David B. Crowley's blog

Freedom

Quick--one word to describe what the prostesters in Egypt are seeking?  

Good chance that you might choose the word "freedom", a concept for which so many have struggled and in some cases given their lives.  But it is also an idea that has many meanings (it can even be an adjective modifying a fried potato!), which makes Jonathan Franzen's novel Freedom an interesting read at this time.  This isn't the place nor I the writer to discuss the book's literary merits; rather, I'd like to share some of the concepts of freedom I thought about reading the book and how it relates to current events.  Before launching into that theme, I would say that Freedom has a tight story line that keeps you moving through the 500+ pages; Franzen seems to be primarily concerned with telling a story and developing his characters as opposed to making a political statement (though he sprinkles them in!).  It was simply a good launching point for me to reflect upon the idea of freedom, and is a worthwhile read for both entertainment and reflection.Read more

Beyond the Shadow: Groundhog Day as a Resolution Check Time

Growing up in the Boston area, I never got the Groundhog Day concept.  Shadow or not, New Englanders know we're still looking at six plus more weeks of wintry weather on February 2.  That seems especially true today when no groundhog is going to be making its way through the 60 inches of snow to bother checking for its shadow.

But maybe we can make Groundhog Day meaningful in another way.  One month into the year is a great time to check-in on how the New Year's resolutions are faring.  If you're doing great, pat self on back and keep going!  If you've gotten off track, take stock of what might be getting in the way of achieving your goals, and make some adjustments.

I'm doing reasonably well on my Social Capitalist resolutions, but there's room for improvement. I've been blogging more consistently, have been working on network cultivation and our learning network (though would like to improve further on both of those counts.).   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

The Day After Obama's Tucson Speech

Few on either side of the aisle would question President Obama's rhetorical skills, and they were certainly on full display last night in his moving Tucson memorial service speech.  The challenge comes the day after. 

President Obama eloquently conveyed many of the thoughts that have been churning in the hearts and minds of Americans in the aftermath of the terrible Tucson shooting.  He appealed to our "higher angels" as someone put it last night on Twitter.  The text of his remarks can be found here, but if you missed it last night, I'd encourage you to take the time to watch the full video here. Read more

Thanking, Blogging, Learning & Eating: Resolutions of a Social Capitalist

Yes, I have some of the basics on my list--more exercise, fruits & veggies, etc.  Three things I'll be focusing on in 2011 to move forward on these five Social Capital Inc. priorities and more:  

More thanking, updating & sharing: We talk about this a lot when training on cultivating one's social network--it is so important to be in touch with people when you don't need something or have a task to talk about.  Yet it is so easy to get caught up in our tasks and wind up communicating primarily around needs.  I try to be mindful of this, but seek to be more consistent on this front in 2011.  Two things to help me stay on track--1) practicing "Thankful Thursday" to remind myself to pause and think who I can thank or appreciate; 2) using tags to organize my LinkedIn contacts to make it easier to share articles and updates with people based on their interests. 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

5 Things I'm looking forward to in 2011

Resolutions and predictions are of course very popular as we approach the new year.  Though there may be some resolutions to come, I wanted to take a different angle and share some of the SCI happenings that have me excited about getting started on 2011.

National "Geek Corps":  We have always aspired to have our work serve as a national model for others looking to increase local social capital.  In 2011, we have a great window of opportunity to make this happen in a significant way.  A national commission looking at how citizens get the information they need in the digital age recommended among other things a national "Geek Corps" that sounds very much like our own Outreach & Technology team.  Therefore, we're pulling together a group of organizations interested in this idea to move it forward in 2011.  For more background on this idea, including links to the original Knight Commission report and how it relates to SCI's programs, click here.  Please get in touch if you're interested in supporting or getting involved in this effort.  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

Geek Corps: Answering the call (and changing the name!)

Far too many reports are issued only to collect dust on a shelf.  Fortunately, this is not the case with the Knight Commission report, "Informing Communities:  Sustaining Democracy in a Digital Age", which was issued a year ago and has been the source of ongoing converation about the role of media and information flows in 21st century democractic life.  Just this week I tuned into a symposium the Knight Commission held to mark the one year anniversary of the report, prompting me to share some thoughts on the report.Read more

New Course on Community Engagement in Higher Ed

 We are pleased  to have the support of faculty from UMass Boston for our AmeriCorps member training program.  Dwight Giles, one of the professors we are working with, is offering a new course on "Community Engagement in Higher Education."  The graduate level course is open to anyone interested that has a Bachelors degree--i.e. you don't need to be enrolled at UMass Boston.  So I thought I'd share here as it might be of interest to some in our network.  The course summary is pasted in below, with the full flier attached which includes Prof. Giles' contact info.

 

Course Description  Wed. 5-7:30 p.m.Read more

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