The Family and the Empty Middle : Family Power
The Blue House Institute is Richard Kordesh's home on the web.  Here, he posts insights about issues, shares thoughts and opinions about what's happening to families and communities, and provides background info about what he's doing.

Richard Kordesh's Blue House Institute provides ideas, insights, and practical proposals aimed at building good communities around children.  Built over a career as a political scientist and community developer, Richard's approach lifts up the vitally important roles that families play in making places safe, healthy, and sustainable. Drawing on his recent training in depth psychology, he also delves into his personal journey as a a man, a son, a father, brother, uncle, and husband, and how that has shaped his understanding of the challenges facing individual parents and citizens.
It's a Journey: Personal and Political
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Finding one's way into and through the life of family is a life-long journey.  We all take this journey, but in many different ways.  To know how to strengthen communities around children, it's important to know one's own path, inward and outward, and the perspectives it provides.

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The Family and the Empty Middle

by Richard Kordesh on 02/22/17

With our political discourse devolving into ever more extreme polarization, the idea of a middle ground seems increasingly idealistic.  But, the center, as empty as it seems to be when it comes to issues like education, crime, immigration, and others must be rebuilt if anything hopeful is to get accomplished. 

How we frame issues, and why we frame them the way we do, tell us a lot about how ready we are for the kind of consensus that the middle ground affords. How we frame a middle ground perspective on the family shapes not only how embracing we are culturally, but also how we know whether a community really has the capacity to educate its children effectively.  

That's because education policy always contains assumptions about what families need to do to ready kids for schools, to provide some teaching at home, and to reinforce the disciplines needed for formal schooling to work. These assumptions about the family end up shaping policy.

The right tends to define the family too narrowly, while the left shows indifference to its form.  I try through my work on the loving, co-productive family to frame such a middle-ground view of the family - more embracing than the right and more attentive than the left to the researched-based evidence that show that structure, commitment, and yes, marriage, matter.

The political dynamics around this issue reflect the polarizing forces that drive the sides to extremes.  Right-wing rhetoric that, for example, attacks gay marriage as sinful drives some liberals further left, to where they then abandon the traditional family altogether, even though many good men and women choose it and raise children lovingly in it.  

The loving, co-productive family that I advocate can include gay marriages, straight marriages, and other family forms - led by grandparents, for example - where commitments are strong and relationships mutually respectful.  Taking this position, I've been criticized by conservatives for lacking principles and by liberals for being too conservative.

Yet, for the sake of our kids, we need to cool the rhetoric and find our way in from the right and the left closer to the middle ground.

Richard's Blog
Richard is the creator of the Blue House Institute, from which he writes and consults about the political and policy dynamics of family-based, and family-generated, community building. The Blue House Institute advocates for dignified, local, and democratic policies that enable mothers, fathers, and citizens to thrive as co-producers and to share power. 

Richard can consult at many levels of the deliberative process, including community planning, agency program design and fund development, community organizing, building partnerships across government jurisdictions, and strengthening democratic participation through civic associations and religious institutions. 

Richard blogs about the obstacles and opportunities presented by the political, psychological and social dynamics unique to various localities and regions. He also shares through the blog stories from his own, forty-year journey as a citizen, father, husband, and professional, always seeking to better understand his mission and to sharpen his craft.

Richard earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University, and an MSW with a concentration in Community Development and Planning from the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Blue House Institute
Doing their best, different people end up in all kinds of family situations. Marriages fail or don’t occur for many reasons, including abuse, addiction, or a lack of love. Some traditional, married families can be hurtful toward their children, oppressive toward women and girls, or just toxic psychologically. Richard’s approach to family-generated community building lifts up the need for marriage and family to evolve into loving and co-productive institutions, while respecting the different family forms that real life circumstances create.