Actor promotes civics education

Actor Richard Dreyfuss has been vigorously promoting civics education recently, appearing on ABC's Real Time with Bill Maher and lecturing on civics at Oxford University in England.

Governor Creates Public Liason Office

In his second weekly podcast, Governor Patrick announced the creation of a new Public Liaison Office. The Public Liaison Office is intended as a connector between the state Executive and the public. Citizens can contact the Office by clicking the link above or calling 617-725-4005. The Governor has also elaborated on plans to create the Commonwealth Corps, a new statewide volunteer opportunity.

Residents can contact the Public Liaison Office by calling 617-725-4005, or by visiting the new Office's homepage and clicking "contact us online."

Full details on both these programs can be found in the complete press release from the Governor's office, reproduced below.

Posted by Mike


BOSTON—Friday, February 2, 2007—In his weekly podcast airing today, Governor Deval Patrick announced the creation of the Public Liaison Office, the Civic Engagement arm of the Executive Office that will help connect residents across the Commonwealth with each other and with their state government.Read more

Wal-Mart, Downtowns & Social Capital

According to a recent study by economists by Stephan J. Goetz and Anil Rupasingha, the presence of Wal-Mart in communities depresses their social capital with a number of negative consequences. I haven't reviewed the full study, so I won't comment on the merits of this particular piece of research.

Woburn residents enjoyed a finale concert in Citizens Park this September

What I can say, from SCI's experience, is that a thriving local downtown business community helps to generate social capital. In Woburn, we have seen more viable businesses coming into downtown, providing people with more opportunities to informal connect with their fellow community members. We have worked to encourage this trend by partnering with the Woburn Redevelopment Authority on a number of projects, including a summer concert series that brings people into downtown.

Measuring social capital is certainly challenging. But sometimes you know it when you see it, and our concert series is a great example of that. Families stroll along with their families, stop and listen to some music that draws a diverse crowd, chat with neighbors, and then move on for dinner at a local restaurant. That's some social capital!

"A constant measure of social capital"

NY Times business columnist David Carr discusses the pros and cons of newspaper reporters who blog in their "spare" time. While the medium provides an unprecedented connection with readers, Carr also expresses caution toward being "on the job" 24 hours a day. In this article, one professor of interactive studies at New York University says of blogging: "There is an obsessive, dollhouse pleasure in configuring and looking at it, a constant measure of social capital."

Source: New York Times, 24-Hour Newspaper People, 15 January 2007.

Hello, my name is...

Fellow community builder Joseph Porcelli, founder of Neigbhors for Neighbors, is trying an interesting social capital experiment. He's resolved to wear a nametag for one year. A way to meet new people and make Boston feel a bit more welcoming. Sounds like he's already had some good fun with this and it has gotten a good bit of media attention. I look foward to seeing how this goes!