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social capital

6 New Social Capital Articles Worth Reading

Important social capital readings seem to come in bunches, which lend themselves to roundup posts like this. These recent articles explore how social capital can address issues like health, obesity and poverty, and include some broader lessons on social capital and social networks. We also learned of a neat to app to encourage sharing among neighbors. Enough with the preview; on with our list of interesting social capital articles we've come across in the past few weeks. Please let us know if you've come across some good social capital reading that we should check out!Read more

9 Tips for Putting Social Capital Into Action

Over 80 Massachusetts philanthropists gathered this week at Brandeis Unversity to explore the topic "Social Captial in Action", the theme of this year's Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts annual meeting. Needless to say, I was pleased that the local funding community is focusing on this topic. I was happy to have a chance to moderate a panel following Tom Sander's excellent keynote presentation on the subject. Tom is the Executive Director of the Saguaro Seminar for Civic Engagement. He got everyone up to speed on some of the basic social capital definitions and trends, then focused on implications for funders. Tom also previewed some disturbing new data suggesting a widening "opportunty gap" among social classes in America. (This live blog of a recent talk by Robert Putnam provides more information on this research.) After hearing Tom's talk, we were all ready to think about ways we might build social capital and address the problems he framed.Read more

Can Technology Fuel Face-to-Face Social Capital?

Is technology key for building trust and social capital in today's world? That's a key point made in an interesting Fast Company article, "Community Revival: How Technology is Reconstructing our Shared Lives", by Nicole Skibola. She focuses on "Generation Yers"  significant desire to contribute, albeit in forms that might not be recognized by older generations. Skibola cites innovative projects such as Skillshare that helps people share their skills with strangers.Read more

Social Capital Matters

Since the economic downturn hit in 2008, I've found myself needing to justify our focus on building social capital more often. Many people seem to imply that while things like knowing one's neighbor and joining a community group might be nice, it is not as crucial as providing people in need with the material sustenance they need in difficult times. I've now had ten years of experience explaning that there is an important and well-documented relationship between increasing social capital and positive economic outcomes for individuals and communities. We need to see that building social capital versus meeting material needs is a false choice.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

Social Capitalist Values & Competencies

I realized we didn't have our Social Capitalist Values and Competencies together in one spot on our website, so am remedying that by posting here, starting with our Social Capitalist Values.
  1. Relationships are central—to strengthening communities, to individual well-being. 
  2. We can do more by working together.
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Social Capital Still on Their Minds

Two years ago, the SCI Board completed a strategic planning process that placed "Developing Social Capitalists" at the heart of our work.  A key underlying premise is that by providing emerging leaders skills and tools they need to engage others, they will have significant community impact over time, long after they have completed their participation with SCI.  

I would love to increase our capacity to track the long-term impact of our Social Capitalists; but meanwhile, hearing from SCI alumni about how their participation continues to influence them provides some qualitative feedback that suggests we're on the right track.  This thought was prompted by hearing from Ivan Hauck, who was our first AmeriCorps member serving in Dorchester six years ago, where he helped start the SCI Dorchester Youth Council. When reconnecting over LinkedIn recently, Ivan said, "I still keep a picture of our Dorchester Youth Council on my desk and talk about 'Bowling Alone' and the idea of social capital on a regular basis."  Read more

Top 2010 Social Capital Readings

With the New Year's Eve ball set to drop tonight, I guess it's not too late to add yet one more "best of 2010" articles to the mix.  I thought I'd share some of the most interesting books I read this year with a social capital or community building theme. There was a modest sample size, as many of the books I read are a change of pace from social capital topics and thus don't qualify.   That said, here are more top social capital books from 2010. Read more

Seven Top Social Capital Stories of the Week

Wow, there was a lot happening in the social capital world this week! Granted, our mission has us interested in a wide range of subject areas; but this week seemed particularly chock-full of relevant stories and studies.  So I'm going to start early on my resolution to blog more regularly, and recap the top stories I came across this week.

Walkable Cities & Social Capital  A recent University of New Hampshire study found that more walkable cities have higher social capital--this article recaps the study nicely.  I suppose it's no big surprise that walking around one's neighborhood would build social capital--greeting familiar faces and maybe even stopping to chat. However, it's always nice to have our guesses confirmed with data! Those of us in the Boston area can thus take heart that placing high on the list of most walkable cities--it's good for our social capital and our health!  Read more

Connected, even if we’re Bowling Alone

Though Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone isn't mentioned until p. 188 in Connected:  The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks, I read Connected as an important follow-up to Bowling Alone.  Putnam's work describes the importance of social capital, and the precipitous decline of that social capital was a primary reason I started Social Capital Inc. in 2002.  While Putnam’s work tells us that social capital matters, Connected provides more insight into why our social networks are so important.
When out promoting SCI’s mission, I’m often sharing social capital "factoids”, and find that these nuggets have a certain "gee whiz" quality to them.
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