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Why the name "Saguaro Seminar"?
The saguaro [pronounced sah-WAH-ro] is a cactus that grows in the Sonoran desert in the Southwestern United States. There are rich parallels between the saguaro and social capital (or civic engagement). Saguaros were for some time undervalued by modern American society and often razed. Saguaros are bellwether indicators of the health of the ecosystem. The saguaro also plays the role of welcoming host for an environmentally-rich community: vines grow on its trunk; birds make nests in the saguaro; Native Americans have lived off its fruit and celebrate its blossoms in festivals; and animals use saguaro for precious shade. Saguaros have an invisible root system that is multiples of the visible height of the cacti. And like most social capital, saguaros grow slowly (husbanding what nourishment the ecosystem provides) and are tough, long-term survivors.
Seminar, meaning a set of meetings for the exchange of ideas in an area, comes from the Latin seminarium which means a seed plot or a nursery.
If you had to choose between 10% more cops on the beat or 10% more citizens knowing their neighbors' first names, the latter is a better crime prevention strategy. If you had to choose between 10% more teachers or 10% more parents being involved in their kids' education, the latter is a better route to educational achievement.
For information on how to increase social capital in your own community go to www.BetterTogether.org