A Sense of Where We Are
A Journey into Hidden America (Canada)
We've been at this for a while now - chronicling the offbeat off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten.
We have gone from sharing places with you to helping empower individuals, communities and those who support smart (community) narratives - i.e. our Journeys into Hidden America (Canada).
The trek has been an uneven one - sometimes a straight shot with beautiful views - friends and lasting memories easily made along the way; at other times a bumpy, solitray and disillusioning trek of twists and turns to destinations uncertain. At times the words, like the journey, has come with ease. At other times adequate and appropriate words have been few and far between - like destinations that tuned out in fact were less than how they had been billed. As importantly, has been the occasional frustration in trying to communicate what these efforts are all about and why they are important to us all.
It was only recently that a phrase from long ago suddenly came to mind - a phrase that can be of help and guidance today.
A Sense of Where You Are is a 1965 John McFee profile of Bill Bradley. Both would eventually become household names. McFee would become a renowned author - pioneer of what would later be known as creative nonfiction as he would win four Pulitzer Prizes. But back in 1965 McFee was a classmate of Bill Bradley at Princeton, and when he wrote the life changing profile of Bradley.
Bradley would become a hero to me and many others of my era as basketball star and scholar at Princeton. He later would become an integral part of the Red Holtzman-led New York Knicks and ultimately a role-model Senator from New Jersey. Bill Brad;ey has little to do with this topic except that he still is an admired figure after all these years (Though hero worship is long a thing of the past around here - exceptions Sandy Koufax and Jean Beliveau).
But the term - A Sense of Where You Are - that is what resonates with me today - these many years later. Many find ourselves to frequently without such a sense - whether as individuals, as a community, as a people (or even as a species but that level of consideration is far too ambitious for my consideration).
We are blessed to be in an age of advance technological tools that allow us to easily navigate to destinations. (When is the last time you used a roadmap ?).
At the same time these modern day tools seem to come up short. They state facts. But they do not have a heart. They do not provide the context that actual human experience and interaction can.
A Sense of Where we are may be construed as physical GPS or as a spiritual roadmap for a journey we have chosen - whether on a vacation or a life's path.
A community also can benefit from a Sense of Where It Is - a smart community narrative that provides insight into where it has been, what it is all about, what's important to it and what makes it tick, what drives and inspires, and what can empower and guide it as it looks to the future.
A Sense of Where Are comes from a sense of who you are.
It is an issue we have repeatedly read of in books by others that we have shared with you in recent months about why and how some places seem to work. From Thomas Freidman to Dar Williams to Debroah and James Fallows, they all share the importance of communities tapping into their true essence - what I like to call their smart community narratives - that sense of where and who they are.
Today that Sense of Where We Are seems all too elusive as we increasingly are less clear about who we are - many today invoke "That is not what we are all about". At times it appears that we are on automatic pilot on a path to an unknown stop.
In the midst of the tumult and gut wrenching events that batter us, this is a call to rededicate ourselves to that sense of who we are - so that we can get a better handle - that sense of where we are.
To some the old fashioned roadmap may be old-fashioned. To others it may just help re-trigger that sense of where they are and where they are can go.