by Rocky Rogers,
Reedley City Manager
Have you ever heard the term ‘social capital’? It’s not something the typical citizen would use in a conversation, that’s for sure. You most likely have heard the terms volunteer, civic duty, social events, and visitation used at some point in your conversations. Social capital captures those ideas and packages them into a shorthand that expresses how much or how well we do all of those actions plus a few others not mentioned.
In some of my research, I found that Reedley had a City Band back in the 1940s. How’s that for social and civic collaboration? Robert Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone, relates through his research that participation in church attendance, civic engagement, and general neighborly visits has declined dramatically since 1960.
Despite the decline of such participation, Reedley continues to maintain and retain its Volunteer Fire Department. That’s amazing in every sense of the word. There is nothing more gratifying, more noble or responsible than volunteerism, especially if it’s done for little or no financial gain. We all have a responsibility to be a neighbor to those we meet and especially those next door. The economy may be in a canyon right now but the plus side of that is you can see a way out even if it’s going to be difficult. I think — and this is only my perspective — that the way around, over or through the doldrums of a struggling economy is to invest in the concept of social capital. Visit those who are shut in, lend a hand to those who have fallen on hard times and take an active interest in the world around you.
In everything, give thanks; whether good times or bad, rich or poor, healthy or sick, give thanks. Why? Because it is always better to give than to receive. If you give it, you’ve got it.
Some of the many ways people in Reedley and the surrounding communities can spend their social capital are through Love INC (see “How We Can All Make a Difference”), Community Youth Ministries, Police Department Volunteers and even just reaching out to a neighbor in need. In our Helping Hands section, we will continue to feature many ways people can make a difference in their own communities and the world.