TED Conversations

Ziska Childs

Freelancer, united scenic artists


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How do we get back the neighborhood?

Of course I'm referencing the 2012 TED prize The talk which inspired this question has been posted: Jen Pahlka talking about "Peace Corps for Geeks" aka- coding for government. One of the ideas in that talk which resonated for me was it's not about making the bureaucracy easier- it's about solving the problems. More often than not that means getting the bureaucracy out of the way and letting people be neighborly. "Adopt a fire hydrant"- shovel it out when there's a snow storm. That's pretty simple stuff and it promotes Community - with an upper case "C".

I've seen my own home town go from a place where I could walk to everything (the butcher the baker the candlestick maker) to one where there are 30,000 vehicle round trips a day. This is for a town of 6000 residents. The service providers drive in and out for work. The residents drive out and in to go to school, the hospital, the rec center and to find lower priced goods. Employee housing (also out of town-but closer) has resulted in a boost for the construction industry which increases the service trips in and out. Placing a transfer tax on real estate has favored flipping and cowboy development. I only mention this to emphasize that treating the symptom doesn't work and the unintended consequences can be devastating.

So, how do we get back the neighborhood? How do we get back the Community?


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    Mar 30 2012: (This is meant to reply to the question by Pat Gilbert, below.)

    Purpose, yes. You'll see the mission of Signal Hill Community First on our website. http://www.signalhillfirst.org/
    What you'll see is an emphasis on our "watchdog" orientation. This has stimulated a lot of interest over the last year.

    We are evolving, however, and 2012 will be a watershed year. What you won't see on the website--not quite yet--is much reference to our community-building role, an essential ingredient in our dual track design. Nor will you see any reference--again, not quite yet--to C.F. being a self-organizing system, informed by the literature regarding communities of practice (CoPs). http://www.ewenger.com/theory/ Other helpful resources are found in the work of Margaret J. Wheatley ("Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time") and Peter Block ("Community: The Structure of Belonging.")
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      Mar 30 2012: Richard

      Your mission statement is a bit ambiguous to me.

      Your purpose to me is for someone who has some time on their hands ie retired people.

      In today's environment I think that the government has become so onerous that making a living consumes a lot more of one's time, leaving little time to consider other activities.

      For me a purpose that I find to be imperative is the reduction in the size of government as this country very well may collapse if this does not occur. You can see how this is galvanizing.

      The corollary of shrinking government is the raising of the individual though small groups such as yours.
      Perhaps a better statement of the goals?

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