Many cultural changes have happened in the US and the world during my 65 years of life. As my birthday came around in July, inspired by something a friend said, I contemplated changes in the ethos of collaboration since my childhood.
Collaboration was ubiquitous when I was a kid. It was pervasive in outside play with pick-up games of all sorts. Everyone’s ideas were heard, often leading to an adjustment or exploration of a new way to play a game, or to make one up on the spot. There were no bullies in my youth. There were pushy kids, but group dynamics ensured that no one person always got their way; so, they didn’t insist.
Collaboration, with its dynamic discussions and improvisations, seemed to foster equanimity, too. The older kids had a role and there was an obligation to include the younger kids on teams, but it was fine. It was all fun. Everyone stretched in various relational and skill-set ways.
I remember several of us walking barefoot in the cool water at river’s edge after a pick-up softball game when I stepped on a broken bottle in the water. Blood was gushing and we were a half mile from home, without bikes. One of the kids had his t-shirt tucked in his belt; he quickly wrapped it around my foot and tied it as tight as he could. A girl on one side and a boy on the other helped me hop home. We were about eight years old.
Collaboration was the way things got done in high school, too. The popular girls didn’t automatically become cheerleaders, nor did the athletes become the officers of the class—the leaders were open-minded, unbiased, and genuinely helpful to others.
All my early jobs were predicated on working together to accomplish the variety of tasks entailed in the job. The same was true for my father in his profession as a firefighter, and my mother, who managed business offices in her career. There were no cubicles and no screens until my late thirties and then on a limited basis: people talked, figured things out, devised solutions, and implemented them together.
But over the last 25 years, things have changed: weather, courtesy, expectations, and the ethos of collaboration. People used to take pride in the responsibility of doing tasks well and correctly. Companies used to make products that lasted and gave customer service that solved problems when they arose.
Three years ago, I moved to Jaroso, Colorado to a small house that was renovated to include handicapped features. Jaroso is ten minutes from Costilla, New Mexico and over an hour from Alamosa, Colorado. Could we get a plumber, electrician, or skilled labor from New Mexico? No. If they were licensed in New Mexico, they couldn’t drive ten minutes to work, because of a lack of collaboration between Colorado and New Mexico.
The school in Costilla used to serve their community well and could have continued to do so for the kids across the Colorado border, too. But again, there was a lack of collaboration between the two states. Costilla has excellent internet, thank you, President Obama. But here in Jaroso? Satellite and cell phones struggle to get a signal from faraway towers. If New Mexico and Colorado had used the internet infrastructure already present in Costilla as the source for internet for Jaroso and up to San Luis, wow!
And water management? The Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide the water for all of this side of the San Luis Valley regardless of a human-made state line. Is there effective collaboration in this regard?
I am not a politically active person and have never served nor volunteered on a water or land use board, educational board, or such—nor would it happen now… But as climate change deepens its grip on all resources, as all things modern require adequate internet, as driving requires fuel, as people are less healthy overall due to decades of pollution, what can be done to revive collaboration and its efficacy, especially regarding border towns that would be well-served? A plumber or electrician from New Mexico could have fed his family with our renovation project! What kind of grassroots effort could transform the inefficiencies that especially beset border communities? I don’t know, but maybe you do? Let’s continue the conversation…
August is Back -to-school Month and Black Business Month; support please! Empowerment results.
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Universal Birthday for Shelter Dogs
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Global Sleep Under the Stars Night, International Cat Day,
National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day
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Islamic New Year
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International Left-handers Day
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Feast of the Assumption
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National Thrift Shop Day
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National Senior Citizens Day