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Boston University Hosts Public Health Symposium

On December 1, the Boston University School of Public Health held a symposium titled, "How Does Where You Live Affect Your Health?" The focus of the symposium was to explore the roles of the built environment and housing on one's health, and to evaluate the science behind studies and interventions that can improve the health of vulnerable populations not only within the United States but around the world. The event featured over a dozen experts and professionals within the field, each of whom had the chance to address the audience, presenting stories from the field as well as the findings of their studies.

Amongst those who spoke at the symposium were Ron Sims, the former Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Shakira Suglia, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. I highlight these two speakers because their talks focused not only on the links between neighborhoods and public health, but also on the importance of social capital and community networks.Read more

Local Social Capitalists Help Milwaukee Youth Succeed

Role models in our communities are vital to youth success

During my drive to the office this morning, I learned about an interesting Milwaukee neighborhood initiative that is taking a "social capitalist" approach to helping young black males. OK, the NPR story didn't use the term, but I think it definitely applies! When one youth got arrested for some vandalism in the neighborhood, a man named Andre Ellis took initiative to turn the situation around. He said he'd pay the eleven year old $20 to spend a Saturday morning cleaning up the neighborhood around the area he had gotten into trouble. When the boy responded by coming for the clean-up with five friends, a new mentoring initiative called "We Got This" was underway.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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