TO MAKE SOCIAL CHANGE REQUIRES AN UNDERSTANDING OF SOCIAL THEORY

I want to thank David Brooks of the New York Times for bringing to the masses a reference of social theory - community and alienation theory to be precise - that needs to be understood by our leaders and those interested in making change.

On January 20, his recent column on politics, culture and social sciences presented the concepts of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft. 

". . . I’d rely on the old sociological distinction between gemeinschaft and gesellschaft. All across the world, we have masses of voters who live in a world of gemeinschaft: where relationships are personal, organic and fused by particular affections. These people define their loyalty to community, faith and nation in personal, in-the-gut sort of ways. But we have a leadership class and an experience of globalization that is from the world of gesellschaft: where systems are impersonal, rule based, abstract, indirect and formal. 

See the following link for the full essay. It is a must read!

https://nyti.ms/2k7Amry

The basic difference between these two concepts is that one is a more natural order and the other more man-made. In America, neither are mutually exclusive. In fact, if community and alienation theory needs to be updated (as it hasn't been in at least 200 years), it is in that these concepts are not mutually exclusive.

Our country and local communities are rarely homogenous. Nor are they governed solely by any single cultural component - values, beliefs, language or tradition. And, in America we pride ourselves on being a melting pot of people and cultures. It is what it means to be American.

This is one of many social theories that helps insiders and outsiders understand how leaders in positions of power think, act and react. For any leader seeking to make change at any level they must understand that when defining an issue - social frameworks and perspective matters.  

 

 

 

 

 

A CALL TO ACTION. WHAT'S NEXT?

Today marks the day when I will begin to share a series of short essays that I have synthesized from many personal, professional and classroom experiences over the last 20 years. I hope to provide easy to understand knowledge and "how to" approaches to inspire the millions of individuals who are asking "What's next?" 

One trait that effective leaders possess is knowing when and how to call people to action. Regardless of what a leader is "calling people to act on", they must understand when and how to build widespread support. Just as important, they need to understand the "next steps" that follow a "call to action". 

Throughout my life I have monitored current events in our country. First as a young student, then as a speech and debate team member in high school. During my undergraduate years in college I immersed myself in the liberal arts including literature, history, political science, the social sciences, communications and economics. In graduate school I focused my studies further in business management, finance, organizational development, planning and community development.

As I learned to think critically and honed those skills over time, I repeatedly found myself asking: What is the difference between a problem and an issue?

When a leader is asked "What's next?" they need to understand and be able to explain the difference between a problem and an issue. In short, a problem can't be solved, fixed or eliminated. It is to big, widespread and complex. An issue, on the other hand, is Immediate, Specific and Realizable. 

The next step after a "call to action" is defining the issue. Defining an issue is not difficult. But, it requires clarity of intention and discipline. And, the first step in defining an issue is listing all of the things we think we are trying to affect, and then identifying the most immediate and specific task or outcome that can be and needs to be achieved. 

When you are thinking about how you are going to affect change -- think about what you can do tomorrow, this week, this month. Identify where you hope it will take you. How will you know when you have moved the needle? How will you know what the next step after that will be?

      

HOUSING POLICY 101: RADICAL CHANGE NEEDED

Twenty years ago I directed a two-year community development project which had a heavy emphasis on housing – a mix of affordable, subsidized, market-rate, new builds, rehabs, etc.

At that time, everyone agreed that stable housing meant stable families, workers and communities.  It was a challenging project, but two decades later that neighborhood continues to build off of its strategy's success and momentum.

Shortly thereafter – about fifteen years ago - my colleagues and I began predicting the foreclosure crisis that swept the nation and decimated urban and suburban neighborhoods alike.

Ten years ago we began to see the tip of the iceberg of the crisis emerge as five-year adjustable rate mortgages came due, houses were flipped multiple times, predatory lenders prowled through neighborhoods, and credible lenders tightened their purse strings – even as everyone continued to agree that housing stabilizes families, the workforce and neighborhoods.

After spending the afternoon reviewing a set of housing strategies and projects for a group of diverse communities. I have concluded that housing policy must change. The tool kit has been the same for decades. And, the same problem of a lack of quality and affordable housing remains as big as ever.

I commend local leaders who spend countless hours volunteering their time to figure out how to best unravel funding constraints and leverage private funds to support as many families and workforce members as possible. However, it isn’t enough.

It is time for a new approach to housing policy.  It is time for workforce development, public health and infrastructure policy to reshape where we live, how we live and how we invest in our communities.

Housing policy needs to be reinvented and no stone should be left unturned. With the largest number of baby boomer homeowners set to retire and downsize, an imbalance in housing supply/demand across large swaths of our country, a large group of millennials holding different housing preferences and needs, and employers looking to attract and retain a qualified workforce – radical change is needed.

And, ten years ago a community predicted they would have a problem attracting and retaining their workforce. As predicted, the problem arrived with no place to call home.

KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS!

Day 2 of #RandomActsOfKindness

I was able to provide John, a stranded motorist in Little Italy, with a jump for his dead battery today. I had to make a time-sensitive delivery but was able to circle back to him in a few minutes.

And, someone circled back to me. I just found a thank note on my windshield for the chicken soup! 

Kindness is contagious!

 

 

 

 

 

HOPE IS IMPORTANT!

The 2016 General Election is 26 days away. 

I am committed to surviving the next few weeks by performing #RandomActsOfKindness 

Today's homemade #chickensoup with rice and carrots was well received.

Per @FLOTUS Michelle Obama:

"We need to do what women have always done. . . .  Roll up our sleeves and get to work."

"We are always stronger together."

"We reject hatred."

"We rise up to defend our blessings, values, opportunities and sacrifices because we are the greatest nation on earth."

#Peace

 

Hope is important .

 

We need a president who can see that hope and bring the country together

 

 

LITERACY IS THE FOUNDATION OF DEMOCRACY

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of International Literacy Day. UNESCO has chosen to celebrate it under the banner "Reading the Past, Writing the Future." 

In honor of this theme, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I once again call attention to the Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961 - also known as the Cuban Literacy Brigades. Academic researchers and writers, popular reference sites like Wikipedia and filmmakers all have documented the phenomenal success of raising the literacy rates of Cuban citizens in rural and urban communities in just one year. 

The anthropological analyses of this campaign are some of the most interesting as they discuss, in detail, the role culture can and must play in any effort of this scale and importance.

In the United States of America, literacy is a basic building block for our civil society, democratic tradition, economy, public health and national security.

Our next U.S. President must take the matter of literacy seriously and be committed to our own cultural revolution to bring our country's literacy levels to unprecedented levels. I would submit that our literacy levels in the United States have never been what they need to be. 

 

RECONSTRUCTION 2.0 - HISTORY REVISITED

Reconstruction, one of the most turbulent and controversial eras in American history, began during the Civil War and ended in 1877. It witnessed America's first experiment in interracial democracy. Just as the fate of slavery was central to the meaning of the Civil War, so the divisive politics of Reconstruction turned on the status the former slaves would assume in the reunited nation. Reconstruction remains relevant today because the issues central to it -- the role of the federal government in protecting citizens' rights, and the possibility of economic and racial justice -- are still unresolved. 

Northern victory in the Civil War decided the fate of the Union and of slavery, but posed numerous problems. How should the nation be reunited? What system of labor should replace slavery? What would be the status of the former slaves? 

Central to Reconstruction was the effort of former slaves to breathe full meaning into their newly acquired freedom, and to claim their rights as citizens. Rather than passive victims of the actions of others, African Americans were active agents in shaping Reconstruction. 

After rejecting the Reconstruction plan of President Andrew Johnson, the Republican Congress enacted laws and Constitutional amendments that empowered the federal government to enforce the principle of equal rights, and gave black Southerners the right to vote and hold office. The new Southern governments confronted violent opposition from the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups. In time, the North abandoned its commitment to protect the rights of the former slaves, Reconstruction came to an end, and white supremacy was restored throughout the South.

For much of this century, Reconstruction was widely viewed as an era of corruption and misgovernment, supposedly caused by allowing blacks to take part in politics. This interpretation helped to justify the South's system of racial segregation and denying the vote to blacks, which survived into the 1960s. Today, as a result of extensive new research and profound changes in American race relations, historians view Reconstruction far more favorably, as a time of genuine progress for former slaves and the South as a whole. 

For all Americans, Reconstruction was a time of fundamental social, economic, and political change. The overthrow of Reconstruction left to future generations the troublesome problem of racial justice.

Source: www.digitalhistory.uh.edu

 

"CULT OF PERSONALITY" VS. SELF-AWARENESS

The term of art "cult of personality" has been used in the media to describe the type of leadership exhibited by U.S. Presidents and other world leaders. While I don't mind the 'descriptive' use of the phrase, I am put off by the 'prescriptive' use of it in the context of today's Presidential campaign.

Among other attributes and experiences, effective leaders emerge from within and over time. For the leader within us to emerge, we must become self-aware. Self-awareness is intrinsic to effective leadership. "Cult of personality" is extrinsic.