Thursday, January 11, 2007

slowing down, snowing down

Last night during the rush hour commute, the Puget Sound region was hit again by snow, ice and rain. Needless to say, it did not make for a fun commute. After spending about two hours waiting for a bus that never showed, I ended up hitching a ride with others trying to make it back to Seattle. Were it not for the generosity of Marcel, I don't know how I would have gotten home as the buses I could have taken either never showed or they were stuck in the ice.

While his kindness is not surprising, I still wonder why shared experiences, or shared difficulties seem to bring people closer together. A few years ago, I wrote upon this a's a little snippet from 2005:

Another example of how the unexpected can be a good thing would be what happens in Seattle when it snows. First, it rarely snows, and if it does, it rarely sticks around. So it is not that surprising that people in this city get all "weird" when it comes to snow. For days the top news story was the snow. This overall weirdness though, is somewhat unique though. At work last week when it snowed, the focus of everyone in the office was elsewhere. People worried about how to get home, some had to get their kids from school, others looked in awe at the big fluffy flakes falling from the sky. Regardless of how individuals reacted, there was this overall giddiness in the office. Likewise, it seemed that there was this sense of wonder for all experiencing the snow. Just a few years ago when it did snow heavily and stay, the city of Seattle literally shut down. Hills turned into ski slopes. Neighborhood restaurants never looked so packed. The place down the corner from me turned into a ski chalet, offering free hot chocolate to those braving the weather...

...this notion of surprise and shared experience seems key in terms of bringing people together. It seems to shake people momentarily from their day to day routine, and we are all then able to look at the world with a sense of wonder, possibility and play.

Following the big windstorms in Nov 2006, a local columnist also commented on this notion of community here

All of this makes me wonder, are we *too* distracted in this day and age of constant activity and connectedness to really be connected to one another as a community? Kathy Sierra wrote recently on how our flow seems to get disrupted with all the noise of mail, feeds and the like. Do we all just need a good old fashioned "snow day" once in awhile to better ground us so we truly are better connected to one another? As much fun as that might be, that's not a good longterm solution. I get the feeling that this magic formula of community through serendipity has to do more with this notion of flow and play in everyday life. Now, if I only knew how to bottle it ;-)

(cross posted On community...)

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