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View Diary: We can't afford as a nation to be stupid anymore ... about Energy, Health Care, our future (107 comments)

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  •  To paraphrase the rajin' Cajun (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, DBunn

    it's the community, stupid.

    I think there is a problem--and missed opportunity--in framing progressive action according to the following:  (a) politicians set policy, then (b) individuals (or corporations, or both) act accordingly and responsibly.

    That is a wide gulf where nothing exists between "inside the beltway" and Joe Blow American.  It ignores the way things really work--on the basis of the myriad communities to which people belong.  The value of communities--physical, virtual, issue-oriented, or shared economic interest-oriented--should not be overlooked.  In fact, it seems that the implied purpose of corporatism is to eradicate community-oriented behavior.  Look at what Wal Mart has done, for example, to buying habits.

    But a focus on communities can drive behavior at both individual and local/state/national political levels.  Communities drive individual behavior because they are self-policing (this site is Exhibit A).  One can only "free ride" for so long before he or she is called out.  Ignorance and stupidity are tolerated, but not for long.

    As to influencing political behavior, let me give you an example.  Chicago recently announced an initiative for individual environmental action called "Take 5."  It's five easy things any individual can do to help the environment:

    1.  Replace at least two lights bulbs with CFLs.
    1.  Turn off the water when brushing your teeth
    1.  Plant and care for a tree
    1.  Use durable cloth bags when buying groceries
    1.  Substitute walking, biking or public transporation for one driving trip each month.

    Simple, right?  But expecting people to act as individuals to take these actions will not result in the hoped-for adoption rates.

    So here's what I did.  I live in an urban townhouse community.  We are connected via a Yahoo! board for the homeowners group.  I put to my neighbors--and went door to door for those not on the e-mail list--that we, as a community, should sign on to "Take 5."  The response was overwhelmingly positive.

    With that in mind, I talked to my alderman.  I told him/her "Hey--our community--which, by the way, backed you overwhelmingly in the election--has signed on for Take 5.  Here's our community pledge, with individual signatures. How about if you challenge the other communities in your ward to do the same.  And, while you're at it, challenge the other aldermen to do the same in their wards."

    It's still early in the process--Take 5 has only been out for a few weeks--but the wheels are in motion.  My point is to illustrate that a community's adoption of something--e.g., community-based energy, or environmental action--is a far more effective means of effecting change than relying on individual action.

    America is not one monolithic country.  Nor does it comprise 300 million unique, diverse voices.  Amercia is an amalgamation of communities, and to make the types of change happen that we so desperately need, the communities are where we need to focus.

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