Why strong and weak ties are both necessary

A good article that describes bridging and bonding types of social capital. It is important for markets to understand which of them are at play in their market and how that depends on the market type the community is building. Basically, a person gets comfort and advice from their strong ties (bonding) and new information from weak ties (bridging) and so both are helpful for any type of behavior change.

For example, Food Access and Neighborhood/Niche market types often prioritize bonding social capital, while Flagship and Main Street market types focus on bridging social capital.  There is no one answer to how to build (or to measure) social capital, but it is important for every intervention to understand the two and which is preferable based on the strategy involved.

At a time when the United States is becoming more starkly and rigidly unequal, when Americans are sorting themselves into demographically uniform clusters, we are evidence of the problem. We are, at least passively, the cause of the problem.

This is the downside of high neighborliness. It is a classic case of “bonding social capital,“ which tightens the weave of trust among people who are already alike—as opposed to “bridging social capital,” which helps generate trust among unlike groups.

Bonding capital makes for in-group loyalty and unity. But a civically healthy society depends on bridging capital, and what social scientist Mark Granovetter has called “the strength of weak ties.” America is sick today in part because the weak ties that used to be fostered by diverse neighborhoods and associations are dissipating….

The Worst Thing About Good Neighbors – CityLab


As we’re scrambling to fix health care, food stamps are quietly paying off.

I look forward to reading the report in total but I think any market community knows that focusing on healthy food is a very good indicator of the willingness for behavior change. Of course, I’d be interested to see how many participated in incentive campaigns and/or shopped at farmers markets with their SNAP dollars.

Berkowitz’s study looked at roughly 4,400 low-income adults, about 40% of whom were on SNAP. When Berkowitz’s team compared how much the average person in each group was spending on health care, they found the SNAP group spent about $1,400 less per year.

For comparison, the average single adult on SNAP receives about $1,500 a year in benefits.

A total of 4447 participants (2567 women and 1880 men) were enrolled in the study, mean (SE) age, 42.7 (0.5) years; 1889 were SNAP participants, and 2558 were not. Compared with other low-income adults, SNAP participants were younger (mean [SE] age, 40.3 [0.6] vs 44.1 [0.7] years), more likely to have public insurance or be uninsured (84.9% vs 67.7%), and more likely to be disabled (24.2% vs 10.6%) (P < .001 for all). In age- and gender-adjusted models, health care expenditures between those who did and did not participate in SNAP were similar (difference, $34; 95% CI, −$1097 to $1165). In fully adjusted models, SNAP was associated with lower estimated annual health care expenditures (−$1409; 95% CI, −$2694 to −$125). Sensitivity analyses were consistent with these results, also indicating that SNAP participation was associated with significantly lower estimated expenditures.

Source: story

In case anyone needs convincing:

Diet is the second highest risk factor for early death after smoking. Other high risks are high blood glucose which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of obesity, and high total cholesterol. All of these can be related to eating the wrong foods, although there are also other causes.

Natural Disasters by Location: Rich Leave and Poor Get Poorer

Excellent analysis about the long-term effects of disasters on poverty increase.

Poverty rates also increased by one percentage point in areas hit by super-severe disasters. That suggests that people who aren’t poor are migrating out or that people who are poor are migrating in. It might also mean that the existing population transitioned into poverty.

Source: Natural Disasters by Location: Rich Leave and Poor Get Poorer – Scientific American

Nonprofit Fundraising: Venture Philanthropy

Venture philanthropy institutions are less averse to risks than typical foundations. This can give nonprofits more freedom to be open about their challenges and test whether or not their model is working. Having a venture philanthropist as a funder typically requires a heavy time investment including frequent calls, intensive support, and questioning. Be sure this is what they’re looking for. You should have criteria to determine which grants are right for you. How much time do you want to invest? Do you want a one time grant or a partnership? Venture philanthropy is not simply transactional funding.

Sometimes referred to as social entrepreneurialism, philanthropists may choose to provide start-up capital and loans to organizations that provide a social service and kick back revenue to pay for the investment. They usually have a mission focus. They then often use the investment payback to fund more projects in the community and are often non-profits themselves.

Tipping Point is one example of this type of investment. Since 2005, Tipping Point has raised more than $150 million to educate, employ, house and support those in need in the Bay Area. Last year alone, we helped put 23,000 people on a path out of poverty.

Source: Lessons from Funders

Place-making experiment tracks kindness, trust

How might a market measure this same idea?
Should we consider universal design choices that all markets could share that define farmers markets as a significant community space?

Visitors reported feeling 40% happier at the rainbow intersection than they did at a standard intersection a block away, and they were 60% more likely to want to meet friends there. They also believed that if they lost their wallet there, they were much more likely to get it back if a stranger found it.

Unique, trust-building places may also boost kindness. In an experiment Happy City conducted in Seattle, we discovered that pedestrians were actually kinder to strangers on streets when the sidewalks and building facades exhibited more detail and local character. We sent out actors posing as helpless tourists to different kinds of environments and watched to see how pedestrians treated them. On street edges with more small local shops and services, passers-by were more likely to stop and offer help than in nearby spaces lined with anonymous blank walls.
For years, public-space designers have measured their success primarily by measuring the number of people who linger in the places they create. Now we are beginning to see that public design influences our feelings and the way we treat other people, too. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface on the link between place-making and social trust.


How about a plan for January 20 and beyond?

I thought this deserved a repost based on the amount of direct action happening across many sectors.

Helping Public Markets Grow

Every direct marketing farmer and outlet has to be prepared for the next years of work, no matter what political affiliation one has. The reality is that many of the food and farming programs that we have worked to expand over the last few years may disappear, or at least shrink in size or in reach. As leaders, you should be cognizant of 3 levels of activism: advocacy, mobilization and organizing. Knowing the difference between those  is often the key to avoiding burnout and for engaging people successfully: actively educating others about ideas and needs around your market and its producers (advocacy), encouraging others to be active about those ideas and needs (mobilization),  teaching others to lead, defining tactics and building campaign strategies to push those ideas forward or to address a looming legislative crisis(organizing). There are wonderful resources like this one from NYFC to get up…

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