The first 20 years
Twenty years is everything! Within that chunk of time you either make it or break it. You build up, or you destroy; or worse, you loiter and waste a lifetime of pure, priceless time. Here at AL DIA we know that.
"What some people are beginning to call the 'AL DIA Miracle, from 5th Street to Market Street,' I prefer to call the old-fashioned American deed of simply overcoming in the face of challenges"
An old Argentinian tango's lyrics admonish us that "20 years ain't nothing, babe."
Those who have lived them already, twenty-somethings (the average age of the current AL DIA team), or those who lived the first 20 a while ago (like the senior leadership within your organization), know well that the tango lyricist was just taking poetic license to make a statement half funny, half phony.
Twenty years is everything!
Who doesn't know that?
Within that chunk of time you either make it or break it. You build up, or you destroy; or worse, you loiter and waste a lifetime of pure, priceless time.
Here at AL DIA we know that.
Above all, we know well "it ain't easy."
Is it simply an arduous journey in which you, a basic and soft piece of coal, could become eventually a 20-carat diamond?
The journey that took us all the way from the narrow 5400 block of 5th Street (not far from that part of North Philly one Philly cop once named the "Badlands") to the 1800 block of Market Street, in the heart of the financial district, is not the intention of this column (the first one I'm attempting to write in years).
No, the purpose is to clear the air, to convey the facts, to relieve those who have been given more fantasy than the truth (always simple and transparent) of how AL DIA came to be, and/or about who indeed we are.
We are not aliens, first of all.
We are the new blood of the city, or, more simply new U.S. citizens in this bountiful land, who — like the previous generations of immigrants — have transformed ourselves into loyal taxpayers, fellow citizens, engaged in the same principles in evidence on Market, Chesnut and Walnut Streets nearly 250 years ago in this same city.
What some people are beginning to call the "AL DIA Miracle, from 5th Street to Market Street," I prefer to call the old-fashioned American deed of simply overcoming in the face of challenges, of turning challenges into opportunities (in an act of both courage and humility) and of using our God-given talents to leave mysterious and unique fingerprints of goodwill on the rest of the creation which — as in the marvelous movie "Gravity" my family and I watched recently — is orbiting around with more velocity than speed.
Nothing is extraordinary, except our nature as marvelously crafted human beings — that divine architecture everyone has been granted for free, and that we are also free to use, or waste.
I am stating the obvious: the genetic blueprint is there for everyone to find and activate and, by doing so, turn ourselves into a blessing for somebody else, in a natural chain reaction that can transform an organization, a neighborhood, a city, very likely a county and — why not?— an entire state. Our nation? That is beyond our scope.
We love Philadelphia as much as we love the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state in the Union that has sheltered us since 1991, when AL DIA was neither the U.S. corporation nor the American foundation it is today, but just an idea in the mental galaxy of its idealistic but willful founder.
Gods willing, we now move on to our next 20 years with more confidence.
Like people say in this "City of Brotherly Love:"
"You ain't seen nothin' yet, babe!"