America is another name for opportunity. — Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The U.S. has always been a nation of innovation; here, each individual is hailed as a pioneer, empowered by the foundational principles of freedom, liberty and equality. We are all invited to take advantage of opportunity and forge ahead.
But there have been many times throughout our country's history when this "American Dream" has been tested. Today, Americans face uncertainty in all aspects of life. The job market, the economy, the government —everything seems to be in a state of flux.
With the evidence of these trying times all around us, from the shuttered windows of once thriving businesses to the foreclosure signs on lawns all across America, the way we see ourselves and our communities has changed. The country stands facing a mirror, wondering what the American Dream means in 2011.
To explore this question, Patch is excited to inaugurate a new series for our Readers: "."
Looking out across nearly almost 900 Patch sites, we see businesses holding their breath deciding whether to expand, college graduates returning home because they can't find jobs, and senior citizens bringing boarders into their homes to help pay their bills. We also see bold new volunteer efforts, inspiring stories of local businesses that succeed because they innovated, and locals who've taken these unsettled times as a signal to engage more, not less, with their government.
Berkeley, it may be said, is a city accustomed to tumultuous times. Residents here have seen the winds of change blow fiercely, ideologies blossom and wilt, and the essence of the community ebb and flow with time.
Read our first story about , a Mexican immigrant who worked in restaurants for 31 years, washing dishes, cooking and bartending, before finally achieving his dream to become his own boss. Molina opened his own restaurant, Casa Bernal Taqueria, in Downtown Berkeley in June.
We want your help to create a picture of today's American Dream: Tell us what issues and stories in Berkeley speak to the heart of these changing times. What does your American Dream look like, are how are you striving to reach it?