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 <email@example.com> 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
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
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
real wish fulfilled and got better after being the subject of a
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
grip entire communities.
In social democratic countries like Australia, Make-a-Wish has a life,
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
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.
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
real conundrum for those of us motivated by secular ideals because we
on the idea that secular ideals are powerful enough to motivate
life-projects which are not self-serving.
One of the attractions of Make-a-Wish is that it is a
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.
On 22/10/2015 1:33 AM, mike cole wrote:
Does Horton's advice provide an explanation for the various phenomena on
display in that video segment?
I am a little lost here.
On Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 11:47 PM, Lplarry <firstname.lastname@example.org
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
From: "Andy Blunden" <email@example.com
Sent: 2015-10-20 2:18 AM
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity"
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
Mike's point was of course the way MaW became a
a fantastic wave of building social fabric.
XMCAers are all going to be interested in any idea
lead to building this kind of *trust* in a community.
is basically what "social capital" is, but the point
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
study in Italy actually showed that the best predictor of
social capital was having a PCI local government,
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
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
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
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
movement and local support radiating out from Tamworth.
My point. Make-a-Wish worked for North East Arkansas,
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
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?
> On Monday, October 19, 2015, Jay Lemke
<firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>> wrote:
>> For an interesting approach to "community", I'd
recommend Edith Turner's
>> "Communitas". Ethnographic deepening of late Victor
>> 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
>>> 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
>>> 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
>>> between the mafia taking root in a community and a
>>> of crime on its streets, etc. His classic
"example" activity was the
>>> formation of choir groups, proven promoters of
>>> *Andy Blunden*
>>> On 19/10/2015 2:07 PM, mike cole wrote:
>>>> I found a segment of the American weekly TV
program, 60 minutes, more
>>>> usually interesting this evening, and one segment
>>>> seemed to have a lot of relevance to many
different interests of people
>>>> 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
>>>> raising money to give seriously ill children "a
last wish" is one that
>>>> particular relevance to questions about the
mechanisms of social
>>>> solidarity. In small towns in northern Arkansas,
a relatively poor and
>>>> 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
>>>> powerful effect that participation in the money
raising and the
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
click on make a
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an
object that creates history. Ernst Boesch