Posts Tagged ‘Civic engagement’


Make a Positive Impact

   Posted by: Chen    in Community

The Internet is in its new era. “Everyone is now in the position to realize his or her own dream,” I offered my interpretation of Web 2.0 in a conference early this year, “whether it’s being a Journalist, a Writer, a Photographer, a Movie Producer, or a Musician. It puts the context of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly on a brand new level that was never possible before”.

The Web 2.0 Social Networking has demonstrated its capability of erasing all sorts of boundaries and connecting people across the globe regardless of their gender, age, belief, and ethnicity. The level of participation and creativity among members is nothing short of revolutionary.

If such a powerful platform can be engineered for lifting the tendency of “being good” and “doing good”, and sensed by its members as a community that the platform is truly by-the-members and for-the-members, the positive impact that each participant brings to the world is enormous. It offers a natural mechanism for the enlightening process for civic engagements that will ultimately enhance the realization of the responsibilities of the world citizenship, and enrich the social capitals that have been depleting over the past half century.

This is why I am so passionate about the social communities.

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Rob Wasinger

   Posted by: Chen    in Community

Rob Wasinger

Rob Wasinger

Spent a good chunk of quality time yesterday with Rob Wasinger. Rob is running for the US Congress representing the First District of Kansas. I got a chance to know Rob better, and to discuss with him on a variety of issues that we both care.

I was extremely impressed with Rob’s openness, and his commitment to bringing jobs back for the people in Kansas. Prior to our meeting, actually for the last couple of months, I have been following his well-organized Campaign, and the core messages why he’s running. My admiration and support progressively grow. After our meeting yesterday, I am convinced that not only Rob is the best qualified candidate, he will bring a breath of fresh air to our nation’s capital if elected.

The nation is facing unprecedented challenges. In a recent joint statement issued by the Economic Policy Institute, the AFL-CIO, Center for Community Change, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NAACP, and National Council of La Raza, An Urgent Call for Action to Stem the U.S. Jobs Crisis, a harsh reality is presented:

The U.S. unemployment rate exceeded 10% in October for the first time in a quarter century. Nearly 16 million Americans who are able and willing to work cannot find a job. More than one out of every three unemployed workers has been out of a job for six months or more. The situation facing African American and Latino workers is even bleaker, with unemployment at 15.7% and 13.1%, respectively.

These grim statistics don’t capture the full extent of the hardship. There are another 9 million people working part time because they cannot find full-time work. Millions of others have given up looking for a job, and so aren’t counted in the official unemployment figures. Altogether, 17.5% of the labor force is underemployed—more than 27 million Americans, including one in four minority workers. Last, given individuals moving in and out of jobs, we can expect a third of the work force, and 40% of workers of color, to be unemployed or underemployed at some point over the next year.

Despite an effective and bold recovery package we are still facing a prolonged period of high unemployment. Two years from now, absent further action, we are likely to have unemployment at 8% or more, a higher rate than attained even at the worst point of the last two downturns. 

Joblessness on this scale creates enormous social and economic problems—and denies millions of families the ability to meet even their most basic needs. It also threatens our nation’s future prosperity by casting millions more children into poverty, foreclosing educational opportunities for many, limiting the investment and innovation that will fuel future growth, and dimming long-term labor market prospects, especially for younger workers. 

Americans throughout the history have risen to the challenges in harsh times, through hard work and sheer determination. They have also learned to call on our own past experiences as a nation for lessons in fortitude, courage and creativity. They have demonstrated repeatedly the ability to take it upon themselves in overcoming adversity, instead of waiting for help. 

I share with Rod that this is a time that only through a great grassroots campaign that will bring back the pride to the people and prosperity to the country, a campaign that converts the pain, the cry, the outrage into vitality, energy, and united strive, a campaign that reclaims Americans freedom to prosperity, a campaign that brings jobs lost in exportation back to the American heartland, a campaign that history shall call it one of the greatest civic movements. 

It is also in time like this, a new breed of leadership emerges. I see the leadership quality in Rob, the quality puts the people first and acts with integrity, the quality embodies the values of the fundamental rights, the quality embraces the spirit of putting country before party.

I’ll end here with Rob’s own words to help you to know more about him:

I have been busy travelling across all 69 counties in the 1st District of Kansas recently, meeting Kansans, renewing old friendships and making new ones. I hope I will see many of you on my journey, but I want to take a moment to introduce myself to the Kansas blogosphere, as well.

I want you know what I stand for, and I hope you will stand with me.

My name is Rob Wasinger, and I believe I am the right person to succeed Jerry Moran to represent the people of the First District of Kansas in Congress. Let me tell you what I would fight for as a Representative, and explain why I am uniquely qualified for fight for it. 

Many boomtowns across America are experiencing for the first time the despair that comes with seeing once-promising communities emptied out before their eyes. What some of these big cities are feeling as a sudden shock, rural America has suffered as a slow bleed for far too long. 

The good news is that while the boomtowns were built on sand, our homes were raised on good land and solid foundations. But under the old, failed policies of high taxes and burdensome regulation, our communities have fallen into disrepair.

I have a vision of how conservative values and policies will refresh our country, allowing rural and small town America to build upon our strong foundations and lead the way to a thriving and competitive economy. I believe in a set of policies aimed at breaking down the barriers to prosperity for rural America, unleashing the ingenuity and productivity of the American worker.

Central to this vision is a New Homestead Act, a spiritual successor to the Homestead Act that Abraham Lincoln signed and which helped to populate the rural areas of the Great Plains. Today, it is clear that we need bold new initiatives to reinvigorate our heartland.

Where growth and opportunity have been choked off, we should cut back the weeds of government, allowing skilled individuals, small businesses and new investments to plant roots and thrive.

With some simple but well-targeted measures for our rural communities, we can help existing businesses to survive and develop while attracting new businesses and high-tech ventures. We can reward hard work and responsibility by making it easier to build savings and gain access to credit. We can make it easier for the next generation to return to their rural roots after they graduate. 

I know the value of this. After finishing college, I returned to my home in Kansas. I want my children and yours to stake their future in the heartland, as well. In order to accomplish that, we must have policies that ensure prosperity for rural America, not just policies that create prosperity for Washington, DC.

I believe that I am uniquely qualified to fight for Kansas from day one, to make this positive vision a reality. I have worked for representatives of the people of Kansas for almost 15 years – both in Kansas and in the nation’s capital. I have become well-versed in how the federal government affects all our lives, and especially those of the rural communities we have in Kansas. I have seen first-hand how Washington works, and I have seen why it fails.

More fundamentally, I am a husband, and a father to 9 wonderful children to whom I hope to leave a vibrant heartland and a better country. I am a conservative, because I believe it is the conservative values of freedom, responsibility and virtue that will make our world a better place for my children. 

That is who I am and why I am here. I hope you will give me the chance to prove my values, my conviction and my vision as the Representative from Kansas. I hope you will join me in the fight we have ahead.

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Better Together

   Posted by: Chen    in Community

When discussing among a group of friends topics relating to social capital and networking, I offered the following:

I am intrigued and inspired by the various topics this board has addressed, and clearly sensed the underlining desire to be networked, or to work on certain projects in a “networking way”. It is, without any doubt, an re-enforcement to the term “social capital” mentioned frequently in the discussions.

This great nation has a rich history of civic movements, and an abundance of civic activists, which have had built the stockpile of social capital that had greatly enriched the nation’s heritage of diversity and equality. “America throughout its history has been exceptionally civic-minded,” remarked by Professor Robert Putman at Harvard University. On the other hand, in countries like China, such social capital never became a focal point in the society. What Xu Zhiyong and others having been doing in the recent years is a monumental social shift that can fill the void and become instrumental in inspiring and changing the landscape of social behavior. That is why I called for a discussion about what I called the Xu Zhiyong phenomena.

However, the stock of social capital in this country has been reduced significantly in recent decades. In the December 2000 report issued by the Saguaro Seminar – Better Together, it noted a downward spiral of civic apathy, warned that the reserve of personal bonds and fellowship has been seriously depleted, and called a nationwide campaign to rebuild levels of connectedness in the communities. In addition to the attributions to such decline depicted in the Report, including factors such as age shift, two-career families, urban sprawl, and television, I believe the large scale immigrations of ethnic groups with lesser civic heritage also contributed a great deal to the overall dilution.

This provides a challenge and an opportunity to all of us: are we willing to engage ourselves in such a historical civic renaissance, or better yet, are we capable of taking the leading roles?

I have great respect for each one in this group, and I have great expectations for this generation. While we criticizing what we see but don’t like, I am more for doing something about it.  I do not feel we are demanding ourselves more when we are talking about civic engagement than when we were talking about human rights, freedom, democracy, and justice. The only deference might be this is more direct in terms of personal commitment.

That is where “networking” comes to strengthen.

Better Together! I truly like the sound of it.



Xu Zhiyoung

About Xu Zhiyong (from various resources):

Xu Zhiyong (许志永) is one of the founders of the NGO Open Constitution Initiative and an active rights lawyer in China who helped those underprivileged. He is knowledgeable and enthusiastic, persistent and active. Many young people admire him as a role model, and intellectuals have great expectations for him.

Xu has made a long list of remarkable achievements in fighting for social justice and making changes in politics.

“I wish our country could be a free and happy one. Every citizen need not go against their conscience and can find their own place by their virtue and talents; a simple and happy society, where the goodness of humanity is expanded to the maximum, and the evilness of humanity is constrained to the minimum; honesty, trust, kindness, and helping each other are everyday occurrences in life; there is not so much anger and anxiety, a pure smile on everyone’s face.” – Xu Zhiyong


About Saguaro Seminar (
THE SAGUARO SEMINAR: CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN AMERICA is an ongoing initiative of Professor Robert D. Putnam at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The project focuses on expanding what we know about our levels of trust and community engagement and on developing strategies and efforts to increase this engagement. A signature effort was the multi-year dialogue (1995-2000) on how we can increasingly build bonds of civic trust among Americans and their communities.

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