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Late Nite FDL: Building New Communities

I saw Lou Reed on the MTV Video Music Awards the other night.  I had been in my car with White Light/White Heat on my stereo and there was Lou on TV when I got home playing the song live.  Lou is way cool and someday maybe Howie Klein will introduce me to some of his way cool friends if I get my ass to L. A.  I’m not very cool, but I love to meet and work with creative, talented people who reset the boundaries of what’s possible for others. 

One of the side benefits of doing this blogging activist gig is the way I get to meet or at least work with via telephone or whatever so many really talented, creative people.  Yeah, we have this political movement thing to do, but it’s also an amazing way to meet and make new friends whom you otherwise would not meet.  Where and how would I have met my blogmates here, or so many of you in the community?  Nowhere.

This is one of the things I really like about this whole people-powered movement thing.  I’ve long been a proponent of the idea that most of human talent remains untapped and undeveloped, and I work to change that through my real life work, but this movement is a great vehicle through which regular folks can find their untapped potential and shine, or at least use their talents for causes and values they really care about.  What could be better than that?  What could be healthier than that?

So, my thanks to all of you who continue to be so generous with your time and talent.  I wrote once before, when we were recruiting people for our Roots Project site development team, that this community has never failed to respond when we’ve called for help or volunteers for something.  It always comes together.  It’s amazing.  (Side note:  my apologies if we have not gotten back personally to thank everyone who volunteered but is not part of the site development team.  That response loop may not have covered everyone and in a new organization of online volunteers, if we missed you, I’m really sorry!).

There’s all kinds of talent out there.  Creating a database or just a contact list is a talent. I’m sure not good at lists.  In your working life, you may not feel you’re really using your talents or challenging your own limits and growing.  Most people don’t really feel challenged to bring out their best for their paying jobs, and even if they do, many don’t feel their work has real meaning and so they don’t find it very satisfying. 

Our economic life makes us move around a lot more than we used to as a species, and that fragments communities.  The result is more people today feel this sense of disconnection and rootlessness, and with our modern information glut, it’s hard to create and find meaning from our work and our lives the way perhaps previous generations could.  There’s so much information overload, and exposure to alternative worldviews, people find it confusing, sometimes threatening.  I expect the rise of the various fundamentalisms around the world and here at home is in part a reaction to all this.

On the other hand, movements like ours create ways for people to make new ties to each other in ways that help them connect their work or their talents to meaning and to relationships with people, even virtual relationships.  We’re creating new communities that endure and which change people’s lives while nurturing their talents.  The very contemporary tools that precipitate so much dislocation in communites during an information age can be turned around to create new ties that bind. 

That’s pretty cool, and it’s also something our coming Roots Project social networking site is being designed to promote and sustain:  imagine a place where you can not only organize to change our country or just your home town, but also to make friends with people you would not otherwise meet who share your values?  Stay tuned for more while we have that site baking in the oven.

So, anyway, this is a thank you post for all of you for sharing your talents and passion.  Everyone has talent: something they can do better than most other people can.  Getting to know you is fun, and even as we get to know each other well enough to get mad at each other sometimes, there’s this other place I’ve seen a lot of us come to where we understand each other better as real people and come to like and appreciate those we would not have otherwise known or met in our regular lives. 

Thanks of course also go in large measure to the founder and host of this site, our own Sweet Jane.

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Pachacutec did not, as is commonly believed, die in 1471. To escape the tragic sight of his successors screwing up the Inca Empire he’d built, he fled east into the Amazon rain forest, where he began chewing lots of funky roots to get higher than Hunter Thompson ever dared. Oddly, these roots gave him not only a killer buzz, but also prolonged his life beyond what any other mortal has known, excluding Novakula. Whatever his doubts of the utility of living long enough to see old friends pop up in museums as mummies, or witness the bizarrely compelling spectacle of Katherine Harris, he’s learned a thing or two along the way. For one thing, he’s learned the importance of not letting morons run a country, having watched the Inca Empire suffer many civil wars requiring the eventual ruler to gain support from the priests and the national military. He now works during fleeting sober moments to build a vibrant progressive movement sufficiently strong and sustainable to drive a pointed stake through the heart of American “conservatism” forever. He enjoys a gay marriage, classic jazz and roots for the New York Mets.