José Rico, co-presenter of the Upswell workshop “Leading and ‘Living’ Community-Led Initiatives,” is senior vice president of community impact at United Way of Metro Chicago. We took some time to get to know José better – including what motivates him, who inspired his journey to changework, and his hidden superpower!
Q: If you could change places with anyone in the world, who would that be and why?
JR: I would love to be in the body and consciousness of my kin seven generations ahead of me. We are all doing work that’s going to impact the generations ahead of us, and I would like to see how my lineage will fare as a result of my work. I believe the only way we can live a sustainable life is to take the responsibility our ancestors gave us and be accountable to those ahead of us. I want to hold myself accountable to the work that I’m doing now in neighborhoods by being able to see the impact that I and others have had in the work. I want to know how my lineage will talk about me as an ancestor.
Q: If you were President, what is the first change you would make?
JR: If I were President, I would make a siesta an official part of the work week – no work from 2pm to 5pm. We’d have a 30-hour work week, leaving us more time to be with family and build community in our neighborhoods.
Q: What’s a skill that you wish you could use more often?
JR: My ability to manifest things. It’s a power I believe all of us have, but only a few of us are conscious of or connected to, and we should use it for good! Imagine if we would all tap into our positive intentions to make a positive impact on a broader scale.
Q: Who had the biggest impact on the person you are today?
JR: My Abuela Guadalupe. She was the person who brought me back to who I am now, connected me to home, and is the reason I am doing the work that I am doing today. She made me remember my lineage and is ensuring that I do this work with the right intentions and based on original teachings.
Q: What’s one thing you would change about the social sector right now if you could?
JR: When we look at wealth in our country, we know, historically, it has been accumulated by a small percentage of people mostly through the appropriation of land, exploitation of people, and imposition of racist policies. Presently, more wealthy people are setting up foundations or controlling their contributions, further diverting funds from the public sector and grassroots nonprofits. If I could see one change, I would ask for a formal recognition that the legacy of wealth and philanthropy has created great inequity in our society. In the same vein, I’d ask for a commitment to release generous donations, with no strings attached, to begin healing the communities that have been impacted the most.
Leading and “Living” Community-Led Initiatives is happening Thursday, November 14 from 10:45-11:30am.