Urban communities will be family

If you want to make new friends or nurture existing relationships, then find shared interests. Shared interests create shared experiences and shared memories. Find communities that work and play together.

Suburban America is compartmentalized into McMansions, high fences, and car friendly neighborhoods. Suburban America is not a healthy garden to grow a community. People have everything they want at their fingertips but are still isolated and lonely. When last did you have a conversation with your neighbors or fellow tenants?

The good news is that concentrated urbanization is trending and housing legislation is adapting. Sadly tech hubs like San Francisco have been slow to adjust and will see an exodus of young people and families looking for more affordable living arrangements and better public services.

Individually owned cars will be a legacy mode of transporting and will be surpassed by communal ownership and various forms of public transport. Public transportation like trains is a leading indicator of growth in new companies. More trains in cities equate to more successful startups. Sci-fi novels are pretty good at telling the future, and most of them envisage dense cityscapes, and that is full of skyscrapers.

We see the same trend in farming. We will do more with less space as people urbanized. The Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the US, which has 270 times its landmass.

Healthy communities depend on each other, are compassionate and look out for their neighbors. More and more people will migrate to these megacities and sadly away from family. The community will become their family over time…any immigrant knows this from personal experience. Compartmentalized America is in for a nasty surprise as these trends start to accelerate. Adapt now and start exercising your community muscle.

Digital doors and the importance of being physically present

Physical pilgrimages are important. I used to think that viewing something digitally was enough and that being there physically didn’t matter, but I’ve learned through traveling that being there physically can accelerate a connection to people and places.

Smells, sounds, people and places all trigger feelings that should be acknowledged and processed. There are places where the energy is palpable like airport arrival halls, Yosemite National Park or returning to the town I was born. In other places the energy needs to be stewarded, nurtured or repaired..maybe it’s been drained or sucked on by too many people or it’s been a place of suffering or pain. It’s hard to feel it without physically being there.

It can’t be experienced remotely via digital doors like Facebook, FaceTime and Skype. Digital connections build relationships and we are more compassionate and connected because of them, but physically being in the place is a different level. It’s about resonating with the frequency of the place and in turn having it resonate with you.

Carve out the time and travel. It stimulates growth in you, and in the people and places you visit.

Be in touch

Staying in touch is different than friending, following or subscribing to someone on a social network. Facebook is a community of digital contacts and it’s an awesome vehicle to communicate, but don’t confuse digital connections and digital browsing with seeing someone in the flesh. I know there’s a diaspora of people across the world and that’s what makes social networks so great, but I’m talking about being physically proximate with your community, neighbors and friends.

If you stopped using Facebook tomorrow, how many people would notice? I mean really notice. How many people would be knocking on your door, walking around to the back door, peering in a window or phoning to check in? Compare that to the reaction from friends, family and co-workers who are in physical contact with on a regular basis. I’m talking about a morning run together, popping in for tea, walk and talks at lunch time, kid’s play dates, weekend coffee meetups…that’s what “being in touch” means. It’s not scrolling down a digital news feed and flicking through photos for a quickie endorphin hit.

Networks like Facebook and Twitter are a means to communicate and organize. Check out the Women’s Marches that were organized across the country…and it all started with a small group on Facebook. What’s even more awesome is that the Facebook group manifested into a physical march for millions of people. What gave it power was the physical manifestation. Physical contact nurtures the soul and makes the connection real.

Be proximate with your community and be in touch. It’s good for the community and it’s good for you.

p.s. thanks to Stephen Bartels for inspiring this post and Lindsay Bartels for the edits

img_2109