I want to believe in the American Dream. I want to embrace the idea that with hard work and diligence, and a little help from others, we can all succeed and thrive. I want to stand behind the idea that wherever you are from, you can come here and you will have a chance to live a good life. I want us all to embrace that idea, and that reality.
And in parts – in places – it remains true. Unfortunately, in too many places and communities it’s just not the case. Robert Putnam’s book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis is the best description of the fraying of that dream that I’ve ever read. I grew up not far from where Putnam grew up, in an Ohio that was an industrial power. Even twenty years after he grew up in the 1950s, the industrial heart of Ohio was still real. The jobs were real, the communities
were strong, the opportunities existed.
But where his classmates and mine could get good jobs in factori
es, those jobs no longer exist. Where his classmates and mine were embraced by a community and provided opportunities to learn and grow, to participate in activities and build their futures, it’s just that much harder now.
Many things led to this change. His book – Our Kids – talks about them, and tells the stories of families in America today, and what they are doing to strive for opportunity. In his books he tells about families in Port Clinton, Ohio; Bend, Oregon; Atlanta, Georgia; Orange County, California; and Philadelphia. He talks about families, parenting, schools, jobs, race, and religion.
It’s an important book, and worth reading. And we are giving away copies of the book. Thanks to the Delaware Humanities Council, we have 500 copies of the book to give to folks who want to host their own book groups. It’s one of the most important books I’ve read in recent years, and I urge you to check it out. Sign up – and get up to 10 copies for your book group. You can find out how here.
And then, once you’ve read it and discussed the book, come hear Dr. Putnam talk about the book and what he’s been thinking about since he wrote it. On November 14, we are hosting his presentation at the Baby Grand in Wilmington. Click here to get a ticket.
At the DCF, we believe that opportunity for all enhances the common good. Join us in a book group. Join us at the event. Let’s double-down on the American dream.