Invest in community for social capital

At last week’s Community Dinner, one of the new people there mentioned that at one point he was homeless for two months — kicked out when his new lease came due, as a result of sticking up for a neighbor when the landlord was not doing needed repairs. But, he continued, a new friend sheltered me all during that time. And it felt wonderful to be there with him. In fact, he told me to come back and visit anytime.

At this, another neighbor turned to me and blurted out that “becoming homeless” was one of her deepest fears. I laughed, and said that this fear had never even crossed my mind. “I have many friends, all over this country — because I AM a friend — and I know that if I lost my home, any of them would shelter me if I needed it. That’s why I can lead such a high-risk life, because I know my personal safety net is there.”

How did I create such a net? I didn’t. WE did. All of us who know and love each other. This is called “social capital.” And it’s what I counseled my young housemate Brie to cultivate over time rather than “hoarding cash,” which is the cultural default position when gripped with fear over an unknown future. And this Brie is doing! In spades, working with podmate Rebecca this spring to inaugurate our new urban CSA.

Remember? It’s what people long ago knew and practiced. Your grandparents and mine. They weren’t on their screens all the time.

Here’s a reminder.


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