Village SquareCast

Join or Die: Why you should join a club — and why the fate of America depends on it

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Episode notes

“Our national myths often exaggerate the role of the individual heroes and understate the importance of collective effort. —Robert Putnam

This is when you meet a living legend and get the benefit of his thinking on the topic he’s been brilliantly, prophetically right about for more than three decades: the deterioration of our connectedness with each other across almost every demographic and every aspect of our lives—our loss of social capital.  And yet here we are, painfully and tragically paying the price for our failure to put our shoulders to this wheel when it was (almost eerily) knowable when Dr. Robert Putnam first articulated the societal trend in his iconic book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of America Community” (we’ve just re-read it, and we’re still not sure he’s not secretly a time-traveler).  Joined by Shaylyn Romney Garrett, his co-author on “The Upswing: How America Came Together A Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again,” they’re beseeching us to do it now (and we’re doing just that, until the end of 2024). Bonus: they’re showing us that what we need to do is actually fun, fills our souls—and might just save our country.

Learn more about Dr. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett in the full program description online here. Pick up a copy of The Upswing and Bowling Alone (you'll thank us) at our partner bookseller Midtown (wherever you live).

Please also take a moment to watch the trailer of "Join or Die: A film about why you should join a club - and why the fate of America depends on it," produced and directed by Rebecca Davis and Pete Davis. 

Note that in the discussion Dr. Putnam references a chart in the discussion - you can find the two-slide chart here (the first is the imaginary picture we have in our minds about how race in America changed and is not correct; the second is correct).


The Village Square is a proud member of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what's broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.

Funding for this podcast was provided through a grant from Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.