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SCI Woburn and St. John's Baptist Church to host Race Relations Forum

Logo of St. John's Baptist Church

St. John's Baptist Church, in collaboration with Social Capital Inc. (SCI) of Woburn, will be hosting a Community Forum on Race Relations on Friday, October 28 from 7-9 pm. The purpose of the forum is to discuss the state of race relations in the community as well as to identify steps to improve upon issues raised during the discussion. The event will feature a panel with a number of community leaders in the Woburn area, including Mayor Galvin, Superintendent Mark Donovan, and Rev. Dr. Neal Pearson. It will be moderated by Ron Walker from St. John's, along with SCI's own David Crowley.

Citizens of all ages are encouraged to come and participate in the discussion! It will take place at St. John's Baptist Church, located at 40 Everett St. in Woburn. If you have any questions, please contact Toni Walker at twalker@sjbc.info OR call 781-935-4314. 

Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays? A Social Capitalist Take

You are parting ways after a business meeting around this time of year, and note your colleague is pausing for a moment. They may well be thinking, “Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays?”, trying to summon an appropriate greeting for the season.

I know many friends are a bit frustrated that when they are excited about Christmas coming up, they need to filter their instinct to wish people “Merry Christmas!”. Saying “Happy Holidays” instead may feel like a watering down of an important celebration in the Christian tradition.Read more

Teaching 21st Century Skills By Practicing Them

Last week, Woburn Public Schools (WPS) Superintendent Mark Donovan stopped by the International Learning Center to meet the the student leadership team that is working with us to plan the WorldFest Woburn multi-cultural festival. These adult learners are recent immigrants from over twenty countries, participating in a wonderful program offered by the YMCA of Greater Boston.

During this meeting, we were exploring ways that the WPS students and their families could get more involved in the WorldFest event this year. Mr. Donovan embraced this idea eagerly, noting that there are now over 50 languages spoken at home by the WPS students. When I went to WPS over 20 years ago, I suspect I could have counted the number of languages spoken by students on my fingers. Mr. Donovan spoke passionately about how in our increasingly diverse communities and global economy, appreciation of different cultures and ability to work effectively across difference as a vital "21st century skill". That is for sure!Read more

The Week in Social Capital

The past week was one in which there were many interesting things to read and share related to our mission at Social Capital Inc.  Each of these probably warrants its own post; but I will consolidate here in the interest of time!  Each bullet point leads off with a link to the resource summarized here.

*Five Strategies to Revive Civic Communication Tip to paper authors: include SCI as a model in your paper and it will get priority mention here! This paper by Peter Levine is one of a series from the Aspen Institute that elaborates on the ideas initially proposed by the Knight Commission Informing Communities report. Peter's first recommendation is to create a national Civic Communication Corps, and includes a profile of SCI's AmeriCorps team as a model for the idea (see p. 18 for that part).  The paper opens with a good framing of the important role information plays in civic life, and some of the challenges posed by the changing media landscape. Read more

Boston Talks Race

"Boston seen as less welcoming to people of color than other cities" read the background screen at the outset of the Boston Talks Race program at the Boston Foundation (TBF) on Wednesday.

Anyone thinking this tidbit was going to being lightly explained away was clearly mistaken.  this became clear when TBF's Robert Lewis opened the program sharing his powerful story about growing up as one of 30 students of color at East Boston High.  Fortunately for our city, this trying experience, including the firebombing of his and other families' homes by a racist classmate, kindled in Robert a lifetime passion for bringing people together to make Boston better. Read more

How do you say leadership? Notes from Multi-Cultural Leadership Session 1

How do you say leadership in your first language?  This question kicked off an interesting discussion in our first Multi-Cultural Leadership Project yesterday.  Through this collaboration with the YMCA International Learning Center (ILC) in Woburn, I'll be training a dozen adult English language learners on leadership skills.  The students will be using the training to coordinate a WorldFest multi-cultural event in the community next spring.  They are very excited about the project, and the prospects of learning useful job skills while contributing to their new community.

Yesterday's group was representative of the diversity of the ILC, which serves students from 20 countries who speak 14 different languages. This brought a lot of different cultural perspectives to bear on our conversation about leadership!Read more

A Social Capitalist Take on the Gates/Crowley Incident

We talk a lot here at SCI about the value of knowing our neighbors. To suggest why crime rates are lower in neighborhoods where people know each other, I've often used the hypothetical example of seeing someone climb into the window in a home across the street--if we know our neighbors, we know whether to call the police or go help our neighbor get into his home. Now, in the incident with Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley (no known relation!) we have an unfortunate example of what can happen when we don't know our neighbors.

With good reason, race has been the dominant theme in the dialog that has followed last week's incident, but I'd like to explore the neighborhood angle along with the racial dimensions. Let me start with the obvious point that this incident could have simply avoided had the person who called the police had known Professor Gates was a neighbor. We aren't talking about being over for regularly for butter or bagels here, but even having met a few times and exchanged hellos walking in the neighborhood would have done the trick. Simple, right? Hold on...
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