A remarkable thing happened the other day in our discussion section: A seniorly reader had a massive car failure and it was of the scale that wasn’t “recoverable.”
Amazingly, another reader, upon reading this, offered a free replacement car. It’s no Escalade, but it’s the thought that counts. Because, as we sink into the End of Everything, it’s important to remain connected to our core human values.
I was pleased to provide a meeting ground for such an event.
To be sure there are others, including a whole collection of “go fun me” and “kick-starting” sites. But, what made this unique was it wasn’t a money thing. It was a human thing. Hard to beat that.
A friend and co-worker from “back in the day” of rock & roll radio, Lan Roberts, came up with a dandy name for a non-judgmental, curious, ready-to-do good organization.
He called it P.R.O.N.E. Short for Private Responsible Organization Bringing Effect.
His domain of interest was (*as was Lan’s style), a bit quirky: He wanted to use PROBE to look into (among other things) the flurries of UFO reports in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970’s. You remember the Ken Arnold sighting that kicked off the term UFO was just over the Cascade Mountains in 1947?
As far as I know, PROBE never got properly organized, but it was his thinking-style that was so keen.
Given a question, he would think about all possible “citizen, direct-science” that could be brought to bear on a problem.
One morning, before I worked with him at KOL, he was at KJR (the other rock & roll powerhouse in Seattle, at the time) and he told listeners that perhaps UFO occupants might be listening to his morning show.
Taking this concept, he asked all of his listeners (a 30-share – meaning huge/dominant audience in Seattle) to turn up their car radios as loud at they could.
At 8:00 AM sharp, he turned off KJR’s transmitter.
I don’t remember how long exactly, but it was on the order of five minutes.
Anyone who has exposure to media (and money from ads) knows you don’t just “sign-off” the highest-rated morning radio show in Seattle during the peak of morning drive time. But, that’s exactly what he did.
PROBE – and a ballsy curiosity of that type – has always been attractive to me. It’s a better way of thinking.
For a host of reasons, not the least of which are divide and conquer social viruses – like #MeeToo’ers – people are cocooning today more than ever.
The problem isn’t so much knowing your neighbors. It’s that IF THEY KNOW ANYTHING about you, it can and probably will be used against you.
A story in the headlines out of the overnight scans popped up as very much on point. A Robert Frank column over on CNBC headlines “800,000 people are about to flee New York and California because of taxes, say economists.”
QON: Quality of Neighbors
In a roundabout way, this circles me to this morning’s thought: While we have found plenty of ways to monetize climate, sex, gender, age, race, religions, and most-everything else, we haven’t done an especially good jobs of neighboring.
When I lived in one of those “big houses in the suburbs” – which I did for more than a decade – I didn’t even know the people whose home was right out my front door, across the street and down half a lot.
The previous owner has been a Seattle Seahawk, but when his career moved him – after eight seasons in Seattle – I just somehow never got around to meeting the new owners.
As I’ve gotten older (lots older, come to think of it!), there are nagging little questions that pop up as you contemplate life. “Who were those people?”
Even here in rural East Texas, being “right neighborly” is something of a myth.
We don’t even know all the people who’s land abuts ours…and we’ve been in this ‘ol woods for 15-years, now.
I know how it happens, though.
Folks who owned the land out behind us promised to let us know when it came on the market. But, when push came to shove, that didn’t happen, so away went our chance to expand to nearly 50-acres.
I was pissed (and still am) about that.
There’s an old joke about “soured neighbors.”
“How mad are you at the neighbor? Well, let’s just say that if they were away and I noticed their home was on fire, I’d be sure to send the Fire Department a letter, mentioning that fact.”
Just joking. When comes down to cases, I did call the power company when their power lines were brought down by deadfall from a tree in a storm a while back.
Point is, though, that there are good neighbors – and not so much.
Up the hill from us is the nicest young couple in the world…part of a well-respected long-term family in the area.
Even so, well-respected long-term families don’t have a lot of time. In Texas, even at the 15-year mark, we’re still eyed with some suspicion by locals. We don’t get into town much, don’t have time for frou-frou, and since we came up with this “workstation” concept for our hobbies, there’s always more than enough to do.
When, less so than if, the economy hits the skids in a major way, I expect re-neighboring will begin.
We can produce tomatoes and squash brilliantly – or, at least, Elaine can. Plants tend to wither and die in my presence.
But, some of our neighbors have grand corn fields. And up the road a piece, there are some peach orchards that are amazing.
In the city? Not sure how re-neighboring will work out.
Tools to make repairs are another thing that drove neighbors to connect during the last Depression. There were plenty of Fix-It shops around. If one person didn’t have a tool to fix something around the house, sometimes an obliging neighbor would have the tool…
This is where a lot of the good neighbor / bad neighbor stuff comes from. My dad, having worked delivering papers in the Depression, and in the latter part, as a clerk in a cigar store, figured he would “test” neighbors.
Someone would come over an “borrow a tool” and pappy would extract a promise of when it would be returned. If the tool wasn’t back in his shop on the appointed day, that was the end of it. No more tools would be lent to that family. In the end, he ended up not sharing much. Not out of meanness on his part; irresponsibility on the part of others.
I’ve been penciling some ideas around for a National Association of Responsible Neighbors. Not to make money, but just to make life a little easier.
The rules of membership would be simple and it would be cheap. $5-bucks a year.
You’d have to know everyone (and have their phone numbers) on each side of your home and talk to them six times per year. Even if there’s nothing to say but “Howdy!”
And you’ve have to have a simple (printable) “Neighbor Chit.”
This way, if a person failed to return a borrowed tool (or anything else) you could petition to have them designed a “bad neighbor.”
Seems harsh, but for the good of the tribe of responsible humans.
NARN is not something government can (or should) do. But, in the spirit of Lan’s PROBE, it would be a useful thing to have.
Especially useful if a neighbor happened to see smoke coming from your place, and there was no one home.
Write when you get rich,