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News ::
The best agent for change is... Civility? (english)
24 May 2003
Modified: 25 May 2003
Lewis Feldstein, president of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, cited the environmental movement, women's rights, civil rights and the drive to improve libraries and health systems as examples of private giving in the public good.
DSACF launches civility project
Tom West, Duluth Budgeteer News, MN, May 23rd

A project to improve civility in public discussions was unveiled at the annual meeting of the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation (DSACF) Wednesday. Abbot Apter, a member of the Millenium Group, an initiative of the foundation, outlined plans for a new endeavor entitled "Speak Your Peace Civility Project."

The effort is an outgrowth of small-group discussions held by the Millenium Group to look at ways, he said, "to provide civil and respectful discussions so that people will feel comfortable participating." Holly Sampson, DSACF president, said that Wednesday's announcement was preliminary in nature and that a full campaign to kick off the project will begin in about a month.

The "Speak Your Peace" vision statement says that a key message of the campaign will be to promote nine tools for practicing civility which were taken from P.M. Forni's book "Choosing Civility." Those nine tools include: paying attention, listening, being inclusive, not gossiping, showing respect, being agreeable, apologizing, giving constructive criticism and taking responsibility.

Sampson said, "Our goal is to make civility part of the conversation."

The keynote speaker at the annual meeting, Lewis Feldstein, spoke to the subject of private giving for the public good. Feldstein, president of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, said that many of the agents for change in America came from private giving. He cited the environmental movement, women's rights, civil rights and the drive to improve libraries and health systems.

"The most unique thing about America," he said, "is not the free market system... It's not democracy... It's the degree to which the country has chosen by design private giving in the public good."

Feldstein said that a survey shows that participation in civic affairs is also good for one's health. In fact, he said, if an individual joins an organization this year, that person's chances of dying drops 50 percent. If the person joins a second organization, his or her chances of dying drop another 25 percent. "Being alone is fatal," he said, equaling the risks of smoking three packs a day or being incredibly obese.

Feldstein is the co-author with Robert Putnam, who spoke to the DSACF annual meeting two years ago, of a book being published this fall, entitled, "It's Better Together: Restoring American Community."

Feldstein's message was much the same as Putnam's, noting that the more social capital a community has (meaning the more public participation and involvement) the more likely the community is to be successful. He said such communities will have better overall physical health, school performance will be better, the community will be safer and government will be more efficient.
See also:
http://www.duluth.com/placed/index.php?sect_rank=1&story_id=142020
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Sounds like a load of crap (english)
25 May 2003
(1) Why is this dishwater on the Boston IMC newsire?

(2) It's a load of liberalish swill. "Private giving" in this context is largely a sidestep of examining the class dimensions of U.S. society. Those who have, can give, and they give to organizations which reinforce their class interests and perspectives. The big foundations in this country are completely class-biased and will not give to an anti-capitalist actor or agency. Who is deciding what "the public good" is and what is the meaning of "restoring American community" to those who never were included in this concept from the start? This is not addressing core issues.