Steamboat Neighborhood Stickers and Something Called “Social Capital”

Television, two-career families, suburban sprawl, generational changes in values–these and other changes in American society have meant that fewer and fewer of us find that the League of Women Voters, or the United Way, or the Shriners, or the monthly bridge club, or even a Sunday picnic with friends fits the way we have come to live. Our growing social-capital deficit threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, equitable tax collection, democratic responsiveness, everyday honesty, and even our health and happiness.

This is part of the conclusion reached in the book Bowling Alone,  by Robert D. Putnam. In this book and his follow-up, Better Together: Restoring the American Community, Putnam describes our loss of what he calls “social capital” and how people across the country are inventing new forms of social activism and community renewal. Thinking about the concept of social capital, too, has caused the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association to consider what role it could play to increase a feeling of connectedness among those of us living in the Griffin Area.

It may seem a strange start, but the concepts in Putnam’s books have produced the Steamboat Neighborhood stickers now seen on vehicles all along the length of our peninsula. What’s the story behind the Steamboat Neighborhood logo and the more than 3000 stickers distributed free to residents in our area?

Missy Watts, a local resident, realtor, and member of the Board of the Griffin Neighborhood Association read Bowling Alone. At a GNA Board meeting last year, she described the principle of social capital and asked what the Association could do to help restore the social fabric of our peninsula’s neighborhoods. “Growing up in the barrier islands called The Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia,” Watts said, “one island and several neighborhoods from a bigger island had stickers that identified drivers as residents. It was always fun to see people ‘in town’, as we called the mainland, who were neighbors. Because the Golden Isles are a tourist destination, the stickers also identified us a locals, which was important to us as well.” This was the genesis of the idea that lead to the stickers.

Local graphical artist Bryan Douglas created the distinctive heron and Steamboat Neighborhood artwork, contained within an oval frame. Mr. Douglas then did something a little bit extraordinary. He released the copyright to his work. The Steamboat Neighborhood logo is now licensed under Creative Commons and is available for use by individuals and businesses. Under this license, you are free to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work and to make commercial use of the work.

The Steamboat Neighborhood logo is not a service mark for the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Residents and businesses in the Steamboat area are invited to use the logo to distinguish yourself and your business as one which is local to the Steamboat area. You do not need to attribute the logo to Mr. Douglas. But, you may not suggest the artist endorses you or your use of his work. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

Click here for a high-quality image of the Steamboat Neighborhood artwork, which you are welcome to use.

It doesn’t matter whether you are involved in a local faith community, volunteer for the Griffin Fire Department or at one of our local schools, are a member of the Prosperity Grange or the Griffin Neighborhood Association, or are a leader for one of your children’s youth groups. You are helping to build social capital – the social fabric of our community.

And the next time you see someone driving a car with a Steamboat Neighborhood sticker on it, give ’em a wave. They’re one of your neighbors.

Click here for more information about social capital.

Join our GriffinNeighbors online discussion group, “like” us on Facebook, attend an event on our community calendar, visit with your neighbors. . . Increase your connections here, in your home neighborhood. 

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for the great post! My son and I moved here from an intentional community called Songaia (.com) in Bothell. It is great to see people here in Griffin talking about the new information about the importance of community! I would recommend anything by David Korton (like The Great Turning).
    I love my sticker!

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