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Posts from the ‘Community’ Category

A First Person Perspective of Security in Communities

Of all the experiences one can have with culture and communities, none of them quite stack up to the experience of a music festival – especially the experience of working at one. Whether it’s Austin City Limits, or Coachella, or Bonnaroo, there’s nothing quite like camping out with 80,000 others for a weekend full of peace, love, and music. Personally, I worked security at Bonnaroo this past summer and immensely enjoyed it. I got to discover new bands, re-acquaint myself with old favorites, meet people from all over the world, and experience things in a new way I never would be able to without it. I saw performances from bands like Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, fun., Flogging Molly, The Roots, The Antlers, Ludacris, The Shins, Bon Iver, and dozens of others – but more importantly I saw community in action.

music festival security hug

In the course of just a few days, from people all over the country and all over the world a community formed. People laughed, and danced, and ate together, and shared the (fairly abysmal) bathroom facilities. They formed a community eighty-thousand strong, of every race and religion and creed and nationality imaginable, together to have a fun, safe, and happy weekend. As a security guard, my perspective on it was fairly unique. I was mainly in charge of the barricades – mosh-heavy punk bands like Bad Brains or Flogging Molly were especially chaotic in the security crew trying to help out crowd-surfers and contain the crowd. Even with thousands of people thrashing around to loud, angry music, they still did so to have fun and enjoy themselves, creating their own community through that music. We were also responsible for helping to give directions for whoever might need it, and for handing out bottles of water – a necessity in the 95+ degree heat! And those bottles of water were shared by the community as well; people would take a sip and pass it to those who needed it. Together, as a community, we looked out for one another and provided comfort and safety.

Another interesting community was the way the performers shared in their camaraderie with one another and the crowd. I walked backstage once to find Maynard James Keenan from Tool and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers enthusiastically talking to Alice Cooper himself. Fitz & The Tantrums had an ASL interpreter/dancer on stage with them, translating all their lyrics into sign language for the hearing impaired. Nate Ruess, lead singer of fun., literally threw himself at the crowd, trusting their community to support him safely as he surfed across their fingertips.

But looking back, as great an experience as it was, the most defining aspect of it from a community perspective is that we, as security guards, were not called that at all. We weren’t security, we were “safety”. We wore bright pink shirts with SAFETY emblazoned on the back so that people would come to us if they needed anything. Even in the craziest of mosh pits, we helped to make sure everyone was still happy and safe and healthy. We provided the community a service, and the community responded to us, incorporating everyone so that we truly did have a safe community.

Community brings safety and happiness. It’s the basic backbone and definition of it. When a community comes together, it doesn’t matter how big – it can be eight people or eighty thousand. As long as they work together for each other’s best interests and safety, the entire community will benefit. Four days at a music festival taught me that, and it’s an attitude that has truly influenced me in my work with OurPangea. It proved to me that no matter what happened, and no matter how out of control a situation could get , as long as there was a strong community, we would always be safe.


Fraternities As Community Security

Community is an ambiguous word. It can be big (think the East Coast community) or small (the community of left handed Austin baristas). A community could be a collection of like-minded individuals, or a large group of individuals that don’t know each other (once again, think New York City).

What a community can do is provide us with security. Whether big or small, we take comfort in knowing that at the end of the day, someone in our community will be there for us.

fraternity community sesrvice construction working together

There are examples of communities all over the world, that are small or large, and that provide the same security. For many 20-something Americans, one particular community that comes to mind is the fraternities and sororities that encompass the college experience.

While often scrutinized, fraternities and sororities often represent the pinnacle in terms of the security provided by its members to one another. Stories of brothers and sisters banding together to help raise money for a fallen member, of fallen family member of one of their own are the things that don’t show up in campus or national headlines.

Some enjoy their fraternity experience so much they’ve compared living in the house to “living with 30 of your best friends,” as you spend breakfast, lunch, dinner, formals, parties, meetings, and casual Saturdays sitting around with your brothers, talking about everything from women, to sports, to the future. You see people’s highest highs (both literally and metaphorically) and lowest lows, and get to know your brothers (or sisters) in a way that maybe their high school friends did not.

What else within fraternities causes this bond to form? The pledge process. The fact that, for eight weeks, you, along with 30 or so other guys or girls are subject to certain tasks designed not only to tire you out, but also to grow you, and bond you together. There is no greater bonding experience than one where a small sampling of people take some sort of adversity and manage grow as a unit while battling that hardship. It’s those types of situations that help a group of random guys become best friends, and come to their fellow pledge brother’s aide in any instance.

The headlines paint one picture. But actually being a member of the Greek community, and reaping the benefits paints another, one of strength, friendship, and a security that is matched in very few other organizations.

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.

OurPangea As A Team

OurPangea is built by people. And transforming an idea into reality is a process, a fun one. What I’ve learned is that it’s a process best done by a team.

two cats teamwork fence gray white

Teams are interesting. Everyone brings their strengths, but also their weaknesses. It’s a matter of figuring out how to motivate everyone towards a single goal and helping each member apply themselves in that direction. Celebrate strengths and help with weaknesses.

Networking around Austin has opened my eyes to the wonderful diversity of people, but what strikes me most is that everyone has something that makes them happy. It’s incredible how diverse these things can be, and it makes me wonder how many people out there share the same interests with me? If only we had OurPangea to help.

While networking around Austin has opened my eyes to the granularity of people, the granularity of people has opened my eyes to the similarities. Austin is a weird place. So weird they probably take that as a compliment… There are so many people here, but at the root of everyone lies the same hopes and fears. It’s kind of wonderful.

At the root of OurPangea, we hope that each user finds a similar experience. That of difference and acceptance. When everyone is working towards the same goal, in this case representing culture we will have to accept the differences along with the similarities, both strengths and weaknesses.

Teams are interesting because of their diversity. United toward a single goal we learn from the strengths of others and hope to improve our weaknesses. It’s an interesting experience where we learn the value of others, but most importantly we learn how to value others.

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