Common Good Collective


This Reader is an expression of Common Good Collective, a vision for an alternative way, rooted in the act of eliminating economic isolation, the significance of place, and the structure of belonging. Whether you come at this from a place of economics, social good, or faith, we hope these reflections help orient your day in fresh, provocative, courageous ways. And most importantly, we hope these lead you into the sharing of gifts in particular communities—into co-creating a common good.

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Trading Our Capes for Quilts

In light of last night’s drafted Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. V. Wade, it’s important to understand the true historical context of such decisions. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Treva B. Lindsay, Ohio State professor and the author of America Goddam: Violence, Black Women, and the Struggle for Justice about latest book and how we can collectively overcome the violence wrought against us.

Treva Lindsay and Melissa Harris-Perry on misogynoir, poverty, and violence
By Courtney Napier

On a recent girls’ trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, my friends and I made the visual arts exhibit our final stop. I glimpsed the work of Bisa Butler out of the corner of my eye and ran towards it, giddy with admiration. Before me was Butler’s quilted portrait of Harriet Tubman, with her black velveteen hair and full skirt adorned with purple and yellow flora—an icon of liberation, wrested by the hands of Black women.

Just over my shoulder, the presence of a vacuous black space interrupted the triumphant moment. I slowly turned until I was face-to-face with Amy Sherald’s arresting portrait of Breonna Taylor, hanging in solitude in a blackened enclave. The people who stood in line waiting to both admire its beauty and pay their respects could not hold back their cries. In front of me, a Black teenage girl buried her face in her mother’s shoulder. My friend Gloria did the same in mine while she wept.

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Nurturing a Narrative

Author and entrepreneur Victoria Scott-Miller was an instant sister when we met three years ago. Interviewing her for this article illuminated another conflict that few consider — economic isolation and its impact on one’s purpose.

Nurturing a Narrative
By Courtney Napier

What would you do if you held a link to the humanity of a near-mythical figure in history? Through a serendipitous series of circumstances, Victoria Scott-Miller came to possess such a treasure, and it set the course for her future in an unexpected way.

Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, the Scott family lived a life surrounded by art and beauty. Father Victor Scott was a freelance photographer, plugged in to the opulent lifestyle of famous friends like Lena Horne and Al Jarreau. These relationships were exciting, but also opened him up to the world of drugs. By 1986, he and his wife, Pamela, had just celebrated their daughter Victoria’s first birthday and were expecting their second daughter, Jessica. If they were going to survive as a family, they had to make a drastic change. They left behind the life they knew and moved to Philadelphia to begin the road to recovery.

During a rummage trip to the basement of their new home, Victor Scott found a Bible trimmed in gold. His wife noticed right away that it was special. She pleaded with her husband not to pawn the book to satisfy his addiction, but after realizing that this was a losing battle, she insisted on at least keeping the thick stack of papers tucked inside.

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“This is what was bequeathed to us”

At first, I learned that a story was a series of conflicts, always this versus that. Later, I learned that a story was a series of disconnections and reconnections. These days, I’m pretty sure that both are true, but connection matters first and most. These animations speak to that.

“This is what was bequeathed to us”
By Gregory Orr and Taian Lu

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I went to grad school in downtown Chicago. The only draining part was the train ride home, which often included a combination of Pabst Blue Ribboned baseball fans and caffeinated stock traders on their cellphones. Both groups were all kinds of brash and oblivious to the rest of us riding home. My challenge:  to see these temporary neighbors with generosity. In this song, I think the speaker is getting curious about himself and the humans sitting next to him.











By Devin Bustin

You’re about to get an earful
Or even get a mouthful
And wouldn’t that suck?

You’re not
The only story at the bus stop
The only one who needs a day off
But you’re the loud one on the phone

I know
I’m the one who’s got the headphones
With the monologues of my own
But it’s the one that I choose

I’m not
Trying to keep you within earshot
So I’m applying earlock
To hear myself think

Take me
Where I can think clearly
And maybe
I won’t mind my mind

This city
Where everybody sits near me
And I’m learning how to sit beside myself

Tell me
Who’s the tallest in your family
Who’s carrying a baby
Who’s carrying grief

Me, I was an ocean in my past life
I don’t know why I look away
When people wave

© Devin Bustin. All Rights Reserved.

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Pádraig Ó Tuama on Finding Uncommon Ground

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a calm, kind presence. He welcomes strangers like lifelong friends. The word I’m looking for is disarming. In this conversation, Pádraig sheds light on many things, including his peace-building work in Ireland. If you’re short on time, skip to minute 24 and hear his description of reconciliation.

Pádraig Ó Tuama on Finding Uncommon Ground

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