The subject of work has surfaced in several other personal and academic discussions within institutional ethnography (that is extremely difficult for me to understand) and, especially, in feminist discourse (Silvia Federici, among others) as it relates to the subject of women’s work in and out of the home. What the authors add is something additional that I have not yet seen: The treating of the chores and school homework of children as work. The authors opening treats children as something rarely see, as human beings with brains, with feelings, with agency. This is powerful. Given the definition of health promotion from, the American Journal of Health Promotion, “to enhance awareness, change behavior, and create environments that support good health practices,” I wonder how health and health promotion would be rated in the United States and how it would fare compared to other country’s programs?
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McKnight & Kretzmann’s Mapping Community Capacity address an issue that I have puzzled over for many years: How can the government create an incentive to better one’s life circumstances without creating and perpetuating an environment of unhealthy need and dependence that engenders mere existence and probably hopelessness, to create producers rather than service clients? Unfortunately, I have observed friends living on public assistance who don’t realize they have skills and creativity to contribute to their community, and I have seen politicians that are not interested in addressing this problem where one group votes to cut benefits and the other group votes to increase benefits. Neither is interested in the disenfranchised and how to help them. The disenfranchised are merely pawns for votes or non-votes. I don’t see hope in the perpetuation of such inequities.
The alternative is an asset-based community development (ABCD) that assesses the knowledge and experience already present in the community, to help people thrive rather than merely survive, to value the skills that are already present in the community rather than concentrate on what is missing. There is also a more practical reality in this approach: Most urban communities have no hope of attracting major industries or services that would bring local jobs. The old saying regarding making lemonade when all you have are lemons is appropriate here. Use the resources you have and get creative.
The intersection of power, leadership, and multicultural inclusion into such a flexible dynamic is intriguing, not because it is generally overlooked by those in power who prefer to label multiculturalism as Minority, but because it may be the first time I have seen it considered seriously on such a scale. This puts some power into the hands of those most negatively affected by policy and allows them to take part in effecting change. In particular the APA multicultural guidelines call for activism by psychologists to effect change and achieve equality for all peoples affected by treatment of the so-called majority in various settings. Since I view objectivity, except in exceptional cases, generally impossible, it is refreshing to see activism and change agents at the professional level.
At the heart of the APA Multicultural guidelines is acknowledgement that the ethnic and cultural makeups of the United States population are changing and have been changing for several years. Living in Texas and California for a time, I realized that the so-called white majority was no longer a majority in either state. This was acknowledged by the census a few years ago, but while I was living in Texas, a local community radio station that was supposed to reflect the diversity of Austin did not and fought to keep control of the station and the board even while professing to be diverse and liberal. An attempt to create a diversity committee was not successful. In hindsight, I wonder if some aspects of community psychology would be beneficial?