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AlterNet: Apparently, 18 Percent Unemployment Can Create a Sense of Community

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-17-09 07:48 AM
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AlterNet: Apparently, 18 Percent Unemployment Can Create a Sense of Community
Apparently, 18 Percent Unemployment Can Create a Sense of Community

Posted by Joshua Holland, AlterNet at 4:01 AM on March 17, 2009.

At least in one county devastated by the econopocalypse.

We're all in this together, and by that I mean we're a nation of hyper-individualistic worker-bee capitalists. At least that's what we've been led to believe.

But when things get tough, it seems that people appreciate the value of community.

From the Christian Science Monitor...

Lori Miller says she feels more needed than ever, and that is not a good thing.

People are streaming into the Ligonier Public Library not just to read, but to fax unemployment forms, to file claims online, and to look for postings on Internet job sites, says the assistant to the director. To help handle the load, Ms. Miller recently attended a workshop on how better to help the unemployed.

In Indianas Noble County, a patchwork of cornfields and small towns in the penumbra of Detroits failing auto industry, she is simply doing her part. In an area nearing Depression-era conditions 17.9 percent unemployment every resident has a role in helping the community survive: Bankers are refusing to foreclose on many families, the unemployed are volunteering at soup kitchens, and one gardener has planted 1,000 vegetables in his basement to feed the hungry.

It is a portrait of the future America is desperate to avoid an economy eviscerated. Yet amid the despair, there is the spark of a deeper humanity, as residents of Noble County find, in each other, the strength to stand against economic forces threatening to overwhelm this corner of the Midwest.

I wonder to what degree the econopocalypse will spur more of this -- of neighbors helping neighbors. You probably remember a couple of years back, when this story got some play:

Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone. /

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