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Monday, September 27, 2010

One Book, One Nation

There are so many good books I'd like to read, and so many book clubs...for example, I've yet to read most of Oprah's selections, but it's on my bucket list.

In the meantime, each day I hear more venomous commentaries disguised as news from political hacks and worry the effects of these tirades on our developing children and our families. These politicians and commentators often seek to build their own insular (i.e. segregated) and financial empires at the expense of the families, the very foundation of our country.

As a child and family psychologist, I am deeply disturbed about the messages that this venom, (as well as the continual "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality of our news) conveys to our children. And so, today, I am launching a national book club. I invite those who are willing to park their egos at the door and who are willing to focus on ways to build communities, not isolate them to join me as I explore this book.

And so,(drum roll) my first book selection is Better Together, by Putnam and Feldstein

Here's what they say about the book, Better Together
From Publishers Weekly
Putnam's much praised Bowling Alone put the concept of social capital (social networking) into broad currency by remarking on its growing absence. Now the Harvard prof and fellow public policy expert Feldstein approach the issue from the opposite direction: without suggesting communitarianism is sweeping the nation, they offer a dozen case studies of what groups of varying size have accomplished by cultivating networks of mutual assistance. Examples range from a neighborhood subdivision in Boston to an entire Mississippi county as well as the "virtual community" of Craigslist, an online bulletin board that has become the prime "go-to" source for job and apartment listings in San Francisco and elsewhere. The authors stress the importance of participatory involvement, championing networks that create opportunities for people to find their own public voice rather than relying on organizers to speak for them. Thus, one chapter recounts a New Hampshire public arts project in which townspeople's stories created the structure of an interpretive dance about a local shipyard's history; another chapter has schoolchildren in Wisconsin writing to local and state leaders to propose public improvements. Though each group is, as one person puts it, "recreating our neighborhood into the kind of village we want it to be," the book emphasizes no particular approach, juxtaposing the work of local governments with neighborhood associations and churchgoers with union organizers. The overarching argument, supported anecdotally rather than statistically, is tentative-something's going on but it's too early to tell how big it might become-but Putnam's reputation will guarantee the book a hearing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist
Putnam, Harvard professor of public policy, ended his highly acclaimed Bowling Alone (2000) with hints that renewed social activism would soon counteract social alienation in America. In this follow-up, he and his coauthors examine the hopeful signs of reconnection in a variety of organizations, activities, and places demonstrating concerted efforts at reawakening ties between communities and individuals. The authors highlight case studies of building and applying social capital, defined as social networks and mutual assistance. The case studies, based on strong success, longevity, impact, scope, and established reputation, include the rejuvenation of branch libraries in Chicago; an interfaith effort to improve schools in a small Texas town; an arts project recalling the history of a New Hampshire shipyard; and an economic development project in Tupelo, Mississippi. These are not all feel-good stories--some highlight conflict and controversy--but each offers a compelling story of individuals and communities establishing bonds of trust. Readers who enjoyed Bowling Alone will appreciate this inspiring follow-up. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Won't you please join me in reading this book as a first step toward rebuilding your own communities?

Let me know if you'd like to participate:

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