Dr. Eileen Lynch
14. Community Involvement
Using examples from the video, describe important assets and resources that are needed to make community activities successful.
The video lesson is right on the money when it states that some problems cannot be legislated into submission, but instead have to be wrestled to the ground on the trenches, by the people who are affected directly themselves. I especially liked the comparison about the federal government passing on the responsibility of implementing certain policies to the states with the way the many layers of government pass on the burden of dealing with many social problems to society itself.
In the video, we are shown several examples of community involvement and how each one of them requires the commitment of both the provider and the receiver to make them work.
Serving as the general commentator on the matter, L. Tucker Gibson, Jr., Chair and Professor of Political Science at
We see James Fishkin, Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, introducing the concept of “Rational Ignorance” where a citizen does not act the way we would expect a citizen to act. Because a person might be thinking that his vote is only one in millions and therefore he shouldn’t bother learning the facts about the issues, this person in fact hobbles himself in a cyclic downward spiral of ignorance about the issues which in fact impedes his community involvement. Fishkin observed that people often are distracted with the urgency of daily events of their personal life and do not engage in discussion and understanding of important issues that are of social importance. Thinking that people’s opinions might be significantly different if given the chance to explore the issues at length, Fishkin launched the National Issues Convention in 1996 in order to produce a “poll with a human face”.
We also see in this lesson some instances of community involvement in the guise of direct action with the examples of the Family Pathfinder program, Mission Arlington, Communities Organized for Public Service (C.O.P.S.), the Metro Alliance, and the case of the
In the case of the Family Pathfinder program and Mission Arlington we see the community taking an interest in helping people to stabilize their economic situation before “setting them loose” back into society. They argue that after an economic setback (like welfare or evictions or broken families) people require support in order to avoid spinning out of control and landing back in a similar situation or worse. These programs help people in any manner they can to achieve a plateau where they can establish a firm foothold and start taking steps towards their realization as persons and families unaided. With C.O.P.S. and Metro Alliance we examine the concept that people need political power in order to help themselves, as demonstrated in the specific case of substandard living conditions in a sector of
These examples of successful community involvement required active participation from both the providers and the receivers of the help offered, and determination and hard work. Like the mayor of