By Zak Rosen
In 1995, political scientist Robert Putnum wrote an essay called, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital. (It was expanded into the book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community in 2000.) The essay’s title, Bowling Alone, comes from Putnum’s research that says, “Between 1980 and 1993 the total number of bowlers in America increased by 10 percent, while league bowling decreased by 40 percent.” Basically, Putnum was saying, “that the vibrancy of American civil society has notably declined over the past several decades.” He goes on to site a bunch of examples of social disengagement.
Now, we at the State of the Re:Union aren’t trying to dispute Putnum’s findings. We are however here to offer a counter-argument through anecdote. If you click here, you’ll be taken to our most recent episode (and final pilot) of SOTRU, set in Des Moines, Iowa. What we found there is that in many ways, people are indeed bowling together, figuratively speaking.
A vibrant, and unpretentious art-scene has arisen from the creation of the Des Moines Social Club, a space “dedicated to providing a physical space for the residents of Des Moines, Iowa to congregate, drink and live out whatever artistic passion they may desire, bringing together all walks of life.”
Additionally, on a sunny Saturday in Downtown Des Moines, you’re likely to find over 20,000 people buying produce and schmoozing at the Downtown Farmer’s market. (Nationwide, there are 3,500 more farmers markets now than there were in 1994)! Iowa is known as the the capital of factory farming in the U.S., but, Iowa also has Paul Willis, a man who is responsible for bringing together our country’s largest, and perhaps most humane network of free-range family pig farms and farmers.
In our most recent episode, you can also hear the amazing, and unlikely story of one family of Iraqi refugees who has been welcomed into Des Moines with open arms and minds.
We’ll be spending the next several months putting together our first full-season of SOTRU. So in the meantime, we’d love to hear about what’s going on in your hometown that the rest of the country might be inspired by.
To weigh in, feel free to comment below of shoot an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org