Community Inquiries

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I (Doug) am trying to come up with a Community Inquiry of my own. After reading the Bruce article (again) I think it would be along the lines of How can we build on Dewey's notion of social intelligence? Presumably there are examples that already exist?!

Devin's Community Inquiry: In the following submission I will use and cite two passages from Bertram C. Bruce's article: "From Hull House to Paseo Boricua: The Theory and Practice of Community Inquiry."

Letter to the Local Resource Center of Civic Intelligence: Department of Community Inquiries. To my representatives of the community of (enter community here), I am writing to express my concerns about the way things are going with our city’s public transportation system. Recently I have seen cutbacks in the bus routes (enter approximate bus routes) –during hours when I along with a few of my neighboring citizens depend on these transit vehicles to take us to our jobs so that we may arrive promptly to work and support our families, as well as to return us to our homes after work to attend to our families. I realize that times are hard around here but I just wish there was something we could do or some way that we could form a fund raiser to help gain local support to keep the bus routes active. Thank you for your time, -(enter name and contact info of concerned citizen)

Explanation: “Society exists through a process of transmission quite as much as biological life… Without [the] communication of ideals, hopes, expectations, standards, opinions from those members of society who are passing out of the group life to those who are coming into it, social life could not survive.” (-Bruce pg 7). After thinking about this passage, it seemed realistic to me that I present my community inquiry in the form of a potential community member's perspective on some concerns about local issues he or she has encountered. In this hypothetical scenario, there is a hypothetical resource center (both held online and at a public facility) –and this concerned citizen is sending in a request for advice on a issue and to alert other members who can help her and to speak for others who share this concern who wish to become involved in a discussion to search for a solution, hopefully resulting in some process of debate leading to an agreement. At this point the resource center would be hosting a shared experience of civil action, one that mirrors Dewey’s idea of a rewarding community experience (as Bruce points out on page 5 )- “For Dewey, it was exactly in the ordinary experiences of life that we find the core of our intellectual, moral, and social being… Making sense of experience is what prepares us for enlarged experiences in the future.” Note: If this isn't the correct space to post this or if I have taken up to much space, please let me know and I will revise this. -Devin Out

Question: Communications technology has advanced in a presumable and non-exhaustive order; language, writing, mail, phone, radio, tv, internet, email, social networking. It is also presumable that the rate of technological advancement increases in pair with the capabilities of the most modern communication technology. Yet, does social progress increase at this rate aswell?

Thought: Technology is something that relies on usability and arises from innovations upon it's predecessor. For the most part, the constraints of the human form limit and guide the direction technology takes. Furthermore, products emerging dominant through competition in the market become standardized and outdated products become replaceable. As the rate of technological innovation increases, it can be inferred that so does the rate of technological replacement.

Social progress is something that arises on what is practical for a society to function and much like technology is built from innovations upon it's predecessor. But, the medium of social progress is within the minds of diverse peoples and the aggregate of their multi layered relationships. Unlike technology, people are not replaceable, and over generations "social technology" becomes both non-standardized and "out of date." To me, this means that no market for social progress exists or in the root of the matter, a constant and practical motivation does not propel social progress towards unification and therefore will not match the speed of technological advancement.

Therefore, we must develop technologies that increase the rate of social innovation that will be capable of creating standardization across barriers while preserving cultural diversity. Community inquiry, represents this form of technology.


After reading these articles I occurred to me that we don’t really have much in the way of people getting together and as a community solving the issues at hand (or at least they aren’t as publicized as they should be). I’ll be honest in saying that these articles were bittersweet. Yes, they showed how coming together resulted in success, but it also made me realize that people have stopped working together for the better of their community and culture and have focused more on themselves. Maybe that’s just the pessimist in me coming to the surface but as Bishop and Bruce state

The problem goes beyond institutions, structures, and a procedure, requiring instead the means by which every member of the community comes into the process of authority. Community inquiry provides a theoretical and action framework for people to come together to develop shared capacity and work on common problems in an experimental and critical manner. The word community signals support for collaborative activity and for creating knowledge that is connected to people’s values, history and lived experiences.

We have numerous communities that stick together and try to solve the problems and issues unique to them, but it seems to me that people work for themselves, and there always tends to be a group opposing the success they seek. Right now it’s crucial that these groups work to preserve their heritage, culture and do what they can to survive in a positive way. Following the framework is mandatory and I hope groups can put as much energy and drive into success as Jane Addams and the Paseo Boricua, because in the end it is of, by, and for the community.


An issue I've been interested in for some time now is the lack of quality education in the United States. Many public middle and high schools, especially in poor areas, do very little to prepare students for higher learning and inspire a thirst for learning in their students. While there are some pretty obvious problems with public schools in our country (lack of funding, not enough teachers, etc.), these articles made me wonder if there's a way to incorporate Dewey's ideas of community inquiry to schools. I was inspired by the Pedro Albizu Campos High School (PACHS) to try and think of a way of integrating some of these ideas into most or all American public schools. For instance, what if public high schools allowed their students to have more of a say in school policies, class offerings, etc.? I would hope it could have the dual effect of bringing fresh voices to the table as well as inspiring students to take control of their education. I'm not entirely sure how this program would manifest, but I guess that's where you guys come in! Basically, I just love the idea of community inquiry in schools as a way of letting students take charge of their education.

-Nichole (Nichs)

Brian's Community Inquiry

Perhaps the ease of modern transportation has led to more and more people abandoning societies they do not enjoy and instead moving to areas that have more intelligent and successful societies. While inner city travel still is shortcoming for many people, there exist numerous ways to leave a town, a couple dollars on the bus, most families have access to a car, and better off people can fly to anywhere in the world in less than two days. Often rural towns lose members to larger, wealthier (at least in social resources) cities. A lot of cities have had residents flee parts of the towns where there is little or no social bonding or services, and on a grander scale some cities have lost significant portions of their population; Detroit and St. Louis for crime, New Orleans for lack of social services provided after The Katrina Disaster, and frequently in third world countries as well.a local example is South Americans fleeing to The United States of America for basic services and jobs. Because it is considered easier to go somewhere "nice," that "works," people are focusing less on improving the society around them, and more on relocating to inhabit an already successful society that would require a smaller personal input.

---Begin Brandon--- Problem: Public education is not doing enough to nurture the interests of students, and is not teaching them how to live sustainably. Additionally through the de-skilling of workers and the loss of the means of production, adults are also lacking the skills to produce infrastructure to support our own livelihood. Corporations are holding onto closed sources of information which prevents us from taking control of our electronic devices – devices that invade privacy and prevent sharing. The increasing prevalence of hackerspaces, makerspaces and coworking spaces can help us take control of our education, critical infrastructure, and security of communication. However, these spaces need to be open to all people, and make it so that everyone is included and belong. Allyship is a critical need to our ability to collaborate and produce a sustainable community of learning, building and breaking.

---End Brandon---

How can the Liberating Voices pattern language work across a broad spectrum of civic community to build networks more capable of making needed change?