Being friends with people at the bottom…REALLY???

polar plunge 7

By Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday at coffee a friend of mine was telling me that he’s never made the right kind of connections in life, “I’ve never been good at playing the game and schmoozing with the big dogs” he said, “I’ve always been more likely to become good friends with the janitors and coffee barista’s then with the CEO’s or General Manager’s” he said

My friend was implying that this was a short-coming on his part; because he’s never developed the knack for rubbing shoulders with ‘important people’ he somehow felt that this was something to be sorrowful over,

But dude” I said, “You’ve got a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan, you’re fairly accomplished in your profession, and in my eyes you are one of the important people; you’re humble, laid back, you’ve been a faithful friend to me, and half the people who come to sit at our table are coming here to hang out because they love you!” I said

Yesterday I wrote an article about unscheduled community; the idea of having a common meeting place where friends and acquaintances can simply show up unannounced. My friend that I was sitting with has been one of the central characters in the coffee shop that I’ve been hanging out at for the last 5 years. Despite being a full time high school teacher; my friend spends a lot of time at the café and many of us regulars swing by the place hoping he will be there.

Unscheduled community only works if you have people who are willing to sacrifice their time for the people at the bottom. If you’re only looking to hang out with Governors, Prime Ministers, Presidents and CEO’s, then you’re probably not interested in unscheduled community because those type of people rarely step out of their bubbles of importance to see what life is like for the rest of the world.

Unscheduled community is not a new phenomenon but rather its second nature to other cultures outside of the Western World where hanging out with acquaintances, friends, and family without having to set appointments is merely a way of life. As I wrote yesterday, in much of Latin America they don’t need coffee shops because the people simply hang out together anywhere and everywhere; it’s a way of life.

Unscheduled community happens to be the main theme in some of the most popular television shows of all time,

—-) The TV show Seinfeld was all about unscheduled community; whether it was his friends dropping by his apartment unannounced, or Jerry and the gang showing up to Monk’s Café; the show was likely popular because of the connections and community feel of Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, George, and all the other wacky people who would show up.

—-) Friends had a similar feel to Seinfeld.  For the three young women and three young men, hanging out unannounced at the Central Perk coffee shop or at each other’s apartments was simply a way of life.

—-) Cheers, the TV show about a Boston bar not only enveloped every major themes of unscheduled community, they went to so far as to sing a song about having a hang-out place where, “everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came

The main objection people have to unscheduled community is a lack of time, “I’m simply too busy to drop by unannounced at a friend’s house or I would feel overwhelmed if a friend came by my place unannounced” people say. And when I hear that objection I’m always puzzled and a central question forms in my mind; what are we all so busy doing?

Let’s call a spade a spade; the biggest time waster in our lives is not running important errands or mopping the kitchen….it’s the Television. The average American watches TV for an average of 34 hours a week <NY TIMES> and even though I’m not very good at math, from my calculations that is roughly 5 hours per day.

And while I’m not about to throw stones at anyone for watching the latest episodes of Elementary or House of Cards, can we at least be honest; when we are feeling lonely or starved for community the make believe television characters that we are watching on TV simply don’t work as well as real life people sitting with us.

Community and friendships take time. It’s a lot easier to turn the TV on every day and spend five hours in front of it because the TV doesn’t require that we patiently listen to it or interact with it the way being with a real live person entails back-and-forth conversation.

I could be totally wrong but I suspect it’s not ‘busyness’ that prevents us from reorganizing our lives around the idea of unscheduled community; I believe its fear. We’ve been conditioned to live a certain way; the Western way. But that is what my blog is all about; challenging the predetermined notions that we’ve all grown up with, questioning the things that we are doing and that other societies are not doing.

If we don’t question what we are being spoon fed from the television, the media, the government, and all those other influences in our culture; then perhaps we will wake up one day and realize that it was poison on that spoon which we have been swallowing our whole lives.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth

I will be in Chicago this weekend! Check my homepage for dates and locations. I’d love to have coffee with you! Upcoming locations included Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, and more!



Categories: Culture & Society

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80 replies

  1. wonderful when
    one truly offers the wisdom
    of non discrimination 🙂

  2. I moved away from the East coast because I had an aversion to social status. In New York there is so much smoozing going on, but why? Are these people really close and rely on each other for support or is it all about money and position? I would much rather have it that people are happy to sit with me because they love the conversation, than to get something from me. I took a man out to lunch yesterday that has helped me by driving his truck to move some things for me. We had a really important visit. I needed a real friend to talk to. He is one of the best people I know at making community with all kinds of people. It is a gift.

  3. Why do people have to be considered at the bottom based upon their professional status in life. This is why man should not judge and only GOD should judge, because we don’t make accurate assessments of people. We use our senses, which can give us distorted and incorrect information. It is what is on the inside that counts. Your character, morals and values. You can have a high paying job and be a jerk. Yea, I make friend with anyone who loves GOD…

  4. Honestly what Ken is taking up is wonderful. But it starts with a sense of your own self -worth, importance and what really matters most in life.

  5. I see where you are coming from to a point. From moving twice over the past few years, I have seen how in different areas people/neighbors differ, i.e. when I was in Eastern Pa living in my apartment complex (6 floor buildings and at least a dozen of them) I always found it weird how very few people I had actually seen and encountered- now currently it seems like where I am at there are more families and kids and you see more people around. When it comes to community, I never really broke it down into scheduled or unscheduled- when I was a bit younger and in college I’d say there was more unscheduled but now its become scheduled. In either case it is still about making the time and effort, and in many ways if I have people over I like scheduled since it give me the opportunity to give my best hospitality i.e. food, etc. There are still the times where if the weather is nice just to send messages to friends to go to the park or go to the city (currently now be going across the river to Philadelphia).

    • Great example. When I used to live in an apartment (more than a decade ago) my experience was a little different than yours because my next door neighbors were first generation Italians who had come here to the U.S. and they were so welcoming and warm to us; we were always welcome to come over to eat or to hang out. And there were also a couple single mothers in the building that were in dire need of help with the children; so because they couldn’t afford to pay for babysitters we would watch the children for free to give the mothers a break. So we had a high level of community in the apartment but I suspect it was a different atmosphere based on the people that lived in ours.

  6. I’m a little puzzled by what you wrote:

    “The main objection people have to unscheduled community is a lack of time, “I’m simply too busy to drop by unannounced at a friend’s house or I would feel overwhelmed if a friend came by my place unannounced” people say. And when I hear that objection I’m always puzzled and a central question forms in my mind; what are we all so busy doing?’.

    Well, just think about it – you just came home from a working day that had many challenges, you’re tired, and a bit stressed. You want to spend a little time with your kids before they go to bed (if you have kids), you have to put a load of dirty laundry to wash, and the dry laundry needs ironing so you will have something clean to wear to work the next day. You haven’t eaten yet: you need to prep and cook something for your dinner. Your elderly mom phones and you need to spend time speaking with her. There are emails to be read and replied to. Your bed is calling you, you need sleep, and at that moment the doorbell rings and someone you know drops in unannounced – much as you like their company you need this like a hole in the head. And you still haven’t had time to switch on the TV to catch up with whats going on in the world.
    Life is a busy business – and it is getting on with daily life that we are all so busy doing.
    That is why many folk like a ‘planned’ get-together’ rather than an unannounced ‘drop by’.

    • Herschellian,

      I’m not sure how any of those things you’ve mentioned were different 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 50 years ago, or are all that different in other countries (such as Latin America

      —) People have always had jobs
      —) People have always been tired
      —) People have always had challenges
      —) People have always had laundry to wash

      The difference is that people in the past often did MORE things together (i.e. communally). On my street there are a lot of middle eastern immigrants and i observe them doing a LOT of those kind of tasks together; I see them doing laundry together, I see them doing yard work together, I see them shuffling snow together, etc.

      Also, the NY Times article reported an increase in television watching. So IMHO one of the main differences in suburban America (and the majority of Americans live in the suburbs) is that people are watching more television than ever.

      I believe it comes down to priorities; we can choose to live more communally, or we can choose to live our lives and do various tasks more individually. Its a choice, and I’m not going to condemn people if they want to live more individually; I would never do that. But I will say that to use the excuse that its all because we’re ‘too busy’ is not an authentic truth.

  7. You made some really going points. Rubbing shoulders with the big guys is a thrill. But, hanging out with common folks is comforting.

    TV has become less a part of our daily routine. This coming Tuesday is the last day for our long satellite tv contract. Too expensive for what little we watch. Instead, we will use a Roku or Apple TV gizmo and the old fashioned antenna.

    Back to the future for us.

    • Jim, when my Satellite contract ended 18 months ago I bought a Roku; it was the best decision I’ve ever made regarding television. I pay $8 per month to Netflix and 8$ per month to Aereo (Aereo gives you all the local channels, about 18 of them, in HI-def on the Roku and free DVR) so for $16 per month that is the total of my television bill now

    • Yep…that’s the way to go for me. If I don’t want to watch anything, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    • I think Roku is great, but because we don’t have a high-def set (we have a CRT from my folks that uses RCA composite inputs), and the Roku only accepts HDMI inputs, I went with Dlink. In particular, I bought a unit exclusive to Wal-Mart and more within my meager budget.

      I did it to free up the computers, to pry the rest of my family away from watching videos on them. I am the only one that even cares about broadcast over the antenna. We don’t pay for Netflix or any other services… they are content to watch YouTube. Sometimes we’ll use Pandora, but it’s mostly YouTube.

    • We got Roku 3. There was a 2 that had the RCA jacks. Our old set is going away. So, moving into modern times.

      It will take a little while to get used to the new habits. But, so far we have been happy with our move.

    • 2 still seems to be available. I was wanting something that would do Amazon Cloud Player, so I’ll have to look into it.

  8. Kenneth, I was in that rut quite some time ago. I never went out or did anything. I gave myself the excuse that I was too tired…after work. Honestly, It wasn’t fear but laziness, inertia and addiction to TV. I was watching at least five hours/day, that’s pretty much all awake time at home. One day, I said, I’ve had enough and changed my lifestyle. Hubby didn’t want to change lifestyles, so I changed him too.

    It really is a change of lifestyle. I started mild running (I hate running but love being fit), going to classes and seeing friends. They were there, I just never saw them. When I moved from my house, I purposely did not bring the TV.

    Fast forward six year when I met my new husband…he could not believe I didn’t have a TV, even though I am sure it came up in conversation once or twice. We actually went out and bought one. I have slipped back into the rut…but not as deeply. We don’t watch network, only selective Netflix and House of Cards is the best out there currently. We, as a couple enjoy winding down with TV (and snuggles). We intersperse it with our online activities and other projects. He is a constant doer and TV time is his only time during the day when he is not doing something.

    My schedule is such that I usually have a couple hours in the afternoon to do stuff outside the home…I’m balanced. His work is more home located and I think he could benefit from some outside the house time…we have actually discussed this recently. He took a day away and had a great time, no appointments, no house…just doing whatever he felt like doing. He’s going to be doing more of this.

    • Mrs. P, I appreciate your honest about the hours watching TV, I could be WAY off, but of the myriad of people who complain about being ‘too busy’, I have a sneaky suspicion they are watching a LOT of TV also, but simply don’t admit it or realize it.

      And I’m not saying its wrong to watch 5 hours a day of television, but I think its inauthentic to complain about being ‘too busy’ if that is how people are choosing to spend their time.

      I’m SO glad you changed your lifestyle though because it sounds like you are solo much more happier 🙂

  9. I love the idea of unscheduled community – and wish we had a local pub! Neighbours with well stocked fridges are a good substitute though (especially if they also have air-conditioning!)

  10. One of my favorite writers, Bill Bryson, commented on this while he was on a tour of Europe. Somewhere in Italy (I don’t remember where) around 6 every night, the whole community comes out of their homes and take a walk to the center of town. They all just stand around and talk. Everyone does this, and while they talk their children play, and at about seven, everyone slowly returns to their homes for whatever their evening schedule may be. I’m enchanted with the idea, and I think we’d live in a better world if it happened everywhere.

  11. You make a good point, people spend way too much time in front of “electronic mind occupiers.” I am one of them! I also identify with your assessment of fear. It is much easier to get sucked into the TV than to risk rejection by others. I wish there was a “Cheers,” actually I’ve wished for this all of my life. A place where I could go that everyone. or someone, was glad I came! There are those times, but they are scheduled and not often enough! Thanks for bringing awareness, maybe it is time I step away from at least one of the “occupiers!”

    • The problem (I’m not sure if ‘problem’ is the right term) is that it can take a long time and a lot of commitment in developing that atmosphere. I am fortunate I guess in that the various coffee houses I hang out at tend to be similar to the ‘cheers’ environment. But there are a lot of coffee houses I’ve visited that aren’t very friendly at all. I actually drive past three or four coffee houses that are within blocks of my house, simply because there are cooler environments at coffee houses a bit further down the road.

  12. I think fear is the right thing to point out here. I thought about this all day yesterday. I do remember times in college where friends who happened to live in my same hallway would stop by whenever they felt like it. Other people couldn’t do that, though, because each hallway is locked to anyone not living there. Anyone else who dropped by unexpectedly would run the risk of being turned away because no one is present to let them into the hallway.

    Back to fear, though. I think the average person fears people they don’t know. When I moved from my small town to the suburbs, my father was very concerned about me getting shot or raped. People here still associate the city with the same thing. If you live in the city, you’re just asking to be shot or mugged. The more people there are, the more risk, and it scares people. How do you break through that?

    I spent months after I moved knowing few people other than my boyfriend and coworkers. I eventually joined a 20-something social club to meet people. I literally had no idea how to meet people outside of a classroom setting. I never had to try before. I always assumed this was due to some social anxiety and awkwardness on my part. I never considered that fear of striking up a conversation with a stranger might be a factor or be a common fear in our culture.

    • TK, you’re first paragraph is exactly what I was getting at yesterday; its that type of atmosphere which most people usually love about college.

      I could be WAY off here, but I’m gonna venture an answer to your comments; I used to be VERY shy when I was younger, but I was fortunate during my teen years to hang out with a lot of people who were really outgoing and social, and so by my late teen years I had gotten past a lot of the fears I used to have. One of the things that I noticed about the people who were really good at talking to strangers is that they simply talked to people as though they’d known them their whole lives. A lot of us have ‘walls’ or ‘guards’ up around us; we’re leery of strangers. Perhaps that is the fear you are referring to, and the fear that others commented on yesterday. But ultimately, to borrow the colloquialism “we are all god’s creatures” so it seems that if we learn how to truly love others, perhaps those walls and guards might come down.

      That is why I started the article off by talking about socio-economic factors; many people are looking at the outside. They are judging each other based on class, income, status, etc. (I’m not saying that you do that)….

      And ultimately, if we are in a public setting I don’t know that we need to be to fearful of people doing bad things to us.

    • I wonder if it’s really a class thing or if it is the perceived characteristics of the class. If you see someone who appears to have less money, you might assume they live in a rough part of town and wonder if they mean to steal. If you see someone who looks like they’re a billionaire, you might assume they will be arrogant towards you.

      I’m not saying any of these assumptions are correct, just that the first impression might dictate how strangers interact with them.

      At the end of the day, I’m probably not the right person to be giving opinions. I’ve never been very adapt at socializing.

    • “perceived characteristics of class”

      I like that sentence, and I think its a combination of both; some people simply aren’t interested in hanging out with ‘poor’ people or ‘unimportant’ people. Take for instance blogging, until my traffic increased a lot of the ‘bigger’ bloggers didn’t give a crap about me. Now all of a sudden you should read some of the emails I get, its kinda annoying because its clearly all about a popularity contest for them.

      Its no different than back in high school; popular kids wanted to hang out with popular kids……

      Well, part of my writing (and my philosophy I guess) is to challenge that thinking; to say that we shouldn’t be trying to make friends or strike up conversations ONLY with people we think look cool or are attractive or who are eloquent, etc. I like Jesus in that he hung out with people that society pretty much ignored. His friends didn’t have degrees and weren’t all that smart, but he loved them as much as if they were anyone else.

  13. So, that’s what busy people are doing! I always wondered about that. 🙂

  14. Being Albanian, I know exactly what you mean when you talk about unscheduled community. I miss Albania and crave community here in the US. I miss neighbors who just drop by unannounced, friends showing up at coffee houses unplanned, for no reason at all. I have come to believe that the best way to connect with others is to forget about what divides us. I don’t fully agree that it’s fear, although I do think we fear what we don’t know. I think it’s being overly polite and too concerned with form and correctness.

    Great post!!

    • Reminds me of an experience my wife told me about– she is much more inclined to talk to people, especially as she got to know the neighbors (and I barely have). She said she talked to some Filipina women in the neighborhood and they told her they really missed home (i.e. where they used to live) and that people seemed to keep so much to themselves here.

  15. Reblogged this on Homeless Jesus – Tales of a Tenderhearted Kid and commented:
    I have come to believe that the best way to connect with others is to forget about what divides us.

  16. I am beginning to wonder if what keeps us from one another is this unchallenged idea that we should spend inordinate hours in an office chasing status. Personally I would much rather be cultivating a community. I work for a CEO and the isolation is just shy of crippling. Just my thoughts, of course! Thanks Kenneth 🙂

    • I am totally with you. I used to work in politics (another lifetime ago) and I was being groomed for a political career. The time came when I was asked to relocate to the capital and then the next step would have been for me to run for office; I spent a week thinking about it and turned the offer down because of something the senator told me; he was very honest with me; “Kenneth, just know that if you say yes this is going to be seven days a week and working till midnight most nights” I would have had to give up everything for the better part of a decade to pursue all of that…. and I decided I didn’t want to sacrifice so much. Of course, some congressmen and women don’t spend so much time working, but I’ve always believed they are the ones who married into money or inherited a lot of money because it takes a TON of money to stay in politics for a long time.

    • Thank you for your story, Kenneth. I needed to hear it because I think it may be my time to choose also and your choice resonates with my heart whereas most people try to reason with my head (read: bank account).

  17. Time never stops, but we Do. No matter how busy life becomes there is always some time of my time for someone I want or otherwise got plenty of excuses to make.. 😃
    Real friend except us regardless of level or position of jobs, because we might not be always at the bottom or top. What goes up, must come down .
    I don’t spend time on TV like I use to anymore, but I think you spend few hrs on House of Cards.. 😀
    Have a good day!

  18. I love this post and thank you for referencing Cheers. There’s not much that is more enjoyable in life than good unscheduled community, even if it’s with strangers watching a game.

    • To be honest, I’ve only ever seen a couple episodes of Cheers, but I know that in its day it was one of the most popular shows on television, and I think people gravitated toward it because of that communal element which they portrayed.

  19. Great blog today. As I read my mind naturally began to check off my unsheduled community ties. It occured to me that it is these unscheduled times that I look forward to the most in life. At my house we have people that drop by unannounced all the time. They say they just like to come over because our home is so comfortable. Until I read it from your perspective today, I don’t think I really appreciated or even understood what a compliment that is to have people use my home as a place to hang out.
    Your bolg is a gift, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us every day. 😉

  20. Getting far isn’t about “rubbing elbows with the big dogs.” It really isn’t.

    If you get along with baristas, you’ll be FINE. The big mover and shaker people, the real ones, respond to the same treatment. You heard me. Treat them like HUMAN BEINGS. Don’t get all worshipful, if you feel laudatory, or a squee coming on, bite your tongue. You don’t want to flatter those who long for flattery. It may get you somewhere, but it will be a bridge that supports no weight, and powered by someone else’s coat tails anyhow. Flattery and smoosing ultimately get you nowhere faster.

    You smile, shake hands, be warm and humble. Don’t try anything fancy, just be friendly and ordinary. You would be amazed how much this affects people with power. Just remember that what a famous person really wants is to be ordinary. All the things that we take for granted– including stuff such as real friends who like you for who you are, rather than what you can do. Focus on who they are, rather than what it is that makes them famous. They will remember that. It takes time, but it works.

    As for the shibboleths and hoop jumping– it’s not worth it. Those sorts of connections blow away with the wind shifts. Its the people you connect with on a human level that will remain, once all the 15 minute flamers have faded into irrelevance.

  21. I think introversion versus extroversion might play a role. This blog coffee house works fairly well for me. It’s easy, accessible, interesting… And it gives me food for thought, but doesn’t take the energy meeting a person in the flesh requires. You provide a good service. 🙂

  22. Again Kenneth you are in my head..this is the conversation I have had recently…to which after repeated requests to shut the tv off and the video game..and talk and listen to me…I left…
    And in my leaving..the words were spoken to me…I am scared..so scared…
    The tv and video games do not respond back..they are empty..and I am so scared you may see me…and like me..just me…
    It is a fear in our society that we may be loved..cared about..solutions found..so we numb..we turn to things that give us a momentary jolt…yet keep all at a distance…
    It is easier to believe we have nothing to contribute..than to think we contribute and it is valuable..no matter who we are and where we come from…
    I face this fear presently…as I have entered a path of caring for people in basic needs…and I am quaking in my boots…not because I cannot do this work…or that I am a cold being..no..I am scared because of how much I love it..and I may..most likely will find out…I am as good at it..as I believe..which is real good…

    • “The tv and video games do not respond back..they are empty..and I am so scared you may see me…and like me..just me…”

      Exactly; they are such a poor substitute to people….. yet so many of us spend more time with our TV than we do connecting with our friends and loved ones 😦

    • True…
      I told someone last night..that they did not have to give it up…I would not want to give up my blogging..even though I think it is quite different than staring at a tv or a video game..but it was the best example I could find…I said..capitalize on the moments when one is present with you…because either one of us can be gone tomorrow…when you are bored and they are doing their thing…working..whatever..then use that time…not when you have a loving presence right in front of you..and you go HUH? when they say..talk to me..what do you think…I need your thoughts…
      Have fun in Chicago…and I love the train…how cool…still wish you were coming near North Carolina…maybe next time….

  23. I have never had a problem making friends with “top” or “bottom” people. I use the term loosely in reference to this article.
    There are a group of people who cannot make friends with “top” people, because they feel inadequate, or judge them too harshly while they feel more comfortable with “bottom” because of the status quo. (I am not saying your friend is one of them.)
    Personally, I treat everybody the same, I hated the way people treated me and then turn around suddenly when they find out I am not so much “bottom”, it is embarrassing for everyone involved. So I make it easy for myself, I think it is easy to be respectful and courteous to everyone, I don’t brown nose or look down.
    I may never get to the level of a brown noser but I know people who know me, know I am consistent.

  24. 5 hours a day in front of the TV?!! I’m amazed. I’m lucky if I bother to watch 1 hour of TV per day. Guess I need to cut back on wasting time with all that unscheduled community, so that I can become more of a busy American by watching TV. Clearly my priorities are confused.

    • Ha ha GREAT comment Ally! 🙂

    • I can’t believe 5 hours, myself– personally, I think it’s probably more of an average between TV set, mobile device, laptop, etc., which may or may not be for watching entertainment media but still could be a measure of leisure/time-wasting stuff. People still “surf” the Internet, right?

  25. See, I liked that about the Cafe Intermezzo owner when he sat down with us, and then I found out that he’s friendly with all his staff – down to the servers. Did you notice how he called our server by her name every time? I think that’s what makes his cafe so great – no rush and no pretenses, just elegance all around.

    • Dude, I totally noticed that! He seemed like a guy straight out of the 1970’s who was a backpacker/adventure type, and now all of a sudden he’s the owner of what appeared to be one of, if not THE coolest café’s in all of Atlanta!

  26. It was unscheduled community that allowed me to become fluent in Portuguese so fast. I moved to Brazil in May of 2002. There were very few people on my YWAM base that spoke English. I shared a room with 2 other girls. One of them watched tv all the time at night. I would be out and about on the base constantly interacting with people. After five months I was already up translating classes and so on.
    TV really is a time killer. I remember the different times that my hubby and I were in different parts of the world where tv wasn’t made available to us. Or even if it was, it wasn’t in our own private room. Those were actually great times that we could have interacting more as a couple. I remember even thinking that it was so good not having a tv. Somehow though, once you get one again, it’s very easy to get sucked in. Especially at the end of the day when you’re exhausted and you just want to relax and zone out. I’m sure I could get through so many more books if I would just read instead. Damn tv.
    =)

    • Great example Staci, the one thing I LOVE about traveling is that I’m usually too busy to watch TV. Its not that I hate television, not at all. But I really enjoy taking breaks from it 🙂

    • And I love this sentence of yours;

      ” I’m sure I could get through so many more books if I would just read instead. Damn tv.”

      😀

  27. I grew up always cooking a little extra just in case.
    sharing a lambchop because we got friends coming over.
    Throwing in an extra cup of rice or pasta or peel the extra potato
    we did not feel overwhelmed. I would welcome them.

    what is wrong with opening an extra bottle of wine. doesn’t every one have at least one extra bottle just in case. I miss the days we could just walk in. and share a conversation over a cup of coffee

    have we gotten so much in a routine fo choosing who we talk to through media that we cannot even adept any more to a friend coming over.
    It begs to question if we have not become to much of machines or people with less emotions.

    A beautiful written read. thank you

    • “what is wrong with opening an extra bottle of wine. doesn’t every one have at least one extra bottle just in case. I miss the days we could just walk in. and share a conversation over a cup of coffee”

      Love that!

  28. I love people at the bottom. Funny thing about that, the bottom is a great place to meet genuine friends that “stick closer than a brother.” No one impresses me with their money or status, I’m impress with their true heart for other people. If they don’t love others with a true heart they aren’t true. I won’t put anyone on my leadership team that hasn’t been through an incredibly difficult situation in life. Lots of pain and suffering. Why? They are survivors and know what it takes to press on in the face of all the things thrown at them and come out true to their beliefs. That’s who I want on leadership. They tend not to get big heads with no compassion, but have huge hearts of empathy with humility and lead as a servant not a master. Thanks Culture Monk!

  29. When I was young I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. Neighbors, friends, and family use to drop by ALL THE TIME! Her house was busy! Back then (I won’t say how long :D) people didn’t sit in front of the t.v. all day, or call and make appointments to come visit. They would just show up. It was just a given. They would play card games, or visit, laugh and of course… drink coffee. 😀

    • My grandparents house used to be like that, it still is to a certain degree. But I’ve noticed that the older they get the fewer people who tend to stop by 😦

  30. Several years ago I realized that my friendships were suffering, and I was the reason. I made a conscience effort to make time for my friendships, make time to spend with them, from the scheduled monthly dinners with the girls to the “I’m actually in then neighborhood and stopping by!” The nice thing is, they all return the favor! It takes work and it takes letting go of our fears and insecurities and putting ourselves out there! Love your posts on community 🙂

  31. Social consciousness starts with the individual, no? 🙂

  32. Unscheduled community – that’s amusing!
    It’s a ‘way of life’ that my ma sure have, what with all those people
    she seems to know?! The case wasn’t the same with me, though.

    • Yea, it seems like previous generations know more about it then younger people

    • Indeed. The only interaction most have goes in front of a computer’s screen. But then, my case had a lot to do with being extremely introverted. I love good conversations, though. It’s a delightful surprise to enjoy shared moments! 🙂

  33. First time visiting here, Culture Monk. I like you 🙂 Personally, social media is the biggest threat to my community building. Even when I am with friends I find myself searching my phone for updates. I know this is a problem! I have to fast from Facebook, blogging, etc, from time to time. I love the idea of unplanned community. This was lost after college and with children. The closest I had was a really special neighbor. But she moved away and I haven’t had such a sweet relationship since! I know it was because we did life together on a regular basis… unplanned. Anyway… thanks for the refreshing read.

  34. Jerry and the gang showing up to Monk’s Café;

    Is this where you get your pseudonym/Internet moniker “The Culture Monk”, Kenneth? Wasn’t sure if you have written about that before or not.

  35. Hi! I love your humor, your insight, and your photos. I’ve nominated you for the Lighthouse Award for being a bright light in this world. http://br4ceyourself.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/lighthouse-award/

  36. I think you’re right, but it’s more than just TV. I’m certain it’s the entire gamut of the digital lifestyle; it’s walling us off from people nearby and causing our social skills to dwindle into disuse. I was talking to an older guy at work yesterday, and he was waxing nostalgic about the 1970’s: “everybody was more free back then, and people were humble and friendly too.” I was telling him that that’s how I feel about the 1980’s when I realized that the rise of the Internet has coincided with this loss of main-street, backyard-fence America, where you’re friends with your neighbors and you call on your friends unannounced. Even when ditching the TV habit, the Internet still competes for huge chunks of free time.

  37. Bravely leaping in to your massive comment stream, I want to applaud this celebration of ‘unscheduled community’. Also your reply to your friend in the opening was outstanding. Thanks for another really well written post Kenneth. Cheers, Gina

  38. Character rather than social matters most to me.

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  1. The Problem of Architecture (The Loss of Tribe) | Matthew D. Kiehl

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