JAN 14: Why aren't we like rats in a cage?

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May 29, 2014, 7:08am

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Dr. Betsy Allen-Pennebaker
United States

Why Aren't We Like Rats in a Cage?


Dr. John B. Calhoun discovered that when rats become overcrowded, their behavior becomes unhealthy and dangerous, and they start to suffer and die.

We humans live in a really overcrowded world, too, but although there are plenty of examples of bad behavior and human suffering, many communities are essentially healthy and harmonious. Researchers who have continued Calhoun’s work... [view full post]

Jan 14, 2014, 2:01pm

Comments (15)

Madeleine Bouchie
United States

In the city of Burlington, there are many institutions that make the community thrive and work so well. One of these institutions that greatly impacts the community in a positive way is the City Market Co-op. City Market benefits Burlington in that it tries to make its products accessible to as many people as possible, and then continues to give back to the community with its programs and sponsorships. This co-op helps make Burlington a more harmonious and healthy place to live.
City Market has gone through many location changes since its beginnings in 1973. Since then, the co-op has entered into an agreement with the city of Burlington so that they could operate a grocery store on land leased from the city, according to the City Market website, www.citymarket.coop. Moving to a location at the center of downtown Burlington helps those who may not have access to cars or may have trouble getting around have easier access to high quality groceries. City Market is one of the only places downtown to buy good groceries, so they try to make their products attainable for all demographics. In addition to locally grown produce and Vermont produced goods, they offer a wide selection of products that are found in other chain grocery stores, and have some of the lowest prices for staple foods such as bread and milk. The central location and affordable products make City Market a great place for anyone in or around Burlington to buy the food that they need.
Another amazing way that City Market enriches the city of Burlington is that they do so much to give back to the community. There is always a running collection of non-perishables inside the doors of the store. These food items are donated to the local Food Shelf as well as any surplus food items. Also, while other grocery stores would traditionally give shoppers 5 cents for each reusable bag they use for their groceries, City Market donates the 5 cents per bag to local non-profits. In addition, according to their website, they are willing to make donations to non-profits, citywide events, community fundraisers, and school functions throughout the year. This co-op gives so much to their community, and their programs don’t even end there. They host so many more classes and community functions that all enrich the community and the individuals who are a part of it.
City Market is one of the most well thought out and beneficial aspects of the city of Burlington. They continue to add more and more programs that help the community, as well as provide a healthy environment to buy high quality groceries. City Market is one of the essential parts of Burlington and without it, the community would not be as harmonious.
Jan 15, 2014, 2:48pm

William Schnopp
United States

In our modern society, there are many different institutions that keep us from becoming the rat in the cage. They keep our life balanced (or as much as it can do, considering there are still hobo's and such), and they try to maintain an equal way of life. One institution more than others would be the city hall. City halls usually attempt to maintain balance and stability within the community.
First of all, the Town Halls and City Halls usually regulate money, commerce and the resources available to the town. They will make sure the money from taxes and such are put to where they need to go, like maintaining roads and to other institutions that the city pays for. The city halls collect taxes from everyone citizen in the city to pay for these things. The tax is just a small way everyone can chip in to help pay for the necessities of modern day life. The town halls also (In some towns and cities) make sure that everyone has a fair and equal way of life.
In some cities and towns, the courthouse is a part of the same building. So in a way, they are the same institution. The courthouses can settle disputes and disagreements in a fair and equal way in between all different people. The city hall has to do with justice and fairness in town events to make sure that everyone is getting an equal say or equal chances.
In not many cities, but a few that I know of, City Hall's also have set up different programs to maintain the natural balance of the towns so that they look as good as it is to live there. In my home town in northern Vermont they have regulations and such to keep the town looking beautiful. We have lush forests which are full of animal life. Some towns would have cleared out the forests for the money or for the wood, but this town didnt allow that. The towns people chose to keep the natural beauty of the town.
Out of all of the institutions I think that the City Hall has the greatest effect of making us different from rats in a cage. We wont fall apart because there are many institutions like city halls and others that keep general society together. They regulate and balance everything so that our towns are good places to like, and on top of that, possible to live there.
Jan 15, 2014, 2:49pm

Fred LeBlanc
United States

The Constitution of the United States is the most important document to our society because it’s the blueprint of our government. While our government is not perfect, without the US Constitution, we could be sent right back into the Stone Age. It protects us from two of the biggest threats, our own government and ourselves.

The Constitution of the United States protects us from our own government by creating a system of checks and balances that keep the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches from having too much power. Article I, II, and III of The Constitution are the structure of the ways our politicians are chosen, how long they can remain in office, and the powers that they’re granted. This is the base of how our government operates.

Our Constitution also protects us from ourselves. The Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security for a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment is the cornerstone of personal protection in our society. If we didn’t have that right, there just wouldn’t be an effective way to protect ourselves from each other. Sure, you could devote years of your life to become some sort of mixed martial arts fighter, but it’s not going to be much help when someone is trying to harm you and your family. If they chose to ignore the laws regarding theft, what makes you think that they’ll obey the laws regarding firearms? Without the second amendment there wouldn’t be any discussion of a castle doctrine or stand-your-ground laws, and unfortunately we need those discussions in our society.

The Constitution is one of, if not the most important documents to our country and society. It protects us from two of the greatest threats to our freedom, our government and ourselves. We as Americans tend to think of freedom slightly different than other people in the world. We think of it as, “Freedom from X, freedom from Y.” Whereas some people think of it as, “Freedom to X, freedom to Y.” I believe that our way is better because it’s more about our unalienable rights than the privilege to do something. The Constitution of the United States of America isn’t perfect, but that’s why we can add amendments to it. It’s just like everything else; it always needs improvement as time goes on. But I know one thing; I’d rather live with it than without it.
Jan 15, 2014, 2:49pm

Liam Freivald
United States

Dr. John B. Calhoun is well known for his crowding experiments with rats during the 50’s. The most well known of these experiments was dubbed “the behavioral sink” after the way that the rats’ behavior began to deviate and deteriorate over time when in a crowded space together. This naturally caused some controversy, since many people felt that this sort of model did not apply to humans. In a walk around Burlington, I noticed a number of places that prevent us from going just as crazy as the rats did, and the largest among them was the town hall. It is the center of government in Burlington, and while many people these days see the government as a bunch of incompetent and corrupt idiots, I ended up seeing just how relevant the government was. Our government levels the playing field, laying down rules and laws to ensure that everyone is treated equally. Without it, there would be a lot more chaos in modern society.
The first aspect of government that keeps people in line is fairly simple. The capability to create and enforce laws alone creates order automatically. The fact that rules can be made and enforced means a system falls into place, and no matter how loose of a system it is, it is still more orderly than having no system whatsoever. We can’t go around randomly causing violence without there being a consequence, and any consequences under this system for violence are not good for the one perpetrating it. Therefore, most people are discouraged from violence simply through survival instinct. It also changes the psychology of people over time to make society as a whole less violent. If one doesn’t want to cause violence because of the repercussions, and those repercussions apply to anyone who causes violence, then they don’t have to worry as much about someone else causing violence. This in turn leads to their support for the system that allows them not to worry about violence in the first place, giving more strength to the laws that the government puts in place and keeping society as a whole more organized.
The second portion of the government that helps separate us from the rats is the nature of our law-making process. In our particular form of government, everyone has a say in what happens, in some form or another. This gives society some balance. Instead of the strong hogging all of the resources or manipulating the weak, everyone is on the same legal playing field. Just because someone is rich or smart does not mean they can do bad things and not face consequences; they are subject to the same consequences as everyone else. This is due to the nature of the voting system. Instead of the powerful few determining who holds political power, the masses vote for who they wish to represent them. This offsets the power imbalance by letting the masses have more say than the strong few who would otherwise have a massive advantage in the world. As a result, much of the laws made end up preventing abuse of power, keeping people safe from anyone stronger than them that would want to take advantage of their weakness.
In the end, while it may have flaws, the government is our saving grace. By its mere presence, it holds together society by providing an ordered system to prevent violence through the creation and enforcement of laws. It also balances the system and prevents the few from taking advantage of the many through its democratic methods, leaving a level playing field where the law is concerned. This balanced system is what keeps us from going down Calhoun’s “behavioral sink” and keeps us from collectively going crazy as time passes.
Jan 15, 2014, 3:20pm

Trinity Harris
United States

Violence is, has been, and I believe always will be a part in every society. Every community does its best to regulate it through law enforcement and punishment to keep the people safe and provide a good environment for children. From what I have seen over the past few months of being in Burlington, the community seems to do a pretty good job of keeping the city as free of violence as possible. Of course violence isn't obsolete, but the rates of violence in Burlington don’t even come close in comparison to other towns across the U.S. The amount of violent incidents recorded has seemingly continued to decrease over the years, and that I can only conclude is due to the Burlington Police Department and their grave efforts to keep the city safe.
Burlington is among the top of many “Best Cities to Live In” lists and it’s easy to see why. Because there is such a push for safety, raising children in this community is one step easier. The biggest concern as a parent is keeping your child safe, so knowing that violence is under control and is not a serious issue is a great relief. Every community is striving to make it better and I feel that one of the first steps is creating a place where people feel safe. When I walk down Church Street or even around Champlain’s or UVM’s campus I always see police cars. Most students find them to be a burden since they infringe on their “fun” but I’m glad they’re there. They’re not bad people, they strive everyday to make the city a good place to live and for that I am thankful.
With the amount of people in the world it’s inevitable that there will be fighting, in fact as long as there are two people on this planet there will never be peace. There will always be something to argue about no matter how big or small; and with the world becoming so crowded it’s nice to see that we’re not becoming as violent as the rats in Calhoun’s “Behavioral Sink.” Since we are much more civilized than the rats we are able to differentiate right from wrong, violence and attacking others as being deemed wrong. We also have consequences for violent behavioral which the rats did not. An incentive to be good is a very powerful, no one enjoys getting in trouble, especially by the police, and violence disturbs the peace which many of us try hard to keep.
Overall the fight to limit violence not only in the community of Burlington, but around the world is in great effect. Most of us just want to be able to live in a world where the worry about getting hurt isn't there. That will probably never be the case since we are inherently violent by nature and when threatened or provoked we generally attack. Now it may not be in the way we think of as we do with animals where they fight to the death, but we generally will do what is necessary to come out on top. Because of this natural urge to be violent I imagine it very difficult to try to control in a community. However, I believe Burlington does a fine job of creating a safe place for its residents by deferring violence and creating a city where it’s not only unwanted, but isn't needed.
Jan 15, 2014, 7:23pm

Devin Read
United States

We humans as a society strive to advance ourselves as times moves on and keep up with the evolutionary chain. We have advanced as time has passed to become more than simple rats stuck in a cage waiting for things to happen and then reacting to them. We take a look at what happens in the world and then we adapt to meet and overcome all the adversities that we face. One of the core issues we as a race face these days is sustaining the life we choose to live with our available income of currency. This is problem is that some jobs, mainly the non training required ones, the same ones that are staples for our society to function but are not staples for a decent rate of pay, don’t have the pay; meaning that the jobs that society needs on a basic level aren’t able to support the people that work them. The city of Burlington has
understood this and created a specific ordinance that fixes this issue.

The city of Burlington created and in 2013 revised the Livable Wages Ordinance for the whole city. This ordinance is was put into place to insure that the “income from full-time work should be sufficient to meet an individual’s basic needs.” In other words the ordinance forces all full time jobs to pay a wage that will meet the town’s cost of living, the same way the minimum wage across the states intends to. This ordinance is a great idea for our society to progress. It helps the town by having all the basic need jobs stay filled and it helps those who fill them by paying them something that they can actually live on. It may not be the most glamorous life that something like an eight year lawyer degree can provide, but it is enough to keep you fed, roofed, and clothed which is more than the minimum wage does.

This ordinance makes the town of Burlington a much nicer place to live for not only those who can’t obtain a higher end job, but also for those who can. This fact makes the town itself look better in a very important way, which is the very small amount of homeless people around the town. On any given day walking through Burlington you may see five people on the street who are homeless. Looking at other places that are just a nice, take the middle of D.C around the mall, you will find dozens of homeless people walking around there. This ordinance keeps many people who would normally on the minimum wage be homeless or out begging to make ends meet, inside a home and with enough to live. This simple fact brings up the quality of living immensely for the whole town and makes walking downtown and on Church Street a much nicer experience.

Many people could tell you that seeing someone begging brings them down and puts a sadder demeanor on the evening. This ordinance keeps everyone happy and even makes traversing the town on foot not only safer but more enjoyable; this increase in life quality as a whole even helps give back to the local businesses and venders that support it to make it possible. With everyone feeling better about walking around downtown, people are more apt to stop by the vendors and make transactions as well as take a look inside other shops they may not have noticed.

This all means everything comes full circle with the workers getting a wage the can live with, pedestrians getting a safer and much more enjoyable environment and the businesses get more customers. Everyone wins and that’s the kind of thing that society needs to keep going.
Jan 16, 2014, 12:18am

Joe Caruso
United States

Everyone gets stressed, it's the natural course of things. We need stress or we would be unable to react to anything, no real feeling, just emotionless bliss. It is important that we recognize stress is natural and normal for everyone, and that we take the appropriate measures to contain it. Stress is only dangerous if it goes unnoticed for too long, for it will start affecting the body on a physical level. Stress is contagious as well, and you can see it all time. If you're ever in the company of negative or pessimistic people you begin to feel that same stress that caused those feelings. It goes to say that relieving the stress of those around you can indirectly relieve stress of your own.
One of the greatest cures for stress, both severe and mild, is a little bit of Mother Nature. Humans, like all animals, are designed to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, and as a species it wasn't until recently that we began to live in these crowded places we call a city. Many people recognize this and actively make trips outside city, but for many in the inner-city it's not always so easy. For this reason parks are routinely built within a city so that its inhabitants may enjoy nature with convenience.
The sensual stress relief that a city park offers to combat the normal sounds of the city is subconscious in nature. Now of-course putting intention on your relaxation will only increase the stress relief, but it is not necessary. Parks are usually large enough so that they themselves do not become overcrowded, which in turn provide a great place for people to gather for events.
One type of event in particular is a farmers market. A farmers market gives people of the community an opportunity to barter with other members of a community for local, home-made, and/or home-grown goods. The market usually takes place once a week and anyone can participate, as long they are respectful to all who attend. Communities can benefit from markets like this for a few reasons like: Providing economic opportunities to those who are talented and determined enough to take advantage of it, turning hobbies into businesses that keep money circulating in the community, and providing a great place for people to interact with those sharing similar interests. As one would expect, economic opportunity and social interaction are also great ways to combat stress, which is just another reason why we must maintain our city parks.
Jan 16, 2014, 3:33pm

Tim Mahewson
United States

Through choice and inclusion there is success

One of our very first stops on our walk was Champlain College. To begin with I'd like to label Champlain as its own individual community that is a part of the greater community of Burlington, VT. After Champlain we moved on to many other locations such as City Market and the town hall. Throughout the walk I began to compare and think about what Champlain does and accomplishes as a community in such a small space that Burlington does using a much larger area. Now I understand that Champlain has a much smaller population and the Burlington has much more work to do and accomplish for its citizens as well as the support it and the state of Vermont provides to the college but what Champlain does is no small feat. Through the means of teaching higher education and the systems of resource distribution Champlain College instills in its students and community members efficiency and highly valued knowledge in ways that level the playing field for all classes, prevents one dominant group from monopolizing all resources, and teaches members how to manage resources properly with the least amount of waste and loss.
In the classrooms of Champlain College you will find that there are very small numbers of individual desks. That is because at Champlain there is an incredibly strong emphasis on collaborative work and behaviors. It is to the greater benefit of all the members in the classroom if every to all members actively participate and add to the discussions and activities of that class no matter the subject. The classroom is designed for total inclusion and in so doing provides the members of the classroom a safety net for growing stability which helps all members learn more. What is being learned will also be enriched even more so by the collaboration of every member. The increased inclusion and collaboration ensures the greater output of the classroom’s resources, knowledge, and decreases the loss of that resource by the enrichment collaboration and inclusion provide to the classroom.
The opportunities and resources at Champlain College are endless. There are jobs, greater job placement, knowledge in many fields of study, internships, incredible professors, vast stores of knowledge, housing, food, places to exercise, breathtaking beauty in sites and people, transportation, real-world out of classroom training, vast networks of valuable people in all areas of study, and most importantly a feeling of home and belonging to its members. All these opportunities and resources are essential for success in today’s day and age. Champlain College can provide all these things to its members however it wouldn’t mean anything or accomplish much if those resources were being used and benefiting only one people or one group. Champlain’s community isn’t made up of just one group or people though. It does have diversity and in that diversity some groups may be larger or smaller however the ways in which Champlain is set up, that does not matter. It does not matter who you are, what you are, where you are from, your means, your skills, your strengths, your weaknesses, none of that matters in the distribution of Champlain’s resources to its members. If you are a member of the college and want to consume some of its resources, that opportunity is available to you. It is all on the member’s own individual choices what opportunities are taken advantage of.
Champlain College may not be a perfect utopian society, who even said one exists, but it is very clear why its members are very different that of the members in Calhoun’s rat box or why the behaviors exhibited in the box are not seen at Champlain. Through inclusion and equality, the abundant resources provided by Champlain reaches every member of its community that freely chose to consume said abundance in abundance if the choice is made. It is no wonder that Champlain College is provided with the support it receives from Burlington and the state of Vermont. The proof of success is on the many and growing successes of its own members.
Jan 16, 2014, 4:24pm

Danielle Wright
United States

The difference between the human race and the rat race is the way we handle the increasing population of our that species. Rats are unable to handle the overpopulation resulting in a sort of rat plague. Humans, on the other hand, have a much better way of adapting to situation. We mass produce food, we have created rules and regulations that are enforced by enforcers and regulated by the government, we have created communities everywhere that supply basic needs of our species along with a variant of luxury services. The accumulation of these services make life sustainable, one of those services worth praise(pun intended) is the church.
The church prevents us from “circling the drain in the behavioral sink. The church is a crucial element for a community to obtain a sustainable living habitat and effects the entire community no matter what your religious beliefs are.
The local church is a place where your economic status is irrelevant. All classes, ages, ganders, and races are all welcome at the church. The church does not only bring all classes of people together but they hold events and fundraisers to help the less privileged members of the community. In some cases the church even strives to help unemployed members of the community find jobs, either with the church or with other organizations in the community. This helps create equality in the community.
Church is a good stress reliever. If things in life are looking a little crummy lately the church is a good place to get that stress out. Anyone, religious or not, wants their problems listened to and sympathized with. The church is a good place to go to get that kind of attention.
When life altering catastrophes take place, such as 9/11, there is a common question amongst all of the community. That question is why? People want to know why bad things happen and the church is ready to give that answer. In tough times the church is awaiting the community with open arms ready to give answers, support, and to reassure you that you’re not alone.
The Church is a place where religious members of the community can practice their faith but it is also so much more than that. The church is an economic equalizer, a stress relief haven, a comforter in time of need, and they are there for any member of the community, no matter what your religious practice is.
Jan 16, 2014, 7:47pm

Brandon B
United States

Brandon Bova

How to Not “Circle the Drain” in the Behavioral Sink
“Man is by nature a social animal…” -Aristotle. As of 3:13 p.m. on January 14, 2014, the earth has 7,241,323,115 human beings inhabiting its land. Some speculate that there is a limit to population; when will the earth begin to experience overpopulation? You may be asking yourself, with all of these people crowding onto one planet how can you cope? Well, some people cope with violence and destruction. There are approximately 2,200,000 adults incarcerated in America. Now, America isn’t all bad, about 311 million other Americans use every day institutions to cope. Communities, like Burlington, that have social institutions such as Higher Ground, that channel human sexual urges into appropriate outlets and facilitate economic exchange so that people have a chance to earn a living.
Higher Ground is a venue that hosts concerts for people of all ages to enjoy. The concerts performed at Higher Ground range from the genre of pop and hip-hop to rock and roll to EDM (electro dance music) and trap. My favorite type of concert to go to is definitely trap music. If you don’t know, trap is a type of dance music that incorporates a lot of bass and high-hats. At concerts the atmosphere is great, everyone is there to have a good time and by the end of the night, have no feeling in their legs. Almost every single person at a trap concert is dancing, but if you decide to not dance that’s perfectly normal because no one’s there to judge. A lot of the dancing is very sexual. There is a lot of grinding and bodies moving together as one. Some may look at this and think that is obscene, but I think that it’s normal. I also think that being able to dance like this with someone allows you to channel your sexual urges into an appropriate outlet, since mostly everyone at the concert is doing the same thing nobody thinks twice about it.
Higher Ground being a venue that hires performers and dj’s facilitates economic exchange so it gives people a chance to earn a living. When Higher Grounds books a gig for an artist to come and perform they are paying that artist which supports that person’s career. Higher Ground is supported economically by the venue attenders. Ticket price ranges from completely free, for up-and-coming artists, to $75 for well-known artists. Inside of Higher Ground there is a bar that serves alcohol to those who’re 21 or over. Not only are those who attend the concerts supporting the artist performing but they are also supporting Higher Ground as a social establishment by purchasing drink and higher ground paraphernalia.
For those who feel like they’re circling the drain hole, I would recommend attending a Higher Ground concert. Higher Ground is a great place to attend because of the atmosphere of a concert. Not only is the atmosphere worth it but the fact that Higher Ground helps channel human sexual urges into appropriate outlets and facilitate economic exchange so that people have a chance to earn a living is all the more reason to attend.
Jan 16, 2014, 7:56pm

Jack Guadagni
United States

Over the course of human history we have accrued many systems and mechanism in order to keep our societies structured and functioning. Early societies often had basic forms of the systems we have today, people knew that in order to survive they had to live and work together, even in the earliest cultures, things like murder and stealing have been against the rules due to the fact that if they were not, two people could not live anywhere within the same vicinity without slaying one another. Over the thousands of years, people have added and removed rules to fit the society they are in, but in all cases the basics have remain the same. With these basic rules societies can protect their people so that the strong cannot abuse the weak and the smart cannot control the dumb. In more recent years we have added rules to curb things like the rich owning the poor; these rule help to create equality so that we can have a society where everyone is equal. The enforcing of these laws is left up to the people put in place by the government. In modern America the people we who protect and enforce are local police forces. Our country’s police, however controversial and aggravating they can be sometimes, are needed to keep us from falling into complete anarchy.
No matter how many rules a society has, if they are not enforced they will not mean anything. For the laws to be enforced someone must enforce them. The mere fact that these people have the power to enforce laws over others gives them an advantage over others, so for the society to be successful, its law enforcement must consist of people that are honest and good-natured but at the same time forceful and strong. The police force in America tries very hard to balance between keeping the peace and being peaceful themselves. Because the police are equip with advance technology to help catch criminals and lock them away, the police can work quickly and effectively most of the time.
As much as the police can appear to be an annoyance when writing you a ticket or giving you trouble, they are the only thing standing between a civilized country where people can feel save and a place of anarchy ruled by the strongest, the richest, and the smartest. Police and the laws they enforce help to level the playing feels so that everyone can have a fair shake at the life that want to live, so long as they are not hurting anyone.
All in all, the police force in America is certainly not perfect, but it provides us with protection of the laws that cause our society to run without falling apart. The police may not be your friends, and they might give you grief but they are absolutely essential to protecting our rights so that we can live happily without the fair of losing them.
Jan 16, 2014, 11:44pm

David Atkinson
United States

Our community is comprised of many facilities open for use by the general public. These facilities are there to make sure the community is vibrant and active, and keeps people happy. This is the reason why we don’t resemble ‘rats in a cage’, or experience the effect of becoming increasingly bitter towards socializing when physically close to other people for extended amounts of time. One of these facilities is in plain sight, being the college itself. Champlain College is host to many services that are wholeheartedly provided to its students, but also sports a number of other things that boost student morale. Some of these aren’t explicitly noticed, such as appealing architecture, and others are paraded and lauded by Champlain’s website, newspaper, and other media outlets, such as the SGA (student council).
First and foremost of these services is the overwhelming focus that champlain affords to campus life. A wellness and fitness center exists that is open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, so students can remain healthy and active. Victorian architecture and aesthetically pleasing architecture work to bolster pride in one’s own institution. Academic support services are present to help students not fall behind in their studies, and lastly there are a plethora of inclusive clubs across campus.
Champlain is great in its own right, but what helps it even more so is its location. Burlington in itself has been praised as a #1 college town, a top ten contestant in terms of employment rate across the country, and a boasts many other accolades, to quote Champlain’s website. Burlington has a beautiful aesthetic (save for some less fortunate areas) such as the waterfront, UVM’s campus, and Church Street. Church Street is home to many facilities that help out the town, primarily with food services and entertainment. The multicultural range of restaurants opens up fantastic opportunities to its customers. It’s almost impossible to get tired of the range of delicacies that Church Street boasts. From traditional Ramen to a nice burrito, church street’s delicacies are impossible to deny. In addition to the restaurants, there’s many live performances and entertainment vistas that entertain concert goers and performers both. It’s important to a have a center for arts and music, and Church Street is just that- It’s theatre, clubs, and venues for live bands are just what a center for music and arts would need.
Jan 17, 2014, 1:30pm

James Korin
United States

John B. Calhoun’s “behavioral sink” experiment involved putting rats into a cage and observing their behavior as their population grew. What happened after overcrowding became a problem, was the total breakdown of society. Rats were losing their sense of community, abandoning their families, and killing each other for what resources they had. When asked why this doesn’t happen to human communities as much, I immediately thought of the arts. We share a lot in common with the rats from the experiment. We both have systems of resource management, housing and child rearing. There are certain institutions that can be said to exist in both our communities and theirs. One that is definitely exclusively human, however, is the arts. Having an outlet for artistic education and expression, such as The Burlington City Arts Center, is a massive force for positivity in the community. It promotes creative thinking and expression and gives members of the community a sense of pride and identity that only an artistic program can provide.
One of the biggest advantages a strong arts program can provide is a constructive outlet for those with energy that might otherwise be directed in a destructive or delinquent manner. The Burlington City Arts Center provides that oulet. Studies show that at-risk youth that take part in arts programs after school show improvement in their performance in school, are less likely to be engaged in violent activity, and are more likely to have a positive outlook on their future.1 The arts have a clear, direct, positive impact on the community. Aside from keeping children out of trouble, they improve the attitude and outlook of those that are involved in them.
Apart from the impact the arts have on individuals, they can strengthen a community as a whole by lending it an artistic identity. If members of a community can identify with the art their community produces, then they have a strong sense of cultural identity. If members of a community feel a sense of identity and connection to where they live, then they are more motivated to improve it and work together with other community members to solve problems.
While others may argue that the more practical institutions, such as banks and government, are more important, it is crucial to remember the good that the arts can do. They promote creative thought, provide a positive outlet for expression, and lend the community a sense of identity and unity. Clearly such a force for good is an indispensable resource for a community to have.

Chemers BM (1999) Testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives. October 28, 1999,ojjdp.ncjrs.org/about/spch991028.html.
Jan 23, 2014, 5:45pm

Mike Beland
United States

In today’s society we have order. This is why we are different from other animals. No other animals can get together, talk about issues within the community, and take steps to make sure that they take precautions in order to make sure that they prepared to handle the dangers that come with these problems. This is how we are able to create and function in a sustainable community. In order to meet with the other members of our community, we must have a spot where all who want to say something can gather in order to talk about these things, this is where City Hall comes in. A City Hall regulates everything, if regulations make a community able to coexist, then City Hall makes our community able to coexist.
A City Hall is the place where all regulations are passed. It is considered the center for local government. A City Hall is the hub for a number of different functions within the city. Not only is it used as a meeting place for city officials to discuss laws and other important issues, but it is also home to small claims courts. City Hall is responsible for creating laws in order to keep us safe, such as making sure buildings are properly inspected. This is the center of where all of our city wide regulations come from.
In order for a society to coexist as they grow larger, they need to have rules and regulations to keep everyone on the same page. In order to pass these rules and regulations, we need to be able to communicate. This is where we differentiate ourselves from the rats in Dr. John B. Calhoun’s experiments. We as humans possess very advanced communication skills, giving us an advantage on the rats. After a while, the rats became over populated, and without and rules or regulations, eventually began to die off. Humans however, are able to communicate and this is why we are able to survive despite our growing population. We are able to regulate our community and this is why we can survive.
In conclusion, City Hall is the reason our community can coexist. We are able to meet there and create regulations in order to keep our community safe. They also have developed ways in order to enforce the regulations to make sure that everyone is following the rules. It also has a number of other functions that help our society and is where most other local government buildings get their orders from. This is why our society can grow, unlike the rats that eventually overpopulate and die. This is what keeps us from circling the drain in the behavioral sink.
Jan 26, 2014, 4:13pm

Stephen Bergeron
United States

Rats are not creatures of elegance. They are not known for their sophisticated understanding of science or art or literature. Rats are usually the animal that comes to mind when people think of disease, filth, and chaos. However this isn’t necessarily the rats fault. It was born to act on instinct and nothing else. The brain of a rat simply isn’t complicated enough to form organized systems such as language or society. As a result, rats behave purely on instinct when placed in cramp situations with a large number of other rats. They will start to fight over scarce resources with other rats and will have no qualms with killing one another. Humans, on the other hand, are lucky. While we are not born intelligent, humans have the capacity to learn new things, understand, and behave in an organized social manner. One particular code of humanity that is ancient and found almost everywhere is the idea of law. The law was created to bring order to a species and to keep us from behaving like rats.

Around Burlington I noticed an obvious police presence. Nothing “over the top”: there weren’t lines of SWAT team members patrolling every street, but the parked squad cars and occasional visible ticket served as a reminder that there were police in Burlington and they were capable and willing to do their job. It is easy to forget about the police being around, as they behave just like average citizen (until duty calls), but I know that without them, crime would be rampant and Burlington would be a much more dangerous city. I then remember the rats. They have no police, penalties, or even a basic code of law. They kill each other, and steal from each other at will with zero repercussions. Humans are capable of this behavior too, but when criminal behavior has strict punishments, and a lot of people to enforce these punishments, lawless behavior is deterred.

The law may be entirely necessary, but it is not without flaw. Some old laws and punishments are viewed as outdated, laws and morality of the average individual are sometimes at odds, and police are just as capable of crime and corruption as civilians. But without this code, as imperfect as it is, we would be one step closer to being just like the rats. The concept of a law was created to organize communities and to keep us from behaving like animals.
Jan 30, 2014, 4:17pm

JAN 14: Why aren't we like rats in a cage?

Dr. John B. Calhoun discovered that when rats become overcrowded, their behavior becomes unhealthy and dangerous, and they start to suffer and die. We humans live in a really overcrowded world, too, but although there are plenty of examples of bad behavior and human suffering, many communities are essentially healthy and harmonious. Researchers who have continued Calhoun’s work have argued that humans have better coping abilities than rats, so we don’t have to fall into the “behavioral sink”. We can set up all sorts of social, political, and economic systems to help us live together (relatively) peacefully. Recently, our "Concepts of Community" class considered several such institutions/systems in Burlington, Vermont. Our thoughts are posted here. What systems work well in your home town/city/country?

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