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AmeriSaur- CoolCorps

May 20, 2010

Cool Corps: A person or group of people who become popular or cool due to their outstanding contributions to community service or volunteering.

After serving 1700 hours in one month at a local animal shelter Jen totally joined the Cool Corps.

Saturday I was drinking my morning cup of coffee and reading a magazine when I came across a short article about how the rise of the so called “creative class” was helping Washington DC become cool again. The creative class was defined as a group of people who transformed woebegone buildings into cozy unique hipster coffee houses with outdoor seating and often decorated with handmade revolutionary inspired art. As a whole the creative class cares more about making art and personal expression than about earning a paycheck. The article made city planning and revitalization seem like a live action SimCity: you want to transform forgotten neighborhoods into trendy-but-not-to-trendy quasi-tourist traps then purchase 30 units of the creative class. Voila problem solved!

What I found intriguing is this notion of how to make a location cool and the idea of a “creative class” having an impact on city revitalization. Because I’m a big AmeriDork I started thinking what would happen if we had a Corps Class: a group of people (AmeriCorps and other service alumni) who revitalize communities through service and service related activities. The way I see it instead of creating trendy coffee shops a Corps Class would create centralized neighborhood action hubs where groups of volunteers would gather on weekend mornings to pick up service assignments the way some people pick up a Saturday morning 16oz vanilla latte. Rather than art galleries a Corps Class would create micro enterprises that would help people learn the basics of finance and help individuals start small localized businesses and ensure that they thrive. A Corps Class could transform a community but would it make a community cool?

The rise in popularity in community service is pretty evident; more and more people are figuring out that community service is not just something a court orders you to do but rather something meaningful, impactful and,- dare I say it- even fun. But will we ever see the day when a high school community service club has a larger impact in school culture than football (just imagine having cheerleaders at a community service project: 2,4,6,8 cleaning parks is really great… gooo service!). Will our society ever get to the point when outstanding volunteers make the cover of popular magazines and run the talk show circuit? Maybe we will never get to the point where community service is truly an indicator of how cool someone is but then again we live in a society where we can determine someone’s cool factor by our own rubric and I’m calling it: community service is cool. In the end I guess it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that a Corps Class does exist, that people are committed to making positive changes in their lives and communities and to me that’s cool. But what do you think: does your community have a Corps Class… does service make someone cool, and what are your thoughts about cheerleaders at community service projects?

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