Summary Chapter

Ideas discussed in most recent meeting: Friday March 19th
Generally-agreed upon themes for Summary Chapter:

1. Community involvement: view problems as opportunities for growth and education.
Discussion keeps coming back to this. Maybe we should each discuss how it relates to our chapter (if it does)?
2. Mindfulness: How do we get people to care and be active?
Seems to be closely related to 1.
3. Why doesn't this community involvement happen? It's often that there's a tendency for the people that are making the decisions to avoid risk of short-term failure. This is bullshit, says we. Expand on reasons why.
4. "Set the framework" for optimal kinds of social interaction etc. etc. rather than heavy-handed "you must do this" solutions.

Vomit your stuff before Sunday at 6. We'll meet at Warren C then, and run this bitch.

Mike - teach each other
- Not as simple as giving them the information, must make the case why one condition is better than another
- People put more emotional weight on failure than they do on victory
- What are we trying to do? Can we transform the campus through architecture and other means so that we can affect behavior for the better. Quality of attention is key
- Change in the system requires that its harshest critics do not leave, the most vocal will demand change

Some of Aaron's new stuff:
- We are terrified of failure, short and long term, as a society. This has lead to what I said down below as a "wussification" of society. We want failsafe measures institutionalized, but this leads to Groupthink and people are reluctant to do things and build relationships outside of their comfort zone. They are reluctant to make the difficult decisions so they appoint others, like university presidents, to do the dirty work.
- Students in a University setting should take charge of their education and their institution. A university or college belongs to the students who currently attend it, not to the alumni and traditions that they hate to see go away.
- Institutions must adapt or decline into irrelevance. Nobody knows what the current generation wants from its college than the current generation of students itself.
- Any changes being made in an institution like a university will ultimately affect the student body.
- For example, if the university decides to change to a cheaper food service, quality of life will suffer and students will become angry and demand change.
- It is difficult for people to care about things like administrative decisions like in a university setting, however someone will inevitably care about something.
- Students and others directly affected by decisions must be included in the decision making process. While not all decisions should or will be cared about by the student body, biggies like core curricula and decisions that impact student life should be open to student input and comment.
- Leaders ultimately want to do what is politically expedient; it is the nature of leadership. There is a tendency towards CYA.
- This is why they often try to avoid short term failure.
- Removing people from leadership positions and installing a more democratic system will have an institution rise and fall as one body instead of people pointing to one person as a failure.
- When people rise and fall as a group, all of the sudden, decisions are much more important and thus interactive.
- Nobody wants to be singled out as the person who failed often for fear of losing their job. We appoint people to make the difficult decisions for us, instead we should be able to and be willing to make those decisions ourselves.
- Institutions thus should be more democratic and less single leader based.
- This will make people take ownership of their institution and take charge of the kind of interactions and time they have there.

David:
- In the process of developing meaningful relationships with our mutual dependents in the Lehigh, we solve the problem of "mindfulness" - people will care more about the workings of the University because they feel they have a stake in it.
- Community involvement is a big deal - by eroding some of the artificial distinctions between "groups" at Lehigh, we make significant progress.
- Students shouldn't just be passive "consumers," but should be involved in all aspects of goings-on at the university. But we don't want to extend this just to students; all members of the community would benefit from inclusion into areas from which they are now excluded.

Jason:
Not too much to say that hasn't already been said, but I'll reiterate what I consider to be the most important ones.
- Definitely involvement on the side of the participants. It's easy to say that you could eat the same 10 meals on week-and-a-half cycles.. but any student with a comprehensive meal plan will disagree.
- Fostering a attitude in which people do realize how much they're affected. People shouldn't have the "well why should I care?" attitude. Pretty much everything matters, but we also can't force people to care- so..?
- Stop short-sightedness. Futurama reference: combatting Global Warming by putting huge chunks of ice into the ocean… doesn't actually solve anything, but they didn't want to come up with an actual long term plan because it may not have had immediate effects. "This is bullshit, says we!"

1. Aaron's: Students should be members of Bethlehem community as well as Lehigh community. Sense of ownership and engagement in both communities is good. This will help students define their own experience while at Lehigh instead of being passive consumers. Participation in decision-making is a big deal.
-off campus students: should vote, take out garbage, etc. acknowledge that they're not just orbiting Lehigh, that they're part of a real community.

Rob's: The influence of tribes limits students' experiences to whatever is encouraged by their tribe's traditions and practices. The end result is the community is fractured into smaller, arbitrarily divided groups to the social impoverishment of all. Smaller bits can be completely ignored because everyone develops tunnel vision.
-example to come

Mike's: doesn't apply

Mario's: same as Aaron's. Students should act as content producers, not passive accepters of the physical layout of campus. They need to be a part of the discussion, maybe even the driving force.
- students help design architectural stuff

Jason: no clear relation.

Steve: No clear relation.

2. Aaron's: attitudes affect the way we live. So the presence of negative attitudes is a symptom of a problem and itself a problem. Attitudes result from real issues.
-Southside considered physically dirty because of the Bethlehem Steel stuff.
-since students don't have a voice, they get a fuck-all attitude.

Rob's: people are unaware of the divisions caused by exclusive social groups. Smaller, cloistered communities and their considerations overshadow the greater vision of a community.
-Greek life - chefs cook food, brothers take similar classes, they limit their direct support structure to members of their tribe.

Mike: people need to be more curious. Communities can only grow when new issues are discovered, brought to light, and addressed.
- can't trace where 90% of our food comes from. NO ONE can know what's happened, since it's not tracked.

Mario: no clear relation

Jason: be aware of architecture.

Steve: Again, kind of hard to get any relation.

3. Rob's: Segregate people based on interest. Creates friction when community-as-a-whole stuff tries to happen, because there are dividers in the way. Institutionally, we acknowledge that they are separate.
- frats.

4. Is no longer a theme. Rather, it's a jumping-off point for further discussion about things that are not Lehigh.

Aaron's stuff from before:

Post hear ideas for summary chapter, info on own chapter, start writing the chapter, etc.

Have ideas of emergent under-themes to Aaron by Tuesday March 9th

  1. We should build a stronger network of relationships.
  2. Technology has made it easier to form such bonds and extend such a network over distance, but we must pay special attention to our geographic neighbors

We must acknowledge that there are good communities and bad communities. Structure determines relationships. The key is to reorder the structure ta change the relationship (pithy analogue from the natural world coming soon). Living together should be our goal for the coming century because it will make us happier in the long run. We do not have to trade comfort for close relationships anymore. The market has expanded driven by the entrepreneurial explosion caused by the internet so that we do not have to compromise.

What have we learned and what can we do? (Sample Title)

The lessons we learned for Lehigh in this book need not only be applied to our university or to just any college in general. What we learned here and what we hope the reader has also seen is that these lessons can be applied to many aspects of society and life in general. Life as we know it is changing rapidly and many of the old norms and ways of doing things will either become irrelevant or inappropriate. Bigotry, isolationism and ignorance are no longer a la mode. Instead, we as a society and as global citizens must realize that we are all connected; whether it is through food, architecture, community or technology, no man, institution or even nation is or ever can be completely cut off from others. What we must ask is that even if we could cut ourselves off completely from the world, how many of us actually would want to? Just look at your desk at work or at home; you are surrounded by means of communication that many though impossible only fifty years ago. How would things have been different in the 1960’s if YouTube or Facebook were around?

The task we have as a society is to plan what we want to do with this technology. Despite our interconnectedness as a global society, we are still plagued by many of the problems of the past.
This is a human condition; however it is a condition that we can change. Much of our problem is that while we have neighbors, coworkers, friends and the like, many of us do not truly live in what we can call a community. How many of us bought a suburban McMansion during the housing boom with fifty feet of land between you and your neighbor, then built a fence, parked the car in the garage and get the mail from the mailbox while still in your car? We as human beings are social creatures and necessarily strive for human contact; without it, many people become so depressed and lonely that their lives are shortened dramatically. We are impersonal as a society and this has damaged one of the core elements of human life; human interaction.

Technology is a neutral medium meaning that we can use it to express our good intentions toward one another. In many ways, it is easier to meet and coordinate with people than ever before. Discovering CSA's and local stores has never been easier. Instantaneous communication precipitates the creation of a virtual agora in which citizens are in touch with their elected officials and each other, communicating their thoughts and feelings, adding to the debate. This menu based society is what we have devolved into and it does not make us feel good. Why is it that we must pay extra or get an upgraded whatever to get the privilege of talking to another human being? Is human interaction actually a privilege? These are the types of questions we must be asking if we want to make the world a better place to live in and be a part of.
With the growth of social media, our society has lost its personal touch; we do not even talk on the phone any more, and instead we speak through writing in the form of text messages. We are as connected as ever however, we are isolated as before. We should strive to strike a balance between advanced communication and personal interaction. If we don’t, we face a world of isolation in our own bubbles connected through Facebook accounts and Twitter pages.

While new forms of communication and faster forms of transportation have made it easier to interact on a global scale, we neglect the neighborhoods where we grow up and the people that surround us. We no longer have a sense of place where we live, especially those of us who live in the suburbs. The idyllic notion of a house with a white picket fence and a green lawn has morphed into a monster that has cut us off from the people around us and made each unto his own in a world where we know nothing about eachother despite the ample forms of communication and transportation we have at our disposal. We are connected to eachother on a global scale through our web of dependence, but we often do not depend on the people who are physically closest to us in our local community. There is a major disconnect in our world caused by globalization and mass media; we no longer see those who we are dependent on. The growth of the local food movement is an interesting phenomenon in this regard. While it was not always the case that people saw the farmer who grew their apples or dug their potatoes up, it was the case that people used to eat foods that were grown in closer proximity to themselves and traded or bought food from people they met and saw. This made the web of interdependence much more personal, real and in our opinions, healthier.
Today however, we live in a world where we are not even sure what country our foods have come from. The farmers who lovingly grew their crops have been replaced by faceless conglomerates whose sole business is to churn out food for the masses. The farmer’s market, until recently, has been a dying creature, supplanted by the garden variety supermarket, and the small farmer has been replaced by industrial farming that puts out, in many respects, lower quality food. Food is one of the most necessary things for our survival. However, it is one of the most personal things we deal with; only you know how you like your steak cooked or how many vegetables you eat in a day. Wouldn’t you like to know if the farmer who grew your vegetables used a harmful pesticide on them? Local farmers are the ones who can provide this information and give you the personal connection to your food that you miss out on with industrial farming.

All of this isolation, coupled with instant communication has lead to another, more troubling consequence. Many journalists and satirists refer to it as the “sissification” or “wussification” of society. When left alone and given limited or selected information, like the kind that media outlets give us, people often engage in worst-casing; they imagine the worst possible outcome for themselves and others. It used to be that the biggest threat a child needed to worry about was being left alone in the grocery store, but children now need to fear, according to the media and “those who know best”, terror attacks on their schools, pedophiles, autism from vaccines, killer diseases and just about any other type of problem imaginable. This is a lot to burden a young child with and the society we live in does not make things any better. Because we no longer live in a personal society with relationships and a sense of community, we need to fear that our neighbors could kidnap our children because “how can we know that they aren’t bad people?”
Losing our sense of community has done a lot of harm to our society. We may be safer cloistered off from others, or maybe not, but we are all paranoid and afraid of our own shadows. Polling suggests that many people in our society are unhappy and we feel much of this is because they do not belong to a meaningful community with meaningful relationships in it. Our society is one in which we do not know eachother truly; we are a community of acquaintances. Sadly, most people polled recently say that they cannot point to someone who is their best friend. We need to somehow learn how to build meaningful communities again and not just a community of gamers over subscription video game services that rarely, if ever, see one another.

We live in a bubble so much that, as we have seen already, people are ultimately afraid to leave the confines of their college campus in some places. If people do not have a sense of place in the places that they are from, how can they be expected to adapt well in a new college environment? As before, irrational fear created in part by an impersonal society where everyone fears eachother leads to a situation where people do not even want to leave their homes. At Lehigh, the fear is of a group of people who are different and that students have never really been exposed to. Students are cloistered off through official and unofficial means, discouraged from leaving the safety net of the school and therefore from building relationships with the local community.

Outside of Lehigh, in the real world, we and everyone else must learn to experience different cultures and people. We have to understand that our communities often hold a diversity of opinions and cultures. By expanding the relationships with eachother in our communities, we broaden our understanding and enrich our lives. Negative attitudes towards new people, when we suspect them of the worst, makes us miss out on so much that life has to offer. The value that comes from meeting new people and being out in the world is indescribable. Suffice it to say however, that it is not something that we should want to do without.
As we have seen, people in the world form tribes. Out in the world beyond the bounds of Lehigh University and other college campuses, people collect together through a number of different traits including social class, race and common interests or fascinations. However, as we move further into this digital age we find ourselves in, more and more of these associations are moving into the cloud; people are grouping online without having actual contact with eachother. Again, even in the realm of personal interests, we have become an even more impersonal society.

We must break free from the bubble that our tribes and social media put us in. Being a worldlier person opens you up to a whole host of new experiences and enriching opportunities. [Expand.]
So where do we go from here? Surely the benefits of mass communication outweigh any negative consequences that we may face. While this may be true, there are things that we can do to maintain these benefits while ameliorating the consequences. It is up to the newest generation to take the technology we have today and to shape the future world with it. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. We can build communities we care about, develop a sense of place and be happier. When we start building better relationships, we can build better communities. However, we need to break out of our bubbles and start to physically interact with eachother.

*Possible Conclusion*
In short, the internet and social media are no substitute for classic relationships made in the real world. We live in a sad world when people wish to marry their avatars in online video games. No matter how hard we may try to be isolated from one another, we are all connected and we all need eachother. However, we will not break the bad habits of the past if we do not learn to build better relationships and become parts of communities on a local, regional and global level. Advancements in social media and the rise of the internet give us unprecedented access to new ideas and information. With this new technology, we have begun to neglect the people and communities in closest proximity to us. As we begin to work in the cloud, we lose basic human interactions and this leaves us stranded and lonely in our own little bubbles. This type of behavior has lead to a wussification of our society where we begin to fear other people who are a little different, a behavior that affects our children as we pass it on to them. So we charge to you, the reader, to get to know your neighbors, your pharmacist, a local butcher and farmer and people who are different from you. Break free from your tribe and social bubble, embrace new architecture and get yourself out there. There is a whole world waiting for you full of new experiences and relationships. Get out of the cloud and off your computer and take a look at the community you live in. Life is waiting; drop this book, get off the couch and seize the day!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License