David B. Crowley's blog

Social Capitalist in Chief & Other Election Notes

Tom Sander does a nice job on his Social Capital Blog articulating the significance of Tuesday’s election for those of us focused on social capital and civic engagement. He notes that after reaching all time lows a decade ago, voter turnout approached, and perhaps surpassed, the all time highs.

Clearly there are signs the tide is starting to turn on civic engagement, with the significant youth vote being especially heartening for me. Motivated by what at the time was low youth interest in politics and other forms of participation beyond volunteering, the Youth Council was the first program we established when we started SCI seven years ago. One of my favorite Youth Council projects is the one where the youth facilitate debates among candidates for local office at the local high school. Read more

Voting Tips from MassVote (Non-Partisan!)

A bit scary that 8 years after the contested elections of 2000 there are numerous reports questioning if we'll be able to get a clean, accurate count of the vote in some key swing states.  I'd like to go to sleep next Tuesday knowing who are next president will be, but alas, that once again may not be the case.

MassVote is a nonpartisan organization promoting voter education and participation.  They have produced these nonpartisan voting tips that look like a great reference for voters, especially those new to the process.  While we might not personally be able to prevent hanging chads in Florida, going into the polls well informed of the process can go a long way to helping ensure our votes are counted.  With a large turnout expected, their suggestion to try to vote early if possible is worth noting.

Happy voting!

An Ounce of Prevention Conference Presentation

A big crowd was on hand for today's Ounce of Prevention:  Power of Community conference sponsored by the Mass. Department of Public Health.  It's good to see so many people interested in preventative approaches to important public health issues, and certainly building social capital fits well within this context.

I co-presented a workshop today with Dave Weed of Healthy City Fall River on "Using Web-Based Technology to Organize, Publicize and Promote Healthy Communities".  We had a good showing of people interested in the topic so I promised to upload my presentation here for people who didn't get a copy or who come across this post and are interested.   Note the file is 3,977 KB.

Click here to download the presentation.

Now more than ever, we need social capital

During these challenging times, the underlying premise of SCI, that we need each other, has never been more salient. The calls of people looking for help and resources are getting more frequent. Just yesterday my day started with a call from a colleague looking for resources for a teen needing support to stay in school.  When times are tough, we get through by leaning on our friends and neighbors. When those supports aren’t there, it’s even harder to get by. During the coming months, we’ll certainly be tapping the social networks we’ve developed over the past 6 years to help strengthen the local connections that will help us all navigate the road ahead.

The times also underline the importance of teaching the value of looking out for our neighbors. The SCI Dorchester Youth Council is once again readying to collect canned food through the annual Trick-or-Treat for Canned Foods they initiated several years ago to replenish food pantry shelves in advance of the holiday food drives. The Woburn Youth Council has routinely done a coat drive as the weather turns cold. Read more

Social Capital Featured in Aha-Moments

Last week Bill Sherman featured an interview with me on his blog, Aha-Moments.  Social capital features prominently on Bill's interesting blog, which covers a wide range of subjects related to his consulting practice in the high-tech sector (not to mention his wide ranging reading list!).  Aha-Moments first caught my eye when I came across, his post about social capital helping one to find a better job.  More recently he poses the question, "Are social networks like a fishery, software code, or muscles?"  Definitely some interesting reading there!


Social capital helps you find a better job

When talking about the importance of social capital, I often reference research such as Mark Granovetter's "Strength of Weak Ties" article that talk about how our social network helps us find jobs.  The underlying premise of these studies is that the broader our network, the more likely are we are to hear about good jobs, get referrals to opportunities etc.

I came across an interesting twist on this research on Bill Sherman's Aha Moments blog.  Here Sherman summarizes a new study by Bonnie Erickson (see Sherman's post for citation details) which suggests that employers actively seek to hire people who have high social capital, as they value the relationships that a new employee might bring to the company.

Add this to the list of "why social capital is good for you"!

Boston Civic Summit a Success

Clearly civic engagement has arrived as a major issue.  700 people convened in Worcester last November for the Mass. Civic Engagement Summit and now 400 spent their Saturday at yesterday's Boston Civic Summit.  Co-chaired by City Councilor Maureen Feeney and James Rooney of the Mass. Convention Center, yesterday's event united civic activitists from across Boston's neighborhoods. 

I was only able to attend part of the day due to other commitments.  Ron Bell, Governor Patrick's Director for Community Affairs, got the lunch crowd energized with his remarks.  Tom Sander, Executive Director of the Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America, effectively related concepts of social capital to the concerns of the neighborhood activists in the room.

Interactive technolog used by America Speaks to facilitate the afternoon session allowed participants quickly get a sense of who was in the room and their common ideas and concerns.  I had to leave early but am looking forward to hearing more about the final results of that "21st century town meeting". Read more

Rebirth of American Civic Life?

Harvard Professor and Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam has an interesting opinion piece in todays Boston Globe. Putnam's work describing the decline of social capital and civic engagement garnered a lot of attention when it was published in 2000, and was a motivating factor in the founding of SCI. Now, in this piece, he describes evidence that young adults are the one cohort that has had a sustained increase in civic engagement since 9/11. He and others are suggesting this could even be the "New Greatest Generation". His article warns that this bubble could burst should the Democratic nominee wind-up being decided by party superdelegates as opposed to the popular vote. Here at SCI we leave the political commentary to others, but the increasing evidence of sustained civic engagement among young adults is certainly encouraging.

Dinner Day--A Social Capital Holiday!

Century Bank Hosts SCI Holiday Gathering


AmeriCorps Members Group Photo

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