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    Rusted Compass Ideas and Initiatives

    5 Ideas for Taking a Break from the Distractions

    Technology has become less of a subordinate tool and more of an engulfing presence in our world. It has remolded not only the structure of our world as a medium for information and sharing, but has also influenced our individual lives and changed the way we live. However, at what point do the technological tools that we use to improve our lives actually begin to start directing our lives by their very presence? When do we become subordinate to technology rather than the other way around?

    There has been such an increasing push to implement digitization everywhere but not an equal push against it to step back and assess what value it’s actually bringing to our lives. It’s becoming more rare to have a moment of silence and reflection because we’re constantly glued to our phones and distracted from deeper thoughts. Multitasking between social networks, texts, e-mails, and browsing provides a sense that we’re in this zone of connection to the world and not missing anything. Were human beings so antiquated in the days that we were left to our own thoughts? Was it such a depraved life in generations past?

    How can humanity truly “evolve” by technology when technology creates such a distraction of multitasking and moving from one thing to the next that we never set aside the time to fully reflect on an idea or thought without being interrupted? We are using the convenient immediate thinking, and rejecting the slow and effortful thinking that effectively challenges our intellect. Immediate gratification has become preferred over long-term substance.

    In order to step back and evaluate our lives, we must first turn off the autopilot – the technologies and constant noise that aim to distract.

    1. Have a “blackout” day.

    Have you ever noticed how refreshing it can be when the power goes out? It forces everyone to turn their attention away from electronics and toward their surroundings.

    Why not create your own “blackout?” Pick an evening to turn off all the lights and electronics in your home, light some candles, and go back to the earlier centuries of entertainment such as playing cards or storytelling. Or start a “Game Night” and find a board game to play with friends and family. It doesn’t have to be 100% no electricity, but the idea is to enjoy something that brings everyone together in the present moment and allows conversation to be the entertainment.

    2. Head for the hills

    This is a must. If you live in the concrete jungle of the city it can be mentally refreshing to take a break and escape into the wilderness every now and then. Go for a day picnic, a hike, or camping. The quiet clean air of the mountains, the calming waters of a lake, or a sandy beach is therapeutic to the soul. Take off your shoes and socks and step into the muddy earth. Dip your feet into a river or lake. Leave the gadgets behind and allow your mind to rest while you gaze at the simplicity of the natural environment around you. Take a blanket and watch the clouds slowly drift by. The best part about being outside of the city is the starry sky at night. When is the last time you’ve laid back and spent some time looking at the bright canvas of stars above and listened to the crickets chirping?

    3. Read a book

    Reading gives you time to slowly process, absorb, and reflect upon and idea or story. It allows your brain to process information more effectively when your full concentration is on the content that you’re reading at your own pace. Movies are often presented with ever-changing images and information without breaks to allow you to fully take everything in. By reading you allow yourself to gather the entirety of a story or idea.

    4. Create an adventure.

    If you need an excuse to get out of the house and into the outdoors, create an adventure. Geocaching is a great resource for this, as it provides a free global treasure hunt for anyone willing to seek out hidden treasures (visit for more info). You could also find a section of your city that you’ve never been to and visit it with the goal of seeing as much new territory as possible. Sometimes we drive through neighborhoods daily but never walk along the sidewalk. You might be surprised by what you miss when you speed by in a car compared to taking a stroll across town. Pack a backpack with water, food, and essentials and create an adventure on foot with a trek through the city.

    5. Think and Meditate

    Have you ever noticed that some of the best ideas happen when you’re in the shower? It’s a space where you aren’t surrounded by distractions, and can allow your mind to wander where it wants. Imagine the amazing ideas and reflections you would have if you intentionally allotted a time and space for your mind to just think and wander where it will.

    If you have a quiet space at home, such as a patio, create a distraction-free thinking space. The idea is to set aside a space where you can fully reflect, analyze, pray, or meditate. Giving yourself this thinking time may clear your head enough to think of a solution to a problem you’ve been having, bring you peace to a troubled thought, or give you a creative idea for a project you’re working on. It can allow your mind to hash out something it needs to process. We simply don’t get enough quiet thinking time in our modern society, and you may find that you sleep better at night when your neglected thoughts aren’t keeping you awake.


    There are a multitude of ways to step back from the constant frequency of our digital world, and back to the natural frequency of nature and simplicity. Give yourself a break every now and then and find a balance that works for you. Life is too short to live under constant distractions and information overload.



    Organize a Swap Meet

    Local food producers of every kind often run into the problem of having excess food that goes to waste. Gardeners often end up with extra vegetables that will spoil if not sold or given away. Beekeepers often gather much more honey than they can possibly consume themselves. Not everyone has the extra time to rent out a booth at a marketplace and spend their weekends setting it up and selling it all, plus starting a marketplace can be daunting. Sometimes you just need a place for people in your neighborhood to meet together and trade their excess produce in a barter fashion.

    A swap meet is the ultimate barter gathering that solves this problem, and you can organize one in your own neighborhood.


    Miniature Free Libraries

    As I was strolling on a walk in a Colorado neighborhood, I came across a decorative wooden cabinet on a neighborhood street corner. It was painted colorfully and speckled with unique trinkets, and the sign above it read “Book and Idea Exchange.”

    I had never before seen one of these. My curiosity led me to investigating it further and I opened the cabinet to see what was inside. It was filled with a variety of pamphlets, pages, and books that residents in the area had placed inside. I later learned that the idea behind these cabinets is that they offer locals their own free miniaturized library. You can take a book that others have left and donate one of your own so that you essentially have a miniature free neighborhood library.

    After looking into it further I found that you can create and register your own free library through a website called “Little Free Library” at Check out their website if you want to discover if one of these libraries have been registered in your area. If there are none, you could always start your own – either registered online for anyone to find or unregistered for your own city block, apartment building, or neighborhood to utilize. Use your creativity and inspiration to design and decorate your own miniature library cabinet to put on display. It’s a great way to make new reading material available to others and to find new and interesting books without having to make a trip to the library. The variety of books that people provide also gives you a general sense of the what subjects and interests your neighbors enjoy.

    Before proceeding with creating a new library respect the rights of your neighbors, your landlord, and city zoning laws. Always get permission first before spending the time it takes to put one of these together. The Little Free Library website has some excellent tips and information for beginners.

    Miniature free libraries are a simple and creative way to add something unique to your neighborhood!

    The Corkboard Bulletin

    When it comes to creating an opportunity for locals to advertise and notify others, it’s amazing what a simple corkboard can provide.

    Corkboards are and efficient and inexpensive way to make a small space for posting local events, news, and services. They can be installed in businesses, public spaces, apartments, visitor centers, venues, and other places where people frequent. They’re an inexpensive way to encourage people to connect, since corkboards usually run as low as the $20 range for 36×24 inch boards, to higher prices for larger sizes.

    Are you a struggling artist with an upcoming gig? Or maybe you just started your own business that offers a service? Posting flyers and business cards on local corkboards are a great way to get some local visibility.


    Gathering Around the Fire

    One of my favorite less spoken of American traditions is a simple one – having company over to gather around a firepit at night. There’s something about gathering around a fire that brings people together in a unique way. With the warm glow of the slow flickering flames into the night, it’s a relaxing way to let the conversations and stories naturally flow.

    When you go camping with friends or family, the fireplace becomes the centerpiece. Far removed from the distractions and noise of city and modern life, your mind can fully relax and let itself wander with thoughts and musings. Everything is simpler. The colors of the flames mesmerize your eyes and slow down time. Everyone is together and sharing the fire’s warmth. Stories start to emerge, which remind others in the group of stories they also want to share. The night continues on with laughter, jokes, and conversation.


    Aspects of Communities

    We could talk all day about “building community,” but what actually drives individuals to improving their community? The values and vested interest in that community make the difference. We all have a vested interest in the place we call home, and everyone benefits from the efforts made to get involved by offering unique contributions make it a better place to live.

    The aspects that we value in a community are unsurprisingly what we look for in a new city to call home when moving. Although, you don’t have to always seek the greener grass. Your calling may be to improve the community you are already in. In other words, “Ask not what your community can do for you, ask what you can do for your community.”CONTINUE READING

    Urban Gardens

    For thousands of years, mankind has worked the soil of this world to produce food. It’s the beautifully-designed cycle of decay to produce new life in which organic matter is broken down to release nutrients for sprouting vegetation. With the prevalent concrete jungle lifestyle in cities, it’s unfortunate that many people don’t experience the reality of our food’s origins first-hand. Urban gardens can help to change that by connecting people with the soil and the process of gardening.

    What value do urban gardens provide? There are many metaphorical lessons we can learn, and even teach our children, by bringing gardens into urban environments.CONTINUE READING

    15 Places to Connect in Your Community

    When you move to a new city, or are just beginning to seek a better way to connect to your own city, you may be looking for places to go that have the resources to connect you to opportunities and people. Here are the top places I recommend for getting connected to your community.CONTINUE READING

    Time Banking Programs

    Everyone has something to offer when they’re feeling led to give to others and their community. For most volunteers, their time is their most valuable currency. Think about how many aspects of our culture focus on the financial type of giving only. Time banking turns the concept of financial giving around to focus on the value of individuals giving their time. Time is the currency.

    A time bank can be independently started in your own local community today. However, there are many national and international time bank network resources online that can help you get started and put your local time bank on the map. Two of those resources are and If you want to dive in and get started, we recommend these resources as a great place to start.CONTINUE READING

    Seed Exchange Programs

    Organizing a seed exchange is a great way to support local gardening. It encourages local resilience and offers an opportunity for learning as people meet together to exchange the garden seeds they harvested as well as their own growing wisdom.

    Gardeners know just how many seeds can be produced from even a single plant at the end of a growing season. It’s unfortunate that many of these seeds go to waste, and that’s what a Seed Exchange aims to prevent. It’s a barter system that saves you money from having to purchase new seeds so that instead you can exchange for new varieties.CONTINUE READING

    Guide: Moving to a New City

    When you’re moving a a new city, it’s difficult to know what to expect beforehand. Settling in takes time and patience, but can be a lot of fun with the right attitude.

    Here’s a quick guide for helping you to find your new home and settle in.CONTINUE READING

    De-centralize Your Food

    Decentralization is essential to creating robust, efficient, and resilient communities that aren’t fully reliant on the transportation network to deliver food. There are many models that reflect the structural functionality of decentralization as a means of strengthening localized resources. In this guide, we will be covering the food production model, and why it benefits from decentralization.CONTINUE READING

    Compost Programs

    Our soil is one of the most important resources we have. It’s not just “dirt,” soil is a mixture of humus, living microbes, sediments, nutrients, and more! By cultivating our soil, we’re ensuring that the source of our food and nutrients will remain healthy. Now, even cities are contributing to their surrounding soil and reducing organic waste through compost programs that provide a way to redirect city compost back to the local soil.CONTINUE READING

    Buy Local

    Buy Local

    Buying Local has gained a lot of steam over the past decade. People are starting to think about the impact their shopping has on their local economy as well as the benefits of supporting locally-owned business and establishments.

    Think of your dollar as a voting token. It’s a completely voluntary choice, and every time you spend it you’re supporting a product or service provider. Now imagine this “voting” as movement in which your community chooses to support local establishments when possible. This creates a stronger local community and supports local businesses. Such a movement has been catching on across the United States as individual communities are choosing to support local establishments to keep their local economy strong. But it’s not just for the sake of the economy, there are many benefits to choosing to shop local. You’ll find your own interesting experiences along the way.CONTINUE READING

    Local Flavor Gift Baskets

    Everyone loves to arrive home and see that they have a package waiting for them on their front door. I’m always amazed at the efficiency of our mail delivery networks, and how easy it is to send items across the country in a matter of days.

    Sometimes I run out of creative gift ideas. People enjoy receiving gift cards, but it’s nice to come up with something more personal. What do you give to someone in an age where online shopping is filled with things they could just purchase themselves? How do you personalize your gift and make it truly unique to the person receiving it?

    That’s where I came up with an idea for sending “local flavor packages” to friends and family that live far away. The idea is to find your absolute favorite locally-made items in your area that you can’t get just anywhere, put them together in a gift package, and mail them to loved ones.