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Social Impact Assessment is Necessary Before Fracking

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Housing Frack (8)For almost a decade a new energy boom has been underway using new technology known as “Fracking.”  This invasive and disruptive technology is already having negative impacts on people and the environment.  Most of the public and regulatory attention has focused on human health impacts through drinking, breathing and other means of exposure.  Real life experience in communities across the country also demonstrates the social and economic problems that come along with fracking as just as uncertain and unwanted. This is particularly true for those states where the Fracking boom has been underway the longest (i.e., North Dakota and Pennsylvania.)  States like North Carolina that are rushing into Fracking should slow down and learn from the troubles of others!

This article compiles the most insightful and credible news stories and research reports about documented social problems that go along with Fracking.  This is not surprising to Rural Sociologist (like yours truly.)    For over three decades, sociologists and others have systematically evaluated the social and economic impacts of a wide range of actions – particularly related to mining.  In fact, the formal practice of Social Impact Analysis (SIA) was mandated under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) signed by Richard Nixon in 1970.   This required Federal government agencies to conduct Social Impact Assessment as part of their Environmental Impact Assessment (e.g., Army Corps, NOAA, Depart. of Interior and others.)  In addition, SIA has become strongly established in Europe, Australia and elsewhere.

Click Below to Learn about the Social Impacts of Fracking.

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More Play and Less Work Makes Us Happier and Healthier

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Americans tend to not be as happy as we should be – especially considering our disproportionate share of the world’s wealth and resources.   Having been one for almost 60 years, I can personally and professionally attest to the fact Americans tend to be among the most up-tight and least content of all cultures.  We have been conditioned to expect more, better, and cheaper – a real sense of entitlement and ego-driven arrogance. One of the problems is that most Americans equate having fun (i.e., play) as something they need to pay for (e.g., new gadgets and games; tickets to sporting events; fast cars and more.)  As a culture, we need to rediscover our willingness and ability to have fun (play) that does not cost so much.  We need to play our own music and dance our own dances.

In this article I focus on the important role that play has in keeping us happy and healthy – as well as hip and high.  In particular, I review a wonderful book entitled “Play” by Dr Stuart Brown.  You can also read interviews with the author.  He is also the founder of what must be a great place to work:   The National Institute for Play which uses science to discover all that play has to teach us about transforming our world.   Then I have collected a “Top 40” awesome quotes about play – why, how and when to do it.  Then I present a series of articles about how  and why we need to play moreBTW – when reading about how play affects children recognize that the information generally applies to adults and children of any generation.  Click below to read how to play more now – and Why it OK to do it!!

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Dr. King’s Legacy Demands Innovative Social Activism

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martin-luther-king-jr-day-L-xGOagMI originally wrote this article five years ago on April 4, 2008 which was the 40th Anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Like now, that was a day to reflect on Dr. King’s largely unfinished work for justice and equality.   At the time I wanted to speculate about what he would say and do about today’s issues had he not been assassinated in 1968.   Dr. King would still be fighting against racism, poverty and war.  In particular, he would be leading the criticism of the United States – not just for our involvement in wars; but for the whole way in which corporations have taken over the global economy.    I also wrote this article originally to support Obama’s campaign for president – which he fortunately won!!

Dr King’s patience would have likely worn thin by now – particularly with the Bush administration (and even President Obama.)  There would have been a lot more civil disobedience and protest if he had lived.  I also believe that the War on Drugs would have been stopped and there would be far fewer prisoners.  I also want to stress how Dr. King’s comments during the last year of his life were much more radical than the sanitized picture the establishment has created of a passive dreamer.  He was an activist and community organizer who never stopped fighting for the poor and powerless (both groups have increased dramatically in past decade.)  Like Jesus and John Lennon he also held firm in his belief in the Power of Love! 

Also you can read his Playboy interview and the testimonial from James Brown.

Click below to learn more about Dr. King’s legacy and lessons for life!!

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Sustainable Food Supply Systems Represent Important Social Innovation

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Food represents the most important item that we purchase and consumer on a regular basis.  Therefore, our food decisions represent the most important way that consumers can have a direct effect on an entire food production system.  This article defines sustainability and outlines it’s key features.  One of the most important and interesting aspects of the modern food supply chain is how the major food retailers (particularly Walmart) have taken responsibility and devoted resources to ensuring the sustainability of their supply chain.  This represents a social innovation because it involves collective action aimed at benefiting the larger society. It is also clear that the government oversight system is no longer seen as adequate to protect food safety and social responsibility.

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Center for Community Creativity – Proposal for Interdisciplinary Innovation

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Research by Richard Florida and others demonstrates that communities vary tremendously in terms of their support for creative people and their pursuits.   Over the past few years I have developed plans for a Center for Community Creativity (CCC) that would address the need communities have to become more authentically creative.   More creative communities attract and support more innovative and socially responsible companies.  The CCC should be housed at a major research university.  This article summarizes my proposal for a Center for Community Creativity.   Click below to learn more:

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“Engines of Innovation” and Innovate@Carolina Set the Standard for University Social Innovation

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Like all social institutions research universities are struggling to remain relevant in our rapidly changing world. Having received significant public support, it is time for universities to increase their willingness and ability to take strong leadership in solving serious social problems.  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first American public institution of higher learning established in 1795.  Now, two centuries later UNC is transforming itself to become a global model for how and why universities should do much more to promote positive social change (i.e., social innovation.) This renewed focus on new ways to address society’s needs is best exemplified and explained in a new book “Engines of Innovation.” Written by UNC’s progressive chancellor (Dr. Holden Thorp) and UNC’s entrepreneur-in-residence (Buck Goldstein) this book provides important information, insights and inspiration for universities who wish to fulfill their potential.  To truly model socially-relevant innovation, UNC-CH (under Chancellor Thorp’s leadership) recently launched a ground-breaking initiative, known as Innovate@Carolina.  This article summarizes the important book, as well as UNC’s roadmap to innovation.  The authors have also created a BLOG to rev-up university commitment to social innovationClick below to learn more.

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Social Problems Drive and Determine the Nature of Social Innovation

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Throughout human history innovation has been driven by the need to solve social problems.  This was true from the dawn of agriculture (need to feed a growing population); to the present when technology controls  the natural world and causes as many problems as it solves. Social innovations are sorely needed to address a series of complex and challenging social problems. This article lists some of the main social problems and then outlines the conditions that elevate some issues to the status of a social problem.  After that you will find some insights from C. Wright Mills 1959 classic “The Sociological Imagination.

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