Growing up in Pittsburgh, I saw my share of playground fights. Most were minor scuffles and nothing was like the bullies here in Washington trying to win the brawl over the budget by throwing a single knock-out punch.

This shouldn’t be a fight. Not because the issues at hand aren’t worth fighting for, but because we are all suffering and we should be seeking common solutions.

In the wake of this economic crisis, IPS piloted a new program to support small “Resilience Circles.” These groups of 10-20 people enhance personal security through connections, exchanges, and networks. “Helping each other is at the heart of the experience,” program coordinator Sarah Byrnes explains. “Little exchanges…help us slowly stretch our muscles for helping each other. They create relationships that can prove essential when hard times fall.”

The Circles remind us all that by helping each other, we can climb out of crisis. This weekend, over 1,500 house parties are planned. Sign up for one, join the conversation, and become part of the solution.

While millions of Americans suffer economic distress, leaders in Washington seem to be both deaf and blind to their situation. This week, IPS helped lead the Caring Across Generations Congress that brought 700 people to Washington, DC. Many participants briefed lawmakers, including Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on the hardships facing an aging population and the workers that provide home health care for them.

With Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block, the crisis for seniors and people with disabilities is becoming as urgent as the crisis facing the workers who are caring for them. “By addressing both sides of the caregiving relationship there’s an opportunity to affirm shared values and find solutions that can address the needs of all,” writes IPS expert Tiffany Williams.

Reporting from the conference (and hosting a panel as well), GRITtv host Laura Flanders noted, “The Campaign, one of the most remarkable coalition efforts yet, has a plan: value caregivers, forge good jobs out of bad, give quality home health care to those who need it — and create two million jobs while you’re at it!”

From Main Street to Wall Street, IPS is proposing new ideas and concrete solutions to the crisis. Keep an eye out next Tuesday for a new report from the New Economy Working Group, “How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule.”

No matter what agreement is reached in Washington in the coming weeks, our economy won’t improve without all of us working together. The Institute’s campaigns, by putting people at the center, fight the economic downturn with the strongest weapon available: love.

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