Like any Good Neighborhood, Good Neighbors are Always There
With apologies to State Farm, insurance companies are not neighbors living close by to help in an emergency. That’s a marketing illusion, a fantasy, to make us feel better about paying for a service the insurance company hopes we will never need, and they will never have to provide. Its what I call a “negative business model”–paying not to have something you really don’t want (an accident) versus paying for something you really do want, like ice cream (a “positive business model”). But I digress. We all need insurance in an amount proportional to our fear of the unknown. Fortunately, Darrell, my neighbor whom I first met yesterday morning at 7 am and lives three doors up the street from my place, WAS THERE in my time of need. We were each walking toward our cars when I noticed I had a flat tire…worse, when I got there I discovered I didn’t have a car jack! Misery! Fortunately I discovered a temp spare hiding beneath my car’s inside trunk cover, which I had never opened. I couldn’t hide the desperation in my voice as I called to Darrell and ask if he had a car jack. He did, and brought it to me with a pleasant smile, and even volunteered to take off my flat and put on my temp spare tire. (above picture) I thanked Darrell profusely for helping me and got to know him a little while he changed my flat.
Turns out Darrell is an artist whose focus is on the intersection of sculpture and history– how sculpture brings history and its cultures to life as well as offer visions of possible futures in the making. I told him I was a futurist and resonated with his idea. When I inquired where his artistic passion came from, he quickly said “Mom,” beaming at me with that wonderful smile. He said she was a history teacher that raised him in a house filled to the ceiling with books (I told him that was my life as well); his love of reading and understanding of the world came to him through the art that history preserved as sculpture. Listening to Darrell reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about the special bond between the “created” and its “creator”
“The most powerful drive in the ascent of man is his pleasure in his own skill. He loves to do what he does well and, having done it well, he loves to do it better. You see it in his science. You see it in the magnificence with which he carves and builds, the loving care, the gaiety, the effrontery. The monuments are supposed to commemorate kings and religions, heroes, dogmas, but in the end the man they commemorate is the builder.”
Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man
With a sheepish smile, Darrell admitted that he was hooked on reading as a small child because he used to sneak books to read that his mother said had stories and pictures he was too young to understand and enjoy. What do adults (like us) know about what goes on in the growing brain of a curious child? About this time Darrell’s charming and lovely wife, Janea, walked down the street to see what all this commotion was about before she left for work. We chatted while Darrell finished and I told her what happened. Turns out she is a corporate trainer who teaches employees how to work productively in today’s changing workplace with its new rules of social engagement, and its digital technology-driven work flow. I shared with Janea the Futurist Workshops I conduct in Baltimore each year (for 3 years since I moved here) for hundreds of Maryland high school students who attend the annual FBLA conference (Future Business Leaders of America). Darrell finished changing my flat tire, and he and Janea graciously allowed me to take their pictures and post them with this story on my blog under “Baltimore Rhythms.” It’s another example of the strong community spirit I personally experience daily throughout Baltimore in contrast with the negative impressions given on national TV. There is surely a need for healing the culture and infrastructure in Baltimore these days, just like the same needs erupting in many other places in America, and throughout the world, for that matter; old physical and cultural structures of our planet and civilization wear out and have to be continuously renewed (economists use the term”creative destruction,” the engine of innovation).
I feel optimistic from my experiences here that good neighbors in Baltimore are finding a way to work together as a communities to get this cycle of healing done. Baltimore’s innovative history shows that Baltimoreans have been getting it done since Baltimore was founded in 1788, one year before America’s constitution was ratified.
©2016, Robert Joseph Harris, PhD: Futurist-Minding the Gap between “what is and what can be” as an advisor, blogger, golfer, researcher, creator, thinker, walker, talker, reader, writer, listener, lover, tinkerer.