For those of us who grew up reading comic books about Captain America, Thor, Spiderman and the like, the last several seasons of blockbuster movies have mixed nostalgia with the latest in media experiences. Whether we have watched these movies in 2D, 3D or 4D, we’ve been amazed and, simultaneously, transported back to our childhoods.
Or at least I have been. I’ve been been fascinated by the way these characters continue to “work” for another generation of young men and women (and older ones, too) in search of a hero to admire.
Perhaps that’s most astoundingly the case with Captain America, so squeaky clean that the latest Avenger film, Age of Ultron, riffs repeatedly on his objection to mildly offensive language spoken by Ironman in the midst of the opening battle.
And then, there’s Hawkeye.
I don’t really remember much about Hawkeye from my youthful encounters with comic books. My parents banned comic books (we were to read real books), so my only opportunities to read them usually came when waiting for my piano lesson (!) and visiting the barber shop. Hawkeye didn’t feature prominently in the available collections I browsed. I have only a minimal impression of an interesting character with amazing technical skills as a bowman and funny, feather-life markings around his eyes.
But in Age of Ultron, Hawkeye comes into his own . . . maybe even steals the show. Hawkeye reminds us of what all the fighting really is for, and proves that one can be “super” and be just an ordinary Jane or Joe.
He also proves that, even in the 21st century, it is possible to have a secret identity . . . at least in Hollywood.
All of this comes to mind as I complete my first day in my own new identity, that of director for leadership development and education with the Florida League of Cities.
Much to the surprise of my academic colleagues, I resigned my position at the University of Tampa this past spring in favor of this opportunity. I left the familiarity (30 years worth) and security of the academy, classrooms full of young undergraduates and summers off (more or less) for the world of politics and government, for breakout rooms filled with professionals and neophytes in the business of municipal governance, and a year-round calendar.
What was surprising to my colleagues is only surprising because, in a sense, I’ve now revealed my true identity.
Professionally, what matters most to me is making a difference in the lives of others. I did that as a professor, to be sure, and it is a noble profession.
But I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work in direct support of the people on the front lines of public service. And I’ve been given some gifts that allow me to support them effectively in meeting the challenges of municipal governance in this very challenging time. And now, after years of squeezing those opportunities around my full teaching schedule, I have the privilege of devoting 100 percent of my time to their support.
That’s what FLC University is all about. And, now, that is what I will be all about . . . all the time.
There will be both expanded and new initiatives coming from FLC University in the coming months and years. But our first big launch begins this month, when the training center at the FLC offices in Orlando (grand opening Thursday, July 9) will host short training programs on a range of essential topics, from learning how to understand where others are coming from (and how to work with them) to the ins and outs of Florida’s complex, multi-layered system of government, from strategies for dealing with public hearings and presentations to strategies for dealing with social media. [A complete list of programs for July can be found at http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com/Events.aspx?CNID=15259 ]
It’s the beginning of a new adventure. And it’s a chance for me to work with the real heroes, the ordinary Janes and Joes, the Hawkeyes with unique talents who make our cities work every day.