Monday, November 17, 2008

Kresge Foundation President Urges Foundations to Help Revitalize American Cities

[12 November 2008 - Kresge Foundation Press Release (via Philanthropy News Digest)] Private philanthropy must work at the heart, rather than at the margins, of the complex economic, social, political, and environmental problems plaguing American cities in order to contribute meaningfully to their revitalization and success, Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson said at last week's CEOs for Cities national meeting. Speaking to an audience of mayors, corporate executives, and other urban leaders, Rapson applauded the work done by philanthropy in helping nonprofits improve the daily lives of millions of individuals in communities around the nation, but added that ways must be found to address the underlying problems that perpetuate those needs. Citing success stories in four urban areas, he urged large, privately endowed foundations to behave strategically with respect to cities by helping establish a vision for concerted action, working to align civic actors, aggregating risk capital, and connecting low-income people to the mainstream economy. Rapson emphasized the importance of strengthening cities by identifying bridges between low-income communities and regional economic opportunities and noted the work being carried out in Detroit through the New Economy Initiative, a $100 million fund established by the Kresge Foundation and nine other national, regional, and local foundations. Unless we identify and influence long-term leverage points capable of moving intricately interrelated public, private, and civic systems, we will make no contribution to breaking calcified patterns of disinvestment, inequality, and injustice," Rapson said. "We will not, in a word, make any enduring improvement in our citizens' day-to-day quality of life and their long-term trajectories of opportunity." Read the complete version of Rapson's remarks here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A call for guts

[November 2008 - Ode Magazine - By Frances Moore Lappe] Like a lot of us, I keep asking myself, How did we get into this mess? Since humans have innate needs and capacities for cooperation, empathy and fairness, which science now confirms, why does so much suffering and destruction continue? For many, the answer seems obvious: Humans just aren't good enough; we need to become better people; we need to overcome selfishness and evolve into more caring and cooperative creatures. I disagree. More

Potential of Facebook to transform the future ...

Facebook and other social networking media is connecting people everywhere, everyday, all the time. Barack Obama's election is one example of the power of such technology in politics -- with the pending experiment and challenge of whether the same might apply in governing. Journalist Mona Eltahawy explores (below) how Facebook might help transform the Middle East.

Another potential area to consider ... How might social networking media help link the creativity of citizens in small towns and rural communities to positively shape and transform their communities? Creative community development is not just an urban issue. What ideas do you have for how this might happen?
[Fall 2008 - World Policy Journal] Check out "The Middle East's Generation Facebook" article by Mona Eltahawy, who writes in this piece:
"In 2005, activists breached not just laws against public demonstrations, but taboos of protesting against Mubarak himself, with street protests that focused on Egypt and its internal discontents. But that movement was perhaps too early to rally the masses and was criticized for being out of touch with the needs of ordinary Egyptians. The recent Internet-inspired activism has flipped the script -- the needs of the masses have sparked a wave of unprecedented activism among young Egyptians. Bloggers have been instrumental in the conviction of police officers for torture and in getting neglected stories into the headlines. The Internet has given young people like Shahi a space that does not exist in the 'real world.' They're using it to create grassroots groups and communities that will eventually translate into a real presence in society, and this bodes well for their ability to influence the futures of their respective countries. Generation Facebook might not be able to change their regimes today, but in building communities and support groups online, they are creating the much-needed middle ground that countries like Egypt desperately require. And, sadly, it is surely in recognition of that nascent power that regimes as aging, paranoid, and powerful as Egypt's Mubarak now arrest, imprison, and harangue bloggers and online activists. ... As Generation Facebook grows older and more assured in its ability to organize and unite, it will be confronting a potentially inexperienced leader in the form of Gamal Mubarak with potentially tragic and unforeseen consequences. ... I am confident that Generation Facebook is planting the seeds of an opposition movement that gives Egyptians, and by extension the whole region, an alternative to the state and the mosque. In 2033, I will be 66 years old. Nothing would make me happier than to see Shahi, Ibrahim, and Maha make my dream come true." More (PDF)

Thursday, November 06, 2008


"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." -- R. Buckminster Fuller