January 27, 2009


Welcome to my social capital site! I look forward to your feedback and comments on this site. Let me know what you think, what you'd like to see included, or what you have to offer...


January 21, 2009

Stories on Strengthening Networks

One of the best ways to build social capital is to listen to or read about the stories of how others (individuals, organizations, communities) have strengthened their social capital.

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The basic idea of social capital is that your family, friends, associates – even acquaintances – are an important asset. You can tap that asset to survive a crisis, improve your financial footing, or just enjoy life more. This is true for individuals and for groups. Communities that have a rich and diverse stock of social networks and civic associations are less vulnerable, and can more easily tackle problems.

Social Capital and Our Community

This publication provides basic information about our U of MN Extension social capital model and can inform individuals and communities about how social capital can be a benefit to their community.

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What is social capital?

"It's not what you know, it's who you know." This common saying describes some of what is known about social capital. The saying implies what we commonly observe—that getting membership to exclusive clubs requires inside contacts; that close competitions for jobs and contracts are often won by those with friends in high places.
But “who you know? makes a difference in other ways, too. When you fall on hard times, it is friends and family who create a safety net. Your happiest and most rewarding hours may be spent talking with neighbors, sharing meals with friends, being at religious gatherings, or volunteering for community projects. (Woolcock & Narayan 2000) That’s what social capital is all about.

A simple way to start to think about social capital is to consider the networks of people in your life and ask yourself:
«Who do I know?
«What am I willing to do for them?
«What are others willing to do for me?

The ability to create and use networks is important for personal success -- on-the job, in professional organizations, in volunteer work. Communities also can create and use networks to improve the quality of life in their town. Networks help us get information, ideas, influence, and resources so that we can accomplish goals.