David B. Crowley's blog

Creating a National Civic Communication Corps

David co-authored this post with Peter Levine, Director of Research and Director of CIRCLE (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) at Tufts University.

Go for a hike in a state or national park, and you are likely to run into some legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Formed in the depths of the Great Depression to give young men work that met public needs, the CCC constructed bridges, trails and lodges that we still enjoy today.
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Creating Local Online Hubs: Lessons from SCI

Every community needs a portal, said the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.  The Knight Commission recently released a paper by Adam Thierer, Creating Local Online Hubs, which lays out a framework for moving on this recommendation.  SCI has developed a local community portal tool that we're now operating in eight Massachusetts communities, so I'd like to share some perspectives on Mr. Thierer's paper based on our experience. Read more

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


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

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