Tag Archives: community development

The Library Is Open

featuring 24,014,408 books
(including 1,251,822 with full-text)

[as of April 27, 2010]

One web page for every book ever published. It’s a lofty, but achievable, goal.

To build it, we need hundreds of millions of book records, a wiki interface, and people who are willing to contribute their time, effort to building the catalog.

To date, we have gathered over 20 million records from a variety of large catalogs as well as single contributions, with more on the way.

We have a small team of fantastic programmers who have accomplished a lot, but we can’t do it alone! This is an Open project – the software is open, the data is open, the documentation is open, and we welcome your knowledge and effort. If you see a typo, or want to write a widget, that would be super.

Open Library is a project of the non-profit Internet Archive, and has been funded in part by a grant from the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation. About Us

Terrific blog too.

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Filed under adult learning, education


High gas prices threaten to drain small towns’ populations
The Kansas City Star

The expected exodus from small towns, said Don Macke, a widely considered authority on rural economics and head of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Neb., will be far more profound than the gradual erosion that has been going on since World War II. That decline was due to the country’s shift away from an agrarian economy and a choice for convenience: People wanted to be closer to jobs, shopping and entertainment.

The new flight, Macke thinks, will be more out of necessity.

Most commuters from small towns are high school graduates. They are driving 50 miles or more to work as school cooks, hospital aides, office workers, dental assistants and unskilled factory workers.

“The reality is that those jobs don’t pay all that well,” said Macke, who is also a visiting scholar with the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. “They’re spending up to $500 a month on gas. A third to half is already technically working poor.

“And as gas goes higher, they will get poorer and these towns will soon struggle to hold on to these people.”

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The Heights Observer, like the Lakewood paper, is written by citizens, who use AGS’s web-based program to upload stories and photographs onto a server. Volunteer editors read the content, post stories to the paper’s web site and design newspaper pages, all via the Internet.

The volunteers and low overhead will allow the Heights Observer to keep costs low, said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights, a nonprofit dedicated to improving life in Cleveland Heights. (May 5th, Crain’s Cleveland Business, Citizen-produced Observer catching on With three new editions on tap, company’s publisher envisions an edition “in every town’ Chuck Soder)

The Lakewood Observer is vigorously seeding its model. Leveraging creative and executive intelligence along with Lakewood’s innovative publishing software, other communities are taking up the task of building civic chops* via the model of volunteer journalism and voluntary engagement.

  • civic chops::creative, cognitive, artistic, emotional, disciplinary, abilities and capacities–focused upon the development of community self-knowledge, self-awareness, and knowledge creation.

I rode with the Lakewood Visionary Alignment for its, as I see it, second chapter. From my anthropological-adult learning perspective the interesting aspect I’ll continue to track is how–overall– journalistic reports will tend to either accentuate or mitigate knowledge creation, and, how does reportage deeply ramify civic engagement.

All sorts of challenges crop up on the path toward realizing civic self-knowledge. The central cross purpose comes up in the flux between the wish to elevate the positive “brand,” and the more veracious wish to uncover whatever knowledge might find its way into the, so-called, Civic Open Source.

  • Civic Brand::attractive community identity; in terms we developed, thus the brand is the civic persona presented as the face of the civic imago–the imago then is the source of manifest collective identity and identity in-potentia.
  • Civic Open Source is a coinage::knowledge is radically democratized, made accessible, is shared, and is freely subject to re-configuration and re-use.

I noted in 2005 that well intentioned civic-promotion (in Lakewood,) would surely clash with the inspirational desire to achieve civic self-knowledge and community awareness. This follows simply from recognition of those aspects of civic life that form the undercurrent of the civic shadow; manifested as the Other, constituting alterity at the scale of community.

The point of inspiration was predicated on unleashing community researchers into both the lit up and darkened corners of the community, and then allowing any findings to stream through the uncensored process. Much of this thrust followed from having a core group turned on by the idea of a city coming to know its self better than any other. And, I knew going into it, that cross purposed desires would be compelled to negotiate and self-organize accomodation along the way.

How it sorts itself out has everything to do with the implicit group relations that contextualize the psychological negotiation of points of emphasis. In this sense, the community newspaper is, every time its published, the fruit of such negotiation. This is a fascinating underlay because in this group arise learning processes. At the end of the day to sustain civic chops is to nurture capacity in the context of the group and via the group’s various and variable intentions, desires, and labors of love. Praxis.

Along with this comes the prospect of securing better civic engagement and cohesion by virtue of, in effect, self-selected journalists and researchers, working, acting ‘on the city.’ Given my prejudices, this could effect re-personalization; a term of Paolo Freire having to do with a socially unified critique of the givenness of the social environment causing transformations of awareness stood against de-personalization. With respective to this, collective action is aimed to liberate, and so the negotiation between boosting of and boasting about the given, and, critically conscious confrontation with the received functions and facilities of the extant given communitas deeply explicate the variance in hope and hazard between sustenance of this given, and, disruptive transformative learning.

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Filed under adult learning


City Poem

community poetry

Having intended to get a clear shot unencumbered by glare or rain, I still missed out clearly capturing this sign in the window of the library annex in Cleveland Heights.

Could a community be an art form?

I believe it it could be. Even better, with the deployment of intention, chops, communal creativity and spontaneous poetics fused to curiosity and critical consciousness, and vitalized by intrepid community ‘street researchers,’ a city could begin the adventure of knowing itself anew.

Lo and behold: the example of Lakewood, Ohio presents itself three years down this path. There the Visionary Alignment informs the Lakewood Observer project. I’ve written here on occasion about this; see the topic entries for civic intelligence.

Lo and behold redux, in the land of my family, Cleveland Heights, from which I bounce and bounce back, the observer aesthetic has been planted. How interesting, “how worth observing” says the transformative anthropologist to himself.

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Filed under Kenneth Warren


Lakewood Ohio’s Visionary Alignment often finds its grip on the Observation Deck of the Lakewood Observer, the city’s all volunteer community newspaper. A thread there, unfolding since May 12, Race, Courage and the Future of Lakewood exemplifies the spirit of deep inquiry that is one of the core facets of this project.

The Visionary Alignment is about marshalling citizen-centric inquisitive resources for the sake of developing community understanding. When I was a part of the project close to its inception in 2005, I suggested that if a community implemented enough informal anthropological capability, its energetics would be transformed and, over time, the deep processes of relationship between and among residents, institutions would also change. A second supposition is: this would also alter the ecology of the city’s socio-cultural and economic and political economies.

This long discussion is extremely important and worth close attention. It is possible that Lakewood is among the very few communities in the US with the chutzpah and commitment and devotion to proceed to dialog openly and with a certain genius about some of the most difficult issues post-industrial suburbs are faced with today.

Back in 2005, we dreamed about how processes of inquiry could be designed and implemented by non-professional investigators. At the time, it seemed such a folk anthropology would require training investigators in how to make inquiries, document them, and interpret data without infecting any part of the process with too much pre-conceived prejudice, cognitive biases, and impulsive agendas. One thing we put on the table was the possibility that high school students could lead the effort.

This remains an excellent idea and I’m reminded how valuable a little bit of training in anthropological method and in social cognitive psychology could be.

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Filed under social psychology, organizational development


I had occasion to contribute some thoughts to the Observation Deck of the Lakewood (Ohio) Observer, a all-volunteer, community newspaper. I was briefly and memorably involved in early efforts to develop civic intelligence there. Lakewood remains one of those special urban places. Snug againt Cleveland proper and Lake Erie, Lakewood is still the most densely populated city between New York and Chicago, even as its population has dropped significantly over forty years.

This comment doesn’t require its context because it drifts away from the original context. Still, for the first time I offer here a sketch of one of my core conceptions, Transformative Anthropology.

We did an experiment in the summer of 2005 where folk anthropologists were briefly trained to go out into the community and listen to Lakewood’s human lifestream.

Three functional phases were implemented:

(1) Inclusive — to take the lifestream as it naturally arose from sidewalk, venue, backyard, back door, etc. The ordinate for this was not to pick and choose; thus it was to include, be inclusive, take it in as it presented itself.

(2) Receptive — to be open and present to this lifestream, so as to navigate the human universe attentively, and to defer filtering and interpretation.

(3) Culmination — (or integration) To substantiate the moment of interaction as a deep play of consciousness upon consciousness.

(These three phases constitute the somewhat oxymoronic, novel, open source, Transformative Anthropology.)

The frame of reference for this was/is: the community coming to know itself. The bar was raised very high too. This was visualized at the time as the city come to know itself better than any other.

Only in retrospect, after having harshly deactivated myself, do I step back and–yet–continue to recognize how audacious this founding, rapturous conceit is. The LO carries this effort forward. It remains out of the ordinary for any community to deploy its intelligence for the sake of really knowing itself.

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Filed under Kenneth Warren


Today. 4pm. The Lakewood Public Library Future Tools Series

…presenting a galvanizing vision for the pursuit of transformative knowledge via the exploration of everyday urban life. Then, during the main course of the program, participants will offer their own ideas about how this knowledge could be sought, created, captured, and documented. The evenin’s program is capped off by Stephen’s comments and discussion on the process of learning and knowledge creation already initiated by the program, and, ends with his framing of the possibility about the city that came to know itself better than any other.

What would happen if residents of a small inner ring suburban took it upon themselves to collaborate together to set a WORLD RECORD for coming to know the city they live in?

1. What’s the current world record?
2. What bundle of knowledge so gained breaks this record?
3. How would the residents go about this?
4. What would if be like to actually try to do this?
5. Are there any underlying reasons besides doing this for its own sake that might vitalize and amplify this audacious attempt at civic knowledge creation?

announcement@ Listening to the City

The programs are free For more information 216.932.7566 216.226.8275

Lakewood Public Library
15425 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107

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Filed under Kenneth Warren, Libraries & Librarianship


The Lakewood Public Library Future Tools Series

announcement@ Listening to the City
Experiential Learning and Civic Transformation

A month of presentations, workshops, and discussions presented by Frank A. Mills (Urban Paradoxes) and Stephen Calhoun (squareONE:experiential toolmakers)

The programs are free For more information 216.932.7566 216.226.8275

Lakewood Public Library
15425 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107

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The Centre for Confidence (Glasgow) doesn’t have much in front of its online door, except for an amusing and often thought evoking line-up of articles. What is really amusing are the articles about the psychological consequences of the Scots aesthetic; (proudly disbelieving, depressive in the Kleinian sense; expecting the worst). If you’re interested, check ’em out. The work I’d like to highlight is linked to off the site, a fine paper by Ed Diener and Marvin Seligman, (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being.. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5, 1-31.

At the individual level, the economic model allows people to structure their time in the pursuit of concrete goals, and to readily track progress toward specific goals. It is possible that people derive considerable well-being from goal pursuits related to earning income, and from the activities of consumption, and therefore even a well-being economy will include these activities. Thus, although laments about how economic activity can interfere with family and religion are often heard, it is likely that the economic model will remain dominant for many decades to come. We do not contest this fact of life. Well-being is not a panacea that will in itself solve all of the world’s problems. Even if well-being one day becomes the dominant paradigm, it must be supplemented by other values of societies, and people must be socialized for humane values for the well-being economy to be a desirable concept.

One challenge for a society based on well-being is that individuals do not have ready and concrete models of how to pursue the goal of greater well-being, other than following the economic model. When people are asked what would improve the quality of their lives, the most frequent response is higher income (Campbell, 1981). It is not clear to people how they would achieve greater positive emotions and life satisfaction. Until there are concrete and proven steps toward these noneconomic aims, people are unlikely to abandon the dominant economic paradigm. Thus, psychologists need to demonstrate compellingly the malleable factors that can increase well-being before the well-being paradigm can replace the economic one. In addition, it should not be forgotten that the theoretical models on which the economic model is based are in many cases more sophisticated than current scientific models of well-being. (2004: Diener/Seligman)

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Filed under psychology


I’ve been following the local controversy over the canning of Ed Morrison at CWRU-Weatherhead’s REI. I’ve never met Mr. Morrison, and have few contacts with the homie smart mob for whom Morrison was a central figure and maven. Yet, thank goodness! Now his open source economic development model will find a much better home than fading fast CWRU. Call it the silver lining.

George Nemeth is the tracker on all this: BrewedFreshDaily

Ed Morrison’s Blog, EdPro

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Filed under Kenneth Warren, sociology


Meanwhile…over Lakewood way, I’m involved as advisor, facilitator, and writer in the Lakewood Observer project. As an east sider with one foot planted in Lakewood, I like to believe myself to be the observer of the Observer. The crew of characters has been uniquely open and have welcomed my involvement and the wild stuffs I bring with me, stuffs stuffed into the ol’ toolbox. Gracias — you know who you are.

The model of the project is open source to a large extent. This means that ideas, conversations, documentation, planning, is shared freely, and, overwhelmingly, the project’s internal works and generativity do not attach themselves to particular persons over time. This means the project, in effect, owns the creative capital. Crucially, the LO project is necessarily fueled by volunteers vitalized by the collaborative and cooperative ethic.

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Filed under Cleveland, Kenneth Warren, sociology