Youth Cultures – Adolescence or Manipulation?

Youth cultures are explained either by factors in the experience of adolescence, or by the manipulation of young people’s spending and leisure, through advertising and other mass media.  They tend not to be passed on to the next generation and usually fade out in decade.  At the beginning there is fear, and youth cultures are often judged completely wrongly: punk, for instance, was first thought to be a new neo-Nazi movement in the 1970s.

What happens then is that youth cultures are either drastically marginalized, or even demonized, as is the case with the neo-Nazi scene, about which it is virtually impossible to find any positive reports?

Postmodern youth cultures are emerging due to the impact of globalization, the mass media and information technology, rather than simply as a resultof the processes of marginalisation or alienation.  Working class youth are seen as in transition to the labour market, and youth cultures are described as collective strategies on the part of specific groups of youth to manage that transition, responding to the conditions obtaining in their locality and to the class traditions and other resources at their disposal.

Youth Cultures

Youth cultures have not been part of all societies throughout history; they appear most frequently where significant realms of social autonomy for young people become regularized and expected features of the socialization process.  Youth cultural groups are often to be distinguished through distinctive forms of dress style and shared musical tastes, and are typically found in westernized, consumer-based cultures (although more recent research has identified examples of youth cultures in developing countries).  Today, however, straight edge is also a term commonly used to describe groupings within sub- and youth cultures which have agreed to abstain from alcohol, hallucinogenic drugs, cigarettes and promiscuity.  Also, things are not nearly so clear cut these days – cannabis is no longer the domain of just one particular youth culture nowadays because it has become so mainstream.

Research

Research into youth cultures has been most prolific in the disciplines of sociology, psychology, and anthropology; it is readily apparent in criminology of juveniles, demographic analyses, studies of the family and adolescent social development, and the study of ritual.  While the majority of research has focused on the effects of commercial popular culture on youth, popular culture’s role as a shared and identity-generated commodity among youth has been investigated to a much lesser degree.  According to dominant discourses in the media, politics, and academic research,the everyday life of growing segments of youth is increasingly unstable,violent, and dangerous.

As far as public perception is concerned, all youth cultures are initially assumed to be bad.  There is some question, therefore, about whether descriptions and theories of contemporary youth cultures are adequate for historical studies that reach back as far as five hundred years.  A key debate over this period has been the extent to which lifestyles and youth cultures are class-related, as in the notion of class subculture, or independent of class, the best documented example of which is the 1990s phenomenon of ‘rave’.

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Community Health in Kids Revealed

Experts say many communities across the nation are becoming less healthy, a dangerous trend that can harm children’s health.

Often, these problems exist because the way communities are designed can have serious health consequences, especially for children and families.

For example, in urban areas, lack of sidewalks, safe spaces to play, and access to fresh foods contribute to increases in childhood obesity. In communities all across the country, children are exposed to preventable toxins at home, at school and outdoors that can cause serious diseases.

Many children, especially those living in low-income communities, do not have a nearby doctor or pharmacy to provide them with the health care they need.

Fortunately, there are things communities across the nation are doing to improve children’s health. For instance, in MacArthur Park, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, the community came together to create a free health clinic and new affordable housing. An abandoned minimall was transformed into a new charter school that offers health and recreation programs for families in the community.

Delaware County, Ohio-the fastest growing county in the state-offers another example of what people working together can accomplish. Unchecked growth had begun to impact residents’ health when the community launched a rigorous assessment to identify areas for improvement. As a result, more parks are being built and community programs were created to encourage families and children to be more active.

Is your neighborhood healthy for children? Five questions to ask:

1. Is my family’s house free of harmful levels of mold, lead and other kinds of toxic substances?

2. Is there a safe playground nearby where my children can play?

3. Is there a grocery store in my community that offers fresh meat, fruits and vegetables?

4. Is there a health clinic or pharmacy in my neighborhood?

5. Is the air in my neighborhood clean and safe for my kids to breathe?

Community ‘Pay it Forward’ For The Good of Everyone?

Do you ever tell yourself, “Someday I’m going to get involved in my community”? Now is your chance. By joining an organization such as Lions Clubs International, you can help people within your community or on the other side of the world.

As a Lions volunteer, you can become involved in projects such as building community playgrounds, assisting in vision screenings at schools, aiding seniors, improving the environment, building homes for the disabled, supporting diabetes education and conducting hearing screenings.

Lions club members include men and women who share a commitment to service and take great pride in making an impact on local and global communities. Investing time in Lions club projects gives members a sense of connectedness to the community and an opportunity to make friends, gain leadership skills and network with others while having fun. Lions also provide opportunities for youth through youth exchange programs, youth camps and Leo clubs.

From 2002 through 2003, Lions Clubs International’s nearly 1.4 million members worldwide volunteered an estimated 65 million hours and donated $667 million. The organization was founded in 1917 and with 46,000 clubs in 193 countries, it is the world’s largest service organization.

Lions Clubs International Foundation, the grant-making arm of Lions Clubs International, has awarded $342 million to provide food and clothing to victims of earthquakes and hurricanes, give youth the tools to succeed in the classroom, empower the disabled through vocational training, and equip clinics and hospitals with new technology. SightFirst, an aggressive $143.5 million program, is working to eradicate blindness.

Christian Communities The Online Halo?

When you think about all the pros and cons of the internet one topic always seems to surface, the fact of community. There are both positive and negative aspects to online community but there is no denying that online communities have formed a spiritual and relational tidal wave that is sweeping our world.

The fact is that the internet allows for community in a unique and powerful way that has never been possible until this millennia. Look at the explosion of sites like MySpace or Facebook. Go to any college or high school in the U.S. and you will find people who are living in community on the internet. Now more than ever even the older generations are utilizing the internet to find communities of like-minded people. This networking is growing every day and is exciting to some and very scary to others.

As Christians we must do more than just realizing the fact that online communities are changing our world. We must actually begin to embrace this change and use it for God’s glory. It is true that the internet’s unique and powerful opportunity for community comes with some negative repercussions. One, the availability of all kinds of sin and temptation at your fingertips. Two, the lack of accountability for what is done within online communities. There are many more, but my focus is not on these negative repercussions. Rather, on the benefit that we as Christians can bring to God’s Kingdom if we will embrace the concept of digital community and use it strategically for His purposes.

I believe God frowns when His people are cynical toward new or progressive concepts such as online communities. I can just hear God saying, “Why not use that for my glory?” So why don’t we? I mean, why not really use it! Why not get involved in such a way that we, as Christ followers, become some of the forerunners in this digital age instead of always the tale sniffers?

When we see something like online communities exploding across the world, most of which seem to be ran by people who could care less about Christ…why as Christians do we not get some unction in our function and start figuring out how to compete? The apostle Paul was a competitor! He competed for lost souls by which he became all things to all men in hopes that he might win some for Christ. (1Cor9:22) He also said he ran this race of life as to win the prize! (1Cor9:24) Sometimes I wonder if we get more excited about our kids little league soccer competitions, Sunday afternoon football, or climbing up the corporate ladder, than we do the competition for lost souls!

Paul was a great winner of souls because he was available. Simply, he was willing to do God’s work in God’s way! (K.P. Yohannan) Paul didn’t limit God’s avenues of reaching the lost, he was on the cutting edge.

It is time as Christians that we make online communities a priority! Very simply, we are losing the race. A whole generation is being impacted in online communities and we are sitting on the sidelines booing! If we are going to bring the transforming love of Christ to all nations and fulfill the Great Commission (Matt28:19) then we must not forget about the new nation of “the World Wide Web”. So far, it is our great omission within the Great Commission…But I believe this is changing…

What must we do to continue the change? First of all, get involved in a Christian online community. Use it as a tool to disciple and edify other like-minded people. For the more experienced and those with bedrock integrity, get involved in a non-Christian community like Myspace or Facebook and let your light shine! Further, make your voice heard. Support the pioneers who are out there trying to make a dent in the internet for Christ! Encourage your local church to put a budget toward online marketing or to partner with an online Christian ministry. Lastly and most importantly, support Christian online community! We need more places on the internet that are safe. Places where you can tell your kids that it’s okay to chat, it’s okay to get advice. Support online communities that you feel are spreading the gospel and if you can’t find one start one! Online community is here to stay. Question is: in the online arena, are you a contender or a spectator? Let the Gospel ring loud in all our communities! Christ in us, the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27)

Community Magazines – Writing – Publishing – Reading

So you’ve made the decision to publish your own community magazine, but what now? Where do you go for advice, information and above all, inspiration?

Despite its growing popularity, the business of publishing local community magazines is not covered to any great extent on the internet and there are very few web sites where you can get informal advice and communicate with like-minded people. Unlike normal publishing, the business of publishing local community magazines is very often the domain of individuals working alone for much of the time, and it can become a solitary existence.

Basically, there are two types of local community magazines favoured by aspiring local publishers. The first comprises booklets, usually in A5 size, containing local trade and business advertisements, and this type of magazine is generally distributed around your local area free of charge, with income being made from advertising revenue alone.

There are several franchise opportunities available for this type of community magazine which can prove to be a great way to get started as almost everything you will require is included in the package, including software, advertisement templates and on-going support. The drawback to this type of opportunity is the initial cost of your investment, which can be as high as several thousand pounds. A number of companies now offer local community magazine publishing franchises and a search on the internet will enable you to obtain further information from those readily available.

The second type of local community magazine offers a much more personal reflection on your community, comprising the recollections of local people and a study of your town’s local history, which are compiled into a saleable product. It is unlikely that you will find a franchise opportunity available for this type of magazine and if you decide to go along this path then much of the groundwork will have to be done by yourself. However, in terms of overall interest, this type of magazine will offer much more appeal to your readers.

Establishing a local community magazine featuring the recollections of people from within your home community along with studies of your town’s local history can be accomplished with very little financial investment. It is possible to begin printing your magazines from home using a suitable laser printer until you have established a circulation sufficient to meet the cost of commercial printing. Even if you opt for commercial printing from the outset your initial investment could be relatively small.

The main difference between these two very different types of magazines is that one is distributed free of charge, while the second has to be marketed and sold, although as we have already learned, the second type of magazine produces a very saleable product.

A magazine based primarily on local advertising can be highly lucrative but the competition can be intense as there are already a large number of similar publications in circulation and you may well find yourself competing against large-scale organisations. On the other hand, a magazine featuring personal recollections will generally have very little, if any, competition.

Whichever option you choose there is a fair amount of work to be done in order to become established. You must either contact local businesses and sell your advertising space or you must obtain interesting accounts of your town for publication. As always, getting started is the most difficult part.

In terms of appeal among your intended audience, the more personal community magazine is easily the better option and can soon generate sufficient interest to ensure that once you have obtained content to begin publishing, additional content will be submitted directly to you by your readers.

It must be borne in mind that a magazine based on advertising can also incorporate features providing local interest, and in much the same way, a magazine featuring personal recollections can include local trade and business advertising as a source of supplementary income.

Publishing local community magazines can either be simply a business or a very enjoyable and extremely satisfying business – but that is for you to decide.

Close Friendships and Why We Need Them

As a life coach for over 20 years, I have noticed that my clients are looking for more than insights or pearls of wisdom; they want a guarantee that they can trust that they will not have to vie for someone’s attention, that they will be heard and cared about, and that they will be listened well to, without interruption and without feeling rushed.ro

Most of us don’t consider ourselves isolated or friendless. Yet, almost 25% of Americans say they don’t have even one close friend they confide in. What this tells me is that we may no longer expect friends to take the time to listen or to have the skills to help us reflect on our circumstances. In other words, intimacy, while valued highly as suggested by the price people are willing to pay for it professionally, is no longer a criterion we gauge our friendships by.

This puts more pressure on mates, who are as ill prepared and time crunched as everyone else. Many of my clients fight with their significant others more about communication or lack of it than about sex, money, or children. They have a hard time resolving day-to-day issues because they can’t find the time to talk to each other or don’t feel listened to, resulting in escalating arguments rather than solutions.

Couples sometimes schedule with me as a way of carving out uninterrupted time to talk or to have a mediator who will keep them from hurting each other’s feelings. My work is about supporting a receptive environment where they can each listen better and can practice communicating sensitively. This takes practice—lots of practice—which we are increasingly deprived of in our culture.

It isn’t just technology that is at cause; it is the dwindling social skills as a result of technology that hinder intimacy and friendships. It takes more than just time to be a good listener; it takes skill. One has to learn to focus one’s attention on someone else to discern and help with underlying feelings that might be too painful or embarrassing to reveal immediately. This can’t be done via text messaging or email. It is tricky enough to do on the phone when we can’t see someone’s face. Without practice or the expectation from one another that we provide this, we lose both the ability and the commitment to provide the glue that binds us as something more than acquaintances.

How does technology affect our friendships and even our ability to know how to be a good friend? In the 1970’s my husband was on the baseball team at Stanford and when the team traveled to another university for a game, the guys spent their time on the bus talking together. About what? He doesn’t remember. But there was nothing else to do. Without ipods and laptops, these guys were forced to use each other to pass the time and build the camaraderie that cemented friendships he has to this day.

He went back for a Stanford reunion last year and saw something that alarmed him: When the football team got off the bus, they weren’t talking or laughing; they were all plugged into ipods. None of them seemed connected with each other. He imagined they spent the entire duration of the trip alone in their own world of music rather than goofing around, strategizing, learning more about each other, in other words, creating bonds that would last beyond their time as college athletes. He felt saddened for them. How would kids from the suburbs and those from blighted urban areas bridge the gap among themselves if they didn’t find more common ground than what was underneath their feet during a game?

If what used to be a natural alignment such as teammates can be broken by a pocket-sized white rectangle that isolates us in a bubble, how are we to reach out or be reached out to? Even taking the bus to work used to involve seeing the same people every day, affording us an opportunity to reach out to our neighbors and develop connections. Today, on a typical bus ride during commute hours, more than likely we will be on our cell phone or plunking at our laptop keyboard, using the bus as our mobile office. We’re working longer and harder and the price we pay is increased isolation.

With online chat rooms and dating services, text messaging, and email, we can “exclude the wrong people” and avoid “wasting time.” But how many of us who are happy in a relationship would have picked our mates out of a line up? Did we really end up using the criteria we had in our minds or on paper? Does our partner really look or always behave like our wish list? Who are we overlooking by not taking the time to have a cup of coffee but instead choosing to not “wink” back at?

What can we do about this trend? And do we want to do it? Is it simply more efficient to pay for therapy or coaching? The problem with relying solely on “professional friendship” is who is going to pick up your child from school because your boss wants you to stay late or the car breaks down? And unfortunately, you might be afraid to bother even those you consider friends if you haven’t taken the time to nurture these relationships. Needing something in an emergency becomes an embarrassment instead of part of the pact of friendship.

But even beyond emergencies, we owe it to ourselves to have at least one or two people who are available to us without having to whip out our appointment calendars. It takes conscious effort these days. We live in suburbs where we may not be in walking distance to that special friend. We have jobs and chores and families that demand so much of our time and focus. But we need friendship perhaps today more than ever.

Friendship, community, and intimacy require changing our routine, unplugging from the TV and computer, picking up the phone instead of emailing, having meals together regularly, even doing errands together. Most of all, we need to slow down long enough to listen. We will make these efforts when we remember that a true friend is both an investment and a treasure.

The Prestige of Community Involvement

Who are the country’s most courageous people? In many people’s minds, it’s the heroes in their communities: firefighters, police officers and emergency response teams.

Firefighters and police officers were ranked among the country’s most prestigious professions in a poll conducted by Harris Interactive. According to the survey, prestige is strongly associated with respect, public service and good work, and professions with high prestige are those that benefit society and the people they serve.

Yet prestige isn’t necessarily what they face in a dangerous job in which their lives are at risk every day.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks brought to national attention the need for better emergency response equipment and technology. Toy drives, pancake breakfasts and other fundraising events are just some of the ways communities have come together since then to raise money to help their local heroes.

Many U.S. companies continue to support the cause as well. Wal-Mart stores, for example, give to these organizations on an ongoing basis. And, as a part of their annual nationwide emphasis on safety in October, each of the 3,700 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations provides a special grant to local law enforcement officers and firefighters through their “Safe Neighborhood Heroes” program. This year, the company will provide a total of $8 million in $1,000 grants from each of its stores to local fire, police and emergency response teams.