Robert Putnam brought a sharp focus to discussions about social capital and civic engagement in his book
Bowling Alone. He described how changes in technology and communication had eroded social capital in America. For our purposes here, we think of “social capital” as the quantity and quality of human interactions within the region. And we think of “civic engagement” as the quantity and quality of interactions among humans and institutions within a region. The past few years have seen new and harsher challenges to social capital and civic engagement as a result of the increasingly toxic nature of politics and media, both of which thrive on divisions.
By focusing on rebuilding trust and rebuilding civic engagement, Louisiana Central can become a leader, a case study, a model for other rural regions in repairing the damage created by political and media polarization.
Louisiana Central commits to use practices and research developed at the Kettering Foundation and Southern Growth Policies Board to convene conversations at the parish level throughout the region. These conversations and the concerns, needs, and aspirations of our people will ground and enlighten our economic development work in the region.