The Summit Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting this year will feature a forum led by Marc J. Dunkelman, author of The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community.
The presentation, one in a series sponsored by SNA, will focus on the consequences for public policy of an epochal shift in the structure of American life.
The gathering will begin at 7 pm Monday, May 1, at The Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave., – which has ample parking available – and open with a social time sharing pizza, beer, wine and soft drinks. There will be a review of SNA’s activities over the past year presented by President Dean Weinberg, followed by voting on a prepared slate of candidates for a new board of directors. Nominations also will be accepted from the floor.
Then the main event will begin.
Dunkelman, a Taubman Fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, will present the findings of his research on how the evolving American community has affected government, the economy and the resilience of the social safety net.
During more than a dozen years in Washington, D.C., Dunkelman was on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the vice president for strategy and communications at the Democratic Leadership Council. He was also a senior fellow at the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, a visiting fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Dunkelman is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia University, where he worked to found the Columbia Political Union.
In 2014, he published his book, in which he shows that routines that once put doctors and lawyers in touch with grocers and plumbers—interactions that encouraged debate and cultivated compromise—have changed dramatically since the postwar era. He says that both technology and the new routines of life connect tight-knit circles and expand the breadth of our social landscapes, but they’ve sapped the commonplace, incidental interactions that for centuries have built local communities and fostered healthy debate.
Dunkelman asserts that the disappearance of these once-central relationships—between people who are familiar but not close, or friendly but not intimate—lies at the root of America’s economic woes and political gridlock.
However, his book argues persuasively that to win the future we need to adapt yesterday’s institutions to the realities of the 21st-century American community.
After his presentation, Dunkelman will answer questions from the floor and sign copies of his book.