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Aug 30

Stories and the Passing of Time

By Rich Luker
In the archives on the right you will see a category for "stories" and another for "time."  This post is about how the two are essentially two parts of the same thing.

STORIES:  If you have enjoyed truly engaged community, the only way you can tell someone else about it is by telling a story.  If you went to a gathering that wasn't engaging, chances are you will answer anyone who asks you about it in five words or less - "It was fine."  "I had a good time."  But if it's really engaging, it will produce a story.

TIME:  The four things essential to having engaged simple community are people, time, a place and resources.  But time - while key - is actually far more valuable than merely a piece.  Time is THE wealth we possess. Anything else you may treasure is available to only to the extent you have time to possess it.  When we die, the only thing we truly lose is time.

STORIES AND TIME:  And just what is a story anyway?  A story is the retelling of the passing of time. It is THE way we display the treasures from our lives. Think of all the words based on time that a required to tell a story - then, before, next, after, first, later - and so on.

So... if you want to know what you truly treasure, look at how you spend your time.  If you want to know what you truly love, ask yourself what stories you are telling that come from your heart.

Side note: If someone asks you what's new and you say "Nothing."  You need to get a life.  If you tell a story, you have a life.  If you don't have time to tell all the things that are happening in your life, you are truly rich.
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Aug 30

Community and Play

By Rich Luker
I recently had the incredible honor to meet Dr. Stuart Brown, the world's leading authority on the importance - the necessity - of play for developing and living a healthy life.  This isn't just theory folks.  Decades of human and animal studies show play is the foundation for many, if not most, key social skills required to survive.  

Technology has allowed us to blend work and play.  With our computers, we bring play to work and bring work home.  Both cases have created guilt as we have lost the distinction of time to work and time to play.  But in my view, both are necessary. But both are also four letter words and become obscene if done to excess.

Stuart and I hit it off and have decided to figure out how to work and play together.  I have often said "Kindness is the fuel of community." I now want to amend that statement.  "Kindness is the fuel of community, and play is the fuel of kindness."
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Aug 02

Really… What’s More Important?

By Rich Luker

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post here.  What could possibly be more important than engaging in community and encouraging others to do the same?  Apparently, quite a lot.  The thing is it all sneaks up on you.  It’s not like some one thing comes in and takes hours, days or weeks of time.  Are you noticing the same?  I wake up in the morning with the expectation of accomplishing a lot and encouraging community and before I know it, it’s… well, it’s 9:15 on a Tuesday night and I finally make an entry.


Is it just me?  Or does it seem day by day there are just more really tiny things that just must be done right now? And it all seems so urgent.  Nothing can get in the way.


I am sitting at a desk looking at certainly more than 10 notes – all to do lists – none of them done.  As I look at the list, honestly? None look that important.


Thank God I am married to a wonderful woman who has her priorities in order.  Through these last six months we have – every week – done at least a couple things with neighbors to nourish our community.


So, look.. I am in no position to preach today.  But I know this much.  The moments we do give to fostering, supporting, and engaging in our community relationships should be much higher on the priority list.

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Feb 07

The Senior Prom for Senior Citizens – Tell me if you have done this

By Rich Luker

I get the chance to speak to many groups across the country about building more engaged community.  Of all the wonderful things that have happened in NCAA Division II schools because of the community engagement strategy that has been in place since 2005, THE one story that resonates the most comes from Emporia State, the story of the senior prom for senior citizens.


Emporia State university Senior Prom.jpg


Before all is said and done, I bet more than a million people will have seen this picture.  Seriously.  The woman is looking up in his eyes saying to herself “I never thought I would do this again….” And he is saying two things:  “1-2-3 and 1-2-3” and “Dear God don’t let me step on her foot.  I know I’ll break it.”


But seriously, you know he will be much more comfortable with senior citizens because of one simple act of kindness.


As I understand the story (Emporians, please correct me if I am wrong), they took our call to action to heart and looked beyond the property lines of the school, finding a senior citizens center.  They decided to hold a dance, play music from the 1940s and 50s, learn simple dance steps and matched a student date with each of the 30 or so who RSVPed that they would come. 


That was four years ago and every year it gets bigger and better.


That’s what I understand.  Here is what I need to know.  I have heard:

-       It’s not just the student athletes doing it now, the music & arts students and others are involved

-       The seniors are on campus for more activities

-       Many more DII schools are now holding Senior Proms (I have heard as many as 50 – I’d love to verify that!)


Anyway, this is a story that needs to get out and I would appreciate anything you can share that helps see how far this has spread.  Just reply in a comment here.



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Feb 03

City/County Leaders are Neighbors First

By Rich Luker

It was my privilege to spend time yesterday with the Florida City/County Managers Association.  I learned a lot. These leaders are paid professionals, not elected officials.  They are like doctors or teachers.  They went to school and learned how to manage the complexities of modern city life.


I also realized they are in a very tough position.  They are ADMINISTRATORS. They carry out the needs and wishes of others the best they can with incredibly reduced resources. They are very much the messengers of the bad American economy.  They are not the message. They didn’t cause the problems.  But they may see the impacts more immediately and clearly than most.  They didn’t cause the problems, but they are in the completely unenviable position of having to decide who gets less.


I went to the meeting thinking they were in a great position to be an agent for change in community – to be a sign to others to be more neighborly.  I still think that.  But as I drove home from the meeting I realized that is asking too much of them. This isn’t a time to ask more of those who are paid to keep your towns and counties going.  It’s more like a time to ask what we can do to help make their burdens lighter.  They are, after all, actually OUR burdens.


They – these leaders – are ours too.  This is not a “we” and “they” situation.  They are one of us.  They are our neighbors first. I forgot that.  And I wish I would have remembered that before the drive home.  I would have said different things to them.  I would have started by saying “Thanks.” I am certain they are for the most part both civil and servants.  While I heard a lot of understandable grousing about the economy, politics and Florida leadership – A LOT - the undercurrent in all they were really talking about was what they might do to preserve the quality of local life that remains and do more to improve that quality into the future.


I was the first to speak to the group at this meeting.  After me, even as I write this, they would turn to the heavy topics dominated by the economy.  For my part, I encouraged them to stop thinking of all of us as “citizens” or “consumers” or “residents” and to see us as “neighbors” instead.  I sent the wrong message to the wrong group. I want to ask all of us who are served to remember that every single one of those who provide us government service are our neighbors too.

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