growth within the city.
In respect to the endowment of Lyndhurst Foundation, the donor left the question of
whether it should be permanent or not up to the trustees.The way we look at it is to think about
where the resources will produce the most gain - inside our house or out. In the late ’80s, when
we were spending double the 5 percent payout rate, there is no question but that those resources
grew in value for our community because we put them out the door.
For the long haul, community renewal rests on the generation of new wealth that is
willing to engage in the philanthropic enterprise. So it is a bit of a hedged bet. Only one of the
third generation of the Lyndhurst Family still lives in Chattanooga. At some point in the future,
family members, when they have the means, will have the opportunity to add to the foundation’s
resources and perhaps separate a piece off of it to the place where they now live.There are two
parents of this institution, one is family and one is mission.These two elements of its character are
separating, and there is no way they can be permanently reconciled. So we will try and find a way
to honor both legacies, encouraging new giving and having a foundation that probably loses some
of its touch with the family and becomes a local institution with a non-family governing board.
Lyndhurst was a $60 million foundation when I started there in 1978, and it is about
$170 million now. So, it has not dwindled away. If we had not spent as rapidly as we did, we might
have $250 million today, and Chattanooga would be a poorer city. (Lyndhurst is one of three
foundations in Chattanooga with assets greater than $100 million).
PETER It is interesting to look at the question of payout and where those moneys are best
utilized for the mission. Is it the time to grow, or is it needed in the community now? In the TPI
experience I would say about half of the more than 200 families we’ve worked with have a strong
view that foundations should go on forever, should be immortal, but the other half are planning to
spend to sunset the foundation.
STEVE CROSBY, CCI/CROSBY You set up a civic governing body when this all began, the
Chattanooga Venture.And then it outlived its life.What is the civic leadership structure now, who sets
the agenda, what gets new projects going, who makes priority decisions, who sets the stage?
JACK It’s all over the place, which is great. Lots of people believe that democracy
is about more than having the right to choose elected officials; it is also about the freedom to
involve yourself voluntarily in initiatives to promote the public good.We have a lively civil society
in Chattanooga.We did not 25 years ago. I am by no means saying Lyndhurst was the sole inspiration,
but we do now have a pretty healthy community.
It is true, though, that sometimes something comes along that requires priority setting.
Two years ago we were looking at an aquarium that wanted to do a $30 million addition, an art
museum that needed a $10 million addition, one group eager to extend the waterfront, and
another that wanted a new park downtown. A wonderful thing happened.The mayor called all
those entities together and said,‘I will raise the private money, and I will get the tax revenue for
this, if you will all put it together as one package and you will commit to getting it done in the
next three years. All your architects have got to work together, and the public infrastructure has
got to be done in a way that is compatible.’
He decided if we are going to try to do all those things we were more likely to sell
it to the people as a package rather than a set of competing interests. Our mayor of 20 years ago
would never have done that, he would not have had the chutzpa.
PETER The mayor was obviously a terrific leader, but there was something in the way that things
had evolved that allowed him to be that leader.The entities were confident enough of not losing
their hold on their own influence, their connections, their donors lists.That was an amazing collaboration!
JACK A couple of elbows did get disjointed.
ONLINE Can you tell us about a really big blunder you and Lyndhurst have made that might
hold lessons for other social investors?
JACK I’ve learned my lesson about the consolidation of organizations.We’ve had a couple
of runs at mergers that have just been humiliating failures and left very bad feelings all around.
In one case, we looked at a nature organization that had an educational program and money, and
another organization that had land and wanted to offer education, but didn’t have the money or
skills. Perfect marriage.We put $150,000 on the table and said,‘You all just come together, form
one organization and you will get all this money.’ And, 18 long months later, they
told us to take that money and… You know, that was a unilateral gesture, born
out of what we thought was rare insightful wisdom. Now we’ve had some
insights along the way, but unilateral gestures are just arrogant.
What is the most important role(s)
PETER There is the dynamic between the foundation as the resource with that a foundation or donor can play
ideas, opinions, and tacit influence, as you mentioned earlier.At the same time the
in such an effort?
hubris that sometimes exists can make things very lopsided. Much of the com-
plaint in philanthropy is that organizations must rise to the bait, no matter what,
Research: Listen to and understand
because they have no alternative.
what is important to the community.
JACK Humility is the greatest challenge and asset you can have for doing
work. Have you ever thought about why Hamlet could not move from thought Deliberation: Frame and report the
to action? I think he was arrogant; he wanted to accomplish more than a man in issue in a form that invites deliberation
his position could. He wanted not only to avenge his father’s death, but to make
and consensus resolution. Action:
sure his murderer went straight to Hell.Well, there comes a moment when you
Facilitate prudent implementation.
have to say that’s not mine, I don’t get to decide. Once you get over the excessive
desire to control, you can break through the impasse and get something done.
To listen carefully and to be willing
LESLIE PINE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT,TPI Some of us think to take risks with “their” money.
about tipping points, the subject of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, in our own work on
social issues. I’m curious if there was some point along the path to Chattanooga’s
renewal, where things started to escalate or take a positive turn. If so, what led to that?
JACK I think Gladwell might argue that these things are usually more complicated, but the
completion of the Aquarium was one of those events that put us on the map.
The New York Times wrote about us, then Sports Illustrated and Parade Magazine. The New York
Times is not necessarily smarter than the Chattanooga Times, but a story there means more than a
feature in the local press.That was a kind of cultural tipping point. Our confidence that we could
do something grew into confidence that we would keep doing it.
But there is more to it.This cultural transition has happened inside the city of
Chattanooga.The city makes up only half the county population. Our city council is fairly unified
and progressive, but our county commission is at each other’s throats. It reflects, I think, their
failure to get to a sense of a future, one they believe in and are willing to work for, that incorporates
the success of Chattanooga. Instead, they are in a state of distress over the revival of the city.
Their vision was ‘city past, suburbs future,’ and it’s taking them a while to get over that.The
political consensus is always slower to come than the public consensus.There was a lot of feeling
in Chattanooga that we were on the move long before we were able to recruit and elect a person
to run for mayor who reflected that public consensus.
PETER It is common that the public is in one place, and the elected officials are somewhere else.
JACK If we could take the two political parties and move them away, America could go
some where! (Laughter) You ask the people of Chattanooga if they think things are going in the
right direction, and overwhelmingly they answer,‘Yes.’You ask the people in America the same
question and they say ‘No.’ Part of that is that the politics have made us feel absolutely stuck.
ROBERT HOHLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
MELVILLE CHARITABLE TRUST Have you seen the
whole process of revitalization drawing new talent into the city
as a result of the investment you have made in culture, arts and
crafts? I’m thinking of Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative
Class, in relation to the change in the composition of the city.
JACK Our young people are coming back, and we can
document that. Once, they saw Chattanooga only in the rear
view mirror.They didn’t see opportunities for themselves, and
they just didn’t like the look and feel of the place. Now they are
creating their own economic opportunities.This generation is
not looking for the major company where they will work for
THIS BRABSON HILL HOUSE, AND OTHERS REHABBED BY CHATTANOOGA
the next 30 years. Our unemployment rate has fallen dramati-
NEIGHBORHOOD ENTERPRISE, PROVIDES LOW-INCOME TENANTS WITH
cally, outpacing the national improvement and you can’t easily
MUCH IMPROVED HOUSING AT REDUCED MONTHLY RENTAL RATES.
account for that except to cite the growing spirit of the place.
ONLINE Other than Lyndhurst, who
are the other funders who are doing
exemplary work in community revitalization?
What is the most important or
(See Study page 8.)
PETER The Annie E. Casey Foundation, interesting thing you took away
with whom TPI works, is certainly one national from the Tuesdays@TPI forum?
foundation seriously committed to helping
communities become stronger and more
A sound democratic process is essen-
whole. I think it has shared many of the
tial to meaningful change. Humility
lessons that Lyndhurst has learned, especially
is an essential leadership virtue.
staying on for the long course.The Carnegie
Foundation is also doing things in Wise and courageous leadership can
Chattanooga, along with the Annenberg
indeed be a catalyst for change.
Foundation, that will hopefully be long term.
I have a final question, Jack, after hearing all you have said.What makes you do this
work? There is a wonderful insight from Bill O’Brien who ran Hanover Insurance:‘The success of
the intervention is directly dependent on the inner condition of the intervener.’ Can you tell us
something about your inner motivation?
JACK Probably the most important event shaping my adult life occurred when I was a college
dropout suffering from the first of several bouts with depression. I was a junior, making all As, and
I had to go home. I just felt hopeless about the future - as you do when you suffer from that sick-
ness.There were no drugs, and shock treatment didn’t help. I tried working in a burger place and
couldn’t function.They fired me after three days.
Near my parents home, there was a boys reform school where I began to teach.
In that sad forsaken institution, it never occurred to me that those children couldn’t learn.
And it turned out they could. I had 14-year olds, who could not write their names, writing
letters. It was not that I was a particularly good teacher, I just treated them like they could learn.
It gave me a personal confidence about the capacity of people, people who are largely written off.
Later on I taught in a prep school and, frankly, the biggest difference between them and the kids
in the reform school was the size of their parents’ checkbook. Many were virtually cast off by
overly busy parents. So I’ve agonized over cast off people, and now I sit in a privileged place.You
spoke of courage. Everybody in philanthropy ought to recognize that we’ve got the easiest place
in the world to exercise courage. So, I guess I’d simply say, if you don’t want to use your power,
get out of the way and let someone else do it.
PETER Baba Dioum, who works for change in Senegal, said,‘In the end we will conserve
only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we
are taught.’ Jack Murrah, thank you for being our teacher.
TPI has found that donors can play many key roles in community based efforts.
In addition to financial support, donors can participate directly in planning
and implementation. Contributions that can be of great value include:
NEEDS ASSESSMENT - Document the conditions, needs, assets of families
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE - Help neighborhoods acquire skills to enhance
their long-term organizational capacity
FACILITATION - Convene, organize and mobilize people to give voice
to individual views and shared visions
ADVOCACY -Work to align government and the private sector with the
interests and activities in the community
EVALUATION - Strengthen local capacity to measure the effectiveness of
INCUBATION - Make flexible funding available to seed innovative
approaches and to leverage additional resources
TPI has seen that successful community-building initiatives draw people
together through an inclusive process that encourages a positive sense of
community and self-worth. Neighborhoods themselves must want change,
envision change and work for change if the effort is to succeed.
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