An Update from Cardus Social Cities
One of the privileges of traveling is the opportunity to be confronted by how little you know and, often, how little our own preoccupations concern other people. Our three week road trip this summer took us from Hamilton to Key West and points between. This trip from North to South and back challenged me in two ways.
First, our communities and cities, while they have many commonalities, are really only understandable in their specific, unique, and very complex details, their specificity. This includes their wonders as well as their injustices. We are mass-production and industrial in much of our thinking, even in research and policy work. At some point, real responsibilities are local and specific.
Second, while we may be visitors in many places, we can only be residents or citizens in perhaps just one place. I felt a tremendous appreciation for fishing communities, Lancaster Amish farms, fruit stand owners in rural Florida, and the owners of little hotels along our path. But in all those places, I’m a visitor. Eventually, the mechanical wagon must be turned back toward home, my address with all that implies.
In the context of our Social Cities work, I wanted to share two resources with you, by way of reminder, that are oriented to where you live and work. The Halo Calculator is being updated but continues to be a very useful means of understanding the often invisible common goods that are being generated in our communities. We need to keep telling the story of these unseen goods. A second resource is the City Soul Explorer Tookit. The primary use of this resource is to consider how we can keep building the social infrastructure we need to flourish together.
If you are looking for a book that will challenge your thinking, pick up a copy of the decades-old Wendell Berry book, The Unsettling of America. Although often characterized as an agricultural / ecological book, it is far more than that and I would put it right alongside Jane Jacobs' Death and Life of Great American Cities as essential reading for people who know we are facing some serious problems in our communities.
On the formal research side, I published a peer-reviewed paper with the Springer Nature journal “The American Sociologist” on a new social capital survey tool I’ve developed to advance our understanding of social change, social impact, and the dynamics of our various communities social infrastructure.
I’m always interested in hearing what you are working on, what’s working and what isn’t, and would welcome hearing from you. Your support, as always, is greatly appreciated.
Program Director, Social Cities
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