Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Speeches for Ourselves"

John Hinderaker says the "Ghandi is the most overrated man of the 20th century". I wouldn't want to argue against him on that point. But I did like the movie. After the actor playing Jinnah ends with "India needs home rule. India demands home rule!", Ben Kingsley says, "We make speeches for ourselves. What we say here means nothing....India is 300,000 villages...."

The Center for Neighborhoods says nothing, and I quote:

The Center for Neighborhoods promotes
innovation, equity and
sustainability at the neighborhood and
community level.
What does this mean? There is more...
" C4N’s work is predicated on the understanding that while public policy can help us delineate our values as a society, it is in the day-to-day life of neighborhoods and communities that those values are kindled and ultimately find expression. We therefore work to improve the capacity and effectiveness of local civic relationships while serving as an incubator for new models of public sector/community/citizen collaboration on the issues we face as a region. Our approach is unique in that our efforts address issues with the understanding that individual civic engagement, local community initiative and progressive public policy must inform each other in the creation of real and sustainable change."
I suppose this is the language of the professional do-gooder. Can they change a flat tire? Do they know how to clean fish? Maybe they can delineate the policy necessary to hone the edge of a filet knife while improving the capacity of incubators to address envelopes so individual civic engagement can inform each other...? I'll bet that their approach is unique; so unique that it is impenetrable to common sense.
Beneath the "OUR WORK" button is this:
"The Center for Neighborhoods uses a variety of tools and formats for gathering and sharing information, analyzing policy, and increasing the ability of citizens to participate effectively in public decision-making".
I'm so glad they are "increasing the ability of citizens to to participate effectively in public decision-making". In Communist Russia, a peasant, somehow, through enormous effort, made his quota for wheat production. He was given a medal. He asked if, perhaps, could he have a bit of wheat. The commissars laughed at him.
How does the C4N do these things? They convene "Events that offer opportunities for diverse interests to reflect on critical issues and opportunities". And they support "Facilitation and technical assistance to help neighborhoods, community organizations and public entities build bridges, create collaborations and increase community capacity". I'm opposed to hockey, but I support the players.
Time wanes. More on the "technical assistance" anon. Magical thinking all, methinks.

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