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Avi Dey

Fouding Director , QL Group LLC

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How Ben Franklin Wisdom Inspires Spirit of Community Service Today in America

Wisdom and the example of “community spirit building” innovations that founding father Ben Franklin can inspire as much today as it did in the 300 years since his era. Ben Franklin can be compared to the great Leonardo de Vinci whose design and sketch of a “flying machine” inspired innovators in Germany, France and England three centuries later to experiment with building an airplane.

As a trained electrical engineer, I take a special interest to observe different types of lightning rods still in use in building of all types across America today.

There is a photo of a lighning rod to which a cross is tied at a wooden church in Poland that is one of my favorites. Lightning Rod was a Ben Franklin invention that keeps on giving everywhere in America and elsewhere today as much as in the amazing world of wise founding fathers who put their lives at risk to come together to sign the Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia.

“Gentleman” said Franklin, “We must hang together, or surely we will hang separate”.

A legacy of a social innovation that can provide inspiration for community spirit building. His innovation was a club he formed when he started his printing business after returning home from an extended stay in England for learning the skills and tools of his chosen trade.

In 1727, he had quit his old job as a printer and he and his partner now waited for the new press to arrive. It was during this period, Ben Franklin started his self-improvement and conversation club that later became known as the JUNTO.

There were 12 founding members, individuals, mostly like himself who were engaged in printing and allied trades.

A number of “practicals” we have today actually come down to us today, a legacy of the work of the Junto. For example, “Volunteer Fire Fighters” first conceived & started here, as was the first public library.

Can the inspiration from Ben Franklin be adopted to today’s opportunities ? "Yes, yes, yes !"


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    Nov 12 2011: The best way we can improve ourselves is to become a more useful person. But each person does not start by being useful but builds that from the bottom up.

    That process can be started by hereditary tendencies, youth environment, prodding or enticing by someone we love or respect etc.
    But it is not unusual that we have to force ourselves to go that route. Part of the route, I think, is going through the states of obedience (or else), liking it (because now people like me more) to the final stage of loving it (I do it even if it doesn't do me any good).

    One 'practical' I would like to see emerge to get this ball rolling, or get people off their buts, is the possibility to lower a person's tax payments, dependent on how much he or she volunteers in society.

    Then the first goal is to pay less tax, the next is He! people like me for doing this, and the final stage is "I love it" (Oh I forgot, I'm paying less tax too, but who cares, I am saving the government money too :) ).
    • Nov 13 2011: Wonderful thinking ! I hope you have a write up on this idea and you have sent it to your elected Congressman as a step 01. In an election year, to figure out which tax to be lowered, income, real estate, or some other, will require a Nobel Prize winner in Econoomics perhaps. Anyway, keep on thinking ! Look forward to your next idea which I hope would be easy to implement on a community level.

      The "Tax " stuff is not really my cup of tea. But making the economic pie bigger via innovation is a different matter. Thanks so much.
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        Nov 14 2011: Sorry for the late reply. Had a busy weekend. Thanks for your kind words.

        Well, tax is one way but in reality this concept should work on all levels, even in a family setting. It is just enticing someone to volunteer and rewarding the result.
        And the rewards could be anything, gift certificates, coupons, badges, parking place.. :)

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