culture

054 – The Time to Act

Something’s not right.

Looking across the landscape of America today, we can see that something’s not right. Living here, we feel it. In our communities, we hear all about it. There is an ever-widening gap forming between the world that we believed in when we were younger and the world that we see now.

And something needs to be done.

In times of record debt and unfunded liabilities in the institutions above us and record divorce rates and instances of neglect and abuse in the families in our communities, we are sandwiched in a failing culture. We’ve done everything we’ve been told: we went to school, studied hard, got good grades, and maybe even got a “safe, secure” job, but nothing came out like it was supposed to. Instead, we see massive rates of unemployment that don’t factor into millions who are underemploymed and hundreds of thousands who have just given up. We see scandal after scandal breaking on the news because we’ve been taught that the screen on the television should be more captivating than spending time engaged with our families. Sociologists claim that increases in violence in our communities come from young men who take lives because they have no value for lives because they don’t believe that their own lives are valuable. The children in our communities grow up with television characters as role models because idealizing fiction is the only way to believe that what they can expect will be as good as fiction.

But it won’t be. And that is okay. The world is not meant to be perfect. We shouldn’t expect 0% unemployment, a government that functions without the involvement of the people (!) or a job that’s handed to us just because we’ve jumped through one or two more hoops than the last guy. We shouldn’t expect the world to be fine without us. We should expect to have to engage. We should expect to have to put in the time and effort to maintain and grow the freedoms and opportunities that we were born with, because not everyone is and not everyone will be.

You see, something’s not right in the world. And it’s time to do something about it.

It’s time for us to ask ourselves what we would spend our time here doing. Because I’ll tell you this: we don’t have a million years to do this. You’ve been told that all you have to do is study hard, get good grades, get a safe, secure job, a house with a white picket fence, a spouse, two-point-three kids, and a golden retriever, and you’ll be happy. What you weren’t told is what that really costs, versus what its value is.

You see, working 40 hours a week, if you’re lucky enough to keep the number that low, the average person spends 100,000 hours at work in their lifetime. They’ll go on to spend 25,000 hour with the person they marry, if they do marry. If they have children, they’ll spend 12,500 hours or less with them before their time is up. Now, if I were to ask you to rank your priorities, including family, friends, money, God, and hobbies, how would you rank them? And no cheating by reading what you just read above.

Do you see how your time can get eaten up right in front of you without you even noticing it? We’re told what to do to live the life we want, but nobody has ever asked what the life we want looks like. We decide what we want to “do” when we grow up before we even consider what we want to “be”. Because what most of us will “be” if we continue on this path is busy, distracted, distant from our families, and largely underutilized when it comes to our potential.

Today, we see a frightening number of people unemployed because they went to college and got a degree only to find that there was nobody willing to hire them to do a job when they got out. Well, I’ll say this. I do not believe that the first ships of refugees from the Old World that landed here in the colonies hopped off their boats and strolled into Wal-Mart for a job application. I don’t believe that they stepped off their boats and booted up their macbooks to e-mail their resume to GM. I believe that our country was founded on the principle that whatever it took to build a life of freedom and peace to live by their own priorities, the men and women who came here to establish their dreams were going to do it.

And that, my friends, is what’s not right in the world today. We’ve lived so long on the efforts of those who came before us that we didn’t think we had to contribute to keep it going. But we do. And we should. And it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. We don’t have a million years to do this. But we do have the time necessary to act. And at this point, it is the time to act.

Sincerely,

Jared Schulman

Categories: community, culture, dream, family, finances, freedom, Liberty | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

049 – The Culture Question: Part I

In this first installment of a series on building culture in communities, I will discuss the culture that has been established around the minor league Detroit City Football Club.

The Culture Question: Part I

What Can We Learn From Supporter Culture?

If you’re looking into how to build culture in a community, it’s an obvious choice to start by looking at how culture develops around sports teams. If you’re looking into how culture develops around sports teams, it’s an obvious choice to start by looking at the Detroit City Football Club.

DCFC is a minor league soccer team playing in the National Premier Soccer League’s Midwest Division. The players are unpaid, and the home field is a high school in downtown Detroit. The club has only been around for a season.

So why are they regularly drawing over 1,700 fans (not people- fans) to their home games?

Because Detroit City Football Club has a culture.

And it’s not just “Detroit City Football Club”. It’s also “DCFC”, “Le Rouge”, and “City.” It’s the slogan “City ‘Till I Die”, and the flags that wave in the supporter section reading, “This is our HOPE”, emblazoned with the team logo. It’s the fact that supporters regularly have new, gigantic flags at the matches, including the appropriately named “Big Bertha”, which I believe I read was around 16 feet by 11feet. It’s flags like “Fort Knox” in reference to forward Knox Cameron, or “Our City…Your

Nightmare”, which stretched pretty well full across the bleachers.

What about the constant smoke bombs going off after every DCFC goal, and the steady beat of the drums and chants coming from the supporter section? The culture is so thick around City that one could cut it with a knife if it wouldn’t just bend and break the knife first.

Speaking of the chanting, it starts early and happens often (uh…or always). At the match I attended against Greater Binghampton, the mass of the supporters section didn’t sit down until halftime and was rarely quiet for more than about fifteen seconds at a time between chants (or cheers, en route to a 4-0 shutout victory).

So what can we learn from the DCFC Supporter Culture? What do they do that’s so vital to building a winning culture and bringing people around who love to be a part of that culture?

1) Win or Lose, They’re There, and You’ll Know It

Now granted, I’ve never seen a City loss. But I know that even in draws and rare losses, the City Supporters are still loud and proud. They’ll cheer no matter what. Because they love their team and their culture. No matter what sort of organization we’re putting together, we’re going to experience setbacks and losses. That’s okay. Your culture should still be built on cheering on and supporting your team no matter what. Because victories and losses are both temporary. Knowing this, sing loud, sing often, and support your team like you love them as much as you do.

2) They’re Unified

Take 1,700 relative strangers and put them in bleachers outdoors. Give one guy a megaphone. Suddenly, those 1,700 people are unified in song, chant, or cheer. How does that happen?! Everyone at these matches is united behind a single goal- to see their team win. That means creating a winning atmosphere, which in sports, means a positive, loud, exciting atmosphere. Because everyone wants this, everyone is willing to fall in behind one guy with a megaphone and support their team. It also helps that the guy with the megaphone really knows what he’s doing and has a good feel for pacing the supporter section.

3) They’re An Actual Community

The supporters of DCFC get together and cheer at matches, but they also meet up before the matches to hang out (and eventually march into the stadium cheering and chanting) and go out after the game to celebrate- together. No matter what kind of community you’re building, having time outside of “business time” to actually build and foster the relationships that support that community is going to be vital. There is no separate “business relationship” and “social relationship” when it comes to building a culture of community. There’s one relationship among people that has to span business and social connections.

4) They’ve Got Brand Identity

Le Rouge knows exactly what and who Le Rouge is. Le Rouge is loud, proud, inspiring, and winning. The supporters know this, too. It’s easy to get behind a winning culture! There are various groups that contribute to this, like The Northern Guard Supporters, Motor City Supporters, and Le Rouge Supporters. They have a very well-established web presence with consistent material and representation across all platforms, despite these being run by different people in different locations. If you’re building a community, you have to have a brand identity and know it.

5) They Offer Something Everyone Wants

This one should be a no-brainer, but I’ll spell it out anyway. Everyone craves community. Take that to the extreme- a desire to be part of a community is one of the greatest contributing factors to youth gang activity. Thankfully, coming out to cheer at a soccer match isn’t as dangerous or illegal as gang activity, and neither should whatever you’re organizing your community for be. But the fact remains, Le Rouge draws massive, passionate crowds to their games because people want to be a part of something. In Detroit, it’s par for the course now to look for outlets for hope and recovery from blah blah blah, the same story you’ve always heard about Detroit. Soccer happens to provide an avenue for that hope and optimism to flourish in Detroit. Your community or organization should provide that same sense of purpose, belonging, and hope. You can build a culture around that much easier than you can build a culture around just about anything else. The bigger the purpose, the closer the belonging, and the stronger the hope, the more powerful the culture.

So whatever your endeavors in community building are, take these five principles from the Detroit City Football Club and wield them well. If a minor league, first-season soccer team from the city America most likes to pick on for being hopeless and rundown can create a positive, optimistic, hopeful culture using them, you should be able to as well.

Categories: community, culture, fun | Leave a comment

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