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Posts by arifranklin

The Security Provided By Communities

lock world pixel map blue wash out color

The idea of security may not be something we, as citizens around the world, worry about every day.  Personal security may be one thing, but there’s the much broader, more community-dependent foundation to which I’m referring. In the United States, this security is represented in the most obvious sense by the judicial system, but no matter where you are in the world, it exists down to the level which we interact with on a daily basis. I’m talking about the security you get from having a landlord, the comfort from knowing that your closest neighbors can react with you in the case of an emergency, and the idea that by identifying with and contributing to a certain community you become provided for and protected.

This is a topic that has been explored and ruminated on in philosophy, anthropology, and political diatribe, and whose analysis reaches back to the debated origin of the tribe (the concept that societies evolved, functioned, and intermingled on the most basic level because of kinship). In looking at past societies, anthropologist Elman Service developed one theory that outlines a hierarchy of classification that exists in all human cultures. Service’s system defines four categories:

  1. Band: “Gatherer-hunter bands, which are generally egalitarian.”
  2. Tribe: “Tribal societies in which there are at least some instances of social rank and prestige.”
  3. Chiefdom: “Stratified tribal societies led by chieftains.”
  4. State: “Civilizations, with complex social hierarchies and organized, institutional governments.”

Considering the idea of societal organization, how might security play a role? Even looking at tribes (including non-human) that are based exclusively on kinship it is apparent that associating with your kin, those who have some intrinsic commonality, makes sense. As a tribe member, you gain the security of being part of a bigger group, which lends itself well to securing food and shelter and protection from other tribes.  Of course, at some point tribes must intermix (for marriage, power, etc.) and this is one of  the first theories of how the first societies started to become more complex melting pots of kin-based tribes self-defined by society created ideologies like nationality, religion, and common language.

Today, security is much more than the a buffer for the overlap culture and colonialism, it’s an international strategy necessitated by every nation to provide the best protection and resources for all its tribe-members. In modern international relations, this can manifest in different ways including espionage, military force, politics, and economic embargoes.

Overall, as society has evolved, so has the way we approach security on a grand scale. Security is a vestige of community existing today that traces back to the initial founding of society. It is something oft overlooked when we think about our communities, but perhaps should be one of the more important reasons to be a part and take pride in your community. As long as we can consider ourselves a part of at least one community, there is security in place that we depend on.

Similar Places, Different People

I haven’t been to more than a handful of countries.  I’m only fluent in one language. My passport expired with an admittedly pitiful number of stamps.

But I have traveled enough to notice a lot of similarities shared by places halfway around the world. For example one of the first thoughts that popped up when I stepped out of the airport in Israel was “Wow, this looks surprisingly like California.” And in Austin, a city where you can find so many varieties of trees not normally together in one place – cacti, palms, maples, and firs, I often find myself coming around a corner and thinking “Huh, this is a lot like what _____ must look like”

The theory I’m purporting and the question I’m about to pose is that if similarly looking and feeling places around the world exist regardless of the nation or community neighborhood they exist in, then shouldn’t you be able to find community anywhere and define it by the people you’re with? Essentially, if a community can be defined geographically by location and if unique culture is what makes each community special, then the people themselves are what makes community tick.

Obviously we need people to create the culture and settle a community in a location, and while in many cases those communities become very similar in look and feel, it’s only the people there that can truly differentiate and create a sense of community you feel connected to and want to go back to. Imagine how being in a familiar place would be a completely different experience if it looked exactly the same but was populated by a totally different population of people.

Don’t buy it? Here are a few photos from very different places.  While they might look similar, these are places we wouldn’t naturally associate being comparable at all because the image in our heads – based on the types of people and subsequent cultures in each area – make each place seem much less alike than they might otherwise be if not for the people.  Point in case, can you tell me where these below photos were taken?

Which one was taken in Israel and which is from California?

israel california palm building blue skyisrael california palm building blue sky






Which is San Antonio?  Venice?

venice san antonio canal side restaurant dining colorful

venice san antonio canal side restaurant dining colorful

Introducing ‘People’

colorful crowd celebrate cheer experience

Have you ever heard the expression “people make the experience?” It’s a pretty self-explanatory idiom used to express how in certain cases what and where you are doing something is less important that who you’re doing it with.  It’s a tribute to the mindset that anything can be enjoyed –from waiting in line at the DMV or getting stuck out in a rainstorm—when you’re with the right people.

It’s a sentiment I share and I think it’s one that most people would agree with. For one, it’s something I think everyone can relate to. I think everyone has had an experience that has been improved just by being with a group of fun friends.  On a deeper level, I think it’s the people themselves that create a great community.

To illustrate this, just imagine being a part of a community that sounds really interesting, like ping pong, for example. Now think about how that community of ping pong players would be different if you didn’t get along with the rest of the people or thought they were boring. Ping pong is a ton of fun (at least to me), but with the wrong people it’s just as unexciting and undesirable as a tax auditing community (no offense to the tax auditors out there).

Worse, you might begin to see this ping pong community as nothing more than a responsibility you have to organize events you don’t want to go to and coordinate plans with people you don’t want to see.  You could lose sight of the love you had for ping pong and the reason you joined in the first place.  To create an awesome community the setting needs to be right and there’s no better way to create an awesome environment that to get great people together.

This is one of the reasons high school and college students can take trips abroad and have a fantastic time if they like the people they’re with. It’s why Rick felt so at home during his trip to Spain and why Noah and I have developed a love for Austin.  It’s people.

So over the next few months we want to celebrate and recognize the importance of great people in communities. We’re going to be taking a closer look at what makes individuals importance in the scope of communities and how people are the ones who breathe life into our world.  Stay tuned!!

Culture Revisited

“Culture is the process by which a person becomes all that they were created capable of being.”
-Thomas Carlyle

culture artistic stylized lettering

Culture is, and will always be, an enduring asset and indestructible value of every civilization.  It  can be traced back before the indoctrinations of modern society and the establishment of ancient society, even across species. Every pack, every tribe, every collection of close-knit community has a unique culture.

For me, it has always been important to see through the eyes of others, to put myself in the shoes of strangers and friends. I believe that what people want to believe in is beyond dispute and I’m not interested in changing beliefs. I think that by actively trying to see the world through the eyes of someone else I can get a new perspective about what people believe in and why they believe in that. I am fascinated by people and I also believe that every single person has their own culture. I want to understand how people define and shape their unique culture.

OurPangea is a personal mission to help people see the world the way others see it and understand that while we might all be living in the same world, everyone sees it through a different lens.  Different motivations, personalities, and relationships create an amorphous web of cultural interaction found in the broad strokes on international exchanges and in the minutia of day-to-day living.  And finally, I believe that we all need to make cultural compromises on an individual level and broad scale to live together best.

Those are just my opinions, and we’ve addressed many more over the past few weeks in our articles.  Here’s a full list of all of our culture-oriented articles from the past couple months!

Our Cultural Introduction
Amazing Cross-Cultural Partnerships: Bringing the World Together
Community: An Amalgamation of Smaller Community Groups
Musical Connections Across the Globe
Lovable Differences
Traveling Music
Austin and OurPangea: Preserving the Hidden Gem Weird Capital of the World
Austin Music Culture
The Beautiful Game
From You To All of Us
The World is Shrinking!
What Does It Mean to Affect?
The Importance of Teamwork
What Does Culture Mean to Community?
The Spirit of Community

What topics do you want us to explore??

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