Podcast

Becca Martenson: Building Community

How to increase the value of the relationships in your life
Sunday, May 10, 2015, 3:17 PM

As we often stress here on PeakProsperity.com, nearly none of us can expect to become completely self-sufficient. It's the (very) rare individual who can successfully live as a true 'lone wolf' -- and being honest, who would want to? That's a hard, lonely road.

Which is why we so strongly advocate integrating into a supportive community, or building one of your own if there's none readily available. Having multiple trusted social relationships is a form of wealth in many ways more valuable than money. These are what support and sustain us when our plans fail us, when the situation calls for skills we lack, when we're physically or mentally compromised. They also enrich our lives in ways money simply cannot, nourishing us as well as encouraging us to become our better selves.

But building community takes time and real effort. Especially in today's society, where many of the old social norms that fostered community during our grandparents age have been severed by suburban fences, the rat-race workstyle, and the false sense of belonging offered by television and the Internet. So how exactly does one do it?

In this week's podcast, we invite Chris' wife Becca to share her expertise on the subject. Those who have attended our annual seminars in the past know her deep experience in this area, experience that she's honed over the years advising Peak Prosperity readers looking for ways to better forge valued relationships in their own lives.

Community is built around a nucleus of relationships. So, you can think about community building as just starting with relationships. Think about building relationships with people where you have shared passion, shared interest, and shared values. Because it’s through the activities that you do where you intersect, overlap, and meet up during the week with others that you build that continuous connection that then expands to become community as more nuclei of these relationships come together.

If I was starting afresh and imagining how to go about building community, whether I was in my current location right now or moving to a new location, I would begin internally and ask what are my passions? What are my gifts? What is most important to me in the world? And then, I would seek other people through volunteering opportunities or through nonprofit organizations or through spiritual communities, or through sporting communities—whatever. I'd find others that share the same passions, interests, and values. Then, it just becomes about beginning to build connection. Begin to schedule activities together and find ways to intersect with the same group of people as frequently as possible. It’s that frequency of connection I think that’s really, really important. Then again, if you can come together with people around a shared expression of some kind -- let’s say you are putting on an event together or you are hosting an activity together --t here is something really powerful about coming together with others to create your personal vision of something, whatever that might be.

So, that’s really how it starts. Just start small. Again, we were so lucky to move into this area where there were already so many different circles of community present, but that’s true all over the place. The key is finding the people that you resonate with, finding the people that you share that passion with in whatever way. So, it just starts with simple relationships and then builds out from there.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Becca Martenson (43m:52s)

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host Chris Martenson, of course. One of the most common and enduring questions that we get at Peak Prosperity is about community. Everybody knows that community is going to play a very large role in how we experience the future, but it’s even more true that community is something that shapes how we experience such things as fulfillment, happiness, joy today. To talk about that with me today is someone who has more demonstrated experience in shaping and participating and building real and deep community than anybody I know, my lovely and talented wife Becca.

Now, those of you who have had the pleasure of seeing her in action at the Rowe and Mexico seminars know that she’s an immensely talented and powerful individual who I just happen to be married to, and whose strengths are both obvious and very different from mine. For ten years she’s been chairman of the board of the Vermont Wilderness School, combining her love of nature and talents for organizational management and growth. She offers personal coaching and counseling sessions to individuals helping them to step into their unique gifts and transition to their next great calling in life. Welcome Becca.

Becca Martenson: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

Chris Martenson: Well, you already know from our extensive seminar experience that community is on the front burner for many people. So today, I want to talk about why we would want it, what we mean when we say the word "community," and how to go about creating more of it if we wish to. So, let’s start by defining community because it’s a somewhat elusive thing to talk about. It’s not really a thing like an apple or a house. Perhaps, like the United States Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart said, many think "I’ll know it when I see it.” So, I’d like to get your reaction to one set of definitions and see if there is anything you'd add. So, Dictionary defines community as 1.) a group of people living in a same place or having a particular characteristic in common, and 2.) a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Anything to add?

Becca Martenson: Well, in my experience community is built around a nucleus of relationships. Those relationships may come together as a result of shared passions and values. That’s where I find the best and easiest community is formed is around the nucleus of shared values.

Chris Martenson: Shared values like having pot lucks or shared values of…would these be people who all like to be on time or…what kind of values?

Becca Martenson: Thanks for clarifying. Well, for instance, in our experience in our time, in our town, we have many people that are brought together around the shared value of deep appreciation and desire to connect with nature. So, we have a shared value of nature connection. There are other communities that might join together around a shared value of loving to Contra dance, or a shared value of a spiritual connection through a religious organization of some form or another.

Chris Martenson: Okay, so in our community then, the one that we happen to inhabit, some people—in my men’s group, we got together around the idea that we wanted to be more resilient. This was the…like being prepared was a value we shared. Of course we share multiple other values. This idea of nature connection has a lot of resilient sort of ideas baked into it because nature of course is the ultimately resilient piece there. Let’s talk about in community, why in your experience is community so important?

Becca Martenson: Well, to me community is important because it is a web of relationships around me that I can both give into and receive from. So, I can support other people around me if they have needs of some kind or another and I can also put out a call for help if there’s something that I need. In addition, it’s just a place of joy for me to be able to walk through my neighborhood and see people right on my street that I have deep relationships with. It just fills me in a way that really has…you know, I can’t really put any other value on it. It’s very powerful.

Community is also important to me because of the different ways that we come together in groups. It might be coming together to build a garden together. It might be coming together to stack wood. It might be coming together to sit around a fire and share stories. It might be coming together to celebrate the birth of a baby. There are so many different complex and beautiful ways that human beings can gather. We’re so lucky in our community to have a network of people that value all of these different ways of being in a relationship with one another.

Chris Martenson: We moved to this area in 2003. So, that’s 12 years ago, and didn't know anybody really at that point. And then, we moved to our current town seven years ago—again, not really knowing but a handful of people in this town. How many people would you say you would call in your extended or tight community, if those are different? How many today?

Becca Martenson: Gosh. Well, let’s see. I would say the first…I think about it in terms of rings. So the first ring around our family is maybe a network of 15 or 20 people that we have very close connected relationships with. And then, there’s a ring outside of that of maybe another 20-25 people. Then, there are rings outside of that that spread wider. All of these different rings have different aspects of connection with one another. So, it’s not any one thing. It’s really built on different types of relationships that, again, come together through these shared values.

Chris Martenson: When you say…how would you define ring one then? What are some of the characteristics or traits that you associate with that?

Becca Martenson: These are people that I see regularly. These are people that I have regular events with or that I take walks with regularly in the neighborhood or that I have a professional relationship with locally. But, they’re people that I physically see at least once a week or every other week. So, it really has to do with proximity and time—the amount of time that we spend together and the amount of events and activities that we have overlapping relationships with.

Chris Martenson: There are a crew of people in that ring one that you've been really close with that came out after a Rowe Seminar actually. It emerged from that. I would love for you to tell that story for a couple reasons, 1.) in case anybody listening wants to bring a crew from their town to Rowe at some point maybe to follow what happened. Why don’t you talk about what that experience was.

Becca Martenson: This is really a magical unfolding. I never ever could have predicted what has emerged. It began after a Rowe Seminar I believe four years ago, in which it just so happened that a number of people from our physical geographic area all attended Rowe. It wasn’t that many people. I think it was maybe six people from our geographic region. I wouldn’t even have considered them as like a part of my community, only in a very loose way. They came to Rowe and one of the things that we always recommend to folks that come to the seminar is to do some follow-up activities when they get home. So, one of the follow-up activities that this group chose to do—and I didn't lead this, you didn't lead this, somebody else did, which is wonderful. We formed a group of people who wanted to continue to explore how to be more resilient and prepared. It started with a core group of folks that came to Rowe, but quickly added on a number of people, again, in this geographic region. So, there’s probably about…oh, I don't know, maybe 15 people or so involved in this group. Again, as I said, it began focusing on areas of resilience. So, we were looking at who has stored food and where can we share capital expenses together and what are the different ways that we’re responding.

It was really powerful because very shortly after the formation of that group we had a pretty major event in our area. We had Hurricane Irene that came through. When Hurricane Irene arrived, there was this calmness among the members of our group because they had already done so much of the preparation for an event, such as losing power for two weeks which happens very commonly, or losing access to your road when roads were washed out. There’s a lot of really significant impact from Hurricane Irene.

This group got together to prepare, had already done a lot of preparation in advance of this event. When the event happened, nobody was running around with their head cut off emergency storing of batteries and candles and food and things like that. So, that was like an initial thumbs up. It was really important.

But then after this and after everybody had done what we would think of as like that level one preparation process, the group began to really deepen in terms of the connection emotionally as well as providing practical physical support for one another.

So, the logistics of the group are that we meet every other Tuesday night at one of the member’s houses. We begin with a potluck. We have food together. And then, whatever happens for the rest of the evening—we usually meet for 2 ½ - 3 hours—is really the purview of the host. So, whoever is hosting gets to say what happens. Sometimes the host will say, I just got three cords of wood delivered and I need everybody to come and stack it. So, we would come and stack wood together and then eat and go home. Other physical activities that we’ve done with each other—we’ve done a lot of moving of people. So, when people have moved houses, we’ll have a crew of people that shows up, helps them pack, loads things onto trucks, moves them to the next place, and unloads. Including, by the way, one time we moved one of the member’s dirt from her garden because she had been building it so diligently over years and didn't want to leave it behind. So, we moved dirt.

Other things that we’ve done together are supported two weddings that have happened among members of the group. We have celebrated the birth of babies together. Sometimes when we get together we just do a really deep check-in where each person takes ten minutes and shares about what’s going on in their life. What began as a resilience group and a preparation focused group has developed into one of the most profound community experiences that I have had. Again, we’ve been meeting every other week for four years. So, that’s a long time. Four years is a long time to be witness to one another and see us move from one life stage to another and go through major life experiences together.

This was, again, a very magical unfolding. I never would have predicted from the time we first met together and were talking about stored food, that it would evolve into this incredible feeling of—at this point it feels like family that we’ve built. So, it’s really an important thing. I find for myself that when I miss a gathering or if a gathering gets canceled for one reason or another, I really miss the people that I see.

Chris Martenson: You know what’s amazing to me is this group has all ages—people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s I guess. My story, where I knew this had super value was when you and I, and the family, we went and we spent pretty close to a month in Hawaii in February of 2014. When we got back, we came home to a house that had just been freshly cleaned and there was food in the fridge and soup on the stove and little welcome notes. Your Portland group had been tracking your return and had come and really gave us a super welcome home mat. That was just amazing.

Becca Martenson: Yeah, that was really special. The super important element that you forgot to mention there was that we had a bunch of construction done on the house while we were gone. So, it wasn’t just that they had cleaned up the house. It was that they had cleaned up the house after a bunch of construction. So, everything was covered in dust and grime. People were literally like taking pictures off the walls and wiping them down. So, I mean it was a really extensive day of work. I didn't know it was going to be happening. I didn't ask for it to happen. It was this way of…that has really developed as being in service to one another, anticipating need and then stepping in. It’s the epitome of the example of social capital, the social capital that is built through building deep relationships with one another.

In addition, the folks that came to help clean up, it wasn’t just this group of folks that has been meeting every other week. It was also a number of young people that I do personal counseling work with in which we have a bartering relationship instead of a financial exchange relationship. These are folks that I had been in service to emotionally and personally. It was a way that they were giving back to me for the relationship that we have.

It’s another example of how there was intersecting circles that were coming together to be in support of us. It just filled me with such joy.

Chris Martenson: It’s safe to say that if there were an emergency of some form in your life these would be the first people you would call?

Becca Martenson: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Chris Martenson: Yesterday, somebody who I don't believe is in the group, the gentleman who is in charge of the various outdoor programs that our kids have gone through and grace us in at this point in time. He was sick and he put out a call and what happened next?

Becca Martenson: This is another member of the community—a really beloved leader of the community of people that are really dedicated to raising children that are in relationship to nature. This is a man who I consider to be an uncle to my children. Yeah, both he and his wife were down with the stomach flu and could not get out of bed. I got a text in the day saying "help." That text went out to a number of people. There were three different people who were able to drop everything, go and pick up the kids, bring them back to the house, get things cleaned up there, make sure the kids were fed, and get them ready for bed. So, there was this beautiful hand-off where I went and picked up the kids, brought them home, and then I handed off to another community member who showed up and took it from there to bed time. Again, it just filled me with such joy to be able to be in service to this family, to this man and his children, because I can’t even put a price on what he has given to our family and to my children. This is the beautiful reciprocity that is possible when we are in connection with one another in community.

Chris Martenson: Now, for a lot of people this is going to sound a little utopian and kind of magical—how did this happen? There’s two parts to this story I want to go with. First, how it is that we ended up here. I will submit that there is some truth to the idea that we moved into a place that already had a community that we could plug into. It wasn’t built from scratch by us or anybody. It was here. And then the second part of this would be if you don’t have something like this, how you go about building it. So, why don’t we talk first about how it was that we chose to live here?

Becca Martenson: Okay, so rewinding all the way back to the early 2000’s when we were living in Mystic, Connecticut. We didn't really know what community was then, I realize now when I look back on it. We had a network of friends and acquaintances, but I would not call it a community as I understand it now. But one of the projects that I was involved in in the very early stages down there was an attempt to begin a food cooperative, which would have enabled us to essentially have a good natural foods grocery store to go to to get healthy food for the family, which wasn’t in the area.

This was a huge headache. It was a really big process and very, very challenging. When we were looking to move, the one thing I said was I want to go somewhere where there is already an established food coop so that this is not something that I have to start up. I want to go where somebody has already done this. What happens is when people gather together to form a food cooperative it, by its very nature, has community built around it. So, I knew if we found places that had a food coop already established there would already be community in that area.

So, we started by looking in the general region where we wanted to move and drew a circle around all the different food coops. We basically just came up into the area and drove around and landed where we did. But, knowing that we wanted to find a place that already had a nucleus of community, of the type of community that we were looking for, already built was really important. So, the entire Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, which is where we live, has many, many, many nodes of community already built here, around again a lot of values that we share around sustainability and resilience and connection to nature—all of these things. We are so blessed to live in this region because there are more community hubs in this area than I could even participate in, in a good way. So, it’s a rich area just to start with.

Once we got up here we get really connected—because we were home schooling the children and because I got involved in the Vermont Wilderness School—we got connected with a particular sub community of home schooling families that were interested in staying in relationship and building connection to nature. That really forms the basis of the community that we are now enjoying—not necessarily all homeschooling families, but people that are part of the larger Vermont Wilderness School network of folks that find an extreme value in being connected to the natural world.

Chris Martenson: I’m going to deviate there because it has come up a lot and people are hearing in threaded throughout. What is this nature connection? I know, but I’m asking a leading question because I want people to understand that this nature connection is actually really important, very deep. So, let’s spend a little time on that. What is it?

Becca Martenson: The way that our culture right now generally is in relationship to nature is kind of informational. When children are in school, they learn about nature. They might learn about rainforests and they might learn about different ecosystems, but they are not in relationship with the nature around them, generally as a rule. So, nature connection is really about relationship with the natural world—what is my connection to the land that I live on? There is something powerfully important for human beings, I believe, to have this connection with nature. I believe that essentially all the woes of the world—and oh my goodness there are many right now—can be traced to a disconnection between human beings and the natural world, in which we begin to believe that we are apart from nature instead of a part of nature. This leads to all of the extractive ways that we are…you know, the way that we pull resources from the land without really thinking about the larger impact—our pollutive tendencies.

The disconnect from nature is, I believe, the source of all of the problems that we have right now. So reconnecting with nature…I believe that connection with nature is actually a human birthright and something that we’re all meant to be doing. There’s just something about our industrialized culture and world that has separated us.

Through this connection with nature, it’s relational. It’s "what is my relationship with this tree in my backyard" as opposed to "what is the information that I may know about trees." So, that’s a little brief overview of the difference between having an intellectual understanding of nature and being in a relationship with nature.

Chris Martenson: There are a lot of practices that go with that. A sit spot being a place that you would go outside every day for maybe five or ten minutes, but a spot. You get used to a spot and you discover that at first there’s birds around you and then over time you go "no, no, there’s that bird, that Robin." They become individuals. Then it becomes relational. So, it’s really about spending time outside with an intention of becoming a part of it rather than apart from it.

Becca Martenson: Absolutely. It’s about opening your senses and being fully alive and really absorbing what’s out there. Yes, the whole sit spot practice, which is just a daily spending time outside in one place—very simple—is one of the core routines that the children practice in these nature programs that they do that the Vermont Wilderness School facilitates.

Chris Martenson: There’s a strong hunting community in our neck of the woods too. I think for a lot of men, hunting is enforced sit spot time. It’s that one or two weeks a year where you just go out and, if you're me, you don’t see anything, but your senses are on high alert in case you do. It really is like an enforced…it’s a socially okay time to go out and reconnect in a very deep way. Hunting actually is a very profound way to connect—very primal. So, I think these practices are still endemic out there in certain sub communities I would include. Lots of outdoor enthusiasts get out there for the same sets of reasons, whether you like kayaking silently on a lake or fishing or whatever these things happen to be. There’s a connection there that a lot of people already know.

So, let’s imagine for the moment that some great calamity befalls us and you and I, we have to move to a new community. I’m thinking about how you would go about starting over again, for somebody who feels like they’re at the starting point of this, and whether there is anything specifically that would be different if you lived in a city, and we’ll go from there. How do you go about building community? It sounds so nebulous.

Becca Martenson: Yeah, it does sound nebulous. As I said in the beginning, community is built around a nucleus of relationships. So, you can think about community building as just starting with relationships. Again, thinking about people, building relationships with people where you have shared passion, shared interest, shared values, because it’s through the activities that you do where you intersect with people, overlap, meet up during the week that you build that continuous connection that then expands to become community as more nuclei of these relationships kind of come together.

So, if I was starting and imagining…whether I was in a location right now or moving to a new location, I would really begin internally and ask: What are my passions? What are my gifts? What is most important to me in the world? And then, I would seek other people through volunteering opportunities or through nonprofit organizations or through spiritual communities, or through sporting communities—whatever it is. Find others that share those same passions, interests, and values. Then, just begin to build connection. Begin to schedule activities together and find ways to intersect with the same group of people as frequently as possible. It’s that frequency of connection I think that’s really, really important. Then again, if you can come together with people around a shared expression of some kind, let’s say you are putting on an event together or you are hosting an activity together. There is something really powerful about coming together with others to create your personal vision of something, whatever that might be.

So, that’s really how it starts. Just start small. Again, we were so lucky to move into this area where there were already so many different circles of community present, but that’s true all over the place. The key is finding the people that you resonate with, finding the people that you share that passion with in whatever way. So, it just starts with simple relationships and then builds out from there.

Chris Martenson: What if you lived in…I’ve heard this before from people. They say, "I live in a city. I live in a huge apartment building and I really don't know anybody in my building." Would you say that again you would follow the same pattern where perhaps you don’t share anything in common with these people in the building except you all live there, so that community then is something that you're going to align around your passions and aligned groups and individuals with shared values or would you be really looking to make community with people because of proximity?

Becca Martenson: Yes, that’s a good distinction Chris, the difference between sort of geographic community of just proximity of the people around you and then you have the community of shared values. We’re so lucky because those happen to overlap, but I know that’s unusual. I’m just making this up because I’ve never lived in a city in my life. You know me, I’m a country girl. But, if I lived in an apartment building in a city, one thing I might start by doing is having a little potluck for all of the people that lived on my floor. Just put a flyer under different doors in people’s apartments and just say "I want to get to know you. Come on over to my place on Friday at six and bring a dish and let’s just get to know each other."

So, the classic potluck model I think is a great one for bringing people together that may or may not have shared values and connections and just begin that stage one level of figuring out who is around. What are the different skill sets of the people that live in your general proximity? You're looking for connections. So, you're looking for things that you share, whatever that might be. It might be a passion for baseball cards, or it might be "oh my gosh our kids go to the same school. I didn't know that. That’s awesome." Find where do you find connection with others.

You can do that, and it might be a little bit diverse if you're looking at a geographic community based on the people that live in your proximity. But again, the key is you're always looking for where do we share connection?

Chris Martenson: I think of this as…you know my personal little model of this is that at the first level I might know that somebody exists. I know somebody lives next door. And then in the next layer I might know their name. A little further down, which might come through a potluck, I might learn a little bit about them—what they do for work or for play. And then, a little later on if I get to know them more deeply I’ll know why—why they work at the place they do or a little bit more about their background. Then, if I really get to know somebody deeply what happens is I’ll actually know what drives them, like why they react the ways they do. This is the part about people, when I first meet people sometimes they have these confusing sorts of ways of responding and reacting and I don’t always find that pleasurable sometimes with some people. Once I’ve learned what drives people I can get to that spot of compassion, of really understanding what it is. My work in life is learning how not to take things personally and learning how to just let people…understand that everybody has a driver and motivation. I just can’t see it. It takes time to see it. So for me, to get through that ladder of knowing, to get down to the deeper layers, it really requires seeing people in all sorts of different circumstances.

Becca Martenson: Yeah, and what you're really pointing to there Chris is the stickiness that comes with being human in relationship to other human beings. You know, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Things can get really messy. If you are in relationship with people that may not have a high level of self-awareness then it can be super challenging. Community is not a…I don't want to present a utopian vision of it, even though our experience of it here is pretty beautiful. But, there are those moments when things get messy. The deeper you know someone, the more you have that ability to have a deeper level of understanding. Again, that comes with time. You're going to have all different levels of relationship with people in your community. Some people, it will be just more of an acquaintance level knowledge and others it might be a very deep level of relationship. So, that’s the beauty of it. It’s the variety of connections that are possible.

Chris Martenson: Let’s imagine for a moment that—and we get this a lot too of course— that some people just have a harder time reaching out, making connections. They’re introverts. I’m something of an introvert, certainly compared to you or to Adam. For the people who do have a more difficult time just getting through that first opening, what sort of advice do you have?

Becca Martenson: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve been thinking about this a lot because this really comes up frequently. If one is introverted and is more comfortable spending more time alone than in social activities with other people, how do introverts build community? I would say in many ways it’s very similar. Start small. Begin with one relationship that you are really feeding, that you're developing that lovely reciprocity of both giving and receiving. Just start with that one connection, that one relationship, and then allow that gradually over time with whatever comfort level you want to branch and then connect to another.

You'll notice in communities that there are certain people that seem to be the primary connectors. They seem to be right at the center and connected to lots and lots of people. It’s good for folks who are more introverted to be able to identify who that connector is in the community and see if it’s possible to build relationship with a connector. So, it’s essentially like establishing social capital with the person that has a lot of social capital, I think has a lot of value. Starting small is really important.

Another thing that I’ve heard that seems counterintuitive, but that it may be important for people that are introverted to actually initiate an activity of some kind. Let’s say it’s a bird walking morning. I’m thinking of things that I would want to do—or a nature hike or something like that.

Chris Martenson: Full contact crocket.

Becca Martenson: [Laughter] Full contact crocket…

Chris Martenson: We want to cover the bases on this.

Becca Martenson: Exactly. Or you know a Frisbee game down in the town green or something like that to just send out word via whatever means possible to the people that you know and just initiate a small event of some kind of another. Just to have that experience of reaching out and starting something, whatever it is, because then you have the—essentially I’ll say—control over the variables, to be able to say "well I’d like it to be a short event because long social events wear me out. So, I want it to be just an hour. I want it to just be a time where I get together with a few people and we play a game." Whatever it is, taking that initiative in a leadership way actually may be more relieving for someone with more introverted tendencies than attempting to join into something that is already created where there’s all of this unspoken social stuff going on that you may or may not have a bead on. So, that might be another suggestion.

Chris Martenson: It’s interesting to me to see how all of this has really developed. I’m astonished actually at how many sub communities are really out there. We mentioned a few—hunters and nature connected people and things like that. Again, not mutually exclusive, a lot of overlap in those two groups. But, there’s people who are really into horses. Tango dancing I’ve discovered is a community unto itself that you can actually do wherever you live and it has traction other places you might go. There are a lot of ways you can really get involved in interesting things. I think whether you're introverted or extroverted it’s great.

I think it’s easier to tap into a community that’s already there than to try and start from scratch as it were. If you and I were back in the throes of trying to figure out where to live, I think I would be very clear that one of the key characteristics that would be nonnegotiable would be moving to a place with those intact communities. I’m sure we just missed it or something, but when I lived in Mystic, Connecticut my assessment that I came away with was: It’s classic Connecticut. Everybody was on their acre and it was very insular and isolated and not super deep in the kinds of community that draw me. That’s how I experienced it.

Becca Martenson: It just wasn’t a good fit for us. I think that’s really important. It’s not about judgment over one thing being better than another. It’s what’s a good fit for you? Again, that needs to be driven by your own gifts and passion. Always start right in the center of you. What gives you joy? Go find other people that get joy doing the same thing that you get joy from, and you will have an instant connection. Again, everything builds from there.

Chris, one of the things that I want to describe is a couple other ways that you and I did some early community building at our place. One of the things I want to describe is the community orchard planting that we did. We had a big project where we wanted to turn a little section of our two acre property into an orchard. We also wanted to support other people in the community to learn about planting orchards and learn about everything to do with fruit trees.

So, we invited a couple of experts in the field to come and join us for the day. We just put out the call—we’re planting an orchard. Come and learn. Come and be a part of it. I think over the day we had about 35 people that showed up in different cycles. Some people came early on and helped add amendments to all of the holes and some people came for the actual planting of the trees and then some people were there afterwards when the trees were all planted and it was time to do the first pruning on them. It was this really joyful experience where, by the way, we got a lot done. It was amazing what we got accomplished with all of those people over the day that would have been very taxing for you and I to attempt to do solo.

In the process of building relationship with each other, we have a shared task together. We’re planting fruit in the neighborhood that is going to be basically more than you and I or our family can consume. So we’re creating abundance to share. We’re also providing a place for people to learn about amendments and pruning and pests and all of the different things we might want to consider when putting in an orchard. So, there’s an example of how we needed to get something done and the doing of it was a community creating event that also built resilience for our local area. So, you can see where there’s a lot of…you know, in permaculture it’s called "stacking functions" where there’s a lot of different qualities that are getting addressed all at once.

Chris Martenson: How would you describe for people the relative importance of your community to you at this point in your life?

Becca Martenson: Gosh you know, it’s so hard to quantify for me because it’s so woven into my life that it’s hard to sort of pull it apart and say how important is this to me. It’s like how important is food to me. It’s woven into the fabric of my life in a way that provides nourishment to me on many, many levels. So, it’s very hard for me to quantify other than to say it’s woven into every part of my life.

Chris Martenson: Well, let me ask you this: How much do you like your life right now?

Becca Martenson: Well, I love my life. I feel absolutely blessed to live where I do, to be able to share deep connections with the people that live on my street. That seems like wild abundance to me. To be able to share values with people that abut the land that we live on, to be able to have these incredible events that we both facilitate and participate in—it brings a lot of joy to me.

Chris Martenson: As well, I should note that with that abundance, you and I have been in a position to be able to put out microloans to individuals, organizations, just zero interest loans or whatnot just to help people and organizations with tight times and all of that. That feels really good. So, there’s lots and lots of ways to participate out there. Yeah, maybe the fruit trees will be super abundant this year—fingers crossed. I don't know. Bad year last year, maybe we’ll have a great one this year. Glad I’m not a farmer for professional life because whoa…I would have been killed last year.

Alright, with that, we’re out of time. I do want to though, for those who are interested in finding out more about you and your work and what you offer, including any insights or coaching they may desire as they build community and seek to bring their unique gifts to the world, where can they go to find out more?

Becca Martenson: They can find out more by going to my website, which is BeccaMartenson.com and contacting me through there if anybody would like to.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. Well Becca, thank you so much for your time today.

Becca Martenson: Thank you Chris.

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33 Comments

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Posts: 3936
Roses and Ramblings

Thank you for the conversation. You have highlighted a lack in my life. As a yachty we have a fluid community. 

I believe that our community is centered around radio schedules. This podcast has reinforced my decision to buy a good HF radio, and get involved with a Yachtmasters course, both for the knowledge and the Community. 

Note to self: I have to avoid weekend sailors. They are rightly afraid of the ocean, and will argue mighty to persuade me of the folly of my ways, failing to acknowledge a greater danger they face by being tied to the ground. I am motivated by a fear greater than theirs. (You understand of cause, that the fears are based on the Great Game, which I am enjoying immensely).

I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

PS. About that orchard planting- I love the sheer physicality of swinging a pick. Consider filling the hole up with kitchen scraps before planting. Roses love blood and red meat; bloodthirsty things, Roses.

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
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Posts: 578
Communities for the Crash

Thanks Becca...Lots of food for thought...and fun to have a window into your local community associations.

My dominant question while listening was to ask myself what communities that I am associated with have the foundation to endure a crisis or a crash. I think many of us on this site have a core belief that the world will experience a radical change at some point. 

Some communities in my small universe that satisfy that criteria are centered around: food (physical); shelter and homestead; food (spiritual); family safety; and music. 

Farmers keep coming to mind as a subset of our society with community structures that would do pretty well in a crisis.

Community building takes a huge investment in time and energy, so why not make the choice up front and allow those efforts to have a dual purpose. One, to satisfy the immediate need for connection, and secondly to create enduring social structures. Community satisfies a primal need for connection, and we can feel that by joining a dressage club, or a kayaking group, or in contrast we can build groups that share home steading skills and garden expertise, and seek a spiritual connection through thought or music. 

 

 

GiraffeOK's picture
GiraffeOK
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Sit-spot

I love the idea of having a sit-spot. When hiking, I like to find a spot to stop, sit, rest, observe and feel. A regular, daily sit-spot is even better. Please share more of these nature-relating practices.

This is an inspiring podcast and has given me some concrete ideas to follow up on. It nudged me to decide to attend the monthly beekeepers’ meeting tonight.

Valeo Schultz's picture
Valeo Schultz
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Circles of Community

I came across this site several months ago from ZeroHedge.  I like the podcasts.  When I saw you were interviewing your wife, I thought either she was going to have something very substantive to say, or you were at risk of jumping the shark.   Given your track record, I figured she must be good.

In my opinion, there are many people who talk about community and its importance, but they don't know how community works or how to tell if community is really happening or not -- often it is a sham, bait-and-switch, or a co-op that is actually a channel for profit distribution, or a book club.  I know there are many who try, and I have tested many.  The best I have found as an "off-the-shelf" franchise (without the dogmatic pronouncements of Mormonism) is the Wilderness Awareness School. 

When I heard early on in the podcast that Becca was on the board of the Vermont Wilderness School, I was excited to hear the rest and hear about her community-building experiences.  These flesh and blood experiences she describes are the proof of commitment to the shared ideals and shared values of the group, as well as living by example.

I hope more people listen to and learn from this particular podcast because she nails one of the few solutions to the problem of how to recover our humanity from all of the financial problems, resource constraints, and robber baron approaches to digital efficiencies. 

I know feel I have a deeper connection to and understanding of your work.  Part of life is finding the others...

 

 

 

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
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Music as a "glue" for community

 

Some thoughts from the "Bible Belt"

I've often wondered what it is about music that helps bind a church community together. I think it may be the key element to keeping a diverse group of people together. The sermon sure doesn't do it. For many that is time for a nice 20 minute nap after a grueling week.  A newly published paper presents intriguing evidence supporting that hypothesis.Chris Loersch of the University of Colorado and Nathan Arbuckle of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology argue that music developed “as a form of social communication, a tool to pass information about the group’s shared mental state to a number of individuals at once.”

“As it became increasingly adaptive for humans to live in social groups, various biological and psychological mechanisms evolved in order to maintain a group structure,” they write in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “We hypothesize that human musicality is one of those mechanisms.”

We have a bluegrass band in our church with a marvelous diversity of members. We have a New York Times (3 times) best selling author, a cedar cutter who plays a mean fiddle, the wife of the "wealthiest guy" in town on bass, a lady who just lost her husband and is blossoming despite her grief and natural shyness, and a peak prosperity member who has found a new passion for rhythm guitar at the tender age of 63. 

It's hard to describe to someone else the power and joy in music until it actually courses through your veins, but I think it might one of the most powerful forces for unity that we have. http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/the-sounds-that-bind-new-evidence-of-why-we-love-music-63907. 

Christopher H's picture
Christopher H
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How to overcome time scarcity?

I really appreciated Becca's insights into building community.  She obviously brings a combination of intuitive understanding of this dynamic and a wealth of experience in it.  However, one thought that hit me over and over again while listening was that I am stuck in a feeling of time scarcity as opposed to time abundance, and until that dynamic changes, forming community is always going to take a backseat to other things.

In my life, those other things are: a job that takes up 50-55 hours of my time each week, two young kids at home (8 and 4) and a wife who works full-time outside the home, and a borderline obsession with homesteading our 1.3 acres as intensively as possible along permaculture principles.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention trying to get a side business started up and going that will enable me to transition away from F/T employment working for someone else.

A couple of other factors are that I have an introverted personality and find large groups of people to be extremely draining, and after growing up in the country with parents and grandparents who homesteaded before it was "cool," I have a difficult time just hanging out and socializing with other people -- I much prefer (and am much better at) bonding over shared productive activity.  Instead of spending the day hanging out over a BBQ, I'm the type who would rather spend the day working with a few other people to dig up a new garden plot to include postholes and fencing, then kick back and have a cold beer after we're done.  In my life, this preference does not find many like-minded people.

So I guess my question (if it is one and not a statement) is how do I switch from the current feeling of extreme time scarcity -- not nearly enough time to get the things done that I want to get done -- and transition to a sense of time abundance -- which allows me the opportunity to socialize with other people and form the kinds of bonds necessary for community?

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
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How to find community
CAH wrote:

So I guess my question (if it is one and not a statement) is how do I switch from the current feeling of extreme time scarcity -- not nearly enough time to get the things done that I want to get done -- and transition to a sense of time abundance -- which allows me the opportunity to socialize with other people and form the kinds of bonds necessary for community?

Quick answer to a complex question is that you may have to change who your close friends are. Perhaps you could put extra energy into searching out a community that supports your vision so that time spent with them is  productive time and you won't feel the "time scarcity" that you are talking about. We have dropped a lot of relationships in favor of those that are like minded. I love golf and tennis and grew up in a very sports oriented home, but that stuff is gone from my life with no regrets. If you can find just one close friend who shares your dream, that would be a great place to start. In our small community we have a lot of folks who are preparing, but they tend to keep a low profile for obvious reasons.  Maybe you could stretch your boundaries and go to some meetings and seminars and workshops that you don't normally attend and find your community that way.

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
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Perhaps the music is the effect, not the cause

I find it really hard to believe that music can bind communities together.

My experience does not match that.

I rather think that the churches are bound together because they are fulfilling a basic human need.

Just as we have a human need for food (even dining halls bind communities together), sex (binds a couple together), sleep (sleepovers, camps), so too a church is fulfilling a basic human need in community, and gains community out of that act.

What is that basic human need? I think it is to seek and worship/obey one's creator.

It is not for nothing that Augustine wrote, "You (God) made us for yourself, and we remain restless until we rest in you."

If I'm right, you're going to have trouble faking it.

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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I've a vague recollection...
Michael_Rudmin wrote:

If I'm right, you're going to have trouble faking it.

...of hearing this beforecool.

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Set up a group work-exchange bartering system?

Hi CAH-

   I don't have time to do much research on this, but one thought might be establishing a group that does work for each other, via some type of work-exchange bartering system?  Kind of like how Habitat for Humanity gets groups of people to work together on a common project.  But in this case, you all could be working for each other (and getting to know each other in the process).  I did a quick search and came up with the following site: http://www.greenamerica.org/livinggreen/barter.cfm.  It is kind of like the "Time Dollars" idea discussed there, but different in that it would involve the group working together on projects for each other (so you build the social relationships/community at the same time).

   It would still involve time and work to organize, so it still would be a challenge to get it started with a busy schedule like yours.  But it may be worth it if you get to know people who are actually willing to work to help each other before that becomes even more important than now.

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
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Michael...Do you sing in the shower?
Michael_Rudmin wrote:

I find it really hard to believe that music can bind communities together. My experience does not match that.

I respect your position Michael, and have to ask if you make any music in your life? ...that would include singing enthusiastically in the shower ?  I wonder if the need to have a spiritual relationship with the creator is a personal thing found on a one to one individual basis? Maybe people bring that to "church" and share the experience rather than find it in church? Just a thought....I think some of the successful charismatic churches realize the power of music and almost abuse it. Lots of random thoughts.....but I have decided that faith and music are 2 key elements in my life.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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To which I will add...
Oliveoilguy wrote:

..but I have decided that faith and music are 2 key elements in my life.

Hot water.

And shelter, food and love.

Those are my basics.  :)

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
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cmartenson wrote: Oliveoilguy
cmartenson wrote:
Oliveoilguy wrote:

..but I have decided that faith and music are 2 key elements in my life.

Hot water.

And shelter, food and love.

Those are my basics.  :)

Agreed......Except for in Texas it might be "cool water", or sometimes "Any Water" at all. But Texas is full of natural ironies. Today we are flooding after years of drought.  Never had a spring this wet in the last 20 years or more.

Becca Martenson's picture
Becca Martenson
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Hi everyone!
Valeo Schultz wrote:

  The best I have found as an "off-the-shelf" franchise (without the dogmatic pronouncements of Mormonism) is the Wilderness Awareness School. 

When I heard early on in the podcast that Becca was on the board of the Vermont Wilderness School, I was excited to hear the rest and hear about her community-building experiences.  These flesh and blood experiences she describes are the proof of commitment to the shared ideals and shared values of the group, as well as living by example.

Sorry for the delayed response to this great thread!  I'm not used to having conversations via computer- I'm such a Luddite. 

Valeo- I was so surprised to find someone who knows about Wilderness Awareness School, our beloved sister-school on the west coast.  Have you done the Art of Mentoring program there or elsewhere? What is your connection to WAS?  

I would say that the Art of Mentoring (a workshop on community building and nature connection- and a whole lot more!) is one of the best places people can go to experience what a village community can feel like.  In Vermont, our Art of Mentoring workshop usually has 100-150 participants ranging from very young children to elders and all life-stages in between. So many aspects of community are explored and embodied such as the role of elders in community, peacemaking, music as community glue, storytelling, celebrating all life-stages, rites of passage for adolescents, and the importance of local food prepared with love.  

What makes our local neighborhood community so unusual is that many folks who have been in leadership roles at the Art of Mentoring - in VT, CA, Canada and the UK- happen to live on our street.  We have deep social capital because these people are all passionate about community building and have been actively studying, practicing and teaching about it for years.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Art of Mentoring, here's a link:  http://www.vermontwildernessschool.org/workshops/art-of-mentoring/

There are also programs in CA, WA and Ontario this year.

Becca Martenson's picture
Becca Martenson
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Barter ideas

In response to the comments from pinecarr and CAH, one thing I recommend is that people experiment with small scale bartering.  The thought of trying to organize a big system to do something like that leaves me exhausted laugh , but I practice small scale barter all the time. I trade counseling sessions and organizational development work for all sorts of things:  housecleaning, getting my garage organized, garden work, and flower and veggie starts in the spring.   My neighbor across the street is a barter genius!  She supports many local farms with organizational development and trades for CSA shares, loads of compost, local awesome meats of all kinds, labor and more.

In your own work, see if there is something you can offer for trade instead of money.  You build relationship in the process and it is very satisfying.  

Becca Martenson's picture
Becca Martenson
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Introverted with scarce time? Try stacking functions.
CAH wrote:

In my life, those other things are: a job that takes up 50-55 hours of my time each week, two young kids at home (8 and 4) and a wife who works full-time outside the home, and a borderline obsession with homesteading our 1.3 acres as intensively as possible along permaculture principles.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention trying to get a side business started up and going that will enable me to transition away from F/T employment working for someone else.

Hi CAH-

I hear you!  Time scarcity is a major issue for most folks in the US.  If some of your scarce time is spent on your homestead, try the permaculture principle of stacking functions:  have a small scale "class" on a homestead project (killing chickens, laying sheet mulch, pruning raspberries, beekeeping, companion planting etc) and invite a couple local folks over to learn about it.  You get help with your project, make connections with neighbors, teach people your homesteading skills and it doesn't have to be a big extroverted event. For us introverts, a few extra people for an hour or 2 is plenty.  You get to set the parameters exactly to your comfort level.  If your neighbors aren't interested in homesteading, put out a note on your local permaculture list-serve about the class and see who shows up.

Chris and I have done this many times and find it a really good model to follow.

Good luck!

Becca Martenson's picture
Becca Martenson
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Oliveoilguy wrote: Community
Oliveoilguy wrote:

Community building takes a huge investment in time and energy, so why not make the choice up front and allow those efforts to have a dual purpose. One, to satisfy the immediate need for connection, and secondly to create enduring social structures. Community satisfies a primal need for connection, and we can feel that by joining a dressage club, or a kayaking group, or in contrast we can build groups that share home steading skills and garden expertise, and seek a spiritual connection through thought or music. 

Yes!  I completely agree with you and loved your description of your church blue-grass band. That sounds fantastic and I echo how important music can be to bring people together in a joyful and spiritual way.  Here's to unity and connection through music!

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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finding time

There is that wonderful analogy of our time being compared to a bucket and into that bucket go big stones, smaller stones and sand.  Time is the bucket--a fixed amount--the stones and sand are our activities. 

Listening to your 'introverted' (I'm not sure that fits you very well) comments on your problem I would suggest looking at the big stones in your life-- family and work, smaller ones-homesteading and side work, sand -brushing teeth etc.  It would seem that combining family time with opportunities to socialize would be a start to channeling effort into the same direction.  Anything you could do to lessen the time spent with the other big stone(work) and not lose you job would be also very profitable.  Also, look at the smaller stones in your bucket and as Oliveoilguy suggested--drop the ones not needed.  I, like Oliveoilguy, have passed the kids at home time of life. It is a blur in my memory so I empathize with your feeling of time crunch.  It too will pass--much too quickly. With my grandkids around on a weekly basis I find that it takes deliberate planning to make the best of the time I have with them.   It's a personal thing with me, but the time with kids is my most valuable investment hands down.  For example, doing your homesteading activities with them as partners may take longer, but you are teaching them at the same time.  Family is the most immediate community we all have. If I were in your shoes I would put my main effort there.

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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regarding music and community

My father played French horn well.  During WWII in Europe he found himself a number of times in places where he could play with a borrowed instrument.  He said that to sit in a room of individuals who don't share your language and/or culture and play a piece of music together instantly creates a community.  It may not be long lasting but it is real while it lasts.  War is one of the most destructive forces against culture, music is a quick restorative.

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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More regarding music and community

I agree with aggrivated's observation about music having the ability to instantly make community. 

One of my good friends lost his job locally.  He was lucky to eventually find another job in his field, but it was a distance away in a neighboring state.  He had to move to the new location before his family, because his wife  needed to finish up getting a degree locally.  So he rented a place and lived in the new location all week alone, driving home on weekends to be with his family.

However, this friend is a very good guitar player.  He had been involved with a band, and played regularly with local musicians here, before he moved.  So he started doing some pick-up playing with musicians in his new location.  And before too long, he was a respected member of the new location's music scene, welcomed with open arms as "one of them" (a musician). 

So there's something to be said for the power of music, and for the bonds of community formed around it.  Like Becca said, if you have a passion (like music, art, gardening), finding others that share that passion is a great way to become a part of a ready-made community.

 

herewego's picture
herewego
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and yet more regarding music and community

I made my move to a very small village from the big city about 3 years ago.  Mostly I've been just scrambling for survival and have not put much time into deliberate community building.  Fortunately it's happening anyway.  I have some extremely fine human beings as neighbors and we are very good to each other, trading tools, skills, time, food, laughter, hugs, networking, labor, produce and music. 

Some of our fantastic local musicians lead classes from time to time.  I'm "not a musician" but love to sing anyway.  There is something exquisite about bringing voices together, even untrained voices.  It is another way to see the beauty of people, as well as to provide support in our struggles with inhibition.  When we nail it with some song, joy comes to the surface.  I can see it in our eyes and it does connect us. 

On a very practical note, when I lost my job this January it was a bad thing.  Decently paid jobs are hard to find and far away in these parts.  I was working again full time in my village (unheard of!) within 2 weeks through a connection in the singing group - a connection that did not exist otherwise. 

Also, in the realm of inner work, singing provides a ballast for all the things in the world that hurt, make no sense, scare me silly etc.  I'd say it builds spiritual awareness and strength.  The voice can find the heart, lift it, help it remember the joy of existence.  Then this joy can be offered as a gift to what or whom we love. 

So I've organized another series of classes with our teacher and we start again next week, despite the mad flood of gardening work that hits locals about now. 

Cheers

susan

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chassavage
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Community - Grounded in Space or Time?

Becca and Chris,

Wonderful reflections on “community.”  And I am impressed with the thoughtfulness in the comments that follow.

Is “community” based on space (and those in the immediate surroundings) or also on time?  Does our own arrogance and ignorance blind us to so much more?

Hans Rosling, the Professor at Karolinska in Stockholm and creator of Gapminder (a wonderful resource) has suggested:

“Nevertheless, Rosling, who also set up the Swedish branch of Doctors Without Borders, frets over what he labels “irrational nationalism”: people’s tendency to ascribe achievements or values with a particular national identity.

“The whole idea that it’s a place we belong to – that place is so important, that the nation is so important – is a dangerous concept,” he warns, again referring again to that “toxic combination of arrogance and ignorance” he’s working so hard to correct.

“It makes people think that the sheer luck of the place where they happen to exist makes them different as human beings.

“Time is our home”

Discussions of what constitutes “Swedishness”, therefore, leave Rosling uneasy.

“We don’t live in Sweden. Tiden är vårt hem. Time is our home,” he proclaims, citing the title of a 1991 play by Swedish playwright Lars Norén.

“We live in this time. Time is more important than place. Our values are not place-based, they are time-based.”

See: http://m.thelocal.se/20150513/hans-rosling-im-an-ambassador-for-the-world-in-sweden-connectsweden-tlccu

Thanks for this emerging “reflective community’ over TIME!

Charles

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
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“Time is our home”
chassavage wrote:

“Time is our home”

“We live in this time. Time is more important than place. Our values are not place-based, they are time-based.”

See: http://m.thelocal.se/20150513/hans-rosling-im-an-ambassador-for-the-world-in-sweden-connectsweden-tlccu

Thanks for this emerging “reflective community’ over TIME!

Charles

Thanks Charles ....the concept of a "time based" home resonates with me. Being part of Peak Prosperity allows us explore the "time" that we all happened to be born into. The only thing I might question is family. Although it is somewhat arbitrary that I met my wife and had a family, I think it is important to nourish that part of my life called home, and not regard my children as just another 3 of the world citizens. Similarly, my local community identity is strong, but when it comes to State, National, and Global affiliations the boundaries become less distinct.

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Both/AND - not Either/OR

Becca, I resonate with what you are saying.  My guess is that when we understand our home is in TIME, and in SPACE, our SPATIAL home takes on even more meaning.  Too often, as you know, we get in the "Either/Or" trap and fail to see the richer interplay of the "Both/And" ways of thinking/feeling/remembering/envisioning. 

In 1887, Ferdinand Tönnies a fascinating book to your topic: Gemenidschaft und Gesellschaft (Community and Association). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_T%C3%B6nnies

His point is that in the agricultural era we lived in little communities, but with the industrial era we shifted to impersonal and mechanical "associations" where we focused on "Adding Value to Matter, while People Didn't Really Matter!"   As you know, an Incorporated company is an association, as is a limited liability company.  We thereby lost a sense of community which is so very necessary for the nurturing of our inner being.  In short, we need a good residential community of people that care, as well as a vibrant work community - yet it's been scripted out.  How do we recapture this essential element in human life?  Is this what you are also working towards?

Charles

 

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westcoastjan
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 4 2012
Posts: 573
where we are born is the ultimate determination...

of how our existence plays out.

Charles, thank you for an excellent, thought provoking comment. I would like to add that our ability prosper and/or survive as a part of a "community" is pre-determined to a large extent by where we are born.  I think I have said this before, somewhere, on another thread on this site - by and large we are a product of where we are born. That Becca and Chris, and the rest of us who frequent this site were born in (my impression) first world countries, means our version of "community" means something different (yet with common similarities) to those who were born in second or third world countries.

I feel the distinction is important. Most of us have the luxury of choosing to move to a place that fits our needs - needs we have determined as being necessary to prosper during the ugliness that we know is coming unfolds. We are so lucky in that regard. I suspect that for the majority in the world - several billion, there is no such foresight, and therefore no ability to plan ahead, given their level of largely subsistence living. So we have an advantage they do not have, just by virtue of where we were born.

This is not to knock the podcast - I did appreciate it, especially from the perspective of an introvert who is profoundly deaf, and struggling to find ways to build community in my particular world. That introversion was touched upon is important - not all of us aspire to be an active participant in a group or community, but we still retain the need to be connected to that group or community. This is a constant challenge for me.

One last thought - music is all encompassing and so very meaningful to those who can hear it well. For those of us who can't, it is one more barrier to participating in community, especially given the dominance that music has in our world.  On the bright side, I can hear birds sing with my cochlear implant, and that means more to me than any soundtrack ever could. :-)

Cheers,

Jan

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Gaborzol
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Posts: 38
The connecting force

Thank you, Becca, and Chris, for addressing such an important topic. When I came to the US from Hungary in the early nineties, I was profoundly shocked how little community there was around me. In spite of the fact, that I arrived into the existing circle of friends and even family of my wife, I felt an insatiable hunger for more interdependency.

Since then a lot changed in where I live. Now there is a monthly potluck brunch in my 'hood, that brings neighbors together - for 20 years now, I got to know the cycling community, the setup of the town politics, and other shared interest/passion/values groups. I am still missing the embeddedness I had grown used to in Hungary.

This lack feels life-altering to me, so I have studied what causes it. I believe *money* is the main culprit. Since it really works here (if you have it), it makes it easy to get things I need and thus it reduces the importance of other people in my life. The other major issue is how entrenched we are in *monogamy*: this sets our lives up so we live in single family homes with our core families (if we have it) in relative financial independence from anyone else.

The model I grew up with was very different in Hungary: money didn't buy much, I had to have connections for getting most things and favors valuable. Stores didn't sell bananas (in fact they sold precious few items), so I only could get them if I had connections. And that person likely wouldn't want to give me bananas for money either, only for similar favors; say if I knew a chimney mason who actually knows how to fix chimneys. In addition to that, we knew who our enemy was, and it was the government: if I weren't deeply embedded in a large community, the police could just come and pick me up in the middle of the night, and nobody would know (or care?). The non-monogamy part among my circle of friends was also important, because the deep energetic exchange involved in sex boosted our sense of belonging and our commitment to each other. Communism made religion mostly irrelevant, and gathering on the streets of more than a few people wasn't looked at positively by the powers to be, so close-knit non-family connections became more important and meaningful, if not risky. So a group of us had a film-club for western, thus illegal, films, but why not boost the interconnectedness to each other with other high energy, and relatively low-risk behavior, like being sexual with others in the club (at that time AIDS was unheard of behind the iron curtain, and the worst I ever got was lice once...). This unleashed a lot of caring among members. I guess just like Becca talks about the shared passion of nature, that is also an energetic journey, but was not so readily available in Budapest. This caring went a long way, and also was like a middle finger for the govenment: see, you can suppress us, but we still enjoy life.

Not to discourage anyone, but I more and more feel, that with coming here I jumped from the frying pan, into the fire: money is only useful if you have it, and an increasing number of people don't. And what we see from police behavior looks more and more like the polizai in those eastern-bloc countries. Plus as perilous as our economy currently is, we don't need a war to render it inoperable, the California drought and some further financial shenanigans will just do fine to shut down the system we have grown so much more dependent on than most any other nations.

In short, community has became/remained immensely important in my life, and I have been working on creating it around me for many years now. While it is one of the hardest work I have done, it is also one that is expanding my life the most.

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pgp
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Posts: 211
Local community or tribe

Is advocating local community, because we already live in a giant one, simply a process of gathering like minded thinkers together into a smaller subgroup under an new set of cultural and enterprise rules.  Isn't that technically how a belief system actually works and what we have been doing for thousands of years?  Is going "local community" simply a regression to a smaller more manageable tribal state?

Will "communitisation" work this time round if you have a million communities (tribes) all with different goals/culture-rules/beliefs essentially competing which each other (particularly post collapse)?  What is going happen when one tribe gains and another struggles?  Think tribes and then take a look at human history - it's usually a mess once the tribes get big start to rub shoulders.

I suspect the PP group, local community groups, the "graduate institute" and institutes in general are just the names we give to the process of tribalism.  Tribes make us feel good, they give us belonging but at the end of the day they are just based on alternative belief systems that sympathetic "mind-sets" can gravitate to.  Its all very human but maybe we should be aware that this human process has been repeated for thousands of years and society keeps collapsing.

 

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chassavage
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Posts: 4
"Belief" and "Community"

Dear pgd (sorry I do not know your real name),

I am sure there is more to your questions than you've shared - and I'd welcome hearing the background to these important questions.

As a Christian I am told to "love thy neighbor as thyself."  I do not remember it saying to love just my Christian neighbors.  Everyone is indeed my neighbor.  Therefore, I've never based my "community" upon a closed "belief community."  In fact, I actively seek out those of other communities, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists and more.  In my conversations and reading, I've gained new insights that actually have deepened my own faith.  For example, in reading the Upanishads, I've realized that God cannot be OBJECTIFIED, but has a presence beyond any words we could use to describe Him.  For me this insight has been a true gift.

In essence, it's not a "belief in love," but very simply "loving the other," no matter from what tradition he or she might come. In short, I've been careful not to get lost in a "closed belief system."  Does this make sense?

All the best, Charles

 

 

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chassavage
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Posts: 4
Our Community - Where we are Born

Jan, thanks for raising these deep and reflective thoughts.  Yes, where we are born does determine, to a great extent, our sense of community. Yet, it also takes our active reflection about our birth place.  I have come to realize that even if I were born in Hawaii, there was so much I missed in understanding the Hawaiian soil.  We were blinded by the superficial "melting pot" idea and never really studied the deeper view of the world of the original Hawaiian (or the other cultures that made up our wonderful community).  It is only now and from a distance that I am beginning to do my homework.  Does this make sense?

Charles

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Bobby
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Joined: Nov 26 2009
Posts: 19
A Necessary Dialogue

Simple, elegant yet a very important discussion. Good of you to include the introvert's point of view. In our quest to consume ideas and products, we have lost our sense of being human. There seems to be a subconscious effort to isolate oneself from the what makes us real and the virtual world, be it created by money printing or by social media or what have you, is being preferred in these times until it blows over since there is only so much a human conscience or a human body can acclimatise itself to. A straight forward conversation like the one you both had in every home every month would make a world of difference to the world at large. Thank you, Becca & Chris!

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Michael_Rudmin
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 854
To Olive Oil guy: singing in shower

I'm not sure I follow you: I do have music and make music in my life, including at church.

It's just that I don't find that the community building happens in the music. The music comes out of that.
If the community is not there, the will to sing is not there, as well.

I think the need for a personal relationship with one's creator IS a personal, and thus one-to-one thing, but just as eating is a solitary thing; but when it is shared, then it does build community.

Yes, music can be abused. But in the end, the surface reflects the core, not vice versa.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Addicted to Love.

Well! It looks as though we are losing the war on Drugs. Perhaps we can conclude that our model is not only wrong, but cruel.

http://wakeup-world.com/2015/05/26/the-likely-cause-of-addiction-has-bee...

Hugs beat drugs.

 

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pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 2247
Re Addicted to Love

Interesting article, Arthur!  Thanks for sharing.

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