Fritzie -


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How can we achieve social integration in cities?

In the recently posted talk by Eduardo Paes, which seems to be controversial in how it represents the quality of life in Rio DeJaneiro, the mayor of that city identifies as his third commandment that cities be socially integrated.

What does social integration mean to you in terms of how the residents of cities should be connected to each other and what are the best means we have of achieving such integration?

Examples of practical strategies that have worked in real cities would be very instructive. As the comments on the talk already provide a forum for discussing the accuracy of the mayor's depiction of his city, it would be wonderful if the discussion here could focus rather on the specific issue of promising strategies for social integration.

  • May 2 2012: There is an incredible concept here in London and the UK called 'Timebanking.' which has been incredible for city communities. The project really took off during the recession, where people were trading their skills in time rather than in money.
    e.g. A plumber could do a job for 2 hours in another 'timebanker's' home and then bank 2 hours. He could then use these 2 hour credits to 'pay' for another skill offered by another 'timebanker' perhaps an accountant in the timebank who could help with books. This means that if you don't have the money to pay for a service, you could get it in exchange for your time. The great thing about timebanking is that you trade your time not money, so when you are short of money, you can still get services you need.
    The timebanking concept has really got communities together, regardless of race, wealth or background. It is a simple exchange where the currency is time not money (a less extreme version of 'In Time' movie if you will!)
    I have added a link for those who might be interested in the concept.
    You may not think you have a skill other people need, but I was really encouraged when I offered to help someone with MS Excel, something I didn't think a big deal, but transformed the administration for a fellow timebanker.
    For me, timebanker has allowed me to meet people I would not have otherwise done so and learn things that I just couldn't learn from a book. It also made me proud to be a Londoner and helping others in a positive way which gives you that warm feeling inside! Happy to give anyone more info if they want to get started.
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      May 2 2012: Thank you for sharing this concrete idea of a barter system. The internet does make barter much easier than it was in days of old!
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      May 2 2012: Only drawback though is it sounds like a recipe for disaster for coming into other peoples homes - you can imagine the dozens of reasons why, would make me too sick to sit and type them. Other then that though I love the idea!
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    May 5 2012: I have no top down, command ideas. For the individual. Notice that between the many, many cultures, sub cultures, clans and cliques, there exist bridges that are not so hard to cross. Oh, and this foolish concept of Race is nothing more than an illusion.
  • Apr 30 2012: Social integration to me is when a community works together for the benefit of the community. For example, getting the potholes filled, cleaning up the water supply, collecting trash from the parks and streets, creating safe places for children and adults to hang out, play and learn. etc. The challenge is listening to, and hearing opposing ideas and coming to a middle ground. Just within our homeowners association it is difficult to resolve issues because the meetings become a complaint session. A society must recognize everyone has an opinion and all of them are right, for some of the people. Find what the common needs of society are. Basically, healthcare, clean food and water, an income to support a comfortable lifestyle, safe streets and productive schools. When members of society can put aside personal desires and focus on benefiting the majority we will have social integration.
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      May 1 2012: I share with you, Jenni, a great interest in bringing the community together to work on projects of civic value. This would seem more empowering than focusing interaction and connection only in recreation.
      I also agree that it would be productive to get past the idea of each specific interest group advocating strenuously for a position and instead trying to move together to find solutions that suit the community well as a whole.
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    Apr 30 2012: Diversity of ways to obtain the intended results can be very diverse, but some things can be explained as far as experiences:

    1. Using empathy to understand other feelings
    2. Use diplomacy approach without losing the principle of truth
    3. Do the social approach by following social events associated with the development of family
    4. Make social connections or facilities that help to encourage each other
    5. Lowering the ego and to put forward a friendly attitude

    The details may differ, but these are the basis to facilitate us easier to see the diversity of detail and more targeted ways in conjunction with the intended purpose.

    By implementing these, we can expect the community as a whole can be affected and become a community of intelligent, energetic and underpinned by goodness.

    Other people may have better solution and enriching each other.

    Less or more ...
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      May 1 2012: You identify here, Bernard, constructive principles for community interaction. As a community may not begin with trust, what sorts of activities or actions do you think would create stepping stones to bring people together to give such interactions a chance?
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        May 4 2012: No. 1 & 5 should be done within heart, and if it is done seriously, then it has donated over 50% intuition about how to behave correctly.

        There is no specificity about what the best thing to do, but for closer details, these are examples:

        - Respect to other religious life, different ethnic and race (it has huge impact for goodness or badness)
        - Personally helping others lack, financially or not (it's crucial because maybe it's the most basic for stability)
        - Working together in building facilities for the public (... to feel passion from others and let community away from the attitude of individualism)

        All of these (hopefully) may be a real force to move the community closer together and unite (direct the intelligence and wisdom from the community as potential force to face community difficulties in the future) for better stability within community itself.

        Less or more ...
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    Apr 28 2012: A city wide text message that marks current events or pertinent events in the city. That was actually my own personal idea, but maybe some city has that?
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      Apr 28 2012: Do you think people don't connect with each other because they don't know about the events they could attend?
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        Apr 28 2012: I mean like city council meetings, city made social gatherings, crime rate, free stuff, important figures in town, and using some imagination could further my list.

        Isn't that what social integration does, bring people together to places to share social interactions that invole certain ideas?
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        Apr 28 2012: Ps: I just realized that being questioned feels like you're being condescending, but after further analysis, I find that you are trying to examine our ideas through evaluating our own confidence in the idea. Correct me if I am overstepping my grounds. I did mean well though. =)
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          Apr 29 2012: Hi, Derek. I am just very interested in this question and it helps me to further my own thinking if I understand the reasoning or "model" behind yours. Don't we all pose questions to each other all the time in these conversations to "pick each others brains" further?
          I wasn't trying to ascertain your confidence in your idea. I was only trying to get a more complete picture of your idea.
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        Apr 28 2012: Going back to your question "Do you think people don't connect with each other because they don't know about the events they could attend?"

        I think the younger generation is very self-centric and prone to jumping on band wagons(at least the area I observe), so yes I don't think they know what is going on because they aren't being informed or even have awareness of the current environment they live in. Heck, I don't even know what is happening in my own city because I have other things I need to take care of first.

        I think this system would be pragmatic and helpful, with the right type of advertisement.
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        Apr 30 2012: Thank you. I understand more now Fritzie.

        I hope I was pretty clear then. =)
  • May 9 2012: Talk to our neighbours.
  • May 7 2012: I believe for us Americans, social integration on the level that Mayor Paes proposes would be seen as either unfair socialist handouts or vicious gentrification. Our problem as Americans seems to be the inability to separate rhetoric (and earmarks) from beneficial policies and ideas. It's a special breed of weirdness that allows us to say "Hey, we want cheap and effective medicine, happy and competent doctors, but we don't want to allow the government or private interests to make this possible because McCarthy would roll over in his grave".

    It's a special breed of weird that compels us to severely slash R&D for space when we know it's the next logical step for our species' Manifest Destiny.

    It's a special breed of weird that we're not making our representatives work for free and pay their own expenses like...oh let's the people they represent.

    But anyway, back to Mayor Paes: I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Rio is still struggling with issues of "race", is still not effectively aiding Trans Women in getting proper healthcare (and likely ignoring the unfortunate crossover into prostitution that needs must). In short, I'm not buying it; Rio is likely just as messed up as every other major city (like Chicago, or my beloved San Francisco). I do like those rapid transit buses though; that should've been what the whole American Reinvestment Act and this whole light rail bull**** should've been working on.
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      May 7 2012: To me integration and social programs do not at all automatically go hand in hand. As a US citizen, I feel that socialized hand outs can actually be part of the problem of cultural & societal divisiveness in the US and one of the walls (albeit with the best intentions) put up by govt that fortifies class, and prevents integration (city wide to nat'l). Indiscriminate and or heavy handed use of social programs IMO creates an unhealthy dependence on gov't and less motivation to move forward and improve ones situation beyond the point of maintaining their benefits. Sometimes, less really can be more IMO.
      • May 7 2012: RB, I wonder what your answer is to Qui Custodiet Custodes? My point is that it's all unfair to someone. Families in Kansas don't get high speed rails and families in the Bronx don't get subsidies for necessary crop production (I am being willfully blind here in regards to the efficacy and goodwill of these programs).

        Further, even though we're all receiving aid in some capacity (whether directly or by association), everyone I've met gets incensed at the words "social program", either winding up to defend it or tear it down. Why do we do that instead of listening to what the program can offer, analyzing it's cost effectiveness and then approving or discarding it?
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          May 7 2012: I have no idea why we do what we do Jean, :) and the guardians of the guards IMO are us - society. I wasn't saying no to social programs as a whole, so much as I was commenting on the unforeseen negative consequences that social aid can have on the individual, class and society. Sometimes integration ideas/models often do hinge on legislation in order to have effective reach and impact, however I feel that often there is a (scary) presumption that govt funding & structure is necessary for success and is left as an unchallenged assumption. Anyhow, I absolutely agree with you that the correct path when contemplating social programs is to understand said legislation and the dynamic it fits into before judging it. I can say that I am much more a fan of social programs that create a skill set for economic uplift and prolonged success vs simple handouts that do nothing long term for the individual or society as a whole.
  • May 6 2012: I hear what you are saying and have seen that kind of general attitude too. I am not sure whether Mr. Paes is that kind of individual, but I have a feeling that social integration in Brazil will not be an easy, smooth, permissive process. It feels to me that it will be carried out with harsher measures of integration, leading to strong reactions from those affected.
  • May 6 2012: I think this presentation is a blessing in disguise. In itself. it is a practical reference to key points regarding a city's development, what factors to consider when building for the future. Beyond that, there is much to say about the Brazilian situation. Mr. Paes reveals the controversy surrounding Brazilian politics and the administration of big cities. It reveals certain idiosyncrasies and nuances about Brazilian reality. His choice of words, for example, is interesting. He lays out four "commandments" that guide city development. He talks about "governing" a city. He could have easily referred to "guiding principles" (not commandments) for a city's "administration" (not governing). He did his best to give a flashy presentation of Rio. Pretty telling stuff, all between the lines of course. As we near the World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics, more will be revealed about Brazil's situation, her politics, her "commanders" and her "governance".

    For a more extensive piece of commentary on the subject matter, visit:
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      May 6 2012: There is a busy discussion of the specific situation in Rio de Janeiro in the comments attached to the talk.

      What you point out does have a general truth in it, though, which is that inclusion, community, and the words "social integration" mean different things to different people. I have been part of organizations that claim to be "communities" that are entirely hierarchical and almost militaristic in how they are run. It's like the politician in any country who professes to want to end divisiveness and bring people with divergent perspectives together ... but means by that only that he wants everyone to set aside their individual perspectives and do everything the leader wants them to do or to quit disagreeing with him! (I have no one in particular in mind but am just identifying a common type on the political stage).

      But I framed this question as I did in the TED Conversations in the hope of getting as concrete as possible about how we can really get people to feel like vital players in the life of their cities rather than marginalized.
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    May 5 2012: Actually most of our cities are an old and broken device.
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      May 5 2012: Mary M share sharing nurturing, feeding, seeding, caring, this is a litlle and nice-great lesson to me,

      Im gratefull to you to share and nurture and feed my soul with your gentle sharing.

      Thanks God bless you.
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    May 4 2012: The social integration is done every minute that we spend in the mall, or in the commercial more.....maybe looking TV or some screen.

    The community integration is around the table in our own homes with our families. Face to face, heart to heart.

    The individual integration is inside us, in our bedrooms. Intimacy to intimacy.
  • May 4 2012: I was joking with my first post, but I think I can actually have serious conversation regarding this topic. Before I can do that however we are going to have to pin down what is meant by social integration. The two words sound quite nice sitting next to each other but they don't do much more than give me a fuzzy notion of what your talking about. Eduardo Paes seems to define it as providing social services to the poor with the hopes that it will increase social mobility.

    I actually happen to be rather poor, I've lived off of less than $10,000 a year for all of my adult life and I grew up the son of a Single Minority Woman.

    I don't want to be any more socially integrated with your society, I despise your society and see it as wholly corrupt and morally bankrupt. You would have to change my world view and the way I view it isn't going to change until the world itself substantially changes.

    Lets start with education K-12 is a joke at this point and no amount of concerned parents or teachers are going to change it. No amount of policy changes are going to save it. It needs to sink like the floundering titanic it is and it needs to do so because it was built on a seethingly corrupt foundation. Put your notions of altruism aside, you can see it in the Prussian model, you can see it in Nepoleon's system, you can see it in various quotes from prominent thinkers at the time who influenced the creation of the American School System. Schools are to indoctrinate the masses with the ideology of the state and provide a working class incapable of any powers of thought so as to be suitable oxen for the yoke of powerful industrialists.

    Not only do we not live in the industrial age anymore it was never morally justifiable even in the industrial age to do such a deplorable thing on mass to the whole of the populace. It is a great and blasphemous corruption of humanity and until it ceases there will be a never ending tide of barbarians pounding on your city gates.
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      May 4 2012: I agree that Paes' model was in large part one of patching things up by providing services to the poor. Similarly, after the earthquake in Haiti, Paul Farmer criticized the big NGOs for coming in to provide services in such a way as to perpetuate a situation of the servers from on high and the served down below. There was nothing like a real collaborative structure or capacity-building on the ground.

      I always play it safe in assuming a post is serious and respond to it as serious.

      Yes, what you write in your third paragraph gives example of why it can be difficult to establish a sense of connection and environment of collaboration among people in a city. People may have fixed views about others they do not know and lack of confidence that things can change if people have the will and work open-mindedly to change them.
      • May 4 2012: It goes farther than that though, even if I had an open mind there is no possibility of me ever being a participant, I lack the credentials. I don't have a collage education and I'm not going to get one any time soon. This isn't because I don't value education, on the contrary I spend nearly every day pursuing some source of information, I love learning new things about the world.

        Colleges are not about learning however, they are simply a process of enslaving the populace. The average university is lacking in any quality control, its nothing more that a paper mill. It does little these days but put bright eyed idealists in bondage. If you don't have a degree you can't participate in society if you do have one you become shackled in debt. What is a person in debt if not a slave? A person who is in debt must submit to work, that labor will generally be in the form of employment, laboring for the benefit of whomever owns your place of employment like some pathetic sharecropper. I wan't to do something with my life, I don't want to spend the entirety of my life serving the interests of others.

        I do suggest that you watch the documentaries Declining by Degrees and College Inc. if you don't understand how I could see things this way.

        Also lets talk about that third paragraph for just a second, what if the way I see the world is entirely correct. Why on earth would I wan't to put on the rose colored glasses just so I can play along. I'm not going to lie to myself and go along with a corrupt system. Call me maladjusted if you will, I consider it a point of pride to be so maladjusted to such a deeply depraved society.
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          May 4 2012: I don't know whether you want a response, but I will offer one, starting from the point that you write you want to do something with your life.
          I believe there is room for differently educated, differently experienced people to contribute to discourse, to community, and to economy. This has always been true. If you have an interest as part of your future in pursuing further formal education, what the "average" university may do isn't critical for you. You would need to find one place that maybe isn't the average place. Let's take, for example, the new edX that Harvard and MIT have just announced in which they will jointly offer online courses free of charge. Alternatively community colleges are often an excellent resource for those who don't want to be full time students but do want to advance their education and skills. They will not all have the same look and feel. But you don't have to pursue higher education if that is distasteful to you.
          Most of us do at some point work for an employer. Some people are self-employed but then need to take into account the preferences of customers, as work is fundamentally an exchange of something for something else, like you provide the service and the one who benefits compensates you in return. I don't know whether all work seems repugnant to you for the lack of total freedom in how you would spend your time.
          Those of us who work for change could all be considered maladjusted, if maladjusted means we do not accept things as they are but seek to change things.
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    May 4 2012: Thinking of Cities as homogenous groups of people with a singular identity is misguided IMO. We live in communities within cities because we are comfortable there, sharing perceived cultural, economic, and societal mores/values with those in said community. This will never change nor should it as it is IMO a natural product of being human. Because of this, govt policy that is shaped under the parental notion of forcing differing communities together artificially is flat out wrong - simply put, not everyone wants to mingle with the rest of the city. The key to social integration in cities IMO is simple - Let the citizenry choose how, when and on what terms to integrate by creating the environment for integration to occur naturally - by building the environment & infrastructure that allows for easy & efficient travel within the city's smaller communities etc. Effective govt policy on infrastructure will also grow economic integration as well helping to uplift poorer communities and or escape them. Push for govt policy that focuses on infrastructure and allow for natural integration to grow on the individual's/communities terms.
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      May 4 2012: Thanks RB. This is exactly what this question is about- how to create the environment for integration to occur naturally.
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        May 5 2012: I think most anything that has perceived value (monetary, service, entertainment etc) to the individuals within communities is key to engaging and bringing them together. The challenge would be that we all value varied opportunities differently so what motivates people are often specific to their community and individual, thus a varied approach is required. Infrastructure (roads, transit, walk ways etc.) are a given - in order to foster integration, communities must be mobile. I believe that economic growth and uplift is a great integrator. Govt policy that drives a robust pro-business/small business sector drives a positive relationship that opens up communities to each other via commerce and employment. Open space markets/farmers markets are a great example of this tieing together infrastructure, commerce, convenience value to multiple communities that are otherwise food-barren in many respects and in the process integration occurs. In this single example, value exists in different ways (cost,convenience,entertainment etc.) to thousands of patrons who perceive it differently - integration is the natural byproduct. Another opportunity could look like subsidized entertainment services tied into mid-lying open spaces bring integration through perceived value of free entertainment ie: saturday movie under the stars, weekend out door music concerts, (TED TALKS!) festivals, plays, exhibits, sports etc. All of these can be subsidized through local gov't and be offered free or for a small fee. People from surrounding communities gather for the free service/entertainment, maybe buy a hotdog or popcorn and a coke from a small business vendor before the show - natural integration on the community/individual's terms.
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        May 7 2012: Another low hanging fruit is IMO education - in this example professional/trades schools. Something we do here in New Mexico is an almost free (not totally - ie: books, housing, food etc are not covered) 4 year (8 semesters) education or equivalent trades school program for New Mexico residents that graduated from NM and carry a 2.5GPA or better and were born after 1978 (too bad for me - born in 77 :D ). This is the type of socialized program IMO that benefits society, preparing the future for success, and to succeed on its own, without the need for gov't handouts to prop them up. From a city POV (state too), this is an investment in our futures, building into it an incentive to keep the bright young minds and their families etc here in our own cities, not telling them to go else where. This also increases the cumulative knowledge base, level of education and understanding of our cities and having a broader view & understanding of the world IMO is a fundamental glue that can hold a city together, and celebrate its diversity and variety. With education can come a shift in values which opens up the individual to the value of integration and an integrated community - Naturally occurring integration where the individual chooses to integrate based on their value system.
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          May 7 2012: The community colleges also can offer a great deal in this regard and serve a satisfying diversity of learners. Communities of practice can as well, in which mentoring as well as collaborative learning take place in the context of learning a trade or craft or performance skill. Brazilian samba schools are sometimes put forward as a model of community-making practice..
  • May 4 2012: That is if you want to get developed countries helping developing countries. If you visit rural areas in developing countries, this concept is already working as they are much more community based than cities can be. Maybe the question we should be asking is how do we get our cities to feel more like the 'olden' days where everyone knew everyone else in the village. One of the biggest costs to our NHS is dealing with depression, of which much stems from loneliness. If we were more community oriented, perhaps these incidences would dminish in time as people would be looking out for one another.
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      May 4 2012: Do you think being community-oriented is a fixed, unchangeable property? Second question - is this about being community oriented or not, or is it rather about who one becomes willing to include in ones community?
  • May 4 2012: This question suggests a relation to another "How can we achieve" integration" in a marriage? It is difficutl to do from the "outside". In arranged marriages, there are often a lot of interested parties , trying to set up a relationship that would worlk for everyone, ideally. But obviously feelings on all sides are involved, and the complexities rise exponentially with the number of participants. Personally , I bleieve that human groups are "Real" in a Buddhist sense. Historically , it seems clear that groups have many of the characteristics of individuals; habits , attitudes, values, opinions, customs, etc. The onclusion I would make, from this and history, is that we had better be careful about who we associate with in ventures like cities, or nations. Some groups just don't get along, and its foolish to force them. Consider the Serbs and Bosnians., Arabs and Jews, etc. Cities means "Civilisation", a high order of cooperation based on shared values. Without that, you are asking for trouble.
  • May 3 2012: The simplest way to create social integration is to go out and ask society how to create social integration. This act in itself, if done correctly and appropriately, starts a series of events that can then be dubbed "a social integration". The issue then becomes, what do we do now?
    I also think that in order to integrate entire cities, which will never happen instantly, we have to start with groups like TED and just keep asking questions. No One has the answers, they however can be found by asking Everyone.
  • May 3 2012: Simple we fire the dam politicians that run and manage our cities and hire engineers.
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      May 4 2012: What in the skill set of engineers, Brian, suggests to you that they would know or be able to find the solution to all the challenges that arise in cities? Can all challenges be translated into engineering challenges of the kind engineers are trained to address?
      • May 4 2012: Let me ask you this, what sorts of problems are politicians trained to solve? What knowledge and skills do they have? At the very least technicians are trained to solve at least a few problems.

        I wager that far more problems cans be solved by the scientific method, technical training, and the application of technology, then will ever be solved by ideologues, bureaucrats, and the political class.

        While I don't fully agree with the Zietguiest movement I do think they have this part right.
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          May 4 2012: The managers of cities vary in background. Some are trained in urban planning, some in the law, some in finance,, some specifically in policy analysis. There are also engineers, those trained as educators, and sometimes those with a background in small business.
          So typically people with a variety of backgrounds combine in trying to find solutions for problems that may be interdisciplinary.
  • May 3 2012: OpenIDEO recently did a project on coming up with ideas for creating vibrant cities. I think the definition of a vibrant city is a socially integrated one, and there are lots of great ideas that could apply to this conversation as well.
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      May 3 2012: Thank you, Lisa. I recently joined the HCD community and just joined Openideo as well. Both are riich sources of ideas for action.
  • May 3 2012: I have designed a water feature that can work as " open air cooling center". During heat waves it will bring together a lot of people no matter to what social group they belong-).
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      May 3 2012: A couple of weeks ago on a nice day I was at our city center (which is not really in the center but just north of downtown), and the large fountain drew a large crowd, as it will on nice weekends. Outdoor spaces with focal points of interest are among the things Jane jacobs wrote about for getting the neighbors out in the common areas.
  • May 3 2012: In order for integration to take place, people from all walks of life need to mix and interact much more often than they do now and particularly when they don't intend to. This can be done through city planning, e.g. get rid of parking lots, remove the front walls from shops at shopping malls, more effectively funnel people into one location my attributing this as the main function in walkway design. Economic integration would be important for this as well, where businesses would be led to collaborate and mesh with other businesses, although the tried and true business hierarchy model would need to be reevaluated. Perhaps... maybe even a "City Project" where those residing in the city would contribute some kind of manual labor task in the creation of the project, but where it is never actually completely created but made to adapt according to the new contributions of its new citizenry. Essentially, removing social barriers by engaging more often in conscious as well as unconscious activity together (preferably utilizing one another) that don't require social barriers. Then it becomes an issue of how would it be that everyone would want to do this, and the answer is to utilize universal need to engage in the activity together unconsciously.

    A little manipulative though.... (:
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      May 3 2012: I can see the implementation challenges in removing parking lots and shop walls, as those have clear functions one would need to ask how to accomodate differently and still meet people's needs. But the City project has no apparent downside.What might be some ideas for the City Project?
  • May 2 2012: Not exactly how this works! The exchange of time does not have to happen in one's house - it can take place at a mutually convenient place. For example, the MS Excel I gave was in someone's office! There are lots of social interaction places nowadays, such as coffee shops, public buildings, parks (for personal trainers!) You only need provide a service where you feel comfortable or give a service where you are happy too. Timebanking promotes community and in time when you get to know each other, there is a certain level of trust whereby you may feel comfortable to share your home. Not everyone gets to that stage but that doesn't mean you will be excluded from timebanking at all. Hope that helps Paul.
  • May 2 2012: Yes, this is true. I started the site in 2010 to promote local designers and local clothing stores, but then after monitoring analytics I realized that consumers wanted more. Most users would come onto the site and search for a specific neighborhood or zip code, they were intrigued by the idea of diving in to their community. When I realized this, I decided to shift my focus on hyper-local community development, the shopping rack has a place, but, I'm redesigning that portion of it to cater more to the hyper local request from my consumers.

    Consumers spend most of their dollars and time in about a 3-5 block radius around them, I travel a lot, and I pretty much go to cities exclusively, this year has been a lot of South America. I've been to Lima, Santo Domingo, And Panama City, Panama in the last 6 months. What I've realized is that in high density areas their is such a rapid accumulation of news, events, and experiences that it is an injustice to any community to ty to report out on the status of the city as a whole instead of individually giving each neighborhood or community it's own attention.

    Communities are powerful places, and even in a developed city like America, we have the same media for social integration as cities like Lima, and even panama city. There needs to be more, this hyper local social space, is the most important part of the lifestyle of citizens who live in high density urban areas. The 5 blocks around you is the most important in these areas, and a medium to provide communication is absolutely necessary, communities self advocate, they just need a medium to do it.
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      May 2 2012: Keon I agree with you that local neighborhood is very important. But there are some activities or resources that will not exist in each neighborhood as well as policy-making on a city-wide level that affects all neighborhoods, so I believe it is useful for people to participate and have a sense of identity also on a larger geographic scale than 5 blocks.
      • May 2 2012: I agree, there are indeed a wealth of activities and resources that exist outside of ones immediate community, and policy making mostly effects local citizens on a city-wide level opposed to on a neighborhood level. participating in the communication process on a larger geographic scale is absolutely necessary if one is going to have a defined identity and be a part of the global conversation.
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    May 2 2012: I loved Eduardo's talk and ideas. I wish more city mayors, city planners, and politicians watched TED - it's blatantly OBVIOUS THEY DON'T!
  • May 2 2012: Social Integration is a fine idea, but people are relational and that is the only way they will interact. Forcing it on them is self defeating, society per se should concentrate on providing a safe environment for people to exist in and the ability to excel as far as they are able or want to. People will interact across boundaries if that is so.
    Get Government out of the way and let people be.
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      May 2 2012: I don't think anyone in this conversation has proposed the idea of forcing people into interaction. Rather, there may be opportunities for working together on civic projects, for example, that are not effectively promoted so that people from all walks of life or parts of the city even know the opportunity exists. There are lonely elderly people who may feel their usefulness is behind them- until an overture is made to connect them with ways they can still feel vital in their neighborhoods.
      None of this is compulsory.
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    May 2 2012: I have 6 words : I love TED. Best site EVER!
  • May 2 2012: Thank you Fritzie! The world definitely feels smaller with the introduction of the internet - I am really proud to be alive at this time in history, we are all very blessed!
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      May 3 2012: Yes, there is definitely huge creative energy going into addressing some of the world's most obvious problems, with huge numbers of people wanting desperately help. In particular there are lots of great ideas and a challenge in getting attention for and resources behind the best of them. The idea needs to be combined ( not necessarily within the same person) with the know-how to implement and the skill to communicate the benefits and costs of the idea so that potential backers or participants know the best place to steer their energy and resources.
  • May 2 2012: Uhhh I just started a website with this in mind.
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      May 2 2012: I think your new site has the same name as an online shopping service that finds clothing items in boutiques in Chicago.
  • May 2 2012: I also believe that cities gain from meaningful interconnections. What I see is smaller groups, i.e. neighborhoods becoming more integrated and then connecting with other neighborhoods and so forth extending through and thus integrating cities. The biggest challenge will be keeping sight of common interests and needs.
  • May 2 2012: I like Andrea's list of ideas. Sharing ones assets with the group is a great integrator. For example, parks, which in CA at least funding is being cut way back to keep them all open. A park needs gardeners and landscapers, maintenance in the form of plumbers, electricians, roofers, painters, etc. Parks have community rooms where computer classes, literacy classes, homework help, ________ the list is endless as to what could be offered. Some people could play with the kids while mom and dad share their special talent. As people work together ideas would spring forth of how to improve other areas of the community. Neighbors would begin to socialize thus safety in the neighborhood would automatically improve. I think it is important to focus on your neighborhood and its uniqueness. When something like this gets too big the intent gets lost in committee.
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      May 2 2012: I agree, Jenni, that neighborhoods are a place to begin. But I also believe that cities gain from meaningful interconnections not only among neighborhoods but also among people from different neighborhoods who come to feel at home and a vital part of life also outside the bounds of the single neighborhood.. Community centers are a valuable resource in all climates, even when the park itself may be less used in foul weather.
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    May 1 2012: Fritzie,

    !. Invite all to engage their uniqueness, history, expertizes and gifts
    2.See and encourage all to "own" and express the assets they can offer
    3. Open eyes of self and others by achieving 1., and 2., above in public places, as often as possible.

    Don't make it about difference, make it about co-curiosity and shared experience or problem solving collaborations. It is less about process of integration as process of infusion. The layering of many different "parts" that can create a more authentic "whole."

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      May 2 2012: Thank you, Andrea, for your thoughts. I am particularly interested in concrete ideas of what a city might do, specific ideas for what to invite people to engage in. I was taking the items on your list as givens and hoping to move from there into the concrete.
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        May 2 2012: Fritzie,

        Sorry for the vagueness.

        I actually live in an unique City that has done some good visioning and executing of concrete plans to "infuse" our international culture. What is remarkable is that we are a Minnesota suburb. Not perhaps the type of place that comes immediately to mind for success in homogeneity busting.

        Still we have, using the high-level above, with much focus on civic leaders work with citizens co-developing the vision and layers it takes to live up to and achieve the ethic over some years.

        For example, international citizens from India, Russia, Africa, the Middle East and South America, host an international fest in a public park connected to cross-sector businesses and multi-income housing -- everything from Section 8 to luxury.

        Community organizations, including faith-based ones collaborate with to "other-type" organizations. For example, a large and long-time resident Lutheran Church and a large but new Islamic Center are collaborating on supporting families in need.

        A local Co-op draws health conscious "yuppies" and various ethnic groups. They intentionally do outreach to local schools with diverse families to develop relationships. And built a large community garden in the front of their store, where diverse citizens work side-by=side on garden plots, and as they do share ethnic recipes and relational lessons.

        For example, an organic gardener who comes from a local farm family learned new uses for the leaves of vegetable she'd long grown, from an Asian gardener in a nearby plot. African gardeners are bringing lessons from Kenya and, sending ideas back to their home country, too.

        And, we have a reputation for welcoming ethnic restaurants of all kinds, which is a wonderful way to introduce new citizens (their employees) into the area and invite visitors to come and spend their money in our community.

        Hope these ideas are more on the lines of what you are looking for.

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          May 2 2012: Thank you for sharing these specific ideas. Yes, my city does well in the same way with what you are calling your international citizens and is also very engaged in multi-faith social action efforts- has been involved with both for decades. I have not studied our community gardens program, but it too has been vital for decades. And, of course, as in most cities, everyone loves ethnic cuisine and etnic restaurants are very plentiful..
          I would say what can be a greater challenge in cities in terms of people's potentially feeling marginalized has been with poor urban individuals and families who are not relatively recent immigrants.
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      May 5 2012: Andrea...the inter-nurture sharing attitude is an open heart life full of possible new cities inside the old ones, but the most important, new citizens...
      a whole new world to discover inside us, is waiting for our active compassion here and know.
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    Apr 30 2012: Are there any sorts of collaborative civic projects that might draw communities or members from different parts of the city together on a continuous or frequent basis, creating a sense of joint purpose in elbow-to-elbow work?

    Would something of this kind offer any benefits not attainable by other means?

    Is anyone here familiar with any examples?

    I am familiar with many cases in which local government solicits public input, but that does not necessarily mean that input is used. It typically means someone with formal power decides on what if any ideas from the outside are worthy of attention.
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      May 6 2012: Some examples to form the character of the community to have a better sense of unity in a more intensive:

      - On a certain day that commemorates the heroes of independence, organized social activities, such as public donation and entertainment events that involve the use of the cultural attributes of each tribe.

      - Collecting money in a certain amount of each member of the participant, and in particular made ​​the draw to determine the winner. The winner will get all the money that was collected from each member of the participant, and still have an obligation to deposit money in the collection at the next round, but no longer has a chance of winning the lottery, because it will rotate to other members.

      - To build and maintain places of worship together regardless of religion, race and ethnic, for peacefull

      These are some examples that I can point out while still maintaining the essence of the purpose of convening these events.

      Less or more ...
  • Apr 29 2012: Awareness is probably one issue that has to be addressed. If one does not know of events or going-ons around him and naturally does not go for it, there is no chance that people will interact and be better bonded.
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    Apr 28 2012: Food and Sports!!!! Opening welcoming restaurants that serve food from diverse cultures can be a great force within bringing people together. Also, creating city/school sporting events with the children and teenage athletes of a community usually sets strong basis for people interaction. Soon, the active younger generation of the mixed social group will become the pioneers social integration. Long term change starts with the young.
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      Apr 28 2012: You think the key, then, is getting people together for recreation?
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        Apr 28 2012: It's worth a try! I've heard heard of people becoming inspired from the success of others. I would guess that feeling would be magnified when you're behind all the magic.
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          Apr 28 2012: It should be something that everyone can engage with, so I think that it could work as well. =)

          Just promote good sportsmanship. ;)
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    Apr 28 2012: i think it can be achieved when both the groups(minority and the mainstream of the society) dwell in with the core values of the society irrespective of the culture since,social integration requires proficiency in an accepted common language, acceptance of the laws and adoption of a common set of values of the society.
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      Apr 28 2012: Chetan, are you arguing that there is no possibility of meaningful connections among people with different core values?
      Also, in the case that people do have the same core values, how would you achieve a sense of connection among them, regardless of culture or the neighborhood where they may live?
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        May 1 2012: they may have a sort of connection if they do have some common core values!!!and if they completely differ in they values how can you say they might be some connection among them?
        "Opposite poles attract, similar poles repel" i dont think this will have any place in this context!!
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    Apr 27 2012: I recently visited North Carolina and was delighted to experience a much higher degree of social integration than we enjoy in the Pacific NW. I do have an idea for how it could be fostered in urban areas. If we transformed low-income housing to be much more appealing and co-operative, this could encourage communities to be more diverse. There is already a movement toward co-op living and "tiny" houses. What if we created innovative multi-unit dwellings in abandoned lots that were eco-friendly, net zero, had shared space and private space, and were extremely affordable? I have a couple of architect friends who have already drawn plans for this type of housing. The low-cost combined with attractive design could attract people from diverse backgrounds.
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      Apr 27 2012: Hopefully we can find a mix of strategies, some with short term promise and others longer term. The one you propose works through inducing people to change where they live. Others may have ideas that allow people to continue to live where they are already anchored.