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.

*Social media users more social + civic Maybe this will be the study that will finally get people to stop thinking the Internet & social media are causing declinging civic engagement? This latest study from Pew Internet abounds with compelling data showing that users of social networking sites (e.g. Facebook & Twitter) have more close friends and are more politically active. Lots of interesting info here!  I had a chance to meet with one of the co-authors, Keith Hampton, a few years ago; he's doing great work on the intersection of social capital and technology.

*Add social capital, lose weight? There are mounds of stats showing that social capital helps address health issues and other social needs. This article nicely breaks down the reasons that neighborhood social capital seems to help curb obesity. (but I'm afraid diet + exercise are still needed!).

*Social Networking in the Age of Diversity  Robert Putnam has published some worrisome data showing that in the short-run, diversity causes people to "hunker down" and be less involved in community life.  This article suggests that social networking could be a factor that helps break down barriers.

*Bruins Win the Stanley Cup! OK, I can't write a weekly recap from the Boston area without mentioning this!  We have been chatting with people about how sports--especially when a team is on a run like the Bruins--can help bring people together, giving them a common cultural reference point. Unfortunately, the flip side of the Bruins win--the riots in Vancouver--reminds us that social capital can have a dark side...in other words, people can come together for negative things too.  But the Vancouver incident also showed how social media can help respond to crises--that story is recapped here. 

*Pairing Good Food, Wine and Conversation We had a great time at our event Wednesay night at the Griffin Museum, and appreciate everyone that came out to support our work!   

Note: The Week in Social Capital is not a weekly feature.  At this point at least, I just do this roundup when there is a lot to share.