Building social capital (or… why I volunteer for Fusion)


I went to the Fusion “festival” last week. I volunteer for these guys because I believe we are called to love one another. Fusion is a great name for this group because they spend their time encouraging people to connect.

They do simple things that get people to interact. A prayer vigil where all the churches participate. A festival where people meet and connect. Selling hot dogs (snags in Aussie) to raise funds for a life-changing trip for kids. An Easter march with the churches involved.

Open events

All of these are “open events” which means that bystanders feel automatically included. You know how you can pass by a wedding or baptism and you KNOW that socially you CAN’T join in? Well there is a way to do group events where people are pulled in by the group.

It takes a minimum of 12 people to create an open group… 12… just like Jesus had 12 and then the 5000 was the result of the open group effect? Yup!

Why build an open group and build interactions? Because social interaction leaves the participants feeling warmer and connected on the inside. This is THE reason why Jesus’ command is to love one another. To aid in recovery, to help resist sin (out of loneliness), to repair damage before it becomes critical.

Counselors are the new aunts and uncles

In my recovery over the years it has been so sad to have to PAY $ counselors for friendship. (With the exception of Daryl.) I’m pretty much healed up now, so I can maintain my own healthy friendships… but back then, without access to counselors I would have been in such a bad place.

If enough people in the church loved one another, I wouldn’t have needed to spend THOUSANDS in counseling. People in the church don’t invite you home or come close enough to help a person heal by loving them. We’re too busy. We’re too insular. We need our “boundaries”. That damaged person might upset the delicate balance in my family. Etc.

Love… it’s a command

This is not what Jesus taught. He said to give the shirt off our back. He said to help the destitute. We must love one another.

He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him … Isaiah 59:16 (NIV)

So… you probably get how important all of this. Some will know because they have been there, some will know because they ARE there, some will just have to accept that it is true.

Social capital

The concept of social capital is vital to understand, if we are to consider how to turn back the tide of porn and evil and sin that is washing across our world. It can be done, but only if we will actively love one another.

Social capital is a core concept in business, economics, organizational behavior, political science, and sociology, defined as the advantage created by a person’s location in a structure of relationships. It explains how some people gain more success in a particular setting through their superior connections to other people.

closed-cafe.jpgHave you ever noticed how you can have coffee amongst 20 people and still be alone? Or in a movie cinema with 500 and leave feeling all alone?

The picture to the left shows a “closed” style of coffe/cafe shop. In this scenario it is not acceptable to interact with people at another table, even if you mean well

open-cafe.jpg

Now on the left I have a picture of an “open” style cafe. I experienced this in Madrid in Spain. The difference is HUGE. With the open style, you are absolutely, definitely, certainly, without doubt… going to interact with bystanders, people seated nearby, passers by.

It’s FANTABULOUS because you can’t remain alone and unconnected. Passers by ask for directions. People talk about the latest score in a recent footie game.

So the design of the place really establishes the way people interact.

Building stronger friendship ties

They say that people can only sustain 50 weak ties to friends. For me it’s more like 15. hehehe.

Social capital is built up between people when they interact. It’s that warm feeling. It starts off as a weak emotional bond. It is built through gossip. Small talk.

How does a weak tie become a stronger tie? Chit chat build stronger and stronger ties between people. If you want better friendships, then chit chat more! Short phone calls. Yak. Yak. Keep it light. The relationship will deepen.

Volunteering for Fusion

And that is why I like volunteering my time with Fusion. Volunteering doesn’t pay anything. The reward is in working together for a good cause… the vital importance of creating opportunities for people to connect and relate. They know about the vital importance of emotional health between people and how to create it.

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2 responses to “Building social capital (or… why I volunteer for Fusion)

  1. Sounds like an interesting concept. I hadn’t heard of this before.

    Yeah, cool huh? Just imagine if we all participated in just small things like this, building relationships… the number of lonely souls out there would slowly decrease. Bit by bit society can be restored. I am convinced that this is why Jesus said we must love… it’s the natural preventative for sin and evil. God bless you – Mark.

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