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Nolan

Community Explorer

    Unite Locally and Abandon National Factions

    Chances are you’ve seen or heard calls for the need to unite America again. With the political and faction divisions at the national level, there is an increase in violent and divisive events happening in the United States. However, the assumption the solution must come at the national level is misguided. Yes, the goal is to stop the wedge that’s driving through our country but the means to achieve that requires focusing at the local level.

    The problem isn’t that Americans disagree on politics. Political disagreements have been happening throughout our entire history. So what’s different now? If you look behind the surface of these divisions, it’s a struggle for power. The political power at the national level has increased to such exponential levels that every Presidential election is more like that of a King. Rarely is the emphasis on Congress anymore, and most people know very little about their Senators and Representatives.

    This division we’re witnessing is actually a proxy civil battle of Americans standing behind their factions and against each other because it gives them a sense of strength and comfort. Human beings have a tendency to faction up when the motivation is fear. The fear is that the opposing faction will gain control of that seat of power if they don’t fight to grab a hold of it first. Whoever gains the power seat then proceeds to stomp on and plunder their opposition with no respect for individual rights, liberties, and shared citizenship. It has become a battle under the collectivism that our media is now promoting. In the void of individualism, collectivism guides people to a mob-rule style of Democracy. What nobody seems to see is that both factions and political spectrums are wrong whenever they both seek to gain at the expense of all American citizens that are “outside” of their faction. It’s not about creating opportunity and liberty for individuals, as was the foundation of this Nation. Instead it has become about giving favors to certain groups and demographics that support their political endeavors. The group that holds the power seat also grants special privileges, special funding opportunities, and special interest group favoritism. Through the increase in collectivism, the citizenship form into collective groups that struggle for this zero-sum power at the national level. The answer isn’t to unite America again at the national level. We need to stop feeding this poison by shifting our focus away from national politics completely to focus our efforts instead on local needs and personal charity.

    The tragedy is that Americans show more loyalty to their national factions of power than their own neighbors! People could very well find a way to unite, get along with each other, and show respect for one another locally because we all have a shared vested interest in the places we call home. Unfortunately national factions and politics blind most people from the mutual interests they have with their own neighbors. Instead of working together face-to-face, they stand under their national banners and call each other enemies.

    Stop letting the politicians play on your fears. Stop believing that supporting political parties is the answer to improving our great nation – it’s not. Abandon collectivism and see that we are all unique at the individual level. If the people of the United States are going to find unity again, it’s going to be the work of everyday ordinary citizens working together to find mutual interests with their own neighbors and fellow citizens in their local communities. Empowering each other at the personal and individual level. It will be the efforts of people willing to leave the national politics behind and to make that sacrifice for the good of their own Cities and States. The top-down federal power struggle for control has become the problem. We don’t need more top-down power, we need decentralized bottom-up power arising from individualism and localism. This is the only way we’ll rebuild general trust and respect toward our fellow citizens in America again.

    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 Geocaching.com 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.

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    The Folkway Chasm

    Throughout all of history, mankind has encountered pivotal epochs which have defined generations not simply by the breakdown of age groups, but instead by the drastic events and changes that shifted the overall culture of a society. In today’s world we understand our generations as X,Y, and Z – a.k.a. “Millennials.” Unfortunately this simple method of dividing generations, by ranges of birth years, doesn’t give us a very in-depth understanding of the fundamental changes and differences that we witness from generation to generation.CONTINUE READING

    Etiquette – It’s Personal

    We’ve all encountered uncomfortable moments and been in places where we don’t quite know the social expectations of us and acceptable behavior. There are old formal traditions of manners and unspoken rules floating around in society as well as new more casual views on etiquette. This diverse mix of generational viewpoints and upbringings only manages to blur the lines of these social rules and adds confusion. The problem isn’t so much that we don’t all know the “rules,” it’s that we’ve forgotten the core meaning, purpose, and value of etiquette. As a society we see it as just a behavioral expectation being placed on us, but we have forgotten the purpose it ultimately serves.CONTINUE READING

    Rusted Compass Podcast – Episode 2 – Idalia Road Pt. 1

    In 2015, I interviewed Marc Calderwood of Idalia Road Marketplace in Rio Rancho, NM to learn some insight from a marketplace owner. The next episode is an interview with his wife, Phyllis from her perspective.

     

    The Two Frames of Perception

    In previous articles I have described and explained why community begins first with the individual. When individuals are empowered it will enable them to get involved and contribute through voluntary action as well as find a personal sense of belonging. Empowering individuals doesn’t favor a faction, bias, or collective interest of one group over another. It doesn’t group people and pick one side over the other. It benefits the greatest number of people in a society because we are all individuals. If we are to repair the divisions in our nation it must begin with heralding the individual above factions and extending basic respect toward one another. This can only happen at the individual level, and it begins with personal choice.

    I would like to invite you to perceive society through two very different frames:

    1. The Collectivist Frame.

    2. The Individualist Frame.

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    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 https://littlefreelibrary.org/. 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.

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    Rusted Compass Podcast – Episode 1 – Collaborative Learning Opportunities

    In this short first episode of the Rusted Compass Podcast I briefly discuss the value of collaborative local learning opportunities and provide a few outlines for this method of learning to give you an idea of the many different examples out there. Be inspired by new ways to connect and learn with others your community. For more Community Exploration, visit us at www.RustedCompass.com.

     

    The Role of the Iconoclast

    “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

    We exist in a world of constant influence. Whatever we set our minds on, that idea slowly becomes our reality. You can read a book that’s so fascinating and intriguing to you that even when we put the book down it continues to resonate in your mind and shape your worldview throughout the day. Because you set your mind on it for a long period of time, it becomes the forefront of your reality. This happens when we individually choose to focus on something, but it also happens socially. People think, act, and conform to the hegemonic cultures and views. Ideas come to us through our daily interactions in the world primarily from other people.

    The most effective influences on us are through our social connections. Not just any social connections, but the ones we’ve allowed to become a part of our lives. The social spheres that influences us the most are the ones we already have accepted and find belonging in. The social connections that are most entrusted by us have the greatest ability to open up our perspectives and worldviews. We naturally guard against those with opposing views or from social influences that we don’t relate to. Suffice it to say that our closest friends and relationships can change our worldview much more effectively than not-so-close acquaintances and complete strangers trying to change our worldview. Keep in mind that if you try to persuade others to see the world from your perspective, if you aren’t taking the time to first build their trust and respect you’re probably wasting your time. People will always default to the views they’ve already developed over time and put up a guard against unfamiliar and effortful consideration of new ones. CONTINUE READING

    The Importance of Community Resilience

    Community resilience isn’t something that happens by chance. It’s dependent upon the attitudes and respect that people in a community have for one another. We all have a vested interest in contributing to cultivating our own communities to make them more resilient.

    Few areas in the world are completely immune from various potential disasters and conflicts – natural disasters, financial disasters, civil unrest, energy and power grid failures, etc. What would your community look like if it faced one of these disasters today? Would people band together and help each other generously, or would it quickly become everyone for themselves? Would people trust and respect their neighbors enough to form support for one another, or would their immediate survival reaction lead them to an attitude of strife and competition? Ask yourself these questions and determine what you can do to contribute in building trust and respect in your own sphere of influence.

    You’re never going to find a utopia community where everyone holds hands and sings “kumbaya” together, but you will find that the attitudes and dependencies of communities will definitely vary in various regions. Some micro-communities within just a small city block or neighborhood may be very tight-knit and close, even if the overall broader city is less inclined to charity. What type of community or neighborhood to you want to be a part of? Don’t settle for living somewhere where you don’t feel a sense of belonging and basic respect among those around you.CONTINUE READING

    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.

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    You Define and Create Your Community

    Communities aren’t built from the top down, they’re built from the bottom up. It begins with the individual. Attitudes toward your own community derive from knowing this. It’s the acknowledgement that you can do something positive in your own life and influence others rather than focusing on the hopeless and disheartening conditioning of mainstream media and news. It pulls you in to focus on everything around you that you can change, rather than the plethora of information overload flooding you with things that you can’t change.

    Here is the ladder to reaching community improvement:

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    Importance of the Individual in a Community

    In every community, there is a common factor that brings many different groups or individuals together, whether it’s as simple as living in a common geographic area or having a common vested interest.

    Though the focus is often on the community itself, we can’t undermine the importance of the individual in a community. The greatest communities are propelled by the voluntary actions and initiatives of individuals. Some people are natural leaders. Others want to contribute specific talents and gifts to become an important piece of contributing to a common goal.CONTINUE READING