Henry Woeltjen


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Can we rebuild our communities?

Have we lost sight of community building and restructuring?

In the past 100 years humans have socially evolved quite a bit. Our society is a complex network of individuals moving towards individual and national goals.

However, are individual goals less important than a nationial, or global, agenda?

Should we focus our tax money on programs that help rebuild communities....not just throw small amounts of money (welfare) at them?

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    Oct 20 2012: Community building has been a tremendous focus of energy and attention over the last many years. So I would say, no, not only have we not lost sight of community building, but efforts to build community are a strong theme of public life.

    Is this not true in Miami?

    Last week TED had events in many cities on City 2.0, last year's winner of the TED Prize. OpenIDEO has a recently opened challenge on strengthening local environments, but there was another maybe six months ago about building community in neighborhoods. If you look at the 'Inspirations" in these OpenIDEO challenges, you will see what sorts of energy and inventiveness are applied in this direction.

    Cities of every size have recognized how important it is for quality of life to have vital connected neighborhoods. Many have for decades had active departments of neighborhoods or community development that sponsor meetings in the communities to identify needs and how to address them. Community centers and libraries are part of the mix as well.

    And this is even before we begin to consider what non-profit community agencies are doing.

    Housing development, whether public or private takes into account that a sense of community is a valuable amenity with public and private benefits.
    So yes, maintaining and enhancing community is important for many reasons but when you ask "have we lost sight of community building," I have to say the answer is a resounding NO if by "we" you mean society or government or philanthropists or academic centers or even many large private businesses that are increasingly engaged in such activities.
  • Oct 24 2012: I actually like this a lot. My simple answer is yes we can rebuild our communities. We have the resources, the infrastructure and the efforts to do so...the only problem is maintenance. How can we keep these communities from falling apart again? How often do you clean your room to see it messy at the end of the week? How often are roads resurfaced to break apart again? Very often. It's not whether we can rebuild or not, because we can, it's more so how can we maintain what we rebuild?
    We also have to look back at the locations we want to rebuild. Where are rebuilding and is the community able to utilize the projects? The more we rebuild the higher the cost the community becomes and that will raise taxes...is that community able to afford the luxury of a new infrastructure?
    I really like your question and i do believe we are able to rebuild, but how willing is that community to reach out, get help, and keep the order?
  • Oct 21 2012: Henry, This is a subject I was thinking of raising myself.

    In the wake of Russia's economic crisis which preceded ours by a decade, it was demonstated that traditional top down approaches to development could be turned on their head by giving those in greatest need, the poorest, access to finance and information resources to allow a bottom-up approach.

    In a post growth people-centered local economy we may transition from the profit maximising production centered economics of the late 20th century:

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    Oct 21 2012: Too much noise, People are facing severe financial difficulties. Grand parents are having to legally take guardianship to ensure their grand children are fed something, if one group is flourishing then another wider group twice it's size isn't, within your local area you can guarantee there are people living in nice housing with no money or any sense of forward motion and empty cupboards. I've yet to see anyone here put up a link to an organization that is non-profit and dedicated to going house to house teaching people face to face how to turn their little piece of greenery into a vege patch? The net is good but not everyone is connected.

    Do you see any donation trucks at the top of your street every now and then waiting for any sort of food anyone could donate?

    People are swamped with noise and forced words "Health Halo's" "Innovation" "Brand" "Green energy""Michio Kaku" Noise. Teachers are needed but not for school.It's always been face to face.
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    Oct 24 2012: Henry, the link I am attaching here is about 'urban villages," which I know has been a central theme of planning here for at least a couple of decades, in part in recognition of the value of communities within larger urban areas. This article addresses urban villages in the developing world.
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    Oct 23 2012: There is an interesting documentary, produced for the BBC by Adam Curtis
    on this topic, in which you may find some answers to your question:

    The Trap: Part 1/3 - F**k You Buddy

    The Trap: Part 2/3 - The Lonely Robot

    The Trap: Part 3/3 - We Will Force You to be Free
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    Oct 21 2012: I think community has been stronger with massive help from social media.

    I dunno, which communities are you talking about?