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[Xmca-l] Re: Interesting to think about: the social springs of giving

Highly illuminating, Andy, thank you!

A semantic quibble and a brief personal story:

- "Go back" could mean, as well as "retreat" or "withdraw", "return". A
subtle but key shade of meaning.

- I have just returned to New York from a remarkable year in Kiev. Easily
its most meaningful and rewarding aspect, was being invited to weekly
services as cantor of the main Progressive synagogue in Ukraine,
Atikva Tsentr. (No ordination, no problem.) Judaism is called a religion,
but to my mind (and others') ill fits that category. Atikva is a vibrant
cultural and social community. It stands, phoenix-like, within walking
distance of Babiy Yar. I suppose one could call my affinity there
"religious". Theology or faith per se, however, had very little to do with
it. Belonging, thriving, making music and friends there, was a case of
being both 5,000 miles from home, and right at home. Social capital emerged
from thin air, every Saturday morning.

On Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 8:52 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Mike, it is a suggestion that the phenomena manifested by Make-a-Wish in
> NE Arkansas may not be portable, and that the kind of social change
> achieved requires other means in other places.
> After kind of touring the world, Horton went back, more or less, to his
> home territory to set up the base to use adult education as an instrument
> for social transformation. The merits of beginning from your own roots is
> one of the conclusions I drew from my years of ultraleft activity. In the
> 1970s, all over the world, people of my generation who had been radicalised
> in the mass movements of the 1960s abandoned the professions they would
> otherwise have joined after completing university and went to work in
> factories based on convictions that this was where social transformation
> could be achieved. A big mistake. Just like in many countries our opposite
> numbers left the cities and went into the countryside. Big mistake.
> This was not a mistake made by the woman who is the inspiration behind
> this obsession with Make-a-Wish in NE Arkansas. She was a child who got her
> real wish fulfilled and got better after being the subject of a Make-a-Wish
> project, and what she decided to do with her life was lots and lots of
> Make-a-Wish projects in her home town and surrounds. Good decision.
> Now, there is a strong sense of "Only in America" in this story. I am not
> much of a theologian, having been raised by Communists myself and never
> having been to Damascus. But I think it could only be in a country so
> utterly steeped in Christianity as rural U S of A that Make-a-Wish could so
> grip entire communities.
> In social democratic countries like Australia, Make-a-Wish has a life, but
> it is not a big thing and nor is any variety of philanthropy. When people
> want to do something to help there is a powerful reflex which says that the
> proper way to help is to get government or at the very least some kind of
> statutory authority to take on the problem in a permanent, universal
> commitment. Which does produce weird phenomena from time to time. Whenever
> there is a tsunami or a famine, Australians give billions on a personal
> basis and our governments give very little.
> Now this brings me to a puzzle which I have wrestled with most of my life
> without resolution. Almost everyone I see doing good, selfless community
> service, even including self-help and community development work, is
> motivated by religion. There are those of us who serve the community
> motivated by secular ideals, but we are really a small minority. This is a
> real conundrum for those of us motivated by secular ideals because we rely
> on the idea that secular ideals are powerful enough to motivate meaningful
> life-projects which are not self-serving.
> One of the attractions of Make-a-Wish is that it is a project-of-projects.
> In fact, most of the participants probably are not even conscious of an
> overall project, just "Make-a-Wish".
> None of the above goes to the key relation at the centre of each
> Make-a-Wish project, the sick child. I am sure a poet-psychologist could
> wax lyrical on that theme, but that's not for me. The ability of the sick
> child to cut through to the heart of every adult is surely universal. But
> Jane Jacobs rated the obligation upon any adult to come to the aid of any
> child on the pavement a key characteristic of a healthy city and I agree.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> On 22/10/2015 1:33 AM, mike cole wrote:
>> larry, Andy
>> Does Horton's advice provide an explanation for the various phenomena on
>> display in that video segment?
>> I am a little lost here.
>> mike
>> On Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 11:47 PM, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com <mailto:
>> lpscholar2@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>     Andy,
>>     The wisdom of Myles Norton.
>>     You must go back. Does this mean retreat or withdraw
>>     to a simple place? The question of the place being
>>     simple also seems relevant.
>>     Also the need for a goal. Is the type of goal required
>>     an *ethical* goal that is shared?
>>     THEN  the movement and application will take its *own*
>>     form and structure once we have a place.
>>     It seems Myles Horton is trusting  goals without
>>     blueprints that give pre/established answers.
>>     TRUSTING the  place and the goals to open
>>     opportunities of possibility. A simple place
>>     -----Original Message-----
>>     From: "Andy Blunden" <ablunden@mira.net
>>     <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>
>>     Sent: ‎2015-‎10-‎20 2:18 AM
>>     To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
>>     <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>>
>>     Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Interesting to think about: the
>>     social springs of giving
>>     I watched the story.
>>     I already knew about Make-a-Wish so it was no
>>     surprise, but
>>     Mike's point was of course the way MaW became a
>>     vehicle for
>>     a fantastic wave of building social fabric.
>>     XMCAers are all going to be interested in any idea
>>     which can
>>     lead to building this kind of *trust* in a community.
>>     Trust
>>     is basically what "social capital" is, but the point
>>     is only
>>     how does one go about *building* that trust? Robert Putnam
>>     says almost any doing-something-together will have this
>>     effect, and took choir groups as his typical example.
>>     Personally, I think MaW would do better than choir groups,
>>     but that's not the point. Putnam's own data in his
>>     original
>>     study in Italy actually showed that the best predictor of
>>     social capital was having a PCI local government,
>>     which was
>>     inconvenient for Putnam's theory, so he just excluded this
>>     from his results.
>>     The story this week in Australia has been about Tamworth,
>>     famous for an annual Country Music festival, but
>>     otherwise a
>>     typical remote outback town. It is now building a
>>     Pharmaceutical plant. How did this huge change happen? A
>>     young boy had bowel cancer and his mother, a good
>>     member of
>>     the Country Women's Association, discovered that cannabis
>>     was the only medication which relieved the pain and nausea
>>     the boy was suffering. She took up the cause. While
>>     illegally acquiring cannabis she started lobbying
>>     government
>>     to legalise medical cannabis and she won, though the whole
>>     business will take a year or so to implement. And Tamworth
>>     will be all set to market it. She has gathered a huge
>>     social
>>     movement and local support radiating out from Tamworth.
>>     My point. Make-a-Wish worked for North East Arkansas,
>>     partly
>>     because of one child who lived to champion it. Cannabis
>>     legalisation and production worked for Tamworth.
>>     As Myles Horton said:
>>             What you must do is go back, get a simple place,
>>             move in and you are there. The situation is there.
>>             You start with this and let it grow. You know your
>>             goal. It will build its own structure and take its
>>             own form.
>>     Andy
>>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>>     *Andy Blunden*
>>     http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>     On 20/10/2015 4:00 AM, mike cole wrote:
>>     > What did you make of the CBS segment, Jay? Does it
>>     provide useful example
>>     > of principle of community's in Turner?
>>     > Mike
>>     > Mike
>>     >
>>     > On Monday, October 19, 2015, Jay Lemke
>>     <lemke.jay@gmail.com <mailto:lemke.jay@gmail.com>> wrote:
>>     >
>>     >> For an interesting approach to "community", I'd
>>     recommend Edith Turner's
>>     >> "Communitas". Ethnographic deepening of late Victor
>>     Turner's concept.
>>     >>
>>     >> JAY.
>>     >>
>>     >>
>>     >> Jay Lemke
>>     >> LCHC/Department of Communication
>>     >> University of California - San Diego
>>     >> www.jaylemke.com <http://www.jaylemke.com>
>>     >>
>>     >>
>>     >> On Sun, Oct 18, 2015 at 8:58 PM, Andy Blunden
>>     <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
>>     >> <javascript:;>> wrote:
>>     >>
>>     >>> Yes, indeed I am interested, Mike.
>>     >>> Critiquing the concept of "social capital" and
>>     developing an alternative
>>     >>> concept of "social solidarity" and searching for a
>>     suitable unit of
>>     >>> analysis was how I got started down the track I
>>     have been on ever since
>>     >>> then, about 2003. What is the difference between
>>     community as in all
>>     >> people
>>     >>> living in such and such town, and "real"
>>     community? Robert Putnam had
>>     >>> assembled evidence that almost any collective
>>     activity fosters what he
>>     >>> called "social capital." The problem was that he
>>     couldn't distinguish
>>     >>> between the mafia taking root in a community and a
>>     community taking
>>     >> control
>>     >>> of crime on its streets, etc. His classic
>>     "example" activity was the
>>     >>> formation of choir groups, proven promoters of
>>     collective "wealth".
>>     >>>
>>     >>> Andy
>>     >>>
>>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>>     >>> *Andy Blunden*
>>     >>> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>>     <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
>>     >>>
>>     >>> On 19/10/2015 2:07 PM, mike cole wrote:
>>     >>>
>>     >>>> I found a segment of the American weekly TV
>>     program, 60 minutes, more
>>     >> than
>>     >>>> usually interesting this evening, and one segment
>>     in particular
>>     >>>> seemed to have a lot of relevance to many
>>     different interests of people
>>     >> on
>>     >>>> xmca. The topic was the the activities of the
>>     "Make a Wish Foundation."
>>     >>>>
>>     >>>> Of the very many issues that the program
>>     discusses, one which I found
>>     >>>> particularly interesting was the ability of the
>>     organized practice of
>>     >>>> communities
>>     >>>> raising money to give seriously ill children "a
>>     last wish" is one that
>>     >> has
>>     >>>> particular relevance to questions about the
>>     mechanisms of social
>>     >>>> solidarity. In small towns in northern Arkansas,
>>     a relatively poor and
>>     >> out
>>     >>>> of the part of the US, people raise amazing
>>     amounts of money to provide
>>     >>>> special experience for kids who are dying of some
>>     disease that has not
>>     >>>> known current cure. What particularly caught my
>>     attention especially is
>>     >>>> the
>>     >>>> powerful effect that participation in the money
>>     raising and the
>>     >> ingenious
>>     >>>> social organization of the activities, has on
>>     community members across
>>     >>>> several generations, from peers to grandparents.
>>     In one sense, it seems
>>     >>>> that everything is so focuses on the individual
>>     kid that it is "just a
>>     >>>> manifestation of late capitalist individualism."
>>     If effects on the kids
>>     >> is
>>     >>>> interesting, but it is the reflected effect on
>>     the community pretty
>>     >>>> generally, and the emergence of strong personal
>>     bonds in particular that
>>     >>>> caught me most.
>>     >>>>
>>     >>>> Andy might find this interesting as an example of
>>     a project.
>>     >>>>
>>     >>>> mike
>>     >>>>
>>     >>>> http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/topics/60-minutes/
>>        click on make a
>>     >>>> wish
>>     >>>>
>>     >>>>
>>     >
>> --
>> It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
>> object that creates history. Ernst Boesch