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.

 



The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America - Harvard Kennedy School of Government
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, Phone: 617-495-1148 - FAX: 617-495-1589
Copyright © 2012 The President and Fellows of Harvard College