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Citizen Leadership in Today's Leisure Time, by Glenn Frank, LL.D..
Entered as second-class matter June 12, 1929, at the Post Office at New York, New York, under Act of March 3, 1879. Acceptance for mailing at special rate of postage provided for in Section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized May 1, 1924.
Copyright, 1938, by the National Recreation Association
Getting the Spirit of Recreation into the
Human Relations of Government
HE field of human relations is to a considerable degree an unexplored, unadventured, unconquered territory. The earth's surface has been fairly well covered. Human relations on this earth yet remain to be worked out.
What in government gives abundant life to man? What about business and industry and labor relations from the point of view of life values — current human satisfactions? What forms of service satisfy most-what activities, what recreations are essential to different types of individuals?
The task is not for those who seek to reduce everything to dry, dusty formulas. The task is rather warmly human to be lived out, worked out, in the spirit of recreation, of good clean fun.
Government, education, social work, health work, civic work exist for securing certain very definite and concrete results, but at the same time human relations and a certain spirit of living are established and developed that may be more important than the immediate results in controlling fire loss, preventing crime, reducing cancer, tuberculosis.
What builds the human spirit, what promotes the growth of man as man, not man primarily as a worker, as a storer up of goods, as a developer of the earth's surface, but man as liver, creator, artist, musician, comrade, neighbor, citizen?
The first question to ask about a government from the point of view of the recreation movement is not-merely-does it make the trains run on time, does it keep the streets clean, does it insist on good building? Rather this and much more,-what is the given government doing to the human spirit, is it helping men to grow, is it making men of parts, is it making mellow citizens who live richly?
Those who are interested in recreation, interested in the leisure time of citizens, interested in living itself-are vitally concerned in the spirit which the government and all community institutions are creating, what they are doing to the men, women, and children. Are men made richer personalities, more independent, original, creative, self-reliant, thoughtful? Or are the citizens becoming more dependent, submissive, more of one pattern with less individuality, less sparkle, with fewer points at which they have a lively interest?
The spirit of the playground, of the recreation center is something which should affect all of life. The recreation emphasis on creativeness, growth, humanness, personality, long time human satisfactions, happy human relations has a bearing on the form of government and the system of administration in all community institutions. The measure of democracy and consideration for human growth and the simple joys of life in all community institutions are important to the fundamental purpose the recreation leader serves.
Citizen Leadership in Today's Leisure Time
HE CHICAGO Recreation Commission is an organized assumption of local responsibility to plan and effect a program for the productive use of the leisure time of its citizens through the collaborated efforts of public and private agencies. First, the Chi
By GLENN FRANK, LL.D.
On November 18, 1937, the Recrea-
cago Recreation Commission admits and assumes local responsibility for a local problem. That is refreshing in view of the almost America-wide tendency to relinquish local responsibility and refer everything to the Federal Government. When the nation was passing through the valley of the shadow of economic death it was essential that the Federal Government supplement local action and appropriation. Emergency periods call for emergency policies. But it is never easy to confine emergency policy to emergency periods. An extensive intervention of the Federal Government into local situations when emergencies are on, however justified, may cut the nerve of local responsibility well over into a post-emergency period. In a time of stress when the Federal Government must operate rescue squads it is easy for cities to get the habit of becoming chronic mendicants, asking alms at the gates of government. It is easy for cities to lose the habit of assuming local responsibility for local problems and it is even possible that a state's racket can be substituted for state's rights. As a symbol of a wholesome tendency the bold attack of the Chicago Recreation Commission on the local problem is significant.
Second, the Chicago Recreation Commission frankly undertakes a path of social planning for Chicago. Now, social planning, in my judgment, is of crucial importance to the American future but again in my judgment social planning can hamstring instead of harness the creative forces of American life unless the planning is evolved on the ground where it is to be executed and unless it is in terms of units small enough to be really manageable. I am frankly skeptical of the more ambitious dreams for national planning, because I honestly believe that nobody knows enough to plan this entire country. The complexity of so great a nation is limitless and the capacity of its
leaders now, as in every generation, is limited. So unless I wholly misread the problem it is planning in the nation rather than planning of the nation that America so sorely needs. As an example of planning in the nation the Chicago Recreation Commission is significant.
Third, the Chicago Recreation Commission undertakes to correlate all the public and private agencies concerned with exercising the use of the leisure time of its citizens. Here again I think this Commission symbolizes something significant. There are two groups of extremists to which I hope the American people will never give loyalty. One group is against the government's doing anything very much beyond preserving order and collecting taxes, provided the taxes aren't too high. The other group is for the government's doing about everything there is to do. The first group are unconscious anarchists, although their conservative souls would shudder at the label. The other are unconscious fascists, although their liberal souls would rebel at being so named. The fact is that we need a properly balanced number of public and private agencies running neck and neck in a cooperative competition. It is desirable to have private agencies in the field of social service in a time like this when the world around there is a decisive shift in the balance between voluntary social action and imposed governmental action. I think the avowed purpose of the Chicago Recreation Commission to tackle this city's problem of leisure time through a correlation of public and private agencies is significant.
I want now with the utmost brevity to state what seem to me some of the more fundamental aspects of the problems of leisure which call this Commission into being. The first thing I want to say is that the ultimately right solution of the problem of leisure time use in American civilization and in our great cities is going to depend upon the success or failure we have in developing certain qualities of mind in the leadership of the community, state, and nation. I want to suggest that there are three qualities of mind that this nation-wide problem of leisure time use calls for.