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Literature Review

Community Work and Social Capital

How do we best collectively define community? How do we concisely describe our work
and community goals? How do we, as educators and organizers, avoid overstating the
outcomes of that work? Because community means different thing to different people
(residential, ethnic, religious, professional, etc), it is therefore difficult for many (including myself)
to clearly articulate the goals, principles, and mechanisms for community work.
Consequently,that confusion creates a rhetorical merry go round of verbal partners for
community- development, organizing, service. Considering this difficulty, it is important for us
first to create a working definition for community and more importantly, to specifically define
and differentiate between its attachments.

In doing so, I will be primarily using Paul Mattessichs and Barbaras Monseys report
Community Building: What Makes It Work. Drawing from a rich collection of related text and
work, the authors dedicate over ten pages of their Appendix to establishing these lines and
making larger distinctions. Mattessich and Monsey define community as:

People who live within a geographically defined area and who have social and
psychological ties with each other and with the place where they live. (2004, 56)

Mattessich and Monsey focus specifically on residential communities, but this research
will focus more on the significance of social and psychological ties. I understand the
importance of geographical place, but wanted to broaden my understanding of it as a defined
area. Not only am I new to the city (and therefore untethered to one defined area, San Diego
is also a city of many different communities that mix and overlap in many different capacities.
My school and setting, High Tech High, a charter school system that enrolls students from all
over the surrounding area, is a primary example of that mosaic. By community work, I am not
specifically focusing on one limited geographical location. Instead, we will be using the word
community to refer to the social ties that potentially connect individuals across
residence, age, ethnicity, and so on.

Additionally, attached to community, there often exists a verb or action that illustrates
what will be done to that collection of inhabitants. This pairing (community+_______ ) is crucial,
but just as confusing. Different actions entail different expectations. To provide a better sense of
the different forms of community work, here are three essential community tactics, according to
Mattessich and Monsey (2004):

Community Development refers to the process of bringing community members
together to achieve a common goal, usually related to improving the quality of life.

Through long term relationship and capacity building, Community Organizing is the
process of bringing people together to specifically provide them with the tools to help


Community Building is the construction and facilitation of any identifiable set of
activities intended to strengthen personal relationships and increase community social

Although all important and admirable work, for the sake of my research, I will primarily
focus on the word building to evoke the sense that through my research program, we are
actively trying to grow and enhance the social capital needed to strengthen the personal
ties that unite a broad community.

Social capital, a theory recreated by sociologists over the last century, revolves around a
shared belief that social networks have significant value. Originally penned by the progressive
reformer L.J. Hanifan in his 1916 The Rural School Community Center, Hanifan championed
the academic notion that an individual citizen singularly benefits from the consequences of
strong social ties formed over time, primarily by the general help, sympathy, or fellowship of his
neighbors (130). In his research, Hanifan was specifically addressing a total lack of such social
capital in rural West Virginia in the early 20th century. In arguing for a community program that
purposefully accumulates capital, Hanifan claimed that:

...the individual is helpless socially, if left to himself. If he comes into contact with his
neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be an accumulation of social capital,
which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality
sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community.

Personal relationships do not just serve the individual, but overtime, allow for a healthier
and more cohesive social unit. In his study, Hanifan offered a ten point program that in the end,
transformed a public school space into a community center for students of all ages. From
community meetings to evening literacy classes to sociables, Hanifan created more
opportunities for the community to meet, talk, and learn from each other. Hanifan believed that
when these programs become habit and community members are consistently provided the
time and space to positively interact, then, with skillful leadership this social capital may easily
be directed towards the general improvement of the community well being (131).

Half a century later, sociologists continued to expand the definition, most notably French
philosopher and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. In his 1986 The Forms of Capital, Bourdieu
differentiates the forms of personal capital into three categories: economic, cultural, and social.
Although separated by the means (economic capital = money), each form of capital highlights
the importance of access. If developing cultural capital both requires and encourages the
access to valuable information or cultural goods, social capital, according to Bourdieu (1986),
allows access to potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable [social]
network (Social Capital section, para. 1). Evolved from the progressive vision of Hanifan,
Bourdieu (1986) economically explains that:


the volume of the social capital possessed by a given agent thus depends on the size
of the network of connections he can effectively mobilize and on the volume of the
capital (economic, cultural or symbolic) possessed in his own right by each of those to
whom he is connected (Social Capital section, para. 2)

The larger the social network, the more interpersonal tools we have at our disposal to
access and mobilize for personal gain. Bourdieus research primarily examined the sociological
explanation for social class and the entrenched lines that separate certain ethnic and social
groups. In doing so, Bourdieu best categorizes the dark side of social capital, providing an
intellectual explanation of the permanence of social inequality and the privileged class.

Robert Putnam, Harvard professor and sociologist, instead, uses the idea of social
capital to not just outline the socio-economic make-up of existing society, but, like Hanifan,
advocates for the use of social capital to uplift American communities and to promote the ideal
of civic virtue. In doing doing so, his research is considered more proactive than circular
(Smith, 2009). Just as a screw driver is used as a physical tool to increase productivity, social
contacts affect the productivity of any community (Putnam, 2000). Those contacts and
subsequent social benefits, at first, take the form of small favors, a borrowed cup of sugar or a
trustworthy babysitter or someone to watch the house when out of town. However, when those
benefits aggregate and become positive and reciprocated routines, Putnam, along with
Mattessich and Monsey, argue that social capital helps dictate the overall direction and health of
a community. Citing the Committee for Economic Development, the Mattessich and Monsey
advocate that social capital serves as a necessary precondition for the improvement of any
community ill:

Social capital is the attitudinal, behavioral, and communal glue that holds society
together through relationships among individuals, families, and organizations. Without
social capital efforts to address specific problems of individual, and neighborhoods will
make little progress. (1997, 9)

Robert Putnams 2000 book Bowling Alone examines this larger mechanism of social
capital and its effect on community practices. Quality social connections allow citizens to
address and resolve their collective problems more easily. Whether through volunteering at the
local library or organizing a welcome wagon for a new neighbor or even just saying hello to an
acquaintance at the store, Putnam argues that even the smallest social effort, when consistent
and multiplied, can enhance our social network and available capital. (For more strategies, 150
to be exact, check out his website Positive, frequent interactions ultimately
lubricate the possibilities for mutual respect and more important, trust. Out of that foundation of
trust, citizens not only share and discuss problems, but go out of their way to be proactive and
find solutions. Frequent interactions therefore make citizens less cynical and more empathetic
to the aims and misfortunes of others. By being more open and trusting, citizens, in turn,
develop larger and more efficient social networks that ultimately serve as essential conduits for,
as Putnam argues, the flow of helpful information that facilitates achieving our goals (2000,

289). Simply put, when we interact more frequently, we trust each other more and that trust
allows us to become more productive, conscious, and active participants within our society.
Experienced social collaboration ultimately allows for future success.

Building community, therefore, means creating those opportunities for not just frequent,
but positive social interaction. The Saguaro Seminar, a Harvard research initiative founded by,
but not exclusive to Robert Putnam, write on their website that:

Just as some forms of human capital (like knowledge of chemistry) can be used for
destructive purposes (like building a bomb), so too some forms of social capital (like the
Michigan militia) can have bad social consequences. Fortunately, malevolent uses of
human and social capital are relatively rare, which is why we continue to teach chemistry
in public schools and why we should continue to try to build social capital. (Social
Capital: FAQs, n.d.)

Organizers can not just throw different people from different neighborhoods and
backgrounds in a room and expect to produce a stronger social network. We frequently interact
with many people that we either do not care about or would even want to avoid. However, as
the Saguaro team notes, the negative interactions or consequences do not necessarily negate
the positive possibilities. Our effort is designed to essentially create positives spaces and
experiences that will reinforce personal ties among community members and lay the
groundwork for future participation and collaboration. In a school setting, those
opportunities are both significant and present. However, could they be extended past our school
walls? Could we use the strength and resources of our school community to further develop the
sense of community among youth and adults?

Community Building Principles and Strategies

The many organizations and efforts actively engaged in the work of community building
primarily share three main principles that drive their means and define their ends. First and
foremost, active participation is the essential goal of any community building project. Whether
it be a community dinner or a cultural parade, the process of community members congregating
is just as crucial as the product of the meeting (Goldbard, 2006). Secondly, art is an effective
tool for organizing and encouraging social interaction. From food to music to poetry, art and
other cultural mediums create a dialogue that gives people the chance to encounter each other
as human beings and primes the possibilities of that necessary positive interaction (Goldbard,
2006). Last, but certainly not least, youth and adult engagement, became a central strategy to
our program. Diversity, along lines of age or ethnicity, when protected and celebrated, only
sharpens those first two tools. In his book Creative Community Organizing, author and
community organizer Si Kahn argues that if:

creative community organizers use culture, we should make it as inclusive as possible.
We need to tell stories from different cultures and traditions tell them in a way that
encourages and inspires the people with whom we work to tell their own stories and

share their own cultures. (Kahn 2010, 73)

Obviously, bridging social ties across cultures is far harder than reinforcing the ties among
people who already share similar referents or history. Community building therefore must serve
more as a bridge that encourages us to find, acknowledge, and create new degrees of similarity
within which bonding can occur. Those degrees are what best promote growth and innovation
within a community (Putnam and Feldstein, 2004). We will be using our research to not just
bring youth in a school together, but we want to explore the possibilities of creating spaces for
students of all ages.

Below, I expand on these three principles and discuss organizations that epitomize
each. I also discuss how each principle is informing my own research and efforts to build
community in and beyond schools.

1) Promoting Social Interaction- As mentioned, the most fundamental strategy is
promoting and facilitating social interaction. Creating those venues and programs in which
community members can congregate, participate, and share experience is essential for building
a virtuous circle of human connectivity that is basic to any growth in social capital (Putnam and
Feldstein, 2004, 270). With that said, people will not participate solely for the sake of
participation. They will not dedicate their time and energy to generate social capital. Although
civic ideals can be a strong motivation and useful asset, community building means that we first
recognize and then organize around peoples interests and needs, not just abstract ideals.
Putnam and Feldstein articulate this masterfully by writing Social capital is not just about
broccoli, but about chocolates too (Putnam and Feldstein 2004, 283). It is therefore the
responsibility of any community builder to create events and programs that not only promote
participation, but that purposefully engage the interests of community members.

My old English teacher and former colleague used to advise me to always have low
expectations and high aspirations. That realistic approach also serves as a key strategy for
community building. We want to create events and spaces that will ideally help facilitate
communal discovery and develop interpersonal relationships. However, we cannot control the
quality of interaction that occurs within our events. Instead, as organizers, we can only get
people through the door and best prepare an environment that allows for deeper dialogue and
personal sharing. Si Kahn, a renowned organizer with deep roots in the civil rights and labor
movements of the sixties and seventies, recognizes this same reality, but still encouraged those
next step aspirations, From the point of view of the creative community organizer, participation
is often, though not always, the thing to aim for. We shouldnt be the only ones to tell stories.
Everyone has them. Everyone needs to tell them (Kahn 2010, 73).

Trade School, a non-profit committed to organizing opportunities for skill sharing within
the community, is a great example of this essential strategy. Located in the Lower East Side
Manhattan, Trade School, for one month, transforms one storefront into a community
classroom, where anyone can sign up to teach a class on any subject they deem worthy. From
the practical (Online Marketing 101) to the fantastical (Ghost Hunting 101), trade school

encourages a diverse set of offerings that represent community interests. Interested students do
not officially enroll for each class or pay tuition fees, but instead, each class runs on the
philosophy of barter for instruction. The teacher sets a commodity (from colored pencils to red
wine) that each student must bring to the class in exchange for the lesson. Education here is
secondary to social participation. No one from Trade School expects to walk away with a new-
found mastery in ghost hunting. The classes, although central to the entire process, only serve
as the mechanism in which people meet, talk, connect, and bond. By allowing for this
community space and time, Trade School not only designs, but produces a communal
reciprocity where everyone, from students to teachers to organizers, bring something to the
table to both give and take (Trade School, 2010).

Trade Schools model serves, as you will read in Chapter Two of the Findings, as both a
source of inspiration and beacon of light for our own initiative. Our events will be designed
around certain interests or skills that will hopefully attract potential participants. Whether that be
new music or local food, we want to use these tenants of culture as nets to congregate new
people. However, at the actual events, these interests will be secondary to interaction and
conversation amongst participants. Trade School understands that same principle and we
intended to incorporate that design goal in framing every organized event.

2) Promoting the Arts One effective way to attract participation is through the practice
and celebration of culture and the arts. Community builders must create opportunities for
participants to exercise the limits of their own creative imaginations. That practice and
expression should not only be empowering for individuals, but it can also generate the interest
and conversation needed to fuel social interaction. Elliot Eisner, a renowned advocate for the
arts in public education, argues not only for educators to promote artistry in the classroom, but
more importantly, to practice and encourage connoisseurship with students. Defining
connoisseurship as the art of the appreciation, Eisner writes that through routined and
practiced evaluation, individuals develop the ability to label and appreciate not just technique,
but also the multi-dimensional relationships between different experiences and perspectives
(Smith 2005). In studying art, Eisner argues that we make personal judgement on artistic quality
and then form our own relationships to these different forms, styles, and mediums.

Although Eisner is specifically talking about arts education in public school curriculum, I
believe that the practice of connoisseurship can also be applied to community building. Eisner
scholar, M.K. Smith (2005), recognizes that connoisseurship charges us to be able to place our
experiences and understanding in a wider context, and connect them with our values and
commitments (Elliot W. Eisner on Connoisseurship and Criticism section, para. 3) In
considering and evaluating art, we, as both observers and participants, must not only consider
our own reaction, but also the experience of the work. Therefore, art can serve not just as a
vehicle for aesthetic appreciation, but also an important vehicle for empathy and interpersonal
relationship building.

Simply put, the arts potentially provide an engaging space for us to step outside of
ourselves. By doing so, we can better consider both the value of the art, but more importantly,

the relationships and experiences that make it possible and present. During our Community
Music Exchange (central to Chapter One of our Findings), for example, we want to use music to
not just inspire conversation about new music or underappreciated artists, but to use music as a
means to place our understanding in a wider context and to better connect with anothers
understanding or experience.

In their 2005 collection of graphic stories A Beginners Guide to Community Based
Arts, Keith Knight and Mat Schwarzman place the value of connoisseurship within the context
of community building. Unpacking their premise that communities are essentially shared
cultures, the two authors explain the importance of cultural codes - be they songs, statues,
phrases, images, or manifestations - that best represent a certain culture and spark strong
feelings of association. Knight (2005) writes that,

All art calls upon these cultural codes in some way, but through community-based art
people consciously take ownership of their signs, symbols, rituals and stories in order to
re-connect and extend their sense of common ground. (23)

This action research project will not only design experiences that practice
connoisseurship (and therefore practice our individual ability to intellectually empathize) but we
also want to create new art from that shared understanding. That effort will not be concerned
with technique, as Eisners curriculum entails, but more importantly, will be focused on the
representation of our shared experience and common ground. In her effort to promote
community arts practice, Anne Goldbard states that, the point is not the particular
achievements of any individual or society, however beautiful or remarkable, but the whole
colorful, generative, constantly-renewing complex of cultures (Goldbard 2005, 16). The arts,
therefore, are not only a way for community builders to acknowledge and intellectually
understand artistic or cultural diversity, but also a tool to encourage and outwardly celebrate that

When the arts are used effectively to do so, community builders and organizers position
themselves at the crux of reflection and action. Not only can the arts serve as the primary
instrument for folks to share their own experience, but the arts can also inspire further action
and change. That balance between reflection and inspiration, Si Kahn (2010) argues, becomes
a creative force in the community:

A remarkable number of people who in no way consider themselves artists nonetheless
paint, draw, sing, write, act, quilt, create pageants, preach, dance, Creating opportunities
for them to do so allows them to voice their rage and hole, to move from being silence
to being outspoken, to strengthen the stories they tell themselves and others. (83)

The arts therefore are not just a way to attract possible participants, but they can also
provide a powerful means in which to connect and inspire them. Not many self identify as
artists, but organizers, like Kahn, believe that we are all involved in some practice or expression
of creativity. It is therefore important to tap into that expression in order to provide the

community a vehicle in which to both connect and talk. In their 2010 guide, The Abundant
Community, John Mcknight and Peter Block (2010) advocate for this same strategy, believing
that art not only unlocks personal stories, but that a community need[s] art in all its forms to
grasp the mystery in our lives, to recognize the mysteries around us. To get away from the
preordained structured way of seeing things (91). Art, including all its branches, will be the
primary instrument used to not only break the ice among different groups, but also we will use it
to help reframe how participants view the strengths, needs, and realities of their local

In New Orleans, I lived three blocks from the Before I Die Wall- an art installation that
has since then gained international notoriety and can be seen in hundreds of cities all over the
world. Covering one wall of an abandoned building, artist Candy Chang stenciled and painted a
giant chalk board covered with the statement Before I Die. Using chalk, members of the
community would fill the empty space with their responses. Over the course of the week, the
wall would come to represent the wide range of fears, emotions, and hopes of the immediate
community. Aside from the projects ability to stimulate a personal dialogue among neighbors,
this installation also transformed this local urban eyesore into a community symbol. The wall
became a location that people coveted and took pride in. When it rained, they would race down
to Burgundy St to be the first to stencil in their next answer, hoping for the space to participate.
In what could be normally passed over as the routined ill of living in New Orleans, this building
became living art and a shared place that provided a unique sense of identify for the
neighborhood. (Chang, 2012) Although built upon one wall on the verge of collapsing, this
project created an informal place that encouraged both direct and indirect social interaction.

3) Promote Youth (and Adult) Engagement- Many organizations focus on youth
development as the primary way to build an economically and socially healthy future for the
community. Youth can often serve as the catalyst to build cooperative relationships among
adults and organizations of many different motivations. Whether in or out of the school setting,
working with youth often has a dual benefit. It obviously can provide services and education to
young adults in search of meaning and opportunity. However, when organizations also employ
an asset-based approach when thinking about youth and tap into their unique interest and skills,
then it can bring more adults into the picture.(Borrup 2005, 95) In citing research by the
League of Women Voters, Tom Borrup argues that the factor most likely to get people more
involved in community affairs is helping to improve the conditions for youth. (95)

Founded in 1992, Youth Radio is a hands-on broadcast journalism training and
production program out of the Bay Area that looks to engage and mentor at risk youth. Their
program provides free classes in not just radio production, but in web design, television,
journalism, DJing, and entrepreneurism. Through these classes, the program intends to also
strengthen basic life skills and allow the youth opportunities for self-expression. Through their
program, Youth Radio also creates stronger roles for youth in community and civic affairs. Not
only can youth find leadership opportunities within the organization (many students become
trained on how to conduct workshops and become peer teachers), but the youth also seek to
create positive social change by bringing attention to the wide range of issues affecting their

community, from cyberbullying to healthy eating habits. Although these media pieces are
significant, with many of them becoming featured on local and national outlets, the primary
purpose of the organization is to simply increase youth involvement in this community resource
and through that process, improve the overall dialogue between youth and the adults in the
community (Borrup, 2005).

Educators at Youth Radio masterfully collaborate with their youth staff through a process
called collegial pedagogy. Through this process, engaged youth jointly create original work for
public release and individually develop the technical creative, and intellectual capacities that
enable them once again to step away from heavy adult involvement (Soep, 2010, 52). At Youth
Radio, neither students nor adults run the entire show. Adults do not purposefully transmit
information while standing in the front of the room, but their expertise, guidance, and input is still
very much needed to successfully create an effective product. This essential relationship
between adult and youth allows for a community of practice where the youth develop the
necessary skills and knowledge through the shared activity and collaboration with more
experienced others. Elisabeth Soep describes this dynamic in her book Drop That Knowledge,
explaining that, Young people begin participating at the edges of given activity, and with time
and practice they grow into a fuller role, needing less and less guidance (2004, 54). Students
are provided the proper instruction and structures to not simply learn about radio, but rather,
with that crucial information, they can better participate within the production process to learn
from their own work. As they continue to develop those technical and personal skills, individual
students become stronger participants and eventually become the experienced voices needed
to support both other young people and adults.

To be clear, young people and adults do not simply co-construct their own learning
environment or curriculum, but instead they literally co-create a product that serves an actual
audience. The motivations, expectations, and structures behind that process make young
people and adults colleagues, necessitating the reorganization of conventional relationships
between teachers and students, but not completely eradicating its original intention. Soep
(2004) sums this up perfectly by stating that under collegial pedagogy, young people work with
adults to imagine a life for their work outside of themselves and their own personal self-
interests (69). Through these products, every member of Youth Radio, from the freshest faced
teen to the most grizzled adult vet, collectively use their programming to not just create a
product, but to effectively engage their community around important social issues.

Our program, although not designed to create sustainable and permanent products like
Youth Radio, hopes to model that same working model: youth and adults working side by side
and learning from each other. How can we construct our own temporary community of
practice, allowing for that positive exchange between youth and adults? How can we create a
program that insures that everyones voices are not only heard equally, but used to better
inspire dialogue amongst their community?

Social Learning & the Importance of Dialogue

The ideal set forth by community building is a reciprocal trust and respect where the
exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skills is not just possible, but consistently present. This
vision, simply understated, not only hints to the great socio-economic benefits associated with
healthy communities but it also represents the way we truly learn. Frank Smiths The Book of
Learning and Forgetting (1998) establishes two main theories on how humans learn: the official
theory and the classic theory. The official theory is what most would consider the educational
norm. Through hard work and routined practice, students memorize and study to hopefully pass
certain tests. Smith claims that this unfortunately defines the current American school model.
However, although pervasive, the official theory is not the only model of learning and it certainly
is not the most successful. Instead, Smith advocates for the classical view of education where
students learn not so much by intellectual effort, but more by social activity.

The classic view focuses more on the subtle, yet unrelenting learning that we do every
day. It may not be in front of a chalkboard or even within the classroom, but we (both as youth
and adults) learn every day from the countless number of messages, people, and experiences
that we encounter and more importantly, that we identify with. With this perspective in mind,
Smith argues (1998) that we too often take for granted that the people around us influence the
way we are:

we rarely think about the continual learning that we and others do all the time. And this
is learning that is permanent. We rarely forget the interests, attitudes, beliefs, and skills
that we acquire simply by interacting with significant people in our lives. (9)

As much energy as we invest into grades, testing, and formal educational practice, many youth
are most influenced by the company they keep. It would be a gross overstatement to say that
children learn from all the people around them, but instead, Smith claims that we learn from the
individuals and group that we come to identify with. These groups of influential people translate
into the communities that mold and shape us. From the personal relationships that structures
these communities, Smith (1998) argues that we establish our own self identity, We know who
we are from the clubs, formal and informal, with which we associate ourselves; from the
company we keep. (11). By developing these ties, individuals not only increase the social
benefits that derive from enhanced and expanded social networks, but they also encourage
individual growth. We are not just insuring future favors, cups of sugars or future job offers, from
intentional and positive social interaction, but we are intentionally building substantial conduits
for learning.

At the core of social learning lays the importance of dialogue. Community building
means creating safe and positive environments which encourage new and different
conversations. The arts are an important tool, but food or music cannot be the center of an
individual event or our entire program. Instead, the arts only serve as the vehicle to encourage
dialogue between community members. That dialogue or conversation or verbal exchange is
the real force behind any community effort, and behind any real learning. Although our program
contains a variety of events with different subjects, at the core of each event is our intention to
encourage and facilitate new conversation. Through those conversations, we hope to inspire

new ties and personal connection, kickstarting a cyclical development, albeit on a small scale, of
social capital. We want people to participate, create, and talk all with the intention that they
share their own experiences and possibly form a social tie.

Following in the footsteps of Paulo Freire, we hope to use dialogue to transform the
relationships between participating community members. In his 1968 classic Pedagogy of the
Oppressed, Freire (1993) explains that dialogue, as an act of creation, potentially allows for a
horizontal relationship of which mutual trust between the dialoguers is the logical consequence
(72). Freires notion of horizontal relationships is important and for this project, serves as a tool
to develop bridging social ties. Through our program, we hope to construct spaces and forum in
which participants can share their own experience and learn from the experiences from others.
Our programs will provide a central vehicle to drive dialogue, especially amongst groups not
often considered horizontal. For example, youth and adults are rarely considered as equal
contributors. In the same vein as Youth Radio, we want to use dialogue as a tool to even the
playing field. Freire intentionally articulates the need for intense faith and love for humanity to
truly enter into dialogue, but he also passionately advocates for the benefits made possible by
healthy and open dialogue. Although this may seem like an impossible cycle to achieve, the
challenge to inspire genuine and sustained dialogue will be at the heart of the project.

With that said, Freires work was committed to how dialogical pedagogy can transform
public education from the oppressive banking model to a more democratic, inclusive one.
Although in complete admiration of that revolutionary ideal, our events will admittedly not pack
that same punch to transform in our time frame. Our project here will be less revolutionary and
more elementary. In an attempt to shrink the change (see below), we must be realistic with the
expectation of dialogue and its function. For this project, dialogue will specifically focus on the
exchange of personal experience, passions, and skills. In his conversation with Paulo Freire in
the book We Make the Road by Walking, Myles Horton (1991) simplifies Freires argument by
clearly stating the practical utility in communal discourse:

...all knowledge should be in a free-trade zone. Your knowledge, my knowledge,
everybodys knowledge should be made use of. I think people who refuse to use other
peoples knowledge are making a big mistake. (235)

Through that exchange, we hope to not only encourage a new thought or interests, but to also
inspire new personal relationships and to encourage adults to learn from youth (and vice versa).

Therefore, social capital is not just important because it allows individuals, as Bourdieu
(1986) claims, to mobilize significant socio-economic resources, or because our personal
networks serve as necessary glue that, as Hanifan (1917) argues, allow for collective
improvement. Social capital is also an important tool for facilitating dialogues that leads to
learning and self discovery. Due to time and circumstance, my research will be limited in its
potential to inspire change within the San Diego or High Tech High community. As mentioned, it
would be foolish to overstate those goals. However, by trying to build a community initiative
designed to creatively mix different groups and kindle new personal relationships, I hope to also

better understand the relationship between education and community building.

A Quick Note on How to Move the People

Before I move onto the design of our program, I need to first examine the motivation
behind individual participation. In order for our overall program to be successful, individuals
need to be properly motivated to realize and recognize the larger goals behind community
engagement. To inspire participation, we need to motivate people to participate. That is,
unfortunately, easier said then done. It is no small task to ask people to do and try something
different. When already overwhelmed by the weight of work, family, and school, we must also
understand how to motivate members of our community to not only come and participate, but to
invest positive energy and individual esteem into the events. How do you ask people to not just
come, but to be open and willing to meet new people, entertain new conversation, and share
their own stories to relative strangers?

In his 2009 book Drive, best selling author Daniel Pink argues that traditional means of
motivation (like financial reward) no longer work to motivate people at work, home, or school.
Instead, Pink states that an evolved operating system of motivation (or what he calls Motivation
3.0) has emerged. As technology and economies continue to evolve and become more
complex, we are now fueled more by intrinsic desires than extrinsic ones (Pink, 2009, 75). In
trying to move the modern student, worker, community member, we cannot just rely on external
rewards or those traditional carrots because they ultimately net a basic level of motivation and
consequent effort. Instead, we need to tap into peoples internal desire to control their lives,
learn about their world, and accomplish something that endures (77). Pink labels this desire the
third drive and more specifically claims that at the center of this motivation is the constant
awareness of purpose.

In order to tackle any sizable problem independently, people need to fully understand
the bigger purpose behind the task or act at hand. In regards to our own efforts, we must be
loud and clear as to why we want to organize and create these opportunities for community
members. We must provide purpose. Pink (2009) argues that words matter and that people are
thirsting for context, yearning to know that what they do contributes to a larger whole. And a
powerful way to provide that context is to spend a little less time telling how and a little more
time showing why (138). Embedded in any of our events or organizing strategies, we must also
incorporate that important answer of why. Why should I come and participate? Why should I
give up my precious free time? Why should I share my own story? Why should I meet new
people? A significant part of this research will be dedicated to better understanding why people
participate, what they find valuable from our events, and more importantly, how we can recreate
those positives experiences so that they will want to come back.

Although I obviously believe that those questions must be addressed, I must also be
wary of overstating our reach and intentions. It is important to recognize that we are asking
people to change their habits and routines and simply put, change is hard. Therefore, although
we need to provide the context and meaning behind our efforts (ie. the purpose), we also must

remain realistic in the approach. If not, we run the risk of losing our audience. Chip and Dan
Heath, the authors of Switch, argue for this conservative strategy, advocating that successful
leaders often shrink the change. They provide small and manageable goals for people to build
an individual and collective confidence that makes those larger goals that much more possible.
In creating early small wins, the Heath brothers argue (2007) that effective leader are
engineering hope and inspiring people to become more invested in long term growth and
change (141).

Although we must intentionally articulate the purpose behind our efforts, we also must
make the goals and benefits of our program attainable. To start, at every event, we need to
clearly present our purpose and goals to potential participants: we want to create opportunities
for positive social interaction. However, I will keep it at just that. Our program is not aimed at
big, sweeping socio-economic changes that leap towards communal progress. Instead, we hope
to offer small steps and opportunities for others to talk about the possibilities or potential of their
own leaps.