Friday, September 19, 2008

Conversation Recap for August 31, 2008

We met in Wright Park. People wore coats, hats, and some brought gloves. August….

In pre-meeting conversations, a participant extolled the Chambers Creek golf course walk. Don’t be put off by the idea that you are going to walk by a golf course. This is a great local resource, try it.

SoJust note: Fundraising is coming along, a variety of artists, SAVE THE DATE Location: The Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (6th and MLK)
October 4, 2008
Evergreen Tacoma
1210 6th Avenue

Traveling soon? Check the info available on our own Dalton’s website, at, for a powerful search engine for flights etc. There is more to the business at

We shared a lot of job stories during check-in, some with new jobs, some with challenges in current ones, some doing new things in the old job. Plus, we heard from eyewitness accounts from the Democratic National Convention.

We heard from Eve on “paradoxes of urban living.” Here are a couple:
--The city’s lure of wealth and resources, AND the perils that exist in the streets.
--Our great instinct for community, AND our increasing ability to express it in ways that separate us from each other.

One can be so separated from other people living in close proximity. Three shared stories about the bargains of city life, how some places we live everyone knows everyone else, and others where long-term neighbors are strangers.

For an example of someone who tries to help people construct community through the conduct
One participant described growing up in row houses in Philadelphia, with porches as gathering places, and with frequent block parties. Yet the crack era of the 1980s broke that up a bit, and the violence and fear that came with it imposed a heavy burden on community. Great fear of others, distrust—these are the real barriers to community. By comparison, Tacoma does not seem urban.

One participant described the experience of moving from a small town to the “stalls” of apartment life. In the modern world, we do not take in others, not near as much.

Multiple participants discussed a lost ability to feel responsible for others, the sense that we are our brothers keeper seemed to be stronger in earlier times and in other places. Don’t expect to be able to move to those earlier places, however. The modern zoned country filled with 3 to 5 acre plots do not feel like the small places of our youth.

One participant juxtaposed that with the quick community possible among folks who have shared an experience. You have all seen a version of this. After a convention speech in a huge stadium, lots of people piled onto a train to get on with their evening…. Quick warmth, lots of people in cheerful conversation with folks they just met. Maybe it doesn’t take much to accept such offers of community.

A long time ago, some of us lived on farms, with no close neighbors. Yet we frequently connected with those neighbors. The urge for community does not have obvious rules about proximity.

One story about an apartment house that was the closest community a participant had ever seen—it was not clear what it was that produced the closeness. The trust among people was quite high.

One participant introduced the topic of how community is a commodity, commercialized in advertisement. Concepts of urban living are in part shaped by people who want your money. They want us to see private consumption as a path to community (remember the old rule: the object of an addition never satisfies the addiction). This is one of those paradoxes—the dynamism of capitalism gives much and imposes large costs.

Several participants shared memories of when things changed where they lived—when folks starting locking things up, how the disconnection among neighbors grew.

Near the end of the discussion it turned out that several participants had been thinking about the possibilities of intentional communities, particularly as a way to handle those years when we get older, when children are long gone, and so on.

The discussions produced some wise rules.
--If you find something to be hateful, don’t do it to your neighbors.
--Get into the business of your neighbors more often—there are little things you can do to sow seeds of compassion.

Go out and inflict joy on someone.

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