Volunteering Forum

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  • 1.  Can we help our society move from an "I" culture to "We" culture?

    Posted 02-16-2021 13:27

    Last week I attended a webinar with the authors of, "The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again."

    The authors are historians and data nerds who took a close look at the past 140 years in America and see a lot of similarities between the extreme polarization America is experiencing currently, with the Guilded Age of the late 1800s--highly individualistic, starkly unequal, and deeply fragmented. An "I" society, the authors call it.

    Then the data shows an upswing toward "We"--more egalitarian, more cooperative, more generous--that continues on an upward curve into the 1960s, when the economic divide between the haves and the have-nots in America was at its lowest. People were moving out of rural areas and into the cities, and creating new social communities for connection, like bowling leagues, and groups for social good, like Rotary clubs!

    But then the curve starts down again, back toward an "I" society, and we're apparently at an all-time low right now.

    The message of hope is that *we are ready for change*--we're poised on the cusp of an upswing! There are so many examples in each of our lives where we hit a rock bottom and are finally ready to make big changes. Statistically, America is at that point now.

    Some of the hallmarks that moved us out of "I" to "We" in the past were youth-led initiatives, successful grassroots changes that were eventually adopted at the federal level, and fierce reformers with a strong moral compass to create a sense of community and joining together to raise up one another for the common good.

    This prospect can be really inspiring for those of us with a passion for volunteering. Not only are we helping at the individual level, but we could be laying the groundwork for an upswing that pulls our country out of its current condition! I'd like to think that Connect can be a catalyst for the next upswing.

    How do you see your volunteer efforts contributing to the greater good, and providing momentum for an upswing in moving America's social culture from "I" to "We"?

    #activism #volunteering #communityorganizing

    Maria Liccardo

  • 2.  RE: Can we help our society move from an "I" culture to "We" culture?

    Posted 02-17-2021 08:01
    Thanks for this, Maria.  In the times of the "Robber Barons" (Astor, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon, etc.) what brought them down was the 4th Estate (the media) and unionizing.  In the past 140 years, the evolving generation of new Robber Barons have effectively annexed media and/or totally discredited it (fake news) sufficiently to make it suspect. The steady pace of union-busting since the Reagan years has muted and discouraged the organizing that leads to a strong middle class.

    My volunteer focus for the past few years has been voter engagement and getting people to the polls.  Our vote is our most powerful tool. It's not a surprise that there is a continuous stream of laws being proposed (and adopted - sad to say) are about disenfranchising large groups of voters. The 2020 election is a testament to the power of the people when they vote in numbers and with purpose.

    Whatever your focus, there are many organizations to join and support. Here are a few :

    Colette Martin-Wilde
    Basement office suite

  • 3.  RE: Can we help our society move from an "I" culture to "We" culture?

    Posted 02-18-2021 09:35
    I think volunteering is one of the things that brings us out of the "I" into the "we." I know it is a lot harder for me to be all smug in my own world when I am helping others, especially others who do not have it anywhere near as comfortable as I do. And in many volunteering opportunities, we meet people who are unlike us. Working besides these people pushes and challenges us to think differently. It is easier to understand people and where they are coming from if you are working alongside them, OR, if you are serving them. 
    This is also one of the things I have greatly enjoyed about Rotary. I have met people from different backgrounds and cultures, especially at the International Conventions I have been fortunate to attend. But you don't have to attend a convention or belong to a Rotary club even. Just doing something with a Rotary club will expose you to that spirit of community, in most clubs anyway.

    Arnold Grahl