Landon Rowland on LINC

Landon Rowland had a very profound view of what makes LINC different and capable of social reform.

Here are two examples of his thinking.

“It’s a dynamic and lively process….”

"LINC is one iteration that is responsive to dysfunctional forms of governance at almost every level, and to changes in the needs of citizens, the human population, particularly in urban cores. You begin to think the solutions have to involve engagement by those populations in analyzing and addressing their own needs and finding ways to serve themselves, their loved ones, their neighbors. LINC has been a remarkable way of using resources of government without a top-down approach, but with the engagement, with the ideas and creativity of those people that heretofore have been told what to do and how to do it, instead of asking them how we can do this together in a way that engages them and makes sure they a part of the process, part of the solution.

One begins to see the schools as neighborhood points of interest, neighborhood nodes of action that will address not only education and before- and after-school care, but also adult training, jobs, ways to get to work, ways to get to a doctor. You begin to treat the school as a neighborhood node of social action on a variety of fronts to enhance the lives of the families and the children in a neighborhood that would otherwise be ignored. Frankly, this was one of the things about LINC that interested me: that LINC had the potential that even the most well-to-do districts in the country did not. LINC's approach was to bring neighbors and families together to talk about the issues of the neighborhood, the blocks around those houses, and try to come up with something they could join together in doing.

So to me it's like every other discussion of something as rich and complex as new initiatives. It's very hard to put your finger on any one part of it but to say it's a dynamic and lively process with plain advantages to government, to individuals, to those coming along who have an investment in the future. LINC is not a steady-state affair. We are constantly changing to meet the needs and competencies of the people we serve."

"A Darwinian kind of exercise..."

"And indeed, I believe in retrospect that the fact that LINC was started with this peculiar set of antecedents really accounted for our survival, its constructive contribution. And ultimately it's made for our influence in the state of Missouri, outside of Missouri, and outside of the United States. 

A Darwinian kind of exercise: you have innovations in lifeforms that sometimes surprise everybody in their survival and sometimes prospering. We've been lucky to keep going as we have because this is a very unusual initiative in social organization reform.

All new species are endangered. The whole idea of the novelty of the life form makes it endangered. But on the other hand that novelty is also a good part of its strength if that novelty embraces those forces -- in our case neighborhoods and families -- and excites those forces in a way that they had not experienced before. I believe that's happened in LINC's neighborhoods -- that people can now stand up on their own hind legs, as it used to be said, and raise Cain if they don't think something is going right, and they find a way to work together not only in their own neighborhoods, but with other neighborhoods.

Anomalies and innovations are in the eye of the beholder. It may be that LING is a confirmation of a trend that we can see emerging around the country and around the world."