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Posts by rickhickey

What Does Culture Mean To Community?

What does culture mean to community? Everything.

hand signals illustration multi-color community

“Culture” is defined as the “customary beliefs, social norms and material traits of a particular social group.” It comes from the latin word cultura, meaning “growing” or “cultivation,” which makes a great deal of sense when you consider the origins of our own cultures and how they evolve over time.

Culture is both a personal and collective experience. Our cultural experiences and identity grow from the communities we are a part of. It starts at home and spirals outward as we interact with the world around us. As a people, we derive our values and world views from the people and communities closest to us. Whether those values come from your parents, your teachers, your friends or from iconic cultural figures, the values we take away from our communities all profoundly impact the way we see and experience life.

That’s why community is so important.

The sharing of cultural values is undoubtedly give-and-take. We learn from others as others learn from us. While community might start as a relatively small group, people continue to expand their communities and the cultures that exist within those communities as their lives go on. This type of sharing helps us gain a greater understanding of each other, which is a necessary step in bringing us together.

Whether we define our communities as our families or our hometowns or our country, our cultural values will always be shaped by those communities while also holding those communities together. As we strive toward a global community it’s important that we remember this and discover the things that we all have in common. From our perspective at OurPangea it’s  mutual understanding and common values that play a huge role in what can ultimately bring us together and make the world a better place.

The Big Support Networks Of Education In Small Communities

Education has been a topic widely discussed in past months, especially with the Teacher’s strike that shook Chicago this past September. The event brought up issues about public education in Chicago and the American education system as a whole, but most specifically as it applied to urban areas. However, this event also provides us with an opportunity to discuss the importance of education in smaller, non-urban area, the lessons that can be learned from them and the continued importance of preparing future generations for the challenges that lie ahead.

Longhorns Texas students spirit excitement hook em

Like many inner-city schools, small town elementary and high schools often lack the same level of funding that is enjoyed by public schools in other areas. This can mean fewer honors and AP programs, less funding for extra-curricular activities and less funding for the arts programs. The advantages of having such programs have been clearly documented over the years, but knowing their benefits has not made it any easier for small-town schools to come up with the resources to support them.

However, all is not lost.

In her article Small-Town Education: A Personal Perspective, Kathryn Peters, a graduate of Goodhue High School in Goodhue, MN discussed her experiences attending a high school with a student population of around 200. Although Goodhue lacked funding for more extensive programs like honors and arts programs, Ms. Peters said that the support students and the school received from the community and faculty more than made up for it.

“Something that people forget about small towns is that you always have someone there for you,” says Peters, “you’ve got a support group — not just your teachers, parents and peers, but an entire community. Maybe you don’t get every single opportunity as a student from the Twin Cities, but you’ll always have someone to motivate you, celebrate with you, comfort you and be there for you, no matter what.”

Ms. Peters says that the support and attention she received from members of her community inspired her to pursue a career in dietetics (food and nutrition), a passion that she discovered through a program called G.O.A.L.S. She also points out that this level of individual attention and support gave her the opportunity to stand out from the crowd, win scholarships and go on to a successful college career. She doubts if she would have found a support network such as this one had she attended a larger school.

Though they have their fair share of shortcomings and, like almost all other schools, are far from perfect, small-town schools can still  teach us a lot about the importance of community in the area of education. The content of our education is not the only thing that matters and although many of our schools may lack the funding enjoyed by other communities, every community has the ability to come together and work toward a better future.

Kathryn Peters is one of the many students who found success through the support of her community. “Is [my success] a result of luck? Maybe. Is it because I worked hard? Most likely. Does it have anything to do with the fact that I grew up in a small town with a huge support network? Definitely.”

No matter where we live or who we are, the support of our friends, teachers, parents and community continues to be as important to our students as the content we are teaching them. In a time of teacher’s strikes and tumbling test scores on a national level, it’s important that we keep this in mind and continue to be there for each other every step of the way. Over at OurPangea, that’s an idea everyone can appreciate.

Never Stop Making Friends. A Personal Perspective On OurPangea.

rick hickey stylize fall photo

Not everyone gets the opportunity to work on a project that they truly believe in. I guess that makes me one of the fortunate few.

If I had to narrow it all down to one reason why this has been such an incredible ride so far, the reason would be that I believe in the experience and tools OurPangea wants to bring to its users. I believe in the idea of community and I believe in creating a space where users are always in a position to make new friends. Sure, most of the tools we have today allow us to build our network connections, but OurPangea really got my attention when they proposed creating a place where users could continually cultivate meaningful, lasting relationships.

For me, some of the most rewarding experiences of my life have been the experiences where I’ve been able to form real friendships with people I never thought I’d be able to meet. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and it’s exciting to imagine a place that would create limitless opportunities to continue doing so.

Making new friends not only gives us perspective and teaches us valuable lessons about life and the world around us, it also teaches us a lot about ourselves. It helps us discover who we want to be and who we want to be around. It helps us test the boundaries and find new tastes and preferences. Ultimately, making friends and meeting new people helps us find ourselves. What other network can claim to do the same for its users?

Writing and working for OurPangea has been rewarding from start to finish and, since the ethos of this small startup is based around such an admirable aspiration, I expect it will continue to be.

Meet OurPangea’s Co-Founder, Ari Franklin

Ari Franklin, the twenty-four year old Co-Founder of OurPangea has developed a successful track record in the face of adversity.

ari franklin face black tie

It’s rare when you meet someone for the first time and feel like you’ve known them forever. It’s something you remember and that leaves you feeling good. Ari Franklin, COO and Co-Founder of OurPangea has that gift.

Ari grew up in Oak Park, IL as the oldest of three and the son of a contemporary artist and a humanities center strategist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. When I first met Ari at Oak Park River Forest High School, I was immediately taken in by his warm smile and humble demeanor. I’ve never met anyone who Ari didn’t get along with.

As a senior in high school, Ari was a member of the Varsity Lacrosse team. One day at practice, he took a shot to the throat, but still managed to make it to the post-practice team BBQ. Despite a raspy voice and some pain, Ari tried to shake it off. When he didn’t feel any better the next morning, he saw a doctor. His doctor explained that the point blank shot had fractured Ari’s trachea and Ari easily could have, and probably should have died in his sleep. He had to have emergency surgery to repair the damage.

Several weeks later while recovering from the procedure Ari had a stroke that nearly killed him a second time. Despite these injuries, Ari stayed with his lacrosse team for the rest of the season, assisting them in every way he could.

After graduation, Ari, like so many other Oak Park graduates that year, made the trip down to Champaign, IL to begin his undergraduate studies. At the University of Illinois, Ari excelled as a young advertising major, taking on duties as the Strategic Thinking Leader and, eventually, the Vice President of the University’s team for the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). He also became highly involved in his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, where he was an active volunteer and served as an officer on a number of committees, including time as the Rush and Social Chairman.

Since graduating with a degree in advertising and as a member of the Sigma Alpha Lambda honors society, Ari has managed to stay involved with his fraternity and flourish as a young professional. He served on the board and as Secretary of the Chicago Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi Alumni Association and has developed an impressive resume that has included stints as an intern at DDB, an Assistant Account Manager at McGarrybowen and as a Project Manager at envisionit media, inc.

When Ari recognized the opportunity to build something new and incredible with OurPangea he didn’t hesitate. Believing fully in the OurPangea mission and working hand-in-hand with co-founder and CEO, Noah Simon, his cousin, Ari has continued to bring excellence, dedication and determination to the OurPangea project. Having overcome great odds and two near-death experiences the young entrepreneur has continued to bring an eternal optimism and fighting spirit to everything he does. Both will serve this young, burgeoning social network for years to come.

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